Out of serve volleyers - Who had the best return game and passing shots?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by laurie, May 9, 2007.


Which attacker had the best return game & passing shots

  1. Pete Sampras

  2. Boris Becker

  3. Stefan Edberg

  4. John McEnroe

  5. Michael Stich

  6. Tim Henman

    0 vote(s)
  7. Goran Ivanesivic

  8. Patrick Rafter

  9. Richard Krajicek

  10. Mark Phillipousis

  1. laurie

    laurie Guest

    Hi, when we talk about attacking players we always talk about their big serve, or their excellent volleying technique, or good movement, anticipation etc etc.

    No one wins matches with their serve alone, the best players have to have decent to very good returning skills. Which player in the poll would you say was the best?

    I ask this because I always think what great matches Sampras and Rafter had for instance especially on hardcourts, they were always going after eachother, trying to get the return low to feet the dictate with the pass.

    I would vote for Sampras as he had great passing shots off both wings especially the backhand down the line, the cross court and down the line forehand. I think Becker is up there too and Krajicek was surprisingly good for a big mam.

    What do you think/vote?
  2. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

    May 3, 2004
    FT. Lauderdale, Florida
    I would go with Flipper. He had the most powerful ground game (by far), off both wings of any of the players mentioned.

    Obviously, other than Henman his results weren't as good as the other players mentioned.
  3. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Jul 13, 2004
    Michael Stich.

    Pete Sampras. The way that guy moved like a cat...got to balls and did something with them. I'll never forget the way he dismantled Boris in the 95 Wimbledon final after that 1st set.

    Rafter's BH pass was not too shabby, even though his BH was his less explosive wing. He definitely found some angles with that BH pass on the good days.

    I think you could sort of call Nastase an attacking player. He hit some otherworldly defensive shots at times too.

    Federer is definitely not a serve and volleyer. But if some people would call him that, he would top this list.

    Goran was really only a serve and volleyer in his last days on grass. But he could nail some passes off both sides. Goran must have passed Edberg like 50 times in that last match they played in the quarters of the 96 Open.

    I'm sure I am forgetting someone. Maybe Boris? Heck of a return. Not the best mover, but as I recall, he could whip some passes. Good call on him and Richard Krajicek.

    On a good day? Leconte. Forget. About it.
    Last edited: May 9, 2007
  4. andreh

    andreh Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    I voted Becker. But I think Edberg is underrated here. The Wimbledon finals in 88 and 90 would certainly suggest that.

    But between Becker, Edberg, Sampras and McEnroe the difference is very small.
  5. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Jul 13, 2004
    Yeah, definitely, good call Andreh. Edberg's backhand was a thing of beauty. His forehand....myeh.
  6. federerfanatic

    federerfanatic Banned

    Feb 22, 2007
    Of those players the best groundstrokes were Sampras, Stich, and Phillipousis. However McEnroe's passing game was better then his baseline rallying groundstroke game, and Poo's rallying groundstroke game was better then his passing groundstroke game. I voted Sampras, Stich would be 2nd, McEnroe 3rd, Phillipousis 4th. There are still many guys with much better passing games then all of these, but it is limited to attacking style players so you would expect that.

    I laugh that Krajicek is even an option. Maybe if it was limited to only when he played Sampras when he seemed a different player to just about vs anyone else. In general he is an excellent serve, with an serve-volley game, very good overall net game, good approach shots and chip/
    charge ability. However generally speaking, his passing game, return good, overall ground game, movement around the court, all are pretty bad for a top player.
    Last edited: May 10, 2007
  7. andreh

    andreh Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    He rarely hit winners in baseline rallies with the forehand, but his forehand passing shot was quite good.
  8. mmuubb

    mmuubb Rookie

    Dec 13, 2006
    I voted Krajicek, I think his baseline game was underrated-it wasn't great, but he was able to hold his own in a rally.
  9. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Feb 18, 2005
    Becker is up there.
  10. Ted Ghost Shackley

    Ted Ghost Shackley New User

    Dec 21, 2006
    Becker had a great return and passing shots. His backhand grip was less far-eastern than Pete, but his great shoulder turn allowed him to power returns and passing shots past people at will. His explosive forehand was also a thing of beauty. Becker would often misfire on a long rally, but I'd take his passing shots and returns over Pete and all the other players on the list.
  11. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

    Sep 29, 2006
    I would have to agree with you here. People ask why there was such a big discrapancy between Becker's h2h with Edberg's. Reason: Becker's returns off both wing against the big kicker of Edberg's. Becker was strong enough to muscle the high ball back. Pete wasn't able to do it as easily as Becker.
  12. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

    Dec 11, 2004
    I think people are seriously undervaluing McEnroe's return game and passing shots. While he never hit the ball as hard as any of the other players on the list, I think his return of serve was far more dangerous than any of them. Simple reason is that McEnroe attacked the server with every return he hit. The idea was always to either hit a return that would pull him in to net or form part of a chain that would evenutally get him in to net. The other players mentioned were far bigger hitters but nowhere near as intelligent as McEnroe on the return or as punishing. While they could just blast a winner they could also seriously misfire. In terms of the quality of his groundstrokes: they weren't as pretty as other players but they were effective enough to give him wins against the best groundstrokers of his era and on all surfaces.

    A very easy way to gauge the quality of a player's return game is to judge their effectiveness in doubles. A player with a truly great return of serve will have no limitations on the shots they hit and, most importantly given that you have an opponent at net, they will not be predictable. Rafter and Sampras both had serious limitations on their return of serve that made them very predictable (Rafter liked to slice the return, Sampras couldn't pull it sharply cross-court). Edberg was more able to mask his weakness, Becker was sound off both sides although he lacked touch (in comparison to the other elite), Stich had a flaw off the forehand, Henman had one off the backhand (although I always thought it was the better produced than his forehand), Krajicek could be very patchy, Ivanisevic had a rotten slice but good drives off both sides and Phillipousis -before his mobility went- was better than all bar McEnroe. Mac lacked power but that was the only thing he didn't have. However, taking the ball as early as he did, meant that he could tap in to the power of his opponents.
  13. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

    Apr 24, 2007
    Easy answer so easy
  14. Fries-N-Gravy

    Fries-N-Gravy Semi-Pro

    Mar 23, 2007
    Boston, MA

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