Djokovic/Federer/Monfils return: Keys to anticipation

Javizzle

New User
What do you think the keys to anticipating big serves are? What do you guys think make people like djoks & fed so good at anticipating serves - or even Monfils who held Dr. Ivo aceless way back when. I find it difficult because some of the best servers work so hard on disguising their toss yet the best returners are still so solid. Patterns? Straight Guessing? Court Position?

I've been playing against some futures players with 120+ serves and straight up I can't handle them. Any help would be much appreciated.
 

ZiggyStardust

Professional
I think Murray should be up in your list. He returns big serves better than anyone not named Federer or Monfils. In fact, I feel like while Monfils gets more serves back, Murray does more on average with his returns, so he might actually be better than Gael in that respect. He also gets aced slightly less than Fed and has equally impressive records against big servers. Anyhow, it is indisputable that he's right up there.

People seem to think that Djokovic having the best return, makes him the best at returning big serves. That is not necessarily true. He gets aced at a higher rate than the three mentioned above and also struggles against serve-bots more frequently (losing records against Roddick, Karlovic, Kyrgios. I know, I know, pre-peak, out of form, etc. but still).

On a side note, Ferrer absolutely owns big servers. Very impressive.

As to the question in this thread, I remember a stat a while ( about a year) ago highlighting Murray's ridiculous reaction time. He also bases much of his very successful game around anticipation. That Fed's reflexes, reaction times, and anticipation are out of this world is obvious to all watchers. Monfils, I'm less sure about. I'd guess it's a combination of standing quite far back, huge reach and ridiculous speed/athleticism.
 

Javizzle

New User
Yep I was just naming a few. Murray is an incredible returner. These were some stats on ace % I read on another thread. Anyway, like you're saying, it's obviously not just how little you get aced but what you actually do with it. Agassi got aced the highest out of this group but is widely considered one of the greatest returners in the game.

Monfils: 4.0%
Murray: 5.6%
Federer: 5.7%
Djokovic: 6.2%
Agassi: 9.7%

It's interesting that Ferrer is able to do so well given that he's 5ft 9. Monfils and Ferrer both start a bit further back but they take a pretty large step into the court (sometimes). They're nowhere near as far back as Rafa for example. It would seem to me that standing further back just opens up the angle for the wide serve. But when I watch highlights is as if they know when to stay back anticipating the wide serve and come in, or are those just guesses, i'm not sure. Reaction time and speed is big no doubt.
 

Alexrb

Semi-Pro
Yep I was just naming a few. Murray is an incredible returner. These were some stats on ace % I read on another thread. Anyway, like you're saying, it's obviously not just how little you get aced but what you actually do with it. Agassi got aced the highest out of this group but is widely considered one of the greatest returners in the game.

Monfils: 4.0%
Murray: 5.6%
Federer: 5.7%
Djokovic: 6.2%
Agassi: 9.7%

It's interesting that Ferrer is able to do so well given that he's 5ft 9. Monfils and Ferrer both start a bit further back but they take a pretty large step into the court (sometimes). They're nowhere near as far back as Rafa for example. It would seem to me that standing further back just opens up the angle for the wide serve. But when I watch highlights is as if they know when to stay back anticipating the wide serve and come in, or are those just guesses, i'm not sure. Reaction time and speed is big no doubt.
But given that Gael is out pretty early in every tournament (relative to the others) and therefore facing lessor players, doesn't that skew the data quite a bit? For example if Fed only played and lost every first round his number would be much lower too
 
C

Chadillac

Guest
I've been playing against some futures players with 120+ serves and straight up I can't handle them. Any help would be much appreciated.
Make them hit as many returns off returns as possible and hold serve. Doesnt matter if they hit winners, make them execute for every point.

Always imagine how your favorite player would beat them, and compare your toolbox.

Short back swing since their ball has power, it will apply to your return, just go for placement until you break them down.

Believe it or not having them serve on even games can tire the giant. Work them on your serve and they wont be serving as hard at 4-4 (you get rest for your serve on change over)
 

Charleneriva

Hall of Fame
But given that Gael is out pretty early in every tournament (relative to the others) and therefore facing lessor players, doesn't that skew the data quite a bit? For example if Fed only played and lost every first round his number would be much lower too
Agree on the first part. But by this logic Murray is clearly the Goat returner, not Fed. Servebots don't reach the semis and final that often, minus the one and only guy named Federer. Out of the big4 and the current top 10 and in the past, Fed is the best server (that's even more dangerous). In fact the top 10 often consists more good returners than big servers, though of course they can be both. That means the other top guys have had to deal with his serve much more than he has with theirs. The numbers are always skewed, no matter how little.
 
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Javizzle

New User
Believe it or not having them serve on even games can tire the giant. Work them on your serve and they wont be serving as hard at 4-4 (you get rest for your serve on change over)
Wow thats a very interesting tactic, never thought about that. Thank you.
 

Javizzle

New User
What do you guys think about guessing & the frequency to keep the server honest. If the server is good at disguising his toss, surely you don't want to just keep standing in the same place to allow the server to get into a rhythm. If he sees a spot that he can go for and he's been able to make it, he'l just go for that spot.
 
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