Only three S & Volley specialists left in the Top 100: a historical first ?

tonylg

Professional
Here's some ancient archival footage of two boring servebots trying to play tennis before it was invented by Jokodal.


Note the lack of athleticism, the inability to hit passing shots with their tiny racquets and no poly and general slowness of the play.

Most posters under 30 on this forum can volley better than both of these clowns, they just choose not to because their game has "evolved" past such nonesense into the delightful art of baseline botting.
 

Yoneyama

Hall of Fame
Deliciano begs to differ
I consider a specialist to be someone who uses a tactic or technique a disproportionate amount to other techniques. I guess you could call servebots, serve specialists. Isner really relies on the serve and rarely wins without it.

Feli is one of my favourite players and I felt a bit bad not mentioning him, however he is the second closest thing to a S&V specialist on tour right now. The only thing that holds him back from being a specialist, is he does play baseline/ all court tennis too much to be considered pure S&V in my opinion (especially on hard and clay), whereas Mischa will S&V (and chip and charge) absolutely everything he can on every surface unless he is pinned back.

That's not to say Feli isn't good at S&V, you could probably say he has more success with it - career wise - then Mischa Zverev, he just plays too much baselines to really call him a specialist at it imo.
 

ForumMember

Hall of Fame
You're a smart talking idiot.

Rafa does have a good forehand, which is (almost) on the level of Agassi. But both Becker and Sampras had a better one than Andre, and were frequently winning the FH to FH exchanges.

And you're seriously arguing Rafa has better volleys than Pete and Boris ?

REALLY ??

ROFTL
I was expecting little more sense from some one havinf Ivan Lendl as DP.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I want S&V to be a viable tactic, which I think it is. What I don't want is for half the tour to be full of S&V specialists.

And because of modern tech, S&V can be a viable tactic provided that it isn't the only tactic being employed. I do think that S&V hasn't developed much if at all since its downfall in the early 2000s.

Rafa and Medvedev of all players at the USO F (and notably Rafa at the ATPF) have demonstrated how effective it can still be if executed properly, so I think the problem lies with how current players were developed in their formative years. If you weren't brought up to employ S&V from time to time, you're not suddenly going to S&V when everything's on the line.

Plus, if you look at S&V specialists these past couple of years, you'd probably agree that most of them just aren't athletic, skilled, and / or consistent enough to play that sort of game, and often just about get by due to the relative non-meta nature of their style--not because they're particularly good at S&V.

A Sampras-type with modern equipment and surfaces I think would still be pretty darn successful, but he had an ATG serve to make way for his net game, made possible with incredible movement and athleticism. Most S&V specialists we've seen in the last 10-20 years wouldn't even make honourable mentions in any of those areas.

So I think it's not that S&V is unviable; there is just a vacuum in talent playing that style, resulting in a handful of mediocre players who barely make an impression in the field with that style, leading people to believe that the style is not viable, resulting in even fewer players choosing to explore that style of play.

Vicious cycle really.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
You're a smart talking idiot.
Imagine calling someone an idiot then saying this:
Rafa does have a good forehand, which is (almost) on the level of Agassi.

But both Becker and Sampras had a better one than Andre, and were frequently winning the FH to FH exchanges.
And exactly what would be the basis of ranking Nadal's forehand to be a crappier version of Agassi's?
And you're seriously arguing Rafa has better volleys than Pete and Boris ?

REALLY ??

ROFTL
Dunno about you, but I don't think @ForumMember is actually saying Rafa's get better volley s than Becker.

Technically yes, what he wrote would suggest that--but he also technically didn't mention anything about Pete yet that didn't stop you from included him in your argument, so I suggest you try and understand the point being made rather than using his admittedly rather poor choice of wording as a crux to strawman his argument.
 

tonylg

Professional
Rafa and Medvedev of all players at the USO F (and notably Rafa at the ATPF) have demonstrated how effective it can still be if executed properly
I'm sorry to pick out one sentence of your post, which I can tell is well considered .. but the premise of that one sentence completely voids the rest of the post.

The example of Medvedev and Nadal is not valid. That's a lefty and righty standing so far back to return serve that some of the time they could not even be seen in the shot. That is not the test of whether or not serve and volley is viable in today's game, that is just gifting the point if the server has even the most basic of skills.

Federer is not just a serve and volley specialist, but in his only match with Sampras at Wimbledon, he served and volleyed his way to a win at 19 years of age. He's an outstanding serve and volleyer, as well as an outstanding baseliner. The fact that he virtually never serves and volleys tells you that it simply isn't viable and extreme cases like Med/Nadal don't change that.
 

tonylg

Professional


That's against Berrettini. If you can find one against Medvedev, Nadal probably won't be in the picture.

I didn't watch all the match, I didn't find it particularly good tennis. But of what I did watch, Nadal only won S&V point on the ad side and Medvedev only on the deuce side. Both only when the returner was ridiculously far back. As I said, that's not a test of whether S&V is viable. If anything it's a comical example of just how unviable those players think it is.
 

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
And exactly what would be the basis of ranking Nadal's forehand to be a crappier version of Agassi's?
Regularity and versatility.

Agassi could do pretty much anything he wanted with his FH as long as he was on the ball.

Rafa needs additional placement because he's adding a lift effect. That's why very often his FH lands short although he had all the time in the world to launch it. Hitting a flat FH is very risky for him and demands efforts, while it was totally natural for Andre.

Back in 2015 he had almost forgotten how to play a FH.

I concede Rafa's FH is more powerful, which is why he won 12 RG and Andre only 1. But talent and timing beats power in my book when it comes to FH.
 
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Bender

G.O.A.T.
I'm sorry to pick out one sentence of your post, which I can tell is well considered .. but the premise of that one sentence completely voids the rest of the post.

The example of Medvedev and Nadal is not valid. That's a lefty and righty standing so far back to return serve that some of the time they could not even be seen in the shot. That is not the test of whether or not serve and volley is viable in today's game, that is just gifting the point if the server has even the most basic of skills.

Federer is not just a serve and volley specialist, but in his only match with Sampras at Wimbledon, he served and volleyed his way to a win at 19 years of age. He's an outstanding serve and volleyer, as well as an outstanding baseliner. The fact that he virtually never serves and volleys tells you that it simply isn't viable and extreme cases like Med/Nadal don't change that.


That's against Berrettini. If you can find one against Medvedev, Nadal probably won't be in the picture.

I didn't watch all the match, I didn't find it particularly good tennis. But of what I did watch, Nadal only won S&V point on the ad side and Medvedev only on the deuce side. Both only when the returner was ridiculously far back. As I said, that's not a test of whether S&V is viable. If anything it's a comical example of just how unviable those players think it is.
I would have to respectfully disagree. What is and what isn't viable is simply a matter of whether it works against the field. If S&V works because your opponent is returning from the stands, it's a viable tactic.

Plus, it's not like Nadal's unique in his returning position; at least not anymore. As you pointed out, Med also returned from deep behind the baseline, and Thiem and Zverev do something similar as well. It's an increasingly popular tactic on returns especially amongst the NextGen, and if S&V is a perfect counter to that strategy, that just makes S&V more viable, not less.
 

ForumMember

Hall of Fame
Dunno about you, but I don't think @ForumMember is actually saying Rafa's get better volley s than Becker.

Technically yes, what he wrote would suggest that--but he also technically didn't mention anything about Pete yet that didn't stop you from included him in your argument, so I suggest you try and understand the point being made rather than using his admittedly rather poor choice of wording as a crux to strawman his argument.
"sorry man.. if you say not only in volleys but in FH also Becker was better than Nadal, I would say you are little blinded by your romanticism with the past. "

This is what i had posted. It simply means that second part of my sentence is applicable only if you are saying that Becker and Pete were better than Nadal in both volleys and Forehands. I don't see how it can be interpreted as saying that Nadal had better volleys than Becker or Sampras. I mean that is unimaginable. Both Becker and Pete played a game where volley was most crucial part of the game and in case of Nadal it is option he can use on need basis. Pete and Becker have to be better than Nadal at volleys.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Regularity and versatility.

Agassi could do pretty much anything he wanted with his FH as long as he was on the ball.

Rafa needs additional placement because he's adding a lift effect. That's why very often his FH lands short although he had all the time in the world to launch it. Hitting a flat FH is very risky for him and demands efforts, while it was totally natural for Andre.

Back in 2015 he had almost forgotten how to play a FH.

Rafa's FH is more powerful, which is why he won 12 RG and Andre only 1. But talent and timing beats power in my book when it comes to FH.
Okay I have a few objections to this:
  1. General observations: Agassi had a great forehand, no doubt about it. But the strength of Agassi's forehand is primarily how flat and hard he could hit it despite how early he was taking the ball (which compensated his relatively poor movement). That's admirable, yes, but it's still just one aspect of what makes a forehand good. Classic Nadal's forehand (2005 to circa 2009) sits on the other opposite extreme--how much pace and spin he could impart on a dropping ball despite his deep positioning. Both forehands yield similar results--robbing the opponent of time. Agassi takes it earlier, Nadal hits it harder. Flat / topspin depends on the conditions. Net result = different methods for the same goal.
  2. Unlike Agassi, Nadal cannot do pretty much anything he wants with his forehand: I'd argue the opposite. Nadal is able to hit ridiculous forehands from anywhere on the court even on the full run / stretch, and it is further enhanced by his vastly superior movement. The whole "Nadal can only hit spinny moonballs" trope was only truly relevant in 2009, where his technique literally limited his ability to do anything more than hit topspin shots. He hit a huge flat forehand in his earlier years, and since 2012 has made lots of modifications to stitch up perceived weaknesses in the shot. He hasn't hit coughed up soft and short balls in years unless it's attacked to the brink. Meanwhile "Agassi could do pretty much anything he wanted with his FH as long as he was on the ball" is a meaningless statement. Any pro can do anything if they are in position to hit the ball, and no, Agassi's forehand couldn't do everything provided he could get a racquet on the ball. His forehand on the full run / stretch is nowhere as good Nadal's. And I've seen Rafa pummel flat forehands left right and centre before, and it was when he was still basically a child in 2004. How often was Agassi able to run backwards and hit a 100 mph inside out winner? A nonchalant banana forehand? I'd say I've seen more shots of Rafa doing something Agassi used to do than the other way around--and I think this is a fair point to make because nothing Rafa does with his forehand is completely new to the sport. Remember before Rafa made the reverse forehand a "thing", it was Pete who was hitting those on the regular.
  3. Talent and timing beats power: This assumes that anyone can hit hard, which is simply not true. Do you think Sampras' serve requires no talent? Hitting the ball as hard as Nadal does is ****ing difficult. Ask anyone who plays at a higher level how difficult it is to swing for the fences from that far deep inside the court and still maintain the depth, precision, power, and penetration that Nadal is able to achieve. There's a reason why the "hero tennis" that Federer and Nadal play is so emulated by amateurs and why it's so strongly advised against by coaches. Furthermore, timing is not something that requires extraordinary talent. Timing in this context is a matter of rhythm, and rhythm is something you can drill until it becomes second nature, same as literally everything else. At any rate, assigning talent as a requirement is a completely arbitrary exercise. You think hitting early and flat takes talent, but I think hitting hard with spin and precision like Rafa does on his forehand or like Sampras did on his serve also require talent--if it even is a thing. If talent is something that you're born with and not something you can just practice until you get better, then technically you should be arguing that it's Agassi who has no talent because everything he did so well can be achieved through hard work and practice, but movement and explosiveness at the pro level is not something you can just achieve through hard work.
  4. Back in 2015 Rafa almost forgot how to play a forehand: And Agassi disappeared for a few years too; I don't think this is a particularly relevant point.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
"sorry man.. if you say not only in volleys but in FH also Becker was better than Nadal, I would say you are little blinded by your romanticism with the past. "

This is what i had posted. It simply means that second part of my sentence is applicable only if you are saying that Becker and Pete were better than Nadal in both volleys and Forehands. I don't see how it can be interpreted as saying that Nadal had better volleys than Becker or Sampras. I mean that is unimaginable. Both Becker and Pete played a game where volley was most crucial part of the game and in case of Nadal it is option he can use on need basis. Pete and Becker have to be better than Nadal at volleys.
Well no, that's not what you wrote actually reads, because you said "not only", which normally is followed by "but also".

Here, you used "not only" but without the "but also", which is weird, and now the sentence neither works as you intended nor as how we interpreted it.

Most readers when they see a "not only" will assume the "but also" to be there and will infer one if it isn't, hence the confusion.
 
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tonylg

Professional
As you pointed out, Med also returned from deep behind the baseline, and Thiem and Zverev do something similar as well.
Only if S&V is not viable, like on clay.



And that's why Nadal did it, he believed S&V wasn't viable for Medvedev even when completely gifting him the point. Having seen Medvedev try to volley, I can see why he would think that too.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Only if S&V is not viable, like on clay.



And that's why Nadal did it, he believed S&V wasn't viable for Medvedev even when completely gifting him the point. Having seen Medvedev try to volley, I can see why he would think that too.
But that’s a criticism of Medvedev’s S&V, not S&V as a whole.

We haven’t had a good S&Ver in years, and that’s kinda my point. S&V doesn’t work because we haven’t had a good S&Ver in decades, not because the style is inherently unviable.

Fedberg and now even Rafa have shown that it is a viable tactic even when it’s expected, and the fact that the Rafa style of ROS positioning is now quite popular will only make S&V more successful for the next player that actually possesses the requisite athleticism necessary to use S&V as his main tactic.

You can’t possibly look at the Edbergs, Samprases, McEnroes in context of their respective eras and reasonably come to the conclusion that the M Zverevs and Llodras are equally as competent relative to this era yet haven’t been successful solely because their main tactic doesn’t work. Baseliners may have become faster and stronger thanks to modern medicine and equipment but so have serves, reflexes, and general athleticism. The ingredients are all there for a next-generation S&V game to make its mark. The issue is that the generation of developing players all look to emulate what is popular now, and for the last 15 years that has been baseliners, so it’s no wonder S&V has nothing but the scraps—all the would-be S&Vers with potential have looked to becoming baseliners and rather mediocre ones at that too.

With the Big 3 now trying to incorporate a lot more net play perhaps there’s a chance that a junior right now or future junior takes inspiration from that and brings about a new generation of net-oriented tennis by tapping into the increased physicality of the sport.
 

toth

Semi-Pro
Fed, Raonic, Deliciano.

That's it.

The new generations are allergic to the net, and don't have a clue how to play there.
It's TERRA INCOGNITA, not to trespass.

Fed can win Wimbledon until he's 50.
Federer and Raonic plays all court tennis, not serve & volley...
 

ForumMember

Hall of Fame
Well no, that's not what you wrote actually reads, because you said "not only", which normally is followed by "but also".

Here, you used "not only" but without the "but also", which is weird, and now the sentence neither works as you intended nor as how we interpreted it.

Most readers when they see a "not only" will assume the "but also" to be there and will infer one if it isn't, hence the confusion.
I still don't see logical error in my sentence but if readers are getting confused and misinterpreting my sentence i'll have to accept that I could have written that in cleaner way.
 

tonylg

Professional
We haven’t had a good S&Ver in years, and that’s kinda my point. S&V doesn’t work because we haven’t had a good S&Ver in decades, not because the style is inherently unviable.
Federer was an outstanding serve and volley player. I'd say possibly top 10 in history.

Lopez
Stepanek
Brown
Llodra
Mahut
Ram

Those guys are all better than just good S&V players.

In any other era at least a few would have been top 20. I'd rate Mahut and Llodra up with Stich and Rafter and the reason I watch doubles is that's where the all court players go - because their skills are viable there.

The combination of racquets, poly strings, slow court surfaces and type 3 balls all combine to make tennis since the mid 2000s, a baseliner's paradise .. to the exclusion of anything else.

 

King No1e

Legend
You're asking this of a guy who (in)famously posted the classic chestnut, "Sampras had to rush the net because he had no groundstrokes." Still the single most obtuse comment ever made here, ahead of Clayqueen's "Agassi never won the FO."
LOL are you sure he was talking about Sampras and not Raonic?
 

King No1e

Legend
The reason Raonic is the only successful serve-volleyer in recent times is because of his serve. With anything less than the Missile serve, he'd get passed every other point against today's baseline specialists. Against Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal his old school game (a very competent one at that) gets completely trashed.
And let's face it, he has no backup plan if that fails. He's been trying to baseline bash more since his comeback, and it's not been working.
 
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Bender

G.O.A.T.
I still don't see logical error in my sentence but if readers are getting confused and misinterpreting my sentence i'll have to accept that I could have written that in cleaner way.
It's just an issue of grammar, not an issue of logic. I wouldn't worry about it since you've clarified what you meant
 

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
One explanation is that because juniors take advantage of the technology, and manage to put the ball into play much easier, they get comfortable with the satisfaction brought with the less effort, and remain stuck in that once the results come in.

I know for a fact that's what Rafa got hooked in, thanks to simpleton Tony.
 
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