The Greatest Return Game Ever?

Kralingen

Legend
Nadal gets a lot of (deserved) crap for his return positioning and vulnerability to big serve+volley players of the 90s, but..

7-1 vs Isner, 5-0 vs Dr. Ivo, 7-3 vs Roddick, 8-2 vs Raonic, the list goes on.

what’s frustrating about his positioning is that he clearly has the talent and reflexes to play closer to the baseline and simply chooses not to do so. Stuff like this should put the “Nadal bad returner” narrative to bed though. He doesn’t return in the same style as Djokovic or Murray, but Djoko is only marginally more effective than him.
 
Nadal gets a lot of (deserved) crap for his return positioning and vulnerability to big serve+volley players of the 90s, but..

7-1 vs Isner, 5-0 vs Dr. Ivo, 7-3 vs Roddick, 8-2 vs Raonic, the list goes on.

what’s frustrating about his positioning is that he clearly has the talent and reflexes to play closer to the baseline and simply chooses not to do so. Stuff like this should put the “Nadal bad returner” narrative to bed though. He doesn’t return in the same style as Djokovic or Murray, but Djoko is only marginally more effective than him.
And that one loss to Isner was retroactively applied after the ATP made the Laver Cup an official event :rolleyes:

He used to return a lot closer to the baseline in his younger years, especially on grass in his prime/peak years. The older he’s gotten the further he moves back which gives off the impression that he’s always returned that far back due to recency bias. He’s great at getting returns into play and then moving in.
 

Kralingen

Legend
And that one loss to Isner was retroactively applied after the ATP made the Laver Cup an official event :rolleyes:

He used to return a lot closer to the baseline in his younger years, especially on grass in his prime/peak years. The older he’s gotten the further he moves back which gives off the impression that he’s always returned that far back due to recency bias. He’s great at getting returns into play and then moving in.
Fed propaganda is undefeated lol

yeah I remember especially in the Murray matches at Wimbledon he was playing very tight on the baseline. I feel like his reflexes and general athleticism have somehow become underrated. He certainly can return with any player in tennis history imo.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Nadal gets a lot of (deserved) crap for his return positioning and vulnerability to big serve+volley players of the 90s, but..

7-1 vs Isner, 5-0 vs Dr. Ivo, 7-3 vs Roddick, 8-2 vs Raonic, the list goes on.

what’s frustrating about his positioning is that he clearly has the talent and reflexes to play closer to the baseline and simply chooses not to do so. Stuff like this should put the “Nadal bad returner” narrative to bed though. He doesn’t return in the same style as Djokovic or Murray, but Djoko is only marginally more effective than him.
Exactly.
 
Nadal gets a lot of (deserved) crap for his return positioning and vulnerability to big serve+volley players of the 90s, but..

7-1 vs Isner, 5-0 vs Dr. Ivo, 7-3 vs Roddick, 8-2 vs Raonic, the list goes on.

what’s frustrating about his positioning is that he clearly has the talent and reflexes to play closer to the baseline and simply chooses not to do so. Stuff like this should put the “Nadal bad returner” narrative to bed though. He doesn’t return in the same style as Djokovic or Murray, but Djoko is only marginally more effective than him.
I think both Med and Nadal have proved that serve positioning can work, it's harder to ace them since it gives them more opportunity to get their racquet on the ball.

He's also capable of adjusting it when necessary. Recent example of that, I do remember there was one match vs. Cilic at the USO 2019 where Nadal lost the second set and felt like his return positioning wasn't working. He identified the case and in the next two sets he was returning almost on the baseline and took control of the match again
 

Kralingen

Legend
I think both Med and Nadal have proved that serve positioning can work, it's harder to ace them since it gives them more opportunity to get their racquet on the ball.

He's also capable of adjusting it when necessary. Recent example of that, I do remember there was one match vs. Cilic at the USO 2019 where Nadal lost the second set and felt like his return positioning wasn't working. He identified the case and in the next two sets he was returning almost on the baseline and took control of the match again
The difference between Nadal and Thiem/Medvedev is that Nadal can return from any position he wants because has the reflexes and compact swings in his locker. Fundamentally both cannot do that, at least not consistently, their return position more of a necessity than a shrewd strategy.
 

Daniel Andrade

Hall of Fame
I think both Med and Nadal have proved that serve positioning can work, it's harder to ace them since it gives them more opportunity to get their racquet on the ball.

He's also capable of adjusting it when necessary. Recent example of that, I do remember there was one match vs. Cilic at the USO 2019 where Nadal lost the second set and felt like his return positioning wasn't working. He identified the case and in the next two sets he was returning almost on the baseline and took control of the match again
Pics or it didn't happen
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
3 return winners vs arguably the greatest server of all time (shut up, Pete fans)
Nadal's returning does not get the respect it deserves. He's one of the best ever, but I've never heard much about it since 2013.
We would have fun with wings and Rafa matches ;)
 

PerilousPear

Semi-Pro
This one ain't bad either...
Nice, but Mury seems to have given up. All of those returns were very reachable for him, and on the first point of the game he couldn't be bothered and smacked the UE into the net. Not that I blame him though, that set was over for him.
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
And that one loss to Isner was retroactively applied after the ATP made the Laver Cup an official event :rolleyes:
Dude. Indoor HC is his worst surface, everyone was playing seriously it wasn't a larp, Isner was just redlining. His FH was on fire.
he lost. get over it.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
Nadal gets a lot of (deserved) crap for his return positioning and vulnerability to big serve+volley players of the 90s, but..

7-1 vs Isner, 5-0 vs Dr. Ivo, 7-3 vs Roddick, 8-2 vs Raonic, the list goes on.

what’s frustrating about his positioning is that he clearly has the talent and reflexes to play closer to the baseline and simply chooses not to do so. Stuff like this should put the “Nadal bad returner” narrative to bed though. He doesn’t return in the same style as Djokovic or Murray, but Djoko is only marginally more effective than him.
Return-only (as in just the stroke as a stand-alone shot), Nadal is miles behind Djokovic, Murray and Federer IMO. Some old posts I’ve dedicated to this topic:

Naturally, I am differentiating the first serve return itself from all that comes after.

Nadal, despite his fearsome groundstrokes, is last among the four in first serve return points won HC, dead last in first serve return points on grass (by 3-4%), and is by far the easiest to ace out of all four on both surfaces.

His brilliant returning statistics on clay are more a consequence of his superb groundstrokes and defense rather than what he does off the return specifically.
Nadal, in general, isn't really a better returner than Federer on hard courts, particularly against top opponents.

Career break% against the top 10 on HC:

Federer: 24.3%
Nadal: 20.4%

And against the top 5:

Federer: 22.1%
Nadal: 18.9%

Over hundreds of matches, that's an absolutely enormous edge. Nadal was indeed better in 2011 though; 21.5% and 23.2% against the top 10 and 5 as opposed to 20.4% and 18.9% for Federer. Keep in mind that these rates would be heavily influenced by their respective matches against Djokovic at the USO, since the overall sample size is so small. There's also no evidence to suggest that Nadal returns Djokovic better than Federer does on HC, plenty to the contrary in fact (19.9%-15.4% -- Federer and Nadal's respective % of return games won against Djokovic on HC). As for who returned better in that years Open specifically, well, Nadal won 40.8% of his return games compared to 36.6% for Federer...but, excluding their matches w/Novak, it was 46.3%-42.9% for Federer. All in all, I think @abmk is right to say that the gap between the two in return game on HC is, at the very worst, negligible. I'd go even further and argue that Federer's return game on HC is CLEARLY better.

That said, I do agree that Djokovic was slightly more devastating in the final than the semi. He was a little loose on serve, but that may have been because he wasn't serving with the same urgency. He got into a mode where he was breaking Nadal seemingly at will.
Basically, against the top 50 and up, Federer smokes Nadal in return statistics on hard courts. Nadal makes up much of that advantage against sub-70/80 ranked players...in other words the caliber of player that both beat in their sleep. At the end of the day, who cares if Nadal beats a low-ranked player 6-1, 6-1 as opposed to 6-3, 6-4? Federer's edge against the elite competition is absolutely insurmountable.

The Muller example is an appeal to an extremely small sample size. Federer's break rate is actually higher than Nadal's on grass....25.2%-23.8%. The serve is not the only reason Nadal is inferior to Federer on that surface.

Again, I agree that Nadal's return game (not return itself), across all surfaces, is superior to Federer's. This is because his pronounced advantage on clay makes up for Federer's comparatively smaller advantages on the two other surfaces...but no, his return game is not superior on grass and HC.
 
Dude. Indoor HC is his worst surface, everyone was playing seriously it wasn't a larp, Isner was just redlining. His FH was on fire.
he lost. get over it.


It was an exhibition match that didn’t affect his actual record until the ATP went back and changed it. That’s like a teacher handing out a practice test that doesn’t affect your grade, and then going lol jk.
 

tudwell

Legend
Nice, but Mury seems to have given up. All of those returns were very reachable for him, and on the first point of the game he couldn't be bothered and smacked the UE into the net. Not that I blame him though, that set was over for him.
This is true, but even a tanking Murray is a better mover than Karlovic lol.

All impressive return games in this thread, though.
 
LOL pure cope, and lame.
Isner dominated Nadal in that match, watching Vamos contort in apoplexy over it is truly sad.
What’s pathetic is you getting your panties in a bunch when anyone criticizes a half baked idea like the Laver Cup lol.
 
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ibbi

Legend
And this was with Ivo serving for the set too. Broke back with this game, and won the set. Great match. Nadal's indoor season in 2015 was an incredible relief after the year he'd had, and had many of us thinking he was on his way back. Then he goes down to Australia and gets the wooden spoon. o_O
 
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