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

pmerk34

Legend
Sampras is most athletic player I have ever seen and volleying requires an extreme amount of athleticism. It also require superb reflexes and great technique; perhaps Edberg, maybe Mac, Cash (for how low he used to get by bending his knees), and few others have more 'textbook' volleying technique but Sampras still has great technique. In addition he has greater athleticism than all of them (even Edberg or Laver).
No one has hit more half volley winners in tennis history than Pete.
 

kiki

Banned
All this Edberg love must come from folks who didn't see tennis played in the 60s or 70s. Guys like Brian Gottfried and Dickie Stockton who were PURE serve and volleyers - Being able to get to the finals of so many events with clay being the predominant surface is amazing. If you take into account doubles which i think you must Gottfried is up there and Stockton would have been if not for the bad back that cut him short.
I really missed a lot of Stockton action, probably the big 70´s player I didn´t watch, but i did see Brian and I have a great respect for him.Clean,net groundies and volley and a terrific work ethic.Great guy, if he had had a winning baseline shot, he´d have won a GS title.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
No one has hit more half volley winners in tennis history than Pete.
Yes I thought Sampras was an excellent half volleyer. Pancho Gonzalez, Ken Rosewall and yes Henri Cochet (as Kiki mentioned) were famous for being superb half volleyers.

McEnroe was pretty good also.
 

kiki

Banned
...Now that you mention Gottfried, there were many great S&V in the 70´s.Alexander,Tanner,Gottfried,Stockton,Edmondson, Amritraj,Mottram,Case,Pattison...I´m missing a lot.John Mc Enroe himself is a 70´s player albeit most of his success came in the 80´s.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
...Now that you mention Gottfried, there were many great S&V in the 70´s.Alexander,Tanner,Gottfried,Stockton,Edmondson, Amritraj,Mottram,Case,Pattison...I´m missing a lot.John Mc Enroe himself is a 70´s player albeit most of his success came in the 80´s.
I think in a tennis magazine years ago Gottfried finished second in a backhand and forehand volley poll. He was a very strong volleyer.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I read a WORLD TENNIS article circa 1980. A player poll on best strokes. Gottfried won for both best forehand and backhand volley.
 

kiki

Banned
I read a WORLD TENNIS article circa 1980. A player poll on best strokes. Gottfried won for both best forehand and backhand volley.
I do remember now that you mention it.He was the clutch volleyer for some time, possibly the best in between Newcombe´s peak and Mc Enroeçs peak.

Vitas Gerulaitis was also excellent, Gottfried´s levels.
 

Azzurri

Legend
It was certainly there when he beat Wilander at the '89 USO, he got a lot of aces & service winners that day. And he served & volleyed on every serve(came in 161 times)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA60Bko0Fjw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-amqDjoO2eA
what is your point? did you read his book? he clearly states his serve, the Sampras serve just showed up months (I don't recall specifics) before the 90 USO. Did I say his serve prior was weak? poor? lame? I said the Sampras serve we all know. If you think the video shows the same serve then its your opinion...good for you. Now go back to your shine box.
 

Azzurri

Legend
He played 80 years ago. I don't normally comment on players back that far
don't you just love when people yap about a player they only watched on video clips. also, how many half volley returns could he have on a 75 mph serve??
 

Azzurri

Legend
Not a true S&V player.He took advantage of his huge serve, one of the best ever, but he didn´t have the true instinct.
if he was not a "true" s&v player then what was he?

oh god, another expert that is utterly clueless.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Nice to have you posting here Azzurri. Always makes it interesting.
 
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krosero

Legend
He DID NOT have a big serve when he came into tennis as a pro. His serve began to boom just a few months before the US Open. The serve many Pete know him for was not there when he joined the pro tour.
It was certainly there when he beat Wilander at the '89 USO, he got a lot of aces & service winners that day. And he served & volleyed on every serve(came in 161 times)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA60Bko0Fjw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-amqDjoO2eA
what is your point? did you read his book? he clearly states his serve, the Sampras serve just showed up months (I don't recall specifics) before the 90 USO. Did I say his serve prior was weak? poor? lame? I said the Sampras serve we all know. If you think the video shows the same serve then its your opinion...good for you. Now go back to your shine box.
No, you said the serve we all know was not there when he turned pro, which was in early '88, and nobody disagreed with that. What's incorrect is that "his serve began to boom just a few months before" the '90 Open.

You don't recall the specifics in Pete's book? Here's a refresher.

"When Mats and I met in the second round [89 USO], it was my first appearance on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court at the original USTA National Tennis Center....I was a little apprehensive and still green--emotionally, mentally, and even technically. My forehand--my best shot-- was a little shaky, and in the big picture I had no backhand worth the name. But the one thing I suddenly did have was a serve. In 1989, I suddenly started serving up aces. Don't ask how, because I can't give you a good answer."

"I started my quest at Flushing Meadows [1990] as a dark horse, although I was definitely on the radar of my rivals, the pundits, and knowledgeable fans. Through 1990, I was slowly becoming a better mover and all-around athlete, and my serve--already vastly improved--just kept getting better. There was no magic bullet, coaching or techniquewise. Suddenly the big serve was just there, and getting bigger as the months passed."​
 

kiki

Banned
if he was not a "true" s&v player then what was he?

oh god, another expert that is utterly clueless.
Anybody could be a decent volleyer with his monster serve...but he had big flaws at the net...disguissed by the huge number of aces or first serve winners that he got.Just didn´t feel comfortable there and didn´t have Becker´s, Stich´s,Sampras´or Edberg´s feeling at the net.THAT IS OBVIOUS TO ANYBODY WHO HAS WATCHED SOME REAL S&V ACTION
 

pmerk34

Legend
don't you just love when people yap about a player they only watched on video clips. also, how many half volley returns could he have on a 75 mph serve??
Well that and that fact that tennis in the 1920's and 1930's bear's virtually no resemblance to the sport as played in the 1990's.
 

Azzurri

Legend
No, you said the serve we all know was not there when he turned pro, which was in early '88, and nobody disagreed with that. What's incorrect is that "his serve began to boom just a few months before" the '90 Open.

You don't recall the specifics in Pete's book? Here's a refresher.

"When Mats and I met in the second round [89 USO], it was my first appearance on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court at the original USTA National Tennis Center....I was a little apprehensive and still green--emotionally, mentally, and even technically. My forehand--my best shot-- was a little shaky, and in the big picture I had no backhand worth the name. But the one thing I suddenly did have was a serve. In 1989, I suddenly started serving up aces. Don't ask how, because I can't give you a good answer."

"I started my quest at Flushing Meadows [1990] as a dark horse, although I was definitely on the radar of my rivals, the pundits, and knowledgeable fans. Through 1990, I was slowly becoming a better mover and all-around athlete, and my serve--already vastly improved--just kept getting better. There was no magic bullet, coaching or techniquewise. Suddenly the big serve was just there, and getting bigger as the months passed."​
Thanks for information. Point is he did not come in with that serve. Although he mentions the 89 USO, his serve was getting better as he CLEARLY STATED. I said in the months before the 90 USO...please show me where Pete says it any differently? He said through 90 my serve was already vastly improved...JUST KEPT GETTING BETTER!. Can you read?? NO.
 

Azzurri

Legend
So, you think Ivanisevic belongs on this list? If so, you're clueless. If not, what's the point of bringing it up?
you think IVO was an all-courter?? he certainly was not a baseliner. his game was based on his serve, coming in on his serve and aggresively playing to finish points and not get into long rallies.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Anybody could be a decent volleyer with his monster serve...but he had big flaws at the net...disguissed by the huge number of aces or first serve winners that he got.Just didn´t feel comfortable there and didn´t have Becker´s, Stich´s,Sampras´or Edberg´s feeling at the net.THAT IS OBVIOUS TO ANYBODY WHO HAS WATCHED SOME REAL S&V ACTION
OK, I am done discussing this with you. he is a 7 time W champ. flaws?? big flaws?? here's a flaw...your brain.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Well that and that fact that tennis in the 1920's and 1930's bear's virtually no resemblance to the sport as played in the 1990's.
LOL..exactly. they wore heavy pants back then and were not allowed to leave their feet. I have said it many times, you cannot compare tennis today, 90's or even the 80's to anything in the wood era. and to look at 100 years ago is even a bigger joke.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
you think IVO was an all-courter?? he certainly was not a baseliner. his game was based on his serve, coming in on his serve and aggresively playing to finish points and not get into long rallies.
My point was, whatever IVO is, he's not an all time great serve and volleyer. So, why bring him up in this thread? All court player? Yes, if your definition of all court is someone who is equally skilled at net and backcourt. But, great S&V'er, no, not IMO!
 

Azzurri

Legend
My point was, whatever IVO is, he's not an all time great serve and volleyer. So, why bring him up in this thread? All court player? Yes, if your definition of all court is someone who is equally skilled at net and backcourt. But, great S&V'er, no, not IMO!
go back and re read what I was talking about. I never, ever said he belongs on this list. is this a list of "true" S&V players...is it? Please tell me where I stated he was an all time great, show me where I came anywhere near it. I simply stated he was a S&V player. His back court game was not as good as his volley game...proof is in the pudding...WIMBLEDON OF THE 90'S.

CLUELESS AS EVER.

and, did bring him up in this thread??? did I?
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
go back and re read what I was talking about. I never, ever said he belongs on this list. is this a list of "true" S&V players...is it? Please tell me where I stated he was an all time great, show me where I came anywhere near it. I simply stated he was a S&V player. His back court game was not as good as his volley game...proof is in the pudding...WIMBLEDON OF THE 90'S.

CLUELESS AS EVER.

and, did bring him up in this thread??? did I?
Clueless? Go back and re-read my post:

My point was, whatever IVO is, he's not an all time great serve and volleyer. So, why bring him up in this thread ? . . .
 

krosero

Legend
I said in the months before the 90 USO...please show me where Pete says it any differently?
Okay, great, let's look at your original statements.

His serve began to boom just a few months before the US Open.
did you read his book? he clearly states his serve, the Sampras serve just showed up months (I don't recall specifics) before the 90 USO.
So you claim his serve started booming a few months before the 1990 USO. Moreover, you claim that Sampras clearly stated this. In fact, Sampras never makes a reference to such a specific time frame. He says very generally that he started serving aces in 1989 and that his serve kept improving throughout 1990. Please quote Sampras clearly specifying a time frame beginning a few months before the 1990 USO.

And please don't play with his words. If he clearly makes a reference to a time frame of a few months, then all you should have to do is quote his clear statement specifying it.

"When Mats and I met in the second round [89 USO], it was my first appearance on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court at the original USTA National Tennis Center....I was a little apprehensive and still green--emotionally, mentally, and even technically. My forehand--my best shot-- was a little shaky, and in the big picture I had no backhand worth the name. But the one thing I suddenly did have was a serve. In 1989, I suddenly started serving up aces. Don't ask how, because I can't give you a good answer."

"I started my quest at Flushing Meadows [1990] as a dark horse, although I was definitely on the radar of my rivals, the pundits, and knowledgeable fans. Through 1990, I was slowly becoming a better mover and all-around athlete, and my serve--already vastly improved--just kept getting better. There was no magic bullet, coaching or techniquewise. Suddenly the big serve was just there, and getting bigger as the months passed."​
 

ctromano

Rookie
Johnny Mac is the greatest of all time in the SV sense because the guy had once main goal and focus... finish the point at net. I also like Pat Rafter as the modern day SV, the guy had plan A and then used plan B to get to use plan A... I miss the SV player. In my own game I may not win many points at net but i enjoy being different for a little while :)
 

kiki

Banned
OK, I am done discussing this with you. he is a 7 time W champ. flaws?? big flaws?? here's a flaw...your brain.
Big confusion in your mind.I pointed out Ivo is not a great S&V IMO.I never said something like that about Sampras.He is a top 10-15 all time s&v
 

robow7

Professional
From on that list and that I have seen play live during their prime, I could live with Mac or Edberg. Both made a HOF career with their S&V. Maybe a righty and lefty division?

I saw IVO play live several times, great serve but only a fair volley and movement, definitely not the complete S&V package.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Johnny Mac is the greatest of all time in the SV sense because the guy had once main goal and focus... finish the point at net. I also like Pat Rafter as the modern day SV, the guy had plan A and then used plan B to get to use plan A... I miss the SV player. In my own game I may not win many points at net but i enjoy being different for a little while :)
Mac is definitely a S&V goat candidate. But, your observation of Mac doesn't really distinguish him from the vast majority of male players from about 1950-1990. They all sought to end points at the net. And some were, arguably, even better at it than Mac. What made Mac so great was his natural talent, athleticism and eye hand coordination. He was also a great and underrated backcourt player, BTW.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Mac is definitely a S&V goat candidate. But, your observation of Mac doesn't really distinguish him from the vast majority of male players from about 1950-1990. They all sought to end points at the net. And some were, arguably, even better at it than Mac. What made Mac so great was his natural talent, athleticism and eye hand coordination. He was also a great and underrated backcourt player, BTW.
I would agree McEnroe is up there with anyone. I'm not so sure about Edberg before some top returner like Connors and Agassi would attack his serve, which was good but I don't think it was so good as some others like Newcombe and Gonzalez.

Newcombe in his prime, while perhaps not having quite the volley Edberg had (it was still excellent) in my opinion had a clearly better serve and Edberg so I may give him the edge over Edberg as a serve and volleyer.
 

robow7

Professional
Limpinhitter,
I agree about many in those earlier years, but a guy like Laver, Rosewall, and even Sampras could win points from elsewhere on the court where Mac and Edberg weren't going to win if they couldn't get in. They were pretty much dedicated to that style of tennis almost 100% of the time. They didn't have a big back court weapon and weren't known as counterpunchers and hence why I give them the nod.
 

kiki

Banned
Limpinhitter,
I agree about many in those earlier years, but a guy like Laver, Rosewall, and even Sampras could win points from elsewhere on the court where Mac and Edberg weren't going to win if they couldn't get in. They were pretty much dedicated to that style of tennis almost 100% of the time. They didn't have a big back court weapon and weren't known as counterpunchers and hence why I give them the nod.
Mac won many points from the back, even if he sought to settle up his attack.In 1981 he could play Borg face to face from the ground.In his peak 1984 year, he dominated Lendl from the backcourt ( in indoors and hard) and toyed Connors there, too.
 

Xavier G

Professional
Mac's ground game is often under-rated. He was primarily S&V, but he had effective strokes which worked for him. Even that loopy forehand, if my memory serves me right. By 84, he was handling Lendl on clay easily. Even at Roland Garros until he let Lendl back into the match. His ground game looked pretty good in the Wimby final against Connors that year!
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Limpinhitter,
I agree about many in those earlier years, but a guy like Laver, Rosewall, and even Sampras could win points from elsewhere on the court where Mac and Edberg weren't going to win if they couldn't get in. They were pretty much dedicated to that style of tennis almost 100% of the time. They didn't have a big back court weapon and weren't known as counterpunchers and hence why I give them the nod.
That's not really true. I've seen Mac beat great backcourt players, like Vilas and Lendl, from the baseline when he was at his peak. Not that he had a better baseline game than they did, but, he was much better from the baseline than most give him credit for. As for Edberg, I haven't seen him win matches from the baseline, but, I've certainly seen him win impressive points from the baseline. His 1hb is one of the all time greats.

I just don't like seeing players like Mac and Edberg being pigeon-holed as one dimentional players when they were really complete players and champions.
 
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kiki

Banned
I´d say mac was better from the baseline than Borg or Lendl at the net.As for Edberg, while he didn´t have the whole range of a Mac, his brilliant backhand certainly can compete with the best.He had trouble with his fh, though.Mainly due to his wrist, his preparation for this shot always seemed too rigid.
 

kiki

Banned
specially in indoors where his lack of power was jeopardized by the fast carpet, which enhanced his anticipation sense and very sound, straightforwarss techniche with almost no backswing.

it was a great spectacle to see an inspired Mac playe indoors ( along Sampras,Becker and Lendl, the true best fast carpet players )
 

robow7

Professional
Hey guys, I like Mac's loosey goosey strokes as well but Mac's not winning majors with his ground game. He didn't win a single US Open or Wimbly from the back court and he didn't come close on the one occasion at the FO by staying back on clay. He didn't lose matches from the baseline but he didn't win many either.
 

kiki

Banned
No backswing+anticipation, that made John Mc Enroe a very fine indoors player, and it worked extremely well on grass too.He passed Borg in the 1980 finals many times with that.It almost looked unrealistic...
 

Azzurri

Legend
Okay, great, let's look at your original statements.



So you claim his serve started booming a few months before the 1990 USO. Moreover, you claim that Sampras clearly stated this. In fact, Sampras never makes a reference to such a specific time frame. He says very generally that he started serving aces in 1989 and that his serve kept improving throughout 1990. Please quote Sampras clearly specifying a time frame beginning a few months before the 1990 USO.

And please don't play with his words. If he clearly makes a reference to a time frame of a few months, then all you should have to do is quote his clear statement specifying it.

"When Mats and I met in the second round [89 USO], it was my first appearance on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court at the original USTA National Tennis Center....I was a little apprehensive and still green--emotionally, mentally, and even technically. My forehand--my best shot-- was a little shaky, and in the big picture I had no backhand worth the name. But the one thing I suddenly did have was a serve. In 1989, I suddenly started serving up aces. Don't ask how, because I can't give you a good answer."

"I started my quest at Flushing Meadows [1990] as a dark horse, although I was definitely on the radar of my rivals, the pundits, and knowledgeable fans. Through 1990, I was slowly becoming a better mover and all-around athlete, and my serve--already vastly improved--just kept getting better. There was no magic bullet, coaching or techniquewise. Suddenly the big serve was just there, and getting bigger as the months passed."​
read the bold. you should talk about a play with words. don't cry in your cheerios too much.
 

Azzurri

Legend
Mac is definitely a S&V goat candidate. But, your observation of Mac doesn't really distinguish him from the vast majority of male players from about 1950-1990. They all sought to end points at the net. And some were, arguably, even better at it than Mac. What made Mac so great was his natural talent, athleticism and eye hand coordination. He was also a great and underrated backcourt player, BTW.
my god you are absolutely intolerable. I have placed you on my ignore list. have a nice life you weird, weird dude. guys from the 50's...as if you saw a single player from that era.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
my god you are absolutely intolerable. I have placed you on my ignore list. have a nice life you weird, weird dude. guys from the 50's...as if you saw a single player from that era.
^^^ The argument of a 15 year old know-it-all. Does it occur to you that there are people in the World who know something about tennis history prior to 2003?
 

krosero

Legend
read the bold.
The text you bolded? You mean this?

"Through 1990, I was slowly becoming a better mover and all-around athlete, and my serve--already vastly improved--just kept getting better."​

Sorry, but I have to use your favorite word here. This CLEARLY does not contain any statement by Sampras specifying a period beginning a few months before the 1990 USO. That is not anywhere in the two passages.

Nor do the passages contain any statement by Sampras that his serve was not booming until a few months before the 1990 USO.

Want to avoid putting words in his mouth? Distinguish between your statements and his.
 
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