Greatest All Time Serve and Volleyer

Who is the greatest all time serve and volleyer?

  • Jack Kramer

    Votes: 3 1.4%
  • Pancho Gonzalez

    Votes: 9 4.2%
  • John Newcombe

    Votes: 1 0.5%
  • John McEnroe

    Votes: 58 27.1%
  • Stefan Edberg

    Votes: 78 36.4%
  • Frank Sedgman

    Votes: 1 0.5%
  • Pete Sampras

    Votes: 64 29.9%

  • Total voters
    214

pc1

G.O.A.T.
I was reading the Edberg GOAT thread and a number of people compared John McEnroe's volley to Edberg's. I thought it might be fun to see who all of you think is the greatest serve and volleyer ever. It's a dying breed but it's often fun to see a great serve and volleyer at work.

Some choices may be Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, John Newcombe, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Frank Sedgman and Pete Sampras.
 
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I would say either Edberg and or Johnny Mac. Sampras was great in his own right but could also devestate you from the baseline as well and track some almost impossible shots down and bomb them back with his running forehand. I dont think Sampras was a "strict" serve-volleyer in any sense of the word. He was devastating from any area of the court.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
From what I understand, Gonzalez was so devastating at S/V that they changed the rule to make him wait until the ball bounced on his side of the net before approaching.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Henman:). From the options though, I would choose McEnroe.
You don't have to stick to the list. I forgot to have the option "Others" on the poll. Henman was an excellent and serve and volleyer.
 

Sam F

New User
I'd say the first thing to get clear is whether we're talking about pure serve and volleyers (players whose serves were less of a weapon and used the serve to set up their great volleys), or players like Sampras and Becker, who volleyed great but also looked to serve huge. I'd call the first group pure sv and the later group basher sv.

If you include bashers, then it's hard not to vote for Sampras. Becker would also deserve some mention. If it's just pure sv players, then I might add Cash and Rafter to the list.

Kinda surprised Laver isn't on the list though.
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
Becker was more of a SERVE and clean up the leftovers volleyer... Edberg was a pure s&v player but I thought McEnroe had much more variety in his net game. I also thought McEnroe was as good a volleyer as Edberg and in doubles no one had a better feel for the game than Mac.

I still cannot believe how many doubles titles he won with Peter (the pylon) Fleming.
 

BTURNER

Hall of Fame
A serve/volleyer is someone who serves and moves forward with the intent of punching the ball before it bounces on his side ( volley) . How much or how little they are dependent on that serve or that volley does not matter.
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
Ok I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this point, when we are talking "Greatest All Time" I am thinking Great Serve backed up with a Great Volley.

Sampras had both... Edberg had both and McEnroe had both... Becker had a great serve but his volley I would only give an above average.
 

downdaline

Professional
It's difficult to choose just one, being a fan of the S&V style.

For me, it'd be Edberg. Not just because of his achievements on grass AND clay, but also because his serve&volley game was as pure as it got.

Serve was sufficient, volleys were textbook, but it was the movement that was outstanding. Edberg was always sure-footed on his net approaches, never hesitant, always moving forward, weight moving into the ball and punched with certainty.

I'd seen McEnroe get caught clueless at the net a few times. I've seen Sampras get flat footed and passed a few times. But not Edberg, or maybe im watching the wrong tapes.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
How could you leave Rod Laver off of the list :confused:
Rod Laver probably could be put on almost any list of this type but I decided that as a pure serve and volleyer he was probably a bit below a Newcombe or a Gonzalez among others. I suppose I could have put him on the list.

Rafter should be mentioned in this thread.
Frankly I forgot about him but he is one of the top serve and volleyers of recent years. I realized I forgot him shortly after I started the thread but I couldn't change the poll list. Superb volley. I loved him matches against Agassi. In a lot of way they were more fun to watch than Agassi against Sampras. Sampras could overpower Andre with his huge serve but Rafter didn't have that overpowering serve so Andre could return it well and it would lead to better rallies.

Another one who belongs would be Tony Roche and I suppose you can mention Arthur Ashe too but I think Ashe's forehand volley was very suspect.
 
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pc1

G.O.A.T.
That was my thought, he came along at a time when the game was changing to big groundies and still came in all the time.
True enough. It's amazing how the game has changed. Is there anyone you can really call a true serve and volleyer today? Maybe Taylor Dent.

I'm a bit surprised in the results of the poll so far. It's tied at 14 between Edberg and McEnroe. Sampras is way behind at 8.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Good list IMO. Either Mac or Edberg in the Open Era. Before that Pancho or Kramer. (I wish I knew more about Sedgman, one of the "forgotten greats" IMO.)

Laver was not a pure S&V player. He did certainly come to the net very often, but only when he thought that the best strategy. And he could volley with the best. He was a true all-court player: he could trade topspin grounstrokes with the best for any length of time, or he could run in to the net in order to finish the point. (There's an old story that Laver would deliberately hit a short lob to force his opponent to hit a smash, then 'the Rocket' would rush to the net to volley back the smash in the air--he had such incredible confidence and unbelievable reflexes.) No weaknesses, no flaws, and the left forearm of Hercules.
 
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Azzurri

Legend
Ok I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this point, when we are talking "Greatest All Time" I am thinking Great Serve backed up with a Great Volley.

Sampras had both... Edberg had both and McEnroe had both... Becker had a great serve but his volley I would only give an above average.
LOL...are you kidding me??? He OWNED Wimbledon before Pete. His volley game was superb, a a guy that wins Wimbledon or runner-up so many times is NOT above avergae. This is a joke and now my new signature...unreal.
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
Ripper014: Thats just stupid, Becker had one of the best volleys in the Open era, the reason why it didnt look as good as Mac and Edbergs was because his 1st volley was often an easier one due to his massive serve.

EDIT: Good to see that Edbergs leads the poll, very fair.
 

Azzurri

Legend
It's difficult to choose just one, being a fan of the S&V style.

For me, it'd be Edberg. Not just because of his achievements on grass AND clay, but also because his serve&volley game was as pure as it got.

Serve was sufficient, volleys were textbook, but it was the movement that was outstanding. Edberg was always sure-footed on his net approaches, never hesitant, always moving forward, weight moving into the ball and punched with certainty.

I'd seen McEnroe get caught clueless at the net a few times. I've seen Sampras get flat footed and passed a few times. But not Edberg, or maybe im watching the wrong tapes.
totally confused..what do you mean? you are over-exaggerating Edberg.
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
you are over-exaggerating Edberg.
Not at all, i suggest you look at some matches from prime Edberg! WHY do you think he went to the FO-final in 1989 with that forehand? Im gonna get me a beer and some snacks and when i get back here im really looking forward to hear your answer to that one. OK?
 

Azzurri

Legend
Ripper014: Thats just stupid, Becker had one of the best volleys in the Open era, the reason why it didnt look as good as Mac and Edbergs was because his 1st volley was often an easier one due to his massive serve.

EDIT: Good to see that Edbergs leads the poll, very fair.
agreed. Becks won Wimbledon at 17 for goodness sake. he was awesome at the net and tough to pass. He did an excellent job of putting pressure on his opponents. Ripper never watched Becker play.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Not at all, i suggest you look at some matches from prime Edberg! WHY do you think he went to the FO-final in 1989 with that forehand? Im gonna get me a beer and some snacks and when i get back here im really looking forward to hear your answer to that one. OK?
no one is perfect. he stated he NEVER saw Edberg make a mistake or get passed like Sampras/Mac...he was exaggerating...simple as that.
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
agreed. Becks won Wimbledon at 17 for goodness sake. he was awesome at the net and tough to pass. He did an excellent job of putting pressure on his opponents. Ripper never watched Becker play.
Good to see that we can agree, Becker was solid as a rock in Wimbledon for a decade with only 1 bad loss.
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
no one is perfect. he stated he NEVER saw Edberg make a mistake or get passed like Sampras/Mac...he was exaggerating...simple as that.
Oh ok, well that was exaggerating then, but imo he was the best s&v- player, he was a panther at the net even though he was a big guy.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Not at all, i suggest you look at some matches from prime Edberg! WHY do you think he went to the FO-final in 1989 with that forehand? Im gonna get me a beer and some snacks and when i get back here im really looking forward to hear your answer to that one. OK?
also, unlike you I wathced many, many Edberg matches and watched his ENTIRE career very closely. He was on of my favorite players to watch and just loved his attitude. I know Edberg's game well and trust me he screwed up just like Mac did. He was not perfect like Ripper claims...:shock:
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
also, unlike you I wathced many, many Edberg matches and watched his ENTIRE career very closely. He was on of my favorite players to watch and just loved his attitude. I know Edberg's game well and trust me he screwed up just like Mac did. He was not perfect like Ripper claims...:shock:
Come on man, why are you degrading other posters? Seriously? I saw Edberg play 4 times, i even saw him practice, and ive played pro tennis for 5 years myself. Im Swedish for Gods sake and Edberg was my idol growing up! :shock:
I would really appreciate if you didnt write to me as if I was ********.
I dont write to you in that way.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Oh ok, well that was exaggerating then, but imo he was the best s&v- player, he was a panther at the net even though he was a big guy.
ok, not sure why you need to convince me. I also think Edberg was the best (along w/Mac). I can't choose between the two, they they are both at the top of my list. big guy?? he was tall (not too tall) and weighed 175 lbs..I would not say he was a big guy. 6'4" and above is a "big guy".
 

Azzurri

Legend
Come on man, why are you degrading other posters? Seriously? I saw Edberg play 4 times, i even saw him practice, and ive played pro tennis for 5 years myself. Im Swedish for Gods sake and Edberg was my idol growing up! :shock:
I would really appreciate if you didnt write to me as if I was ********.
I dont write to you in that way.
LOL, you don't read very well. I was talking about Ripper. If you think Edberg never made an error at net or was past then you are just as clueless. I assume you are just a very sensitive person that cries a lot and that is fine. But don't bring your "whiny" game on a tennis forum. It won't help. I don't care for posters like you that need things to be explained and consistently misunderstand OBVIOUS statements. You annoy me.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Thats what i meant, tall and fairly muscular (legs)
then you use the term "big guy" more loosely than most. a big guy is a BIG GUY. I know that people were surprised to find out how tall Stef was when they got a chance to be near him. He had a slight build (but of course muscular legs). Do you consider Federer a big guy??? He weighs 10 more punds than Stef and was nearly his height...
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
LOL, you don't read very well. I was talking about Ripper. If you think Edberg never made an error at net or was past then you are just as clueless. I assume you are just a very sensitive person that cries a lot and that is fine. But don't bring your "whiny" game on a tennis forum. It won't help. I don't care for posters like you that need things to be explained and consistently misunderstand OBVIOUS statements. You annoy me.
Okey, thats fine.
Im sure there are lot of posters who find you extremely annoying aswell.
Clueless-Azzurri`s favourite word- my new sig.
You should learn to respect other peoples opinions, or maybe you are a communist?
 
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TheMagicianOfPrecision

Guest
then you use the term "big guy" more loosely than most. a big guy is a BIG GUY. I know that people were surprised to find out how tall Stef was when they got a chance to be near him. He had a slight build (but of course muscular legs). Do you consider Federer a big guy??? He weighs 10 more punds than Stef and was nearly his height...
No i dont, Federer looks a lot thinner than Edberg imo.
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
agreed. Becks won Wimbledon at 17 for goodness sake. he was awesome at the net and tough to pass. He did an excellent job of putting pressure on his opponents. Ripper never watched Becker play.
Ripper did watch Becker play as a 17 year-old and Kevin Curran and Connors in his prime and Arthur Ashe when he beat Jimmy. So next going to tell me that Curran was a great S&V because he got the final of Wimbledon... or that Ivanisovic is... I did note that Becker was an above average volleyer but no way a great one. He lived off of his huge serve, which was a real weapon back on those older grass courts and balls of the day. Even TheMagicianOfPrecision admits that "Becker had one of the best volleys in the Open era, the reason why it didnt look as good as Mac and Edbergs was because his 1st volley was often an easier one due to his massive serve".

Beckers game was built around his big serve and forehand. I have not looked but maybe we should check and see how many cheap points he got off of his serve during his run in the tournament.
 
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robow7

Professional
Got to go with the Mac, best hands the game has probably ever seen. But I'll give Edberg the best rightie volley. Both fun to watch and oh how I miss that other style of play.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Ripper did watch Becker play as a 17 year-old and Kevin Curran and Connors in his prime and Arthur Ashe when he beat Jimmy. So next going to tell me that Curran was a great S&V because he got the final of Wimbledon... or that Ivanisovic is... I did note that Becker was an above average volleyer but no way a great one. He lived off of his huge serve, which was a real weapon back on those older grass courts and balls of the day. Even TheMagicianOfPrecision admits that "Becker had one of the best volleys in the Open era, the reason why it didnt look as good as Mac and Edbergs was because his 1st volley was often an easier one due to his massive serve".

Beckers game was built around his big serve and forehand. I have not looked but maybe we should check and see how many cheap points he got off of his serve during his run in the tournament.
you must be joking. you compare Becjker to Curran/Goran? see, you are truly clueless.
 

matchmaker

Hall of Fame
Ripper did watch Becker play as a 17 year-old and Kevin Curran and Connors in his prime and Arthur Ashe when he beat Jimmy. So next going to tell me that Curran was a great S&V because he got the final of Wimbledon... or that Ivanisovic is... I did note that Becker was an above average volleyer but no way a great one. He lived off of his huge serve, which was a real weapon back on those older grass courts and balls of the day. Even TheMagicianOfPrecision admits that "Becker had one of the best volleys in the Open era, the reason why it didnt look as good as Mac and Edbergs was because his 1st volley was often an easier one due to his massive serve".

Beckers game was built around his big serve and forehand. I have not looked but maybe we should check and see how many cheap points he got off of his serve during his run in the tournament.

Becker is a little subestimated IMO on these forums. Reason for that could be that he really underachieved a little with his potential. For instance he could have won 7 Wimbledons instead of 3. He was a bit of an up and down player: when it went well, he was very dynamic and could beat anyone, but I have also seen matches where he was very static and slow and yes, in those matches he lived off his serve.

However in the other matches Becker was much more than just a serve and a forehand. I really don't understand why people even focus on his forehand, it was good, yes, but great? Not IMO.

People also forget Becker had a great singlehanded backhand, that would yield winners and open up the court for him to attack.

As for his volley skills, on one of his agile days, he was up there with the best. On one of his down days he was slow and badly moving and could be passed easily.
 

matchmaker

Hall of Fame
Anyway, my vote in this poll goes to JMac, IMO the most gifted volleyer of all times.

Maybe not the best serve of all times, but his purpose wasn't really to hit aces, but to set up his first volley.

But even when he got a very dangerous return back, he could improvise and find just the right volley to set the situation straight.
 

cigrmaster

Semi-Pro
In my opinion the best SERVE and Volley player, ( notice I capped the serve part) is Pete Sampras.

The question was not who was the best at volleying ( that of course there is no question about...Johnny Mac) but who was best at both.

When analyzing a serve and volley player, it is the success of the serve which sets up the success of the volley. Sampras was the best server in the history of tennis. His second serve was more of a weapon than most guys firsts. He did not hit it the hardest but was the most accurate.

While Edberg certainly deserves considedration in the conversation, he is not in the same league as Sampras. No one is and I have seen them all.

The list should go like this.

Sampras

Johnny Mac

The rest of the great ones like Edberg, Becker, Laver et al are all in tier 2.
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
In my opinion the best SERVE and Volley player, ( notice I capped the serve part) is Pete Sampras.

The question was not who was the best at volleying ( that of course there is no question about...Johnny Mac) but who was best at both.

When analyzing a serve and volley player, it is the success of the serve which sets up the success of the volley. Sampras was the best server in the history of tennis. His second serve was more of a weapon than most guys firsts. He did not hit it the hardest but was the most accurate.

While Edberg certainly deserves considedration in the conversation, he is not in the same league as Sampras. No one is and I have seen them all.

The list should go like this.

Sampras

Johnny Mac

The rest of the great ones like Edberg, Becker, Laver et al are all in tier 2.

With this I can agree... Sampras and McEnroe both had great serves (in McEnroe's case more with deception and guile) backed up with tremedous volleying ability.
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
you must be joking. you compare Becjker to Curran/Goran? see, you are truly clueless.

I am not comparing them to Curran/Goran my point is that someone claimed winning a Wimbledon finals makes them a great S&V... Curran was who Becker played in his first final (which I watched) and Goran won one... and was in the finals of others.

Rather than attacking me personally why don't we just agree to disagree like adults.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
In my opinion the best SERVE and Volley player, ( notice I capped the serve part) is Pete Sampras.

The question was not who was the best at volleying ( that of course there is no question about...Johnny Mac) but who was best at both.

When analyzing a serve and volley player, it is the success of the serve which sets up the success of the volley. Sampras was the best server in the history of tennis. His second serve was more of a weapon than most guys firsts. He did not hit it the hardest but was the most accurate.

While Edberg certainly deserves considedration in the conversation, he is not in the same league as Sampras. No one is and I have seen them all.

The list should go like this.

Sampras

Johnny Mac

The rest of the great ones like Edberg, Becker, Laver et al are all in tier 2.
Interesting. If you emphasize the serving portion then yes, Sampras is one of the greats. (I do think Sampras's volleys were excellent, if not quite in the McEnroe and Edberg league.)

If you emphasize volleying, then IMO Edberg is one of the greats. (I think Edberg had an excellent first serve and an even better second serve.)


Laver, as I have already said, would be tier 2.
 

Azzurri

Legend
I am not comparing them to Curran/Goran my point is that someone claimed winning a Wimbledon finals makes them a great S&V... Curran was who Becker played in his first final (which I watched) and Goran won one... and was in the finals of others.

Rather than attacking me personally why don't we just agree to disagree like adults.
clueless 014, you compared Becker to Curran/Goran. Becker made 7 finals and won 3. He owned Wimbledon from the mid 80's to early 90's. You cannot compare Curran/Goran with Becker. You completely and utterly fail.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Something is wrong here. If this was a rafter vs. Samoras so many people would have voted for rafter. Yet so many rate Pete higher than Edberg/Mac??? I understand the point about Pete's serve being so much better than the other and that trumps the other volley strenghts over Pete's. But should we look at it this way?
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Something is wrong here. If this was a rafter vs. Samoras so many people would have voted for rafter. Yet so many rate Pete higher than Edberg/Mac??? I understand the point about Pete's serve being so much better than the other and that trumps the other volley strenghts over Pete's. But should we look at it this way?
Azzurri,

I personally wouldn't vote for Rafter over Sampras because while I think Rafter had a bit of a better volley, Pete's serve was clearly better and allowed him to be most effective if both played the serve and volley game. Well at least that's my opinion.

Of course it's a discussion thread so people can do what they think. However where I made the thread it was to discuss who was the best overall serve and volleyer and the serve of course is very important. If a person served like Harold Soloman and volleyed like Edberg, well he's not going to do that well. I meant who had the most overall effective s and v game.

Jack Kramer for example was considered by many the best overall serve and volleyer in his day because he was a great server plus he had a terrific volley. They were some who volleyed better than Kramer in his day but the overall SERVE and volley for Kramer yielded the best overall results. Some have said they Kramer won more sets on one service break than anyone.

Good points Azzurri.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Azzurri,

I personally wouldn't vote for Rafter over Sampras because while I think Rafter had a bit of a better volley, Pete's serve was clearly better and allowed him to be most effective if both played the serve and volley game. Well at least that's my opinion.

Of course it's a discussion thread so people can do what they think. However where I made the thread it was to discuss who was the best overall serve and volleyer and the serve of course is very important. If a person served like Harold Soloman and volleyed like Edberg, well he's not going to do that well. I meant who had the most overall effective s and v game.

Jack Kramer for example was considered by many the best overall serve and volleyer in his day because he was a great server plus he had a terrific volley. They were some who volleyed better than Kramer in his day but the overall SERVE and volley for Kramer yielded the best overall results. Some have said they Kramer won more sets on one service break than anyone.

Good points Azzurri.
it is difficult to ignore a great serve like Pete's and his incredible volley skills. The guy won 14 majors because of his game. I wonder how dominant Edberg would have been had he a much better serve. Mac, however did dominate for almost 4 years and I have say its because he had a great serve (not like Pete's). So yes, the serve is very important to a S&V player. Its too difficult to take just the volley (in terms of grading/assessing a player) and ignore their serve. They go hand in hand. But so many people want to argue that Sampras's volley's are only good because of his serve...hogwash.

Hope I was not confusing.
 

Azzurri

Legend
With this I can agree... Sampras and McEnroe both had great serves (in McEnroe's case more with deception and guile) backed up with tremedous volleying ability.
clueless..again. You mean Sampras. His serve was deceptive. never changed his toss angle. Mac's just came at different angles because he was a lefty and used to serve out wide a ton to the FH side.
 
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