Why Didn't Djokovic Serve and Volley?

OKUSA

Hall of Fame
Pretty much every 1st serve Nadal just floated back the return, I don't think I saw him hit one top spin return other than when he ran around his backhand on 2nd serves.

Is there any reason for this? He's not a terrible volleyer, and he did do it a few times. I think he won around 60% of his 1st serves, which means taking out the unreturned and aces he was around 50%. I'm sure he could win a lot more points by volleying those easy floaters

Federer would've been in the net a lot more if Nadal was doing that to him. Is this what tennis has evolved to? Nobody can serve and volley so just float back the return and start from there?
 

Bhagi Katbamna

Hall of Fame
Probably not comfortable mentally doing it. When it isn't the main style of play for a particular player, they tend to remember the points that they lose using S&V rather than the points they won(IMO).
 

Tyrus

Professional
Djokovic tried it, on many points that were must wins, etc. His execution was off and he looked quite uncomfortable doing so which lead to him backing off.
 

drive

Semi-Pro
Pretty much every 1st serve Nadal just floated back the return, I don't think I saw him hit one top spin return other than when he ran around his backhand on 2nd serves.

Is there any reason for this? He's not a terrible volleyer, and he did do it a few times. I think he won around 60% of his 1st serves, which means taking out the unreturned and aces he was around 50%. I'm sure he could win a lot more points by volleying those easy floaters

Federer would've been in the net a lot more if Nadal was doing that to him. Is this what tennis has evolved to? Nobody can serve and volley so just float back the return and start from there?
he's never been a S&V player. It's not his style of play. I don't think it's easy to switch to S&V mode for a player like Djokovic.
 

Sarc

New User
It is hard for someone who does not normally s/v to all the sudden start to s/v in the final of a major tournament.
 

OKUSA

Hall of Fame
Even if it isn't in his comfort zone, he must've been thinking how he could make the points shorter. Obviously serve and volleying would've been the right choice, just because you botch a few doesn't mean it's a bad plan.

And as far as Nadal not floating returns, at least you're making him change his gameplan. Letting him block back returns all day long is basically taking out your serve and now you're facing a much fitter and better opponent from the baseline over and over again
 

Satch

Hall of Fame
Jokers serve is bad for that... in 2008 he had served much better but couldn't do volleys.
 

Grass_for_cows

Semi-Pro
And as far as Nadal not floating returns, at least you're making him change his gameplan. Letting him block back returns all day long is basically taking out your serve and now you're facing a much fitter and better opponent from the baseline over and over again
You are making change his gameplan from beating you from rallies to beating you right out by giving him a target. You had better be sure of your serve and first serve if you want to S&V, especially against Nadal.
 

OKUSA

Hall of Fame
You are making change his gameplan from beating you from rallies to beating you right out by giving him a target. You had better be sure of your serve and first serve if you want to S&V, especially against Nadal.
I think it's common knowledge Nadal's first serve return is pretty poor, and if he can't float it back like he was doing then there would be a lot more unreturned serves and aces
 

In D Zone

Hall of Fame
I am sure there's alot of things going thru Djoker's mind.
- Djoker's body and game are not 100% built around S&V. Sure points will be quicker but definitely will wear him out sooner than he wanted.
- Djoker knew he can get away with the first few points against Nadal using S&V. After a few points, Nadal will definitely change his tactic. So he wanted to capitalized winning the points each S&V whenever he can but using it sporatically. I am sure Djoker's camp had noted that Nadal showed that he can go against S&V (he played Istomin on 2nd round - booming serve / S&V)
- Nadal's lethal passing shots. Djoker knows that he's volleys need to be winners (not enough confidence maybe) otherwise Nadal will take him out sooner.
- Djoker's thought was to stick with his strategy and tactic he used when he beat Federer. It worked against Nadal but Nadal's focus and will to grind it out made all the difference.
 

clayman2000

Hall of Fame
I actually thought that Nadal returned the best he had on a HC since IW 09 when he rocked both Del Potro and Roddick.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Even if it isn't in his comfort zone, he must've been thinking how he could make the points shorter. Obviously serve and volleying would've been the right choice, just because you botch a few doesn't mean it's a bad plan.
Not unless you're an accomplished S&V'er. Djokovic is not going to suddenly start serving and volleying against one of the best returners in the game, in the finals of a major, and have a winning percentage. My guess is that even Sampras, the last accomplished S&V'er, would not have S&V'd on every first serve in that match. Edberg might have.

And as far as Nadal not floating returns, at least you're making him change his gameplan. Letting him block back returns all day long is basically taking out your serve and now you're facing a much fitter and better opponent from the baseline over and over again
Djokovic hit's bigger than Ralph and has a better backhand overall. He should have been able to exploit those returns. He has to be more patient, more consistent, play high percentage tennis and wait for an opening to attack the net. He did that a few times, but, he also made too many ue's to beat a guy who makes very few.
 
Last edited:

fedtastic

Hall of Fame
Djokovic's serve and volley sucks. specially his vollies. Nadal is miles better than him in that department. Its really frustrating to see Djokovic not improving his game once he won the AO. he can learn a thing or two from Nadal.

Djokovic's aim should be to improve his serve and volley because he will get many cheap points that way and he can end the points quicker which will be invaluable because he suffers from breathing problems and lack of endurance. I thought that is quite obvious but I am dumbfounded why Djokovic can't see. Maybe he lacks motivation or something.

He needs to fire Marian Vajda and hire Tony Roche.
 

P_Agony

Banned
This isn't Djoker's natural way of playing. Plus, this isn't the way he used to beat Nadal on HCs. Djokovic thought his baseline game is enpugh to stop Nadal's, and usually its enough on hard courts.
 

markwillplay

Hall of Fame
not natural..can't win doing it..like 99% of the players on the tour. When Nadal is on, I think that coming forward is the ONLY way to beat him. You have to rush this guy and get him uncomfortable and you ain't doing that from the back if he is on..plain and simple.
 

RogerRacket111

Semi-Pro
Because he would have gotten passed left and right. People advocate serve & volley like its some magic and works all the time. With the speed of the players and the strings these days your just going to be left with holding your racket at the net if you keep coming in.
 

Golden Retriever

Hall of Fame
Once upon a time, there was a king and his officers told him the peasants didn't have rice to eat. He then asked, "why didn't they eat meat?"
 

FlamEnemY

Hall of Fame
I remember him hitting some pretty good approach shots... only to come to the net and be passed by Nadal. Again, and again.
 
D

Deleted member 3771

Guest
Nadal improved his backhand return, he wasn't hitting floater slice backhand returns liker he used to, he was using the pace of the serve and blocking back the 2 handed backhanders with pretty good pace without taking huge swings. It would have been suicide for Joker to SV as Nadal's returns were just too good. .
 

thalivest

Banned
He isnt that good a volleyer so isnt that comfortable at the net. And while his serve was very good in the final (Djokovic) it still isnt where it was a couple years ago.
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
Djokovic didn't serve and volley too often (he did on a few points actually as a surprise tactic) because he is subpar at the two crucial components: the serve and the volley.

It is amazing that he is #2 in the world (as of now) yet has more double faults than aces this year. Can there be any doubt he has the best pure ground game on tour?

If he could do to his own serve what Nadal did to his, he would immediately enter the historic stratum of players and be a real threat to Nadal for years to come.
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
I think Djokovic won every point in which he served and volleyed - all two of them! If I were him, I would have served and volleyed on every point. Not much Nadal could do to defend against it.

The other thing that was strange was that Djokovic hit almost EVERY single 2nd serve in the ad court right into the middle of the box. It was the SAME exact 2nd serve every time and he never mixed it up. Nadal was just waiting for it every time.

Djokovic was not thinking very clearly out there yesterday.
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
Nadal will not float back his returns if his opponent started S&V.
If you serve well enough, Nadal has no choice. That's why I would have loved to see Sampras play Nadal on the fast courts of the US Open. Not even Agassi, who's a much better returner than Nadal, could deal with Sampras' serve and volley attack. That's why Agassi lost to Sampras in every US Open and Wimbledon match they ever played and that was a lot of them. :)
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
Djokovic tried it, on many points that were must wins, etc. His execution was off and he looked quite uncomfortable doing so which lead to him backing off.
Yeah, but he won those points in which he served and volleyed. If it's winning you points, you should keep doing it until it stops winning you points. That's Strategy 101.
 
I think Djokovic won every point in which he served and volleyed - all two of them! If I were him, I would have served and volleyed on every point. Not much Nadal could do to defend against it.

The other thing that was strange was that Djokovic hit almost EVERY single 2nd serve in the ad court right into the middle of the box. It was the SAME exact 2nd serve every time and he never mixed it up. Nadal was just waiting for it every time.

Djokovic was not thinking very clearly out there yesterday.
Djoker only S&V'd when he saw the high floating ball, which was rare, Nadal was pinging the return with pace deep, Djoker would have lost in straight sets if he S&V'd all match. Let's not forget Djoker is an average volleyer, so his volleys wouldn't have held up over along period of time.
 

okdude1992

Hall of Fame
Because he would have gotten passed left and right. People advocate serve & volley like its some magic and works all the time. With the speed of the players and the strings these days your just going to be left with holding your racket at the net if you keep coming in.
i agree. its hard to serve and volley in todays game. The current crop of pros just arent good at it (theres a few exceptions) plus, djokovic's volleys are pretty sub par. not as bad as soderling, but lets just say hes no edberg LOL!
 

okdude1992

Hall of Fame
But if everyone did it then it wouldn't be dead anymore, right? :)
true. however i dont really think its practical to S&V all the time these days....no matter how good volleys one has. but i think the trend with alot of upcoming players is we will be seeing all court tennis more, mixed in with some S&V in the right situations. for instance ryan harrison. he served and volleyed a decent amount at the USO and it worked pretty well
 
I think Djokovic won every point in which he served and volleyed - all two of them! If I were him, I would have served and volleyed on every point. Not much Nadal could do to defend against it.

The other thing that was strange was that Djokovic hit almost EVERY single 2nd serve in the ad court right into the middle of the box. It was the SAME exact 2nd serve every time and he never mixed it up. Nadal was just waiting for it every time.

Djokovic was not thinking very clearly out there yesterday.
Federer should try to serve and volley vs Nadal more often.... He did it in 2005 a lot, and he won quite a few matches by doing it.
 
Last edited:
he's not comfortable doing it either. federer's net game is not what it was pre 2002/2003.

He is trying to get back to that level; he can't beat the younger guys as often as he would like due to his slower movement (which is still quite world class), so he has to finish points quicker. Hiring Paul Annacone is showing this. It might not show it right away, but in 2011 for sure.
 
It COULD work, if someone came along with a 130 mph serve, can place it on a dime, and had the reflexes and speed of a deer o_O athletes like that don't come along often in tennis.

It doesn't have to be about the speed of the serve. Pat Rafter is a great example of that, just place it surpremely or have a great kick serve.

He gave Pete a tough time with his kick serve for sure, and Rafter is one of the top volleyers in the open era...
 
Last edited:

RogerRacket111

Semi-Pro
Serve and Volley on the other hand can get boring also. I remember watching matches at wimbledon back in the days it would be bang serve, volley, volley Or Bang ace can put you to sleep soon.
 
Serve and Volley on the other hand can get boring also. I remember watching matches at wimbledon back in the days it would be bang serve, volley, volley Or Bang ace can put you to sleep soon.

Yes, I am aware of this (I agree actually). But I would like to see a contrast in playing styles. S&V vs Baseliner.

A real fun match up would be: Stefan Edberg vs Rafael Nadal at US Open or Wimbledon.
 

nereis

Semi-Pro
Djokovic isn't a natural volleyer. Even Federer, who has a net game leagues ahead of Djokovic won't come in too often against Nadal.
 

endbegin

Rookie
I would say it need not be just S&V but choosing the right time to come to net. When he had the upper hand in a point - for example, when hitting a topspin drive deep to Nadal's BH causing him to slice, he should have followed that in and finished the point quicker.

But it was common to see him try to come in a shot or two too late by which time Nadal had recovered enough to pass him.

The problem is that Novak does not have that natural instinct, knowing when to come in. It is hard to do it suddenly in a GS final against a guy like Nadal.
 

Tennis_Bum

Professional
Pretty much every 1st serve Nadal just floated back the return, I don't think I saw him hit one top spin return other than when he ran around his backhand on 2nd serves.

Is there any reason for this? He's not a terrible volleyer, and he did do it a few times. I think he won around 60% of his 1st serves, which means taking out the unreturned and aces he was around 50%. I'm sure he could win a lot more points by volleying those easy floaters

Federer would've been in the net a lot more if Nadal was doing that to him. Is this what tennis has evolved to? Nobody can serve and volley so just float back the return and start from there?
Sad, but that was what we saw in the men final. Djoko had plenty of opportunity to come to the net, esp. off the serves, excellent ground strokes, mostly on forehand, but choose to stay back to try to out rally Nadal. My only guess is that he was not confident with his volley and was passed a few times, so he decided to stay back to make life harder for him. Nadal pretty much just sliced the balls back and neutralized Djoko serve to start the point over. If everyone plays the game of Nadal, then he will win most of the time. You can't outhit him, the errors will creep in or his great defense will burn you. My guess is the only selective net game on short balls may hurt Nadal, otherwise, I don't know how you can hurt him by staying back. It was not that great of a final to watch. Almost like an upgraded version of the women final.
 
Top