Originally Posted by krosero
Riggs was certainly a touch player; but through disguise, essentially, he got a lot of aces. More than players who served harder than he did.
This is what Vines wrote:
His balanced, penetrating groundstrokes on both sides were at least the equal of Rosewall's, including return of serve. Speed never disturbed him, not even a big serve. Budge had a harder delivery, yet Bobby's service was probably more effective because he had more varieties. He could hit a cannonball, slice, or American twist. The only server that gave Riggs real trouble was Kramer, because of Jack's unique ability to spot and mix up deliveries.
At one point during the ’42 pro tour Riggs was out-acing Budge, Perry and Kovacs, per a press report:
Riggs, whose habitual slow-hook serve contrasts strangely with the express-train deliveries of his companions, regularly serves far more aces than any one of them in the matches of the tour. Reason, Bobby draws his opponents out of position and lulls them into false security, then slips quick straight ones down the opposite side of the service court for 'surprises' that leave opponents flat footed.
Vines wrote that Riggs, after the war, was out-acing Budge, Kramer and Gonzalez.
Compare these ace counts for Bobby and Pancho in matches at Forest Hills.
Riggs in '48 pro semi -- 1.3 aces per game (d. Kovacs w/ 20 aces))
Riggs in '49 pro final -- 0.7 aces per game (d. Budge w/ 17 aces)
Pancho in '48 amateur final -- 0.8 aces per game (d. Sturgess w/ 16 aces)
Pancho in '49 amateur final -- 0.8 aces per game (d. Schroeder w/ 27 aces)
The New York Times said that Riggs' serving performance in that first match in '48 was "one of the most remarkable exhibitions of serving" that they had ever seen. "With comparatively little effort, Riggs gets remarkable speed on the ball, but it is more the spin and the cleverness and accuracy with which he places the serve that makes it so difficult to return. It was nothing less than demoralizing."
Ironically Kovacs, who was 6'4", served just 3 aces.
Great information Krosero.
I have the Kings of the Court video and perhaps aside from Laver, I was so impressed by Bobby Riggs' strokes. He hit the ball so smoothly. I think they said he was a natural. Now to be fair they really didn't show the strokes of a younger Budge in his prime but an older Budge. I've also seen videos of a younger Budge and he looks great also.
The question that always arises in my mind is how good was Bobby Riggs in actuality?
Yes we know he lost badly to Jack Kramer on tour 69 to 20 but Kramer himself admitted that after he (Kramer) got a lead on tour Riggs tanked. The reason according to Kramer that Riggs tanked was to set Kramer up and beat Kramer in the US Pro in 1948. The scenario was that if Riggs beat Kramer he (Riggs) could claim he was still the real champion. It didn't work because Kramer defeated Riggs in the final in four sets.
Still the tour was mainly indoors and the players perhaps were closer in actual ability than the final tour won-lost record would indicate. He also defeated a slightly over the hill Budge on tour several times. He dominated the Pro ranks winning far more tournaments (when Riggs was in his prime and Budge wasn't) than Budge, Kovacs and the others. I can also see from the videos that he seemed to have every shot plus an effective serve.
Many think of Riggs as just the hustler who lost to Billie Jean King in 1973 but the man did have a fabulous record.