Who had better volley skills; McEnroe or Edberg?

#1
McEnroe and Edberg are two of the finest s&v of their time. They won 5 Wimbledon trophies between them and 10 grass court titles overall. However,
I would like to compare their volleying skills to see who was better. McEnroe was known for his featherly touch and feel while Edberg had more conventional bh volley and punch volley. I would argue that Edberg had more volleying work than Mac purely because Edberg did not possess a big enough serve and really used his serve to get him into position to volley as opposed to Mac who could get cheap points of his big 1st serve. Thoughts?
 
#3
Edberg's were technically way more sound. His volleying technique was flawless, specially on the backhand side.

On the other hand, McEnroe did everything we were taught not to do, and yet, his feel and touch was unparalleled.

IMHO, while Edberg had the best VOLLEYS, McEnroe had the best net game. Edberg defeated you, while JMac toyed with you, humiliated you :p
 
#8
Edberg's were technically way more sound. His volleying technique was flawless, specially on the backhand side.

On the other hand, McEnroe did everything we were taught not to do, and yet, his feel and touch was unparalleled.

IMHO, while Edberg had the best VOLLEYS, McEnroe had the best net game. Edberg defeated you, while JMac toyed with you, humiliated you :p
I agree with this assessment. McEnroe definitely didn't have the best technique, Edberg's was as good as anyones, but Mac had unrivaled touch and feel at the net.
 
#11
I'm proud to have seen firsthand how amazingly quick McEnroe is at net, even today. You can send a 100 mph missile forehand right at his head and he'll put it away. I ooh'd and ahh'd many times.
 
#12
Mac had more skill. In terms of natural ability, nobody beats Mac, but Edberg was way more technically sound. You would never teach anybody to volley like Mac, and whereas Edberg's volleys would still be deadly effective in today's game, I don't think Mac's would be as effective today.

So I give the edge to Stefan. I would take his volleys over Mac's any days. Incidentally, Edberg said he volleyed with his legs, not his hands. Mac totally volleyed with his hands. It was/is incredible how Mac could/can hit volleys standing upright and with a dropped wrist.
 
#13
McEnroe used to hit all those stop volleys off of Lendl's big forehand. Will we ever see someone play like that again? Maybe Edberg was better? But I think we'll see players like Edberg again. I'm not sure we'll see another McEnroe. McEnroe was unique, and that's why I liked watching him so much. So I'd vote for McEnroe, even though my reasons might be wrong.
 
#14
Mac had more skill. In terms of natural ability, nobody beats Mac, but Edberg was way more technically sound. You would never teach anybody to volley like Mac, and whereas Edberg's volleys would still be deadly effective in today's game, I don't think Mac's would be as effective today.

So I give the edge to Stefan. I would take his volleys over Mac's any days. Incidentally, Edberg said he volleyed with his legs, not his hands. Mac totally volleyed with his hands. It was/is incredible how Mac could/can hit volleys standing upright and with a dropped wrist.
Good contributions from all. I would agree with 35ft6 that Mac was an exception to convetinal volleying. I watched the 89 Wimbledon betweeen Edberg and Mc recently and you could clearly see that although past his best Mc's style seemed ineffective and stiff back then against a prime Edberg who just looked so elegant and flawless on his volleys.
 

Ano

Hall of Fame
#15
McEnroe used to hit all those stop volleys off of Lendl's big forehand. Will we ever see someone play like that again?
In his semi final match against Nadal at this year Australian Open, Tsonga hit so many perfect stop volleys off of Nadal's passing shots.

I think Tsonga's stop volley is as good as McEnroe's.
 
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#16
McEnroe and Edberg are two of the finest s&v of their time. They won 5 Wimbledon trophies between them and 10 grass court titles overall. However,
I would like to compare their volleying skills to see who was better. McEnroe was known for his featherly touch and feel while Edberg had more conventional bh volley and punch volley. I would argue that Edberg had more volleying work than Mac purely because Edberg did not possess a big enough serve and really used his serve to get him into position to volley as opposed to Mac who could get cheap points of his big 1st serve. Thoughts?
1. Forehand: Mac
2. Backhand: Edberg
3. Touch: Mac
4. Half volley: Mac
5. Anticipation: even
6. Net coverage: Edberg
7. More difficult to past or lob: Edberg
8. Getting back in position: Very, very close but I'll go with Edberg (better footwork)

These two guys are in a class of their own. Cash, Becker, Pete, Rafter etc... are a level below when it comes to volleying.
 
#17
In his semi final match against Nadal at this year Australian Open, Tsonga hit so many perfect stop volleys off of Nadal's passing shots.

I think Tsonga's stop volley is as good as McEnroe's.
It's called being in the zone. Please don't say his stop volley is better then Mac's
 
#18
Mac = completely unorthodox but the result is almost perfect and surprising
Edberg = textbook, extremely good, but more predictable

The price for originality would go to Mac
 
#20
In his semi final match against Nadal at this year Australian Open, Tsonga hit so many perfect stop volleys off of Nadal's passing shots.

I think Tsonga's stop volley is as good as McEnroe's.
If you judged Tsonga's greatness by that one match alone, they'd he'd be one of the all-time greats.

It takes a lot more than 1 match to prove yourself. It takes years and years of consistent performances. But you're right, Tsonga was a monster in that match. Hopefully he recovers well from his knee operation.
 
#24
Worth noting that their overall head-to-head is 7-6 in favor of Mac. Mac won their first five matches, Edberg the last five.

As for the overall question, it's impossible to choose between the two IMO.
 
#25
I'd give a slight edge to Mac just because I have never seen anyone who can volley a winning shot from any posture or position in court; truly amazing. I think Andres Guazzelli summed it up very nicely!
 
#27
I'd have to go with McEnroe. Edberg is one of my favorite volleyers of all time. He had great form on his backhand volley and had more power than Mac.

But Mac could do more with his volleys. The great shotmakers have more imagination and flare than the rest. You have to be able to see a particular shot or angle before you can hit it. And that's what seperates Mac's volley from anyone else's - I think.
 

Benhur

Hall of Fame
#30
Edberg's first volley (off the return) was without a doubt the very best I have ever seen in the business. Time and again he'd catch good low returns in front of his knees, or even lower, and produce very deep or sharp-angled volleys, extremely well-placed, usually with a very straight path and lot of pace (the ball passing just an inch or two above the net, with hardly any arch on its trajectory). Low margin of error and yet consistently high precision. There may have been others in the more distant past who did this as well as him, but since the late 70s when I started to watch tennis, I never saw anyone who came close to Edberg on the precision of that first volley, frequently off very good returns.
 
#31
Edberg's were technically way more sound. His volleying technique was flawless, specially on the backhand side.

On the other hand, McEnroe did everything we were taught not to do, and yet, his feel and touch was unparalleled.

IMHO, while Edberg had the best VOLLEYS, McEnroe had the best net game. Edberg defeated you, while JMac toyed with you, humiliated you :p
I think that is a good assessment. JMac could do things few have ever had the touch to accomplish. Having said that Edberg volleyed with his feet better, and as a result was in better position to knife through his volleys for winners. Opponents watching JMac flick and/or contort his wrist on a volley at his feet was demoralizing because they put it where they wanted to, yet Mac dinked/angled it off for a winner.
 
#32
Exactly...

Edberg's were technically way more sound. His volleying technique was flawless, specially on the backhand side.

On the other hand, McEnroe did everything we were taught not to do, and yet, his feel and touch was unparalleled.

IMHO, while Edberg had the best VOLLEYS, McEnroe had the best net game. Edberg defeated you, while JMac toyed with you, humiliated you :p
...there are basically two kinds of S&V players:

- Kick serve, wade in, depend on athleticism and excellent volleying skills to deal with whatever the opponent throws at you. Examples are Edberg and Pat Rafter. In this case, S&Ver is doing a lot of reaction to the opponent.

- Can opener serve, produces great opportunities on the first volley, on the first volley, put the opponent in the Hurt Locker, one more volley or overhead if necessary. Examples are McEnroe and Sampras; to an extent, many of the Aussies (Laver, Emerson, Stolle, Newcome, Roche, et. al.) S&Ver is driving the bus in this instance.
 

andreh

Professional
#33
...there are basically two kinds of S&V players:

- Kick serve, wade in, depend on athleticism and excellent volleying skills to deal with whatever the opponent throws at you. Examples are Edberg and Pat Rafter. In this case, S&Ver is doing a lot of reaction to the opponent.

- Can opener serve, produces great opportunities on the first volley, on the first volley, put the opponent in the Hurt Locker, one more volley or overhead if necessary. Examples are McEnroe and Sampras; to an extent, many of the Aussies (Laver, Emerson, Stolle, Newcome, Roche, et. al.) S&Ver is driving the bus in this instance.
I love your use of similies and metaphors! But are you saying that Mac had more of a "can opener" serve than Edberg?
 
#34
I'd give the slight edge McEnroe. We are talking all around volleying skills - how effective they were. The edge to Mac because of the insane touch he had (not that Edberg didn't have great touch himself) It's not a beauty contest, which, obviously, Edberg would win.

That said, it could go either way. Everyone who has posted have made good points. And it comes down to two very different, yet both hugely successful, volleying styles.

No matter, the two of them, as someone pointed out, are a level above some very good volleyers including Becker, Cash, Sampras, Rafter.
 
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#35
I love your use of similies and metaphors! But are you saying that Mac had more of a "can opener" serve than Edberg?
Edberg rarely served aces if I remember some big matches in which he had under 10. He basically pounded you mentally into submission by hitting kick serves over your head and when you looked up he was inside the service line. This was before luxilon took over so it was almost impossible to keep ripping it by him with insane topspin returns.
 
#38
Very close - two of the best volleys ever :D

My vote goes to Edberg in terms of the most classic and beautiful volley technique ever and Johnny Mac for the most natural & effective overall volley game ever :)

Edberg looked like an elegant dancer at the net, while Johnny Mac just is at the net to get the job done - and he sure did that in an effective manner.
 
#39
oman!! my two fav s&v of all time (i think a lot of peeps favs)
anyway, mcenroe for me.. u jst can't beat that touch! it's all about the flair at the net!! (haha don't bash me about that, but still, its fun to see oponent scrambling all around, and then finish the point with a backhand smash!!)
 
#45
fh volleys - Mac
bh volleys - Edberg
+1
Edberg played deeper penetrating volleys
Mac played the angles more.

Best, Mac he dominated like no other (inc Federer/Borg) with his volleying, best W:L recorder ever. 81 & 84 where huge. ATP No.1 4 years, even 80 was special. Conner probably deserved one of those, 82.

Not sure what people are referring to regarding "wrong" style, incorrect action etc. The only thing not correct about his volley was lack of knee bend and allowing the racket head to get bellow his wrist. Otherwise theres nothing incorrect about his volleying as per the manual.
 
#46
Folks who claim that Mcenroe has faulty volley technique should watch it in slow-mo. Like all his strokes, it's a wonderfully compact motion with all the fundamentals covered. The motion is short with the wrist firm through contact. It's an illusion of the arm movement after contact that makes it look like the wrist is floppy or dropping. Look at photos of even Edberg after contact on the backhand volley - the wrist is rock solid, but the racquet is often below the arm on the follow through.
 
#48
I'd like to give a serve and volley shout out to Patrick Rafter. Of all three (McEnroe, Edberg & Rafter), Rafter was the most athletic. He was amazing to watch. I just wish he had Sampras or Edberg's serve.

IMO, McEnroe's hands and anticipation were better than Edberg's. Edberg's kick serve was a thing of beauty that really complimented his serve and volley game.
 
#50
Edberg had wonderful volleys but I would take Mac's volleys over Stefan's volleys any day. Mac was a wizard up at net, making impossible volleys look contemptuously easy.
 
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