Greatest returner ever

#2
Who is the greatest returner ever? People might say Djokovic, Agassi, Connors, Nadal, Federer. This is a subjective question. However, who has won the highest percentage of return games on hard court. (I didn't do all surfaces because the clay distorts results). The answer will surprise you. It surprised me.

https://www.atptour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/all/hard/all
Amongst currently active players on tour Murray is at the top on returng games won on grass aswell.

Murray, Djokovic and Agassi are top 3 IMO. I think all of them have their own strengths that allows them to be so successfull on the return.

But what I will say definitely is that Djoko and Murray are a bit better than Agassi.
 
#3
There is a greatest returner ever on clay (Nadal).
There is a greatest returner ever on hard courts.
And there is a greatest returner ever on grass.

According to the stats you provide, these are the greatest returners of the Big 4 on hard courts:
1. Murray
2. Djokovic

12. Nadal



34. Federer
 

K-H

Hall of Fame
#4
Doesn’t surprise me. Murray’s always been one of the best returners on tour.

Just to add, I think Djokovic is the GOAT in this department and rightfully so.
But I’d pick me Murray over Djokovic against serve bots like Karlovic, isner, Kyrgios etc as no one deals with their serves better than Murray. Just my opinion.
 

Firstservingman

Talk Tennis Guru
#6
Obviously not Federer, but he has his moments on return. Big serves, as others have said. Good anticipation - probably the best. But he's not aggressive with it much, it's normally just to neutralise the serve and start the point. Sometimes I wish he'd rip it but let's be honest, it would go in the crowd more often than not. That's why the best returners (Djok) aren't so great on the big serves but Fed is - being aggressive is effective but it just doesn't work as well on the big bombs as blocking (with GOAT anticipation) does
 

Firstservingman

Talk Tennis Guru
#8
I've tried this stuff myself plenty of times. The temptation is there to rip it on return and I am generally pretty aggressive on returns but yeah, if my opponent has a big serve I'm likely spraying a fair few service winners
 
#9
Federer's been a top notch first serve returner. But honestly, Federer's 2nd serve return has always been as big as a weakness as Murray's 2nd serve.

It's between Murray and Djokovic for me. And given that Murray has the better stats despite having the slightly lesser baseline game, he takes the cake for me.
Sometimes I actually want the opponent to get their first serve in against Fed...
 

Lew II

Hall of Fame
#10
Return points won against top10 on fast surface (hardcourt, grass, carpet):

(top-5 only)

1) Djokovic 39.7%
2) Murray 38.5
3) Jarryd 38
4) Federer 37.5
5) Nalbandian 37.3
6) Chang 37
7) Wilander 36.9
8) Ferrer 36.8
9) Agassi 36.8
10) Davydenko 36.5

top-5 and top-10 selection is to focus on high level performances.

On clay return is less relevant, since the serve is already weakened by the surface.
 
#11
Federer is the best at returning big serves, Andy is a very close second.
Incognito, I agree with most of your comments but this is an exception. Federer is the worst returner of the Big 4. Both Murray and Djokovic are better returners than Federer on every surface. And Nadal is a better returner than Federer both on clay and hard courts. Link to ATP stats:

https://www.atptour.com/en/stats/le...er&surface=all&versusRank=all&formerNo1=false

The Return Rating is measured by considering these 4 factors: 1) % 1st Serve Return Points Won, 2) % 2nd Serve Return Points Won, 3) % Return Games Won and 4) % Break Points Converted.

According to the ATP, Nadal has a Return Rating on hard courts of 157.3 and Federer of only 152.1. Nadal is the 15th player with a better Return Rating on hard courts and Federer is not even top 35. On clay, Nadal has a Return Rating of 189.3, being the best clay returner of all time, while Federer is not the best returner of all time on any surface. Federer is not even top 100 returner on clay of all time in terms of Return Rating, while Nadal is not not outside the top 40 of best returners on any surface.

Stats are the only way to be objective. No link to stats, no credibility.
 
#12
Return points won against top10 on fast surface (hardcourt, grass, carpet):

(top-5 only)

1) Djokovic 39.7%
2) Murray 38.5
3) Jarryd 38
4) Federer 37.5
5) Nalbandian 37.3
6) Chang 37
7) Wilander 36.9
8) Ferrer 36.8
9) Agassi 36.8
10) Davydenko 36.5

top-5 and top-10 selection is to focus on high level performances.

On clay return is less relevant, since the serve is already weakened by the surface.
Clay is another surface. The player with better return stats on clay is the best returner on clay.

Your stats are cherry-picked since you only include the top 10 and fast courts (not the whole field). Link to the ATP stats which include return stats against the whole field and separated surfaces:
https://www.atptour.com/en/stats/le...er&surface=all&versusRank=all&formerNo1=false
 

Lew II

Hall of Fame
#13
#14
Return points won against top10 on fast surface (hardcourt, grass, carpet):

(top-5 only)

1) Djokovic 39.7%
2) Murray 38.5
3) Jarryd 38
4) Federer 37.5
5) Nalbandian 37.3
6) Chang 37
7) Wilander 36.9
8) Ferrer 36.8
9) Agassi 36.8
10) Davydenko 36.5

top-5 and top-10 selection is to focus on high level performances.

On clay return is less relevant, since the serve is already weakened by the surface.
This makes no sense to have top 5 only.

Firstly being a great returner (as opposed to great groundgame) is about returning a serve. There are many great servers outside the top 5, in fact there's more great servers outside the top 5 than in it.

Also winning return points doesn't tell you everything as thats not just about your return but the ground game after you have got the ball back in play. This is why this can't be told with simple stats

But, what are the stats for returned serves, return winners?

Leaving out clay also makes no sense, but I'm guessing Djokovic would not be number one if you did lol
 
#15
Don't you agree that on clay serve and therefore return are less important than on fast surfaces?
No. It is equally relevant.

There is a greatest returner ever on clay.
There is a greatest returner ever on grass.
And there is a greatest returner ever on hard courts.

The ATP link I provided you separates the stats by surface.
 

Lew II

Hall of Fame
#17
Return points won on fast surface (hard, grass, carpet) against players taller than 6'4:

1) Djokovic 40.6
2) Murray 39.5
3) Nalbandian 39.2
4) Kucera 39
5) Joyce 38.5
6) Chang 38.5
7) Ferrer 38.4
8) Cherkasov 38.3
9) Stafford 38
10) Bjorkman 37.8
 
#18
Return points won against players taller than 6'4 on fast surfaces (hard, grass, carpet):

1) Fognini 43.2
2) Simon 42.9
3) Djokovic 40.8
4) Reneberg 40.7
5) Nieminen 40.5
6) Soderling 40.1
7) Rafter 40.1
8) Davydenko 38.8
9) Lendl 38.4
10) Haas 37.8
That's an interesting stat, but why narrow it down so much? why not just all players on all surfaces? Also winning points against players serve is not just about your return but your ground game after it. Serves gotten back into play and return serve winners is a more useful stat though still can't tell us the quality of the return so this one can't really be solved with stats.

Though funnily enough I'd say in my opinion, overall I'd pick Djokovic as best returner
 

Lew II

Hall of Fame
#19
That's an interesting stat, but why narrow it down so much? why not just all players on all surfaces? Also winning points against players serve is not just about your return but your ground game after it. Serves gotten back into play and return serve winners is a more useful stat though still can't tell us the quality of the return so this one can't really be solved with stats.

Though funnily enough I'd say in my opinion, overall I'd pick Djokovic as best returner
It was only in finals.

The correct chart is in the following post.
 

Towny

Professional
#20
Undoubtedly Djokovic and Murray are up at the top. What these stats fail to account for is for more serve dominated games, such as Federer, the player may simply coast when they have a break as they known they're likely to keep it, regardless of what their return abilities are
 
#21
Return points won on fast surface (hard, grass, carpet) against players taller than 6'4:

1) Djokovic 40.6
2) Murray 39.5
3) Nalbandian 39.2
4) Kucera 39
5) Joyce 38.5
6) Chang 38.5
7) Ferrer 38.4
8) Cherkasov 38.3
9) Stafford 38
10) Bjorkman 37.8
I think you are inventing those stats. Can you provide a link to those stats? How on earth can you find stats which only inlude the return against >6' 4" players?
 
#23
There is a greatest returner ever on clay (Nadal).
There is a greatest returner ever on hard courts.
And there is a greatest returner ever on grass.

According to the stats you provide, these are the greatest returners of the Big 4 on hard courts:
1. Murray
2. Djokovic

12. Nadal



34. Federer
The problem with return games won as a stat, is it doesn't really tell you who has the best return of serve because winning a game isn't about just the return but the rallies after the return if you get it in play. Thus you might have a killer return of serve but not so good in the rally, another player might have a decent return but much better in the actual raillies. I look at Nadal as being a very good returner, not the best, but once that ball is back in play his groundgame is going to win the point a lot of times. Someone like Murray I think has a better return of serve but not as consistently good in rallies. Djokovic is somewhat like Murray too.

Returned serves and return winners would be a better stat but it's still not all revealing since a returned serve can be of varying quality, it can put your opponent at a disadvantage or set them up to easy put away the next shot.

So it's to a degree a matter of opinion, though I think most people would agree that Djokovic, Murray and Nadal are all up there, Federer is not really known as a great returner but he is very good at returning big serves (all the matches where he ended up out acing Roddick because he could read his serve better) he's not an aggressive returner like Djokovic but he's good at getting a big serve back in play. In this way Murray is also better than Djokovic.
 

Lew II

Hall of Fame
#27
It's still really narrow and doesn't include clay. Why not? Why not just include all players on all surfaces?
On clay return is not a very influent shot, and tall players usually have a better serve.

Here's to you the stat for all players on all surfaces:

1) Coria 43.5
2) Wuyts 42.7
3) Nadal 42.4
4) Davin 42.3
5) Berasategui 42.3
6) Djokovic 42.1
7) Chang 42.1
8) Murray 42
9) Ferrer 42
10) Perez Roldan 41.9
 
#29
On clay return is not a very influent shot, and tall players usually have a better serve.

Here's to you the stat for all players on all surfaces:

1) Coria 43.5
2) Wuyts 42.7
3) Nadal 42.4
4) Davin 42.3
5) Berasategui 42.3
6) Djokovic 42.1
7) Chang 42.1
8) Murray 42
9) Ferrer 42
10) Perez Roldan 41.9
Thanks. Only fair to include everything though

Are there any stats available for percentage of serves returned and return winner percentage?
 
#32
Fair? 7 out of 10 are claycourters. Wonder why.

No, I don't have them.
What that tells us is that stat of returns are being based mostly on the groundgame and not the actual return of serve shot. That's why it would have been interesting to see percentage of serves returned and return winners. Shame they don't seem to post them. Still wouldn't really tell you how many returned serves set the server up for the winner and how many of them were brilliant returns that put them in charge. The lesson here is that stats don't tell the full story.
 
#33
Who is the greatest returner ever?
The majority of people here only started watched tennis in the last 2-10 years so their responses will reek of presentism. Agassi and Connors were the greatest returners because they returned on slick grass, carpet and HC’s which were 4 times faster than any HC now.

Of the modern generation, Djokovic is the greatest with Murray slightly behind.
 

Red Rick

Talk Tennis Guru
#34
No. It is equally relevant.

There is a greatest returner ever on clay.
There is a greatest returner ever on grass.
And there is a greatest returner ever on hard courts.

The ATP link I provided you separates the stats by surface.
Clay ignores most of returning and puts a lot more emphasis on behind the baselining.
 

diggler

Professional
#36
What that tells us is that stat of returns are being based mostly on the groundgame and not the actual return of serve shot. That's why it would have been interesting to see percentage of serves returned and return winners. Shame they don't seem to post them. Still wouldn't really tell you how many returned serves set the server up for the winner and how many of them were brilliant returns that put them in charge. The lesson here is that stats don't tell the full story.
"percentage of serves returned and return winners" would be meaningless stats. If you got a serve back but it was really weak, I would hardly call that a great returner. If you bashed the ball just going for winners on return, how is that better than getting a solid return and winning on the next shot?
 
#37
"percentage of serves returned and return winners" would be meaningless stats. If you got a serve back but it was really weak, I would hardly call that a great returner. If you bashed the ball just going for winners on return, how is that better than getting a solid return and winning on the next shot?
True but it indicates that stats are of little use with this. As I said it wouldn't tell you if the returns were good or not. But just winning the point doesn't tell you how good the return is either because you might have a mediocre return but great ground shots to win the point once the return is in play.

Return winners is somewhat useful, yes it could be off a bad serve but over the course of a career you'd think most players would face a similar amount of good serves to bad serves
 
#40
Who is the greatest returner ever? People might say Djokovic, Agassi, Connors, Nadal, Federer. This is a subjective question. However, who has won the highest percentage of return games on hard court. (I didn't do all surfaces because the clay distorts results). The answer will surprise you. It surprised me.

https://www.atptour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/all/hard/all
Without seeing stats, my Mt. Rushmore of returners, Modern Era, would be Djokovic, Agassi, Connors, and Murray; they're all top 7 in this stat.
 
#42
Who is the greatest returner ever? People might say Djokovic, Agassi, Connors, Nadal, Federer. This is a subjective question. However, who has won the highest percentage of return games on hard court. (I didn't do all surfaces because the clay distorts results). The answer will surprise you. It surprised me.

https://www.atptour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/all/hard/all
While Federer does much better than most against big servers, he is not as highly-regarded as some of these other guys, overall. Nadal is outstanding on clay but, in general, not as highly-regarded as a returner as Murray & Djoko. Others who probably belong in this top tier of returners include: Agassi, Connors & (Lleyton) Hewitt.
.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
#44
Federer's been a top notch first serve returner. But honestly, Federer's 2nd serve return has always been as big as a weakness as Murray's 2nd serve.
nowhere near 10 country miles of that. But keep consoling yourself with that while Federer destroys 2nd serve stats of both your favs, Andys.
 
#45
Monfils is probably the greatest and most underrated returner of all time. The only player to defeat Karlovic w/o giving up an Ace - Monte Carlo 2008. He's also one of the least aced players of the Open-Era.
 
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Lew II

Hall of Fame
#49
The majority of people here only started watched tennis in the last 2-10 years so their responses will reek of presentism. Agassi and Connors were the greatest returners because they returned on slick grass, carpet and HC’s which were 4 times faster than any HC now.
What was the speed of serves back then?
 
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