Does a returner toss a coin every time he/she returns a 1st serve from a big server?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Golden Retriever, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

    Apr 3, 2004
    Am I right to say that in general (maybe Federer or Agassi is an exception), in order to return a 1st serve from a big server at pro level, a returner has to pick a side BEFORE the ball leaves the racquet based on experience, anticipation and intuition without having the luxury to actually see which side the ball is going? It would be too late to react after seeing where the ball is going so they have to gamble and react before that. It is not purely a toss of the coin (50/50 chance) because they have their experience and anticipation to rely on but still they have to gamble a bit.
  2. jelle v

    jelle v Hall of Fame

    Aug 28, 2006
    The Netherlands
    I don't think so actually. Don't know why, but just gambling where the balls gona be seems very unlikely to me. I think that for a big server, it's not possible to hit every serve in the right spot for the serve to be an ace. He would have to hit very precise all the time and that's impossible. I think because the big server isn't precise enough on every serve (not enoough in the corner), the returner actually has a chance to just watch the direction of the ball and react on that just in time for him to be able to return.
  3. Steve Huff

    Steve Huff Legend

    Feb 11, 2004
    I've heard that some servers hide their direction so well that returners had to guess (like Goran Ivanisivic?). But, really good returners can usually spot something in the toss or even something as small as the angle the racket approaches the ball to read the direction. It's those super players that pick up things the earliest that make them so great.
  4. Alexandros

    Alexandros Professional

    Jan 4, 2006
    In a word, no. Otherwise those big servers would be serving up an ace every second point. Simple logic.
  5. armand

    armand Banned

    Jul 12, 2005
    RDS001 90: SPPP 1.18 @ 63/61
    In the year that Ivanisevic won Wimbledon, Safin was saying Goran was serving so well that he had to start guessing which way to go during returns.

    Goran won that match 7-6(2) 7-5 3-6 7-6(3), had 30 aces, was getting 61% of 1st serves in and won 89% of those points.
  6. Max G.

    Max G. Hall of Fame

    Feb 18, 2004
    I would guess it happens, but rarely. Ivanisevic could sometimes do that to his opponents. Sampras would too.

    It takes an exceptionally big server, with good disguise, and an extremely good day for him too. Not a regular occurrence.
  7. hummer23

    hummer23 Hall of Fame

    Nov 8, 2004
    Another notable player who can hit his spots with pace better than most is ivo karlovic. With his height he can get generate angles or hit up the middle at unreasonable velocities. I'd imagine that you have to guess against him, or he can just ace you up either side when he's feeling it.
  8. Nick Irons

    Nick Irons Semi-Pro

    Jan 25, 2007
    Cape Fear
    After a handful of serves, I look at the placement of my opponents front foot and am usually succesful in judging the location of the serve. That, and I'm fast and can dig some out.

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