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

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.
again, Becker is a great S&V player. You stated he was above avg. Curran is not even in the same ballpark as Goran, so the only thing you got right was Curran was NOT a great S&V player. good job.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
greatest serve AND volleyer

U need both to win this poll folks...

which is why I would not pick Sampras or Curren (both great servers, but volleys not quite at the same level)

plus, Serve and Volley implies that you regularly come in behind your serve....Pete did not do that (unless on grass)

Edberg or Mac, from the more recent generation are tops

and, Rafter should've been on the vote list, I agree
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
There are others like Pat Cash... he was pretty good too. But I like the variety and style of a gifted player named McEnroe.
 

Azzurri

Legend
U need both to win this poll folks...

which is why I would not pick Sampras or Curren (both great servers, but volleys not quite at the same level)

plus, Serve and Volley implies that you regularly come in behind your serve....Pete did not do that (unless on grass)

Edberg or Mac, from the more recent generation are tops

and, Rafter should've been on the vote list, I agree
while I understand your point and I agree with it, not sure why you put Sampras and Curren in the same sentence..they are miles apart. Curren had no where near the volley Pete had. As for Rafter, I agree he should be in this poll, but believe his poor record against the best S&V (pete) and 2 majors (far less compared to Mac, Edberg, Becks, Pete) may be the reason he gets overlooked. But I did like Rafter a lot, just don't think he was as good as Pete in either department.
 

BTURNER

Legend
One way I look at this is to ask myself how much of a player's success can be attributed to something OTHER than the s/v. Once we have decided he can't really thank his ground game for many points won or many victories. We are left giving that Serve and volley getting almost all of credit for the career. Sampras must give due nod to his powerful forehand for either producing clean winners of his own, inducing forced errors or forcing players to alter their gameplan to avoid that wing. His s/v game has to share crdit. Edberg's does not. He won a higher percentage of his points with the combination of S/v or with his volley alone because he did not have that kind of a weapon on the ground that Sampras had. As beautiful as the Edberg backhand was, it was most effective as a passing stroke which he would use vs other s/vers or on grass. Sampras' forehand put opponents on their heels whereever they were or on any surface. Plus Edberg was always up there on any surface. In summary Edberg wins because his groundgame was worse than the others and less used by his choice
 
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hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Here's tier-one among the greatest volleyers in the history of the game: McEnroe, Edberg, Laver, Rafter, Gonzales, Newcombe.

Here's tier-two: Kramer, Sedgman, Roche, Henman, Nastase, Panatta, Becker, Cash, and Sampras.

I'd like to start a tier-three.
Tier-three: Hoad, Ashe, Rosewall, Perry, Krajicek.

If you believe that a name should be added, or moved up or down, please make that suggestion. (I may have to start a new thread, as here I am not ranking the greatest serve and volleyers, but just the games's greatest volleyers.)
 
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pc1

G.O.A.T.
Here's tier-one among the greatest volleyers in the history of the game: McEnroe, Edberg, Laver, Rafter, Gonzales, Newcombe.

Here's tier-two: Kramer, Sedgman, Roche, Henman, Nastase, Panatta, Becker, Cash, and Sampras.

I'd like to start a tier-three.
Tier-three: Hoad, Ashe, Rosewall, Perry, Krajicek.

If you believe that a name should be added, or moved up or down, please make that suggestion. (I may have to start a new thread, as here I am not ranking the greatest serve and volleyers, but just the games's greatest volleyers.)
Rosewall's backhand and forehand volleys were great. Even in his late thirties and early forties, the players ranked Rosewall backhand and forehand volleys among the best in the game. Ken's backhand volley is rated by many among the best of all time so I would rate Rosewall's volley in tier one. Rosewall didn't have the best serve but his volley was so super that it helped it hold serve at an excellent percentage.

I was at a clinic Arthur Ashe held many years ago. Ashe just had the procedure on his heel so his foot was in a cast but I remember in demontrating how to volley he was very humble and mentioned his weak forehand volley. One woman there made the joke that she wished she had Ashe's weak forehand volley.

I also think Sedgman may move up to tier one since players like Kramer, Laver and Emerson raved about his great volley and how it was his best shot.

One of the French Muskateers Jean Borotra was considered a super volleyer particular since his serve was average at best. He won Wimbledon twice with his volley as his best shot.

I think Roy Emerson had to be considered among the great volleyers but in what tier I don't know. I would guess around tier two.

We haven't mentioned the women but I would say Navratilova is the greatest serve and volleyer of all time with the greatest overall volley. I would also mentioned Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, Maria Bueno, Suzanne Lenglen, Alice Marble, Evonne Goolagong. I may put Court as the number two volleyer even though I think King's technique was better because Court had such reach at the net. She probably does rank with Navratilova as one of the most dangerous net player in Women's tennis history.
 
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BTURNER

Legend
We haven't mentioned the women but I would say Navratilova is the greatest serve and volleyer of all time with the greatest overall volley. I would also mentioned Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, Maria Bueno, Suzanne Lenglen, Alice Marble, Evonne Goolagong. I may put Court as the number two volleyer even though I think King's technique was better because Court had such reach at the net. She probably does rank with Navratilova as one of the most dangerous net player in Women's tennis history.[/QUOTE]

1. Martina
2. BJK
3. Court

I think King's overhead considering her ht puts her above court. Almost never missed them and always seemed to win the point if she got the lob back. She was more agile than Court. Oh Lets not forget Gibson whose serve/volley was lauded.
 

AndrewD

Legend
1. Martina
2. BJK
3. Court

I think King's overhead considering her ht puts her above court. Almost never missed them and always seemed to win the point if she got the lob back. She was more agile than Court. Oh Lets not forget Gibson whose serve/volley was lauded.
What garbage!
With a serve-volley player you can't look at things in isolation, you have to look at the way in which all of the components worked together. Simply put, if King had genuinely been a better serve-volley player than Court she'd have actually been able to beat her on more than the very odd occasion. Fact is, King's serve, while safer and carrying more spin, wasn't penetrating enough and her volleys, while 'prettier' and more coached than Court's, weren't as damaging.

For any woman, Mixed Doubles is the great leveller. That's the form of tennis which will show just how good a serve-volley player you truly are because its where your shots are going to be tested the most. No surprise to find that Court walks all over King in that format. BJK owed most all of her success to Owen Davidson (won 8 of her 11 majors with him. Of her 7 runner-up efforts 6 were with people other than Davidson) , whereas Court was able to win with anyone (19 wins with 6 different partners including 2 Grand Slams - 1 with Fletcher, 1 with different partners. 4 runners-up with 3 different partners).

Again, simply put, comparing Court to King is (to paraphrase John Newcombe) like comparing the Grand Canyon to a crack in the wall.

End of the day, when you've got three serve-volley players and you don't pick, as your #1, the person who won 3 Grand Slams in two different forms of the game playing that exact style, you're talking through your backside.
 

BTURNER

Legend
COOL THE HOSTILITY! Court had more power than King in every dept. Court won a higher percentage of her points using her superior groundstrokes. She passed and returned more consistently and rallied far better from the backcourt. Her forehand approach was also better. Her backhand stroke was almost as good as BJK but her forehand was on a whole different level. The reason I do not rate her higher on this thread ,is because of ITS limitations, not Margaret's.
 
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anointedone

Banned
AndrewD is an insanely biased Court and Australian tennis fanatic in general. I laugh reading his tirades when he is the one who lives in some fantasy world on most things.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
End of the day, when you've got three serve-volley players and you don't pick, as your #1, the person who won 3 Grand Slams in two different forms of the game playing that exact style, you're talking through your backside.
Bbbbuuuuurrrruuuurrrrrppppp! I'll take Navratilova.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Bbbbuuuuurrrruuuurrrrrppppp! I'll take Navratilova.
I would agree.

Thought occurred to me that we are forgeting a great woman serve and volleyer and that's Alice Marble in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Her serve was supposed to be incredible even at her relatively short height (compared to today's players) of 5'7". I have read accounts in Marble's own book of her being able to throw a ball from centerfield of an American Baseball Stadium to the stands behind home plate and that's approximately 400 feet or more! That's better than most male baseball players today. She was only thirteen at the time and one of the women she defeated was the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

I understand her kick serve was unbelievable.

If we assume a serve is similar to a throwing motion we may be able to believe her serve would be out of this world even by today's standards.

Marble was unbeaten in both 1939 and 1940 I believe. She also was a terrific volleyer.
 
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kiki

Banned
This list is a hellove list and all so good...but, let´s give credit Kramer for being the one that took the S&V game to a new standart.Possibly Gonzales did it even better but Kramer was the first one...and I don´t see Tony Roche and Boris Becker in that list.They were better than Sampras at S&V.
 

kiki

Banned
In the women´s ranks, King,Court,Bueno,Wade,Fry, Jones,Gibson,Navratilova and Mandlikova stand apart.Stove and Shriver were good but not great volleyers.
 

Devilito

Hall of Fame
Petros would have the best S&V game to play in the modern game. Selective, aggressive and adaptive. Mac and Edberg would probably be considered the “best” in terms of their era and how their game was built around their S&V style. Obviously other players like Ashe and Cash were crazy good as well.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
This list is a hellove list and all so good...but, let´s give credit Kramer for being the one that took the S&V game to a new standart.Possibly Gonzales did it even better but Kramer was the first one...and I don´t see Tony Roche and Boris Becker in that list.They were better than Sampras at S&V.
Thanks for reserecting this thread that was started before I joined. I voted for Pancho. But, IMO, Tony Roche, who wasn't one of the choices, was the best S&V for a short time before he started going down with injuries.
 

kiki

Banned
Thanks for reserecting this thread that was started before I joined. I voted for Pancho. But, IMO, Tony Roche, who wasn't one of the choices, was the best S&V for a short time before he started going down with injuries.
Tony Roche cetainly was, at least as good on S&V as Laver ( who wasn´t either listed) and Newcombe, and IMO, a bit better than both in that department.

Other great S&V players not listed would be, from 1960 onwards, Panatta,Rafter,Stan Smith,Brian Gottfried,Krajicek and, of course, Arthur Ashe.

But the list is very good and respects old stars like Kramer,Sedgman and Gonzales.

One player I always had curiosity about was the Comet John Mc Laughlin, whom some journalists consider the first real S&V player ever.

And Teddy Schroeder also comes to my mind, he was the second best amateur behind Kramer, at the end of the World War.
 

netman

Hall of Fame
And please don't forget Lew Hoad, who Laver ranks as one of the best players ever in the S&V era.
 

kiki

Banned
And please don't forget Lew Hoad, who Laver ranks as one of the best players ever in the S&V era.
he certainly was a great serve and volley player.But, when one thinks about Hoad, he thinks about amazing shots, not just s&V¡¡¡
 

kiki

Banned
Where is Neale Fraser? a fine S&V who is able to dominate the GOAT at his favourite venues, certainly must¡¡¡. a doggy, yet severely underrated on this forum.
 

robow7

Professional
IMO, the answer to the question as to the greatest s&v would be found by answering which of these individuals mentioned was able to do it most successfully on clay because they all could perform well on the faster grass of the past. And I don't know who that would be?
 

kiki

Banned
IMO, the answer to the question as to the greatest s&v would be found by answering which of these individuals mentioned was able to do it most successfully on clay because they all could perform well on the faster grass of the past. And I don't know who that would be?
You have great S&V guys to win on clay, like Panatta, Pecci ( a close runner up) and Noah.But John Mc Enroe played the 1984 FO like the angels in the greatest display of S&V on clay that I can remember ( he lost the final, not Lendl won it)...and , of course, you also have the great Rod Laver, but he was not a strict S&V´er, though was very adept to it.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
If Isner can keep up with his great serve for years to come, he should be at the top along with Karlovic.
 

kiki

Banned
If Isner can keep up with his great serve for years to come, he should be at the top along with Karlovic.
This is about the best S&V ever, look at the pool....( you´ll see 0 players from your generation, of course)
 

kiki

Banned
Of course, the OP doesn´t belong to today´s era...he certainly has been involved with tennis long ago...
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
If Isner can keep up with his great serve for years to come, he should be at the top along with Karlovic.
You realize that the thread means serve and volley and not just serve. They don't belong on the list.
 

kiki

Banned
TMF never watched a true S&V player, he clearly wanted to take part in the other thread ( best server) but made a human mistake..
 

robow7

Professional
I will say this, with all of Fed's footspeed, incredible hand eye coordination, ability to improvise in an instant, much like Jordan with a basketball, he could have been one helluva S and V'er if he had played in that type of era.
 
I will say this, with all of Fed's footspeed, incredible hand eye coordination, ability to improvise in an instant, much like Jordan with a basketball, he could have been one helluva S and V'er if he had played in that type of era.
What is forgotten is that Federer did play serve and volley very well in his early Wimbledon days before the grass slowed down. He used this approach to beat Sampras in 2001 and if I remember rightly, Philopoussis in 2003.
 

robow7

Professional
What is forgotten is that Federer did play serve and volley very well in his early Wimbledon days before the grass slowed down. He used this approach to beat Sampras in 2001 and if I remember rightly, Philopoussis in 2003.
Exactly, I remember that well. Now think how good he might have developed that style had he continued to hone those skills. He himself when asked why he wasn't continuing to serve and volley at Wimbly, said it had become too high risk and he was winning with such ease without it, it no longer made sense.
 

robow7

Professional
Thread FAIL!! Where is Federer on the list? He should win this one too.
I didn't mean to suggest he was the best or could have been the best, just suggesting that out of today's players, I think he would have been a natural, for more reasons than just his one handed backhand.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
IMO, the answer to the question as to the greatest s&v would be found by answering which of these individuals mentioned was able to do it most successfully on clay because they all could perform well on the faster grass of the past. And I don't know who that would be?
Tony Roche won the French Championships in 1966 before it was open.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
I am surprised that Pancho Gonzalez and Jack Kramer have gotten so few votes because many consider them among the greatest ever and in reaching that status they used the serve and volley regularly.
 

agentaviles

Rookie
I am surprised that Pancho Gonzalez and Jack Kramer have gotten so few votes because many consider them among the greatest ever and in reaching that status they used the serve and volley regularly.
I agree, both of those men were tremendous Serve Volleyers. But I think the main reason the votes are few for them is that they're part of that older generation that a lot of the 25 and under posters on here haven't seen or even heard of that much.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
...compared to TMF and Fedrulz´s choice for best S&V ever, LLodra, it seems a big achievement...huhmmmm
That would be an interesting list: best serve-and-volleyer among current players?

Certainly Fed would win.
 
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subban

Rookie
How can you not add Patrick Rafter on this survey? The last true serve and volleyer in the modern era of Power Tennis. Even though is gs are low with only 2, he is still an all time great and tremendous serve and volleyer.
 

NJ1

Professional
I liked Edberg growing up and he's my vote. As pure of a s&v'er as I've seen, I'd like to borrow both:)
 

robow7

Professional
That would be an interesting list: best serve-and-volleyer among current players?

Certainly Fed would win.
Not sure, Radek Stepanek probably lives and dies by the s&v sword more than any other these days? Ranked as high as number 8 and still ranked in the top 30. Although Llodra not ranked ever as high may use it more.
 
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TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
That would be an interesting list: best serve-and-volleyer among current players?

Certainly Fed would win.
...compared to TMF and Fedrulz´s choice for best S&V ever, LLodra, it seems a big achievement...huhmmmm
Tony Roche playing s/v in this era he would be another journeyman and might not even be as good as LLodra. That should be a surprise because since the conditions is not suit for s/v.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Tony Roche playing s/v in this era he would be another journeyman and might not even be as good as LLodra. That should be a surprise because since the conditions is not suit for s/v.
TMF, I know you love to defend this era but please, it's about the best serve and volleyers. Just try to discuss serve and volleyers who were great and discuss it here. Please don't argue your usual points because you can argue that in every thread here. It gets a bit tedious.

If I started a greatest two handed backhand thread I wouldn't be talking about the past as much. Probably a good percentage of the best two handed shots would be in recent times, not fifty years. So why are you arguing for greatest serve and volleyers for the recent times when players just don't serve and volley anymore? It doesn't make sense to me.
 

kiki

Banned
TMF, I know you love to defend this era but please, it's about the best serve and volleyers. Just try to discuss serve and volleyers who were great and discuss it here. Please don't argue your usual points because you can argue that in every thread here. It gets a bit tedious.

If I started a greatest two handed backhand thread I wouldn't be talking about the past as much. Probably a good percentage of the best two handed shots would be in recent times, not fifty years. So why are you arguing for greatest serve and volleyers for the recent times when players just don't serve and volley anymore? It doesn't make sense to me.
Talking about greatest S&V players, one has to notice that the most of them didn´t have the overpowering serve ( exception for Pancho and Newk ) but rather a deep (Kramer,Roche,Laver), flat or angled, sliced (Mc Enroe,Panatta) or a big kick american twist (Edberg, Kramer´s second serve).That means, a serve not aimed at the easy put away, but rather a serve that let them storm to the net in time and covering, basically the DTL shot.
 
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