why doesn't the better server win against the better returner in today's game?

metsman

G.O.A.T.
But here's another way to look at it.

The absolute gold standard for 1st serving is Ivanisevic. He won around 87% of his 1st serve points on grass. That's 2% higher than Karlovic. His 2nd serve was very attackable IF someone got to see it. He won around 50.5% of his 2nd serves.

On 2nd serve 59% is the gold standard. That's were Federer is.

The problem for Murray is that his 2nd serve winning % is more or less average for a great player. But because his 1st serve is relatively weak in earning points, he has to serve a lot of 2nd serves, and as you say they are attackable. The reason he wins as many as he does is because of his defensive skills, a lot like Nadal. But Nadal's % on all service points on grass is 1% higher, and Murray's defensive skills on grass are WAY above Nadal's. So he is depending on his overall game to gut out 2nd serve points, and that has killed him. And he is way better on serve on grass than on other surfaces.

If Murray had a better serve he would have a whole bunch of Wimbledons by now.

That's one of many reasons why Lendl is so good for him. Lendl somehow gets him to go for more shots and not to just try to outlast everyone else.
to be fair winning second serve points were much harder back then because they serve volleyed on them and the gut strings made it tougher consistency wise.

That being said I think a very underrated part of Fed's game is his second serve. I think he has easily one of the 5 best of all time, and maybe even better. Proof is in the pudding as even as his baseline game has steadily eroded his second serve points won have remained near the top of the tour. 2012 and 2014 are particularly impressive as he barely had a top 10 baseline game those years but still his second serve points won led the tour. For example Nadal used to be near the top of the tour in second serve points but when his baseline game went down his second serve won points did too. I think Federer's second serve with the placement and kick just has a great ability to draw a lot of forced errors and weaker replies.

While his first serve is maybe top 15-20 of all time his second serve+clutchness give him one of the 10 best serves imo.
 

10isMaestro

Semi-Pro

Really liked your post and that middle paragraph was great. I don't have much to say except that one unidimensional player has some touch
Not a fluke.;)
They're professional players: all of them can play all the shots in the book reasonably well. The problem is being able to use them successfully against other professional players. Clearly, those big guys can't hit volleys like Federer, let alone like players who used to serve and volley all the time such as Sampras or Rafter. It's not an immense threat or even the sort of play they can pull off as anything more than a variation to the big serve, big forehand combination. Still, the video above does show they can hit volleys -- just like Nadal can win points while serving and volleying, but we both know it's not a tactic he can do very often.
 

10isMaestro

Semi-Pro
to be fair winning second serve points were much harder back then because they serve volleyed on them and the gut strings made it tougher consistency wise. (...) While his first serve is maybe top 15-20 of all time his second serve+clutchness give him one of the 10 best serves imo.
Federer's second serve is only underestimated by people who do not know anything about how top players perform on their second serves. The action he gets on the ball is insane and he seldom just leaves the ball in the service box, even on his second serve. His career score on his second serve points won is the highest of all times, tied with Nadal for 57% (http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/2nd-serve-points-won/all/all/all/). For his overall serve game performance, he also comes 6th, right behind Sampras (89%), with a career score of 88% service games won (http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/service-games-won/all/all/all/). He also comes 3rd in total career aces (with over 9,000 aces), but Federer is cheating a bit here: he played well over 1200 matches so far!

If I had to pick a second serve, it would be Federer's without any question.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Federer's second serve is only underestimated by people who do not know anything about how top players perform on their second serves. The action he gets on the ball is insane and he seldom just leaves the ball in the service box, even on his second serve. His career score on his second serve points won is the highest of all times, tied with Nadal for 57% (http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/2nd-serve-points-won/all/all/all/). For his overall serve game performance, he also comes 6th, right behind Sampras (89%), with a career score of 88% service games won (http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/service-games-won/all/all/all/). He also comes 3rd in total career aces (with over 9,000 aces), but Federer is cheating a bit here: he played well over 1200 matches so far!

If I had to pick a second serve, it would be Federer's without any question.
nah I would probably pick Isner's...but Fed is in the mix after with Roddick and pete I think.

Completely agree, I think the placement Fed gets with his serve while not committing very many doubles (last match aside lol) is instrumental in forcing a lot of errors or mishit balls off the return that most players cannot. Very rarely does he just spin a ball in the middle of the service box like most people do on the second serve, he hits it deep in the box with good kick and speed.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
over 55% games won:
Ancic

The list is skewed towards players 2000-2016. I believe that % of total games has one up because grass is now a slower surface in comparison to the others (more about uniform, higher bounces). If I am right, Sampras, for example, is even better than he appears. Becker and Edberg are probably hurt statistically because part of their careers are not averaged in, including slam years.

Now, for all points on serve and 1st serve vs 2nd serve POINTS:

72.93 37.14 84.70
71.95 38.39 78.82

Sampras lead by about 1%. Since stats have gone up since the 90s, I'd say that show pretty conclusively that Sampras was the better server.

Note that Sampras clearly leads on 1st serves, Federer leads on 2nd serves. This does not mean that these two won more games than anyone else. It means they won more games than any other of the champions. There are servebots with better stats, but they have horrible return games.
Has to be said, but a wow on Ancic. Sad that his career was so short.

Gary.
You often don't label your data. Nobody, except a few who know these stats by heart can tell these numbers for Fed and Sampras:
serve points won|return points won|1st serve points won
Sampras 72.93 37.14 84.70
Federer 71.95 38.39 78.82

I believe this is correct. I like Sampras's point numbers. Just a quick response mainly for clarification.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
I'm going to give you a chance to revise that asinine statement.
Federer:

Federer has won 30% of his hard court return games in 2015 and 32% in 2016.
Sampras in 1995 won 26% of his hard court return games. In 1996 he won 22%. That's data used for the statement. If we go back to 1993 Sampras won 28%. Federer's return game is alive and kicking on hard courts despite obvious statistical decline on clay and grass. That's what the data shows. I think you now see my reason for irrational Fed exhuberence. Those return stats on hard courts, look very, very healthy (new racket and game). The horror of the US Open final did have Fed breaking 4 times which is passable. 23 BPs lol is still good even if Djokovic played out of his mind on most of those points.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
to be fair winning second serve points were much harder back then because they serve volleyed on them and the gut strings made it tougher consistency wise.

That being said I think a very underrated part of Fed's game is his second serve. I think he has easily one of the 5 best of all time, and maybe even better. Proof is in the pudding as even as his baseline game has steadily eroded his second serve points won have remained near the top of the tour. 2012 and 2014 are particularly impressive as he barely had a top 10 baseline game those years but still his second serve points won led the tour. For example Nadal used to be near the top of the tour in second serve points but when his baseline game went down his second serve won points did too. I think Federer's second serve with the placement and kick just has a great ability to draw a lot of forced errors and weaker replies.

While his first serve is maybe top 15-20 of all time his second serve+clutchness give him one of the 10 best serves imo.
Even Djokovic had a lot of trouble with that 2nd in the final of the Real Slam last year. That is a great point. For players other than Nadal, serve is something that should be able to get better with age (danger if the red menace Fedzebub's wrist surgery helps his serve get to better than ever.:confused:)
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
They're professional players: all of them can play all the shots in the book reasonably well. The problem is being able to use them successfully against other professional players. Clearly, those big guys can't hit volleys like Federer, let alone like players who used to serve and volley all the time such as Sampras or Rafter. It's not an immense threat or even the sort of play they can pull off as anything more than a variation to the big serve, big forehand combination. Still, the video above does show they can hit volleys -- just like Nadal can win points while serving and volleying, but we both know it's not a tactic he can do very often.
Nadal can't serve and volley with the serve the way its been. It would be a minor miracle if he comes off wrist surgery serving great, but you're right; has Nadal ever served and vollyed lol? He does have a very high success rate at the net and is rather a load in doubles when at net (speedy). My fav Thiemerer on grass was doing a good bit of serve and volleying, even coming in off a big kicker on 2nd as a change of pace.

Raonic was taking cover from getting destroyed on the baselinein the Wimbledon final. I kid you not, Milosh was an approach and volleying God against Wawrinka and Murray at Auz open this year. Watch him next year there. The rest of the servebots and even young Zverev and Fritz are quite deficient on serve and volley.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Has to be said, but a wow on Ancic. Sad that his career was so short.

Gary.
You often don't label your data. Nobody, except a few who know these stats by heart can tell these numbers for Fed and Sampras:
serve points won|return points won|1st serve points won
Sampras 72.93--- 37.14 ---84.70
Federer 71.95 ---38.39 ---78.82
Well, that was crap, wasn't it? I had just finished a lot of data. Should have waited 12 hours, so let me try again:

 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
TG=Total % of games
SG=same for service
RG=same for return

AP=all points
SP=all service points
RP=all return points

Then for 1st and 2nd service and return points

PDR is dominance ratio by points.
Ratio=total points on serve/total points on return. This is normally under 1 because great players play more points on return. They defend their serve more easily. The other guys struggle more on their serve.
 

10isMaestro

Semi-Pro
nah I would probably pick Isner's.
I forgot, but it is true that Isner has an insane kick serve too. To be fair, the aforementionned statistics include the effects of what happens after the serve when it is returned -- and it's probably tougher to beat Federer (even at 34) once you put a palatable return in play than it is to beat Isner.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Federer:

Federer has won 30% of his hard court return games in 2015 and 32% in 2016.
Sampras in 1995 won 26% of his hard court return games. In 1996 he won 22%. That's data used for the statement. If we go back to 1993 Sampras won 28%. Federer's return game is alive and kicking on hard courts despite obvious statistical decline on clay and grass. That's what the data shows. I think you now see my reason for irrational Fed exhuberence. Those return stats on hard courts, look very, very healthy (new racket and game). The horror of the US Open final did have Fed breaking 4 times which is passable. 23 BPs lol is still good even if Djokovic played out of his mind on most of those points.
so you conveniently ignored 94 when Sampras won 33% of return games on hard and 97 when he won 30%? Last year Federer went out early in AO and Shanghai, didn't play Miami or Montreal so that helped his return stats not to mention the mug field.

Not that any of these stats matter as they relate to exuberance about Fed. You can pile up the games won% against the mugs all you want, but if Federer is to win a slam he is going to have to bring his best in the latter stages of slams and that is a different story entirely and something he hasn't been able to do against Djokovic at least.
 

Tardigrade

Banned
to be fair winning second serve points were much harder back then because they serve volleyed on them and the gut strings made it tougher consistency wise.

That being said I think a very underrated part of Fed's game is his second serve. I think he has easily one of the 5 best of all time, and maybe even better. Proof is in the pudding as even as his baseline game has steadily eroded his second serve points won have remained near the top of the tour. 2012 and 2014 are particularly impressive as he barely had a top 10 baseline game those years but still his second serve points won led the tour. For example Nadal used to be near the top of the tour in second serve points but when his baseline game went down his second serve won points did too. I think Federer's second serve with the placement and kick just has a great ability to draw a lot of forced errors and weaker replies.

While his first serve is maybe top 15-20 of all time his second serve+clutchness give him one of the 10 best serves imo.
Sampras
Ivo
Raonic
Isner
Wawrinka
Roddick.


Just a couple of players with better second serves than Federer.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I'm going to give you a chance to revise that asinine statement.
I'll add this: Sampras is in all ways an anomaly. His stats pretty much tell us why there is more to winning than stats.

Or that perhaps we need more stats.

One of the things I've been tracking is net BPs per match, a very simple thing to calculate. Simply find out how many BPs are saved, now many BPs are converted, divide by total number of matches.

In case you think that better players - who may face harder an longer matches because they get toward the end of tournaments - will suffer from this metric, it is the opposite. The best players win the most BPs per match.

Sampras is 4th, obviously still very good, but he is below Federer, Agassi, Murray. Fed is 2.4 per match. Sampras is 2.10.

So even on Sampras's best surface, grass, he lags. You would think that he would maybe win Wimbledon once or twice.

This is where DR probably plays a huge part. Federer and Sampras are within 3 hundreds of 1 %.

Federer 1.46
Sampras 1.43

Then there is another interesting category that I think Meles has been tracking.

Sampras has the biggest positive difference between % of points and % of BPs. Anything positive is good. Sampras is 4.45% to the positive for his career, and that shows part of the thing we all know intuitively: he could raise his game on grass more than anyone in the last 25 years.

I haven't run the same kind of stats for Sampras on HCs, but there is probably something similar there too.

Sampras was one of the most clutch players ever on fast surfaces, and that's where stats do not tell the whole story.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
to be fair winning second serve points were much harder back then because they serve volleyed on them and the gut strings made it tougher consistency wise.
As you say, there is an obvious difference between the 90s and now in terms of where points and games are won. % of games on serve keeps going up, on all surfaces. % of games on return keeps going down, on all surfaces.

Where serving seems to have gone up most is on 2nd serve - and I believe that is also true on all surfaces.

Roddick was the best at winning games on serve of the last 25 years in terms of non-servebots. I know he is often looked at as a servebot, but he is really in between, whereas the others (Karlovic, Isner and even Raonic) are way down and don't show up in return stats. Roddick does show up on the list of top returners although at the very end of the list, at around 22% of games on HCs.

Sampras at 22% is not a huge amount higher, but he is less than 1% lower than Sampras in games won, which is great. But Sampras absolutely leads everyone other than total servebots on HCs on 1st serve. Whereas Nadal is above Federer for his career on HCs on 2nd serve, and Sampras is way down the list. No one from the 90s has the kind of 2nd serve stats that this era has. That's where the big gain in serving is coming from, 2nd serves.
That being said I think a very underrated part of Fed's game is his second serve. I think he has easily one of the 5 best of all time, and maybe even better. Proof is in the pudding as even as his baseline game has steadily eroded his second serve points won have remained near the top of the tour. 2012 and 2014 are particularly impressive as he barely had a top 10 baseline game those years but still his second serve points won led the tour. For example Nadal used to be near the top of the tour in second serve points but when his baseline game went down his second serve won points did too. I think Federer's second serve with the placement and kick just has a great ability to draw a lot of forced errors and weaker replies.

While his first serve is maybe top 15-20 of all time his second serve+clutchness give him one of the 10 best serves imo.
I would agree with that. In this era Fed is the best of the great players. But again we have to remember that past ATGs could not match his 2nd serve stats because of the difference in equipment.
 

RanchDressing

Hall of Fame
Murray has been working on that 2nd serve, but even on clay his 2nd serve points won is a weakness. You sell Djkovic short. What he did last year on 2nd serve is revolutionary and the rest of the tour is trying to catch up. The key for Murray at Wimbledon was an improved serve. Its why he's been a notch below the big 3 for his career. The danger is that he may be getting his first serve dangerous enough and his 2nd serve respectable. Murray will be a terror if his health allows him to continue serving well. Djokovic fans look out.:D
How did I sell novak short? Lol I've been a fan of his since 2007... I've seen what he's done with that second serve, and we all have. I mean the major count is crazy. I mean I put him in the same tier of serving as federer and SAMPRAS. I can't think of a stronger group (I exclude serve bots from this).
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I'll add this: Sampras is in all ways an anomaly. His stats pretty much tell us why there is more to winning than stats.

Or that perhaps we need more stats.

One of the things I've been tracking is net BPs per match, a very simple thing to calculate. Simply find out how many BPs are saved, now many BPs are converted, divide by total number of matches.

In case you think that better players - who may face harder an longer matches because they get toward the end of tournaments - will suffer from this metric, it is the opposite. The best players win the most BPs per match.

Sampras is 4th, obviously still very good, but he is below Federer, Agassi, Murray. Fed is 2.4 per match. Sampras is 2.10.

So even on Sampras's best surface, grass, he lags. You would think that he would maybe win Wimbledon once or twice.

This is where DR probably plays a huge part. Federer and Sampras are within 3 hundreds of 1 %.

Federer 1.46
Sampras 1.43

Then there is another interesting category that I think Meles has been tracking.

Sampras has the biggest positive difference between % of points and % of BPs. Anything positive is good. Sampras is 4.45% to the positive for his career, and that shows part of the thing we all know intuitively: he could raise his game on grass more than anyone in the last 25 years.

I haven't run the same kind of stats for Sampras on HCs, but there is probably something similar there too.

Sampras was one of the most clutch players ever on fast surfaces, and that's where stats do not tell the whole story.
that clutch factor and BP factor is why I think you can make the case that Pete has the best serve ever. On raw numbers Karlovic may be ahead but he also hasn't been tested in teh clutch department yet.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
How did I sell novak short? Lol I've been a fan of his since 2007... I've seen what he's done with that second serve, and we all have. I mean the major count is crazy. I mean I put him in the same tier of serving as federer and SAMPRAS. I can't think of a stronger group (I exclude serve bots from this).
Novak is finding another way to keep up and he does get a higher percentage of first serves in play. Federer can get hotter on serve as Murray found out last year on grass where Fed had a high serve percentage (78%) and points won. That's what makes the first serve heavy player extra dangerous in my book (Roddick is another example.)
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
so you conveniently ignored 94 when Sampras won 33% of return games on hard and 97 when he won 30%? Last year Federer went out early in AO and Shanghai, didn't play Miami or Montreal so that helped his return stats not to mention the mug field.

Not that any of these stats matter as they relate to exuberance about Fed. You can pile up the games won% against the mugs all you want, but if Federer is to win a slam he is going to have to bring his best in the latter stages of slams and that is a different story entirely and something he hasn't been able to do against Djokovic at least.
My bad on those two Sampras years. I just looked through the years he won US Open. I would think Miami and Montreal would favor returners. His new game may be especially good against the Mugs as you say.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
Well, that was crap, wasn't it? I had just finished a lot of data. Should have waited 12 hours, so let me try again:

So is Federer better on grass by a nose for his career and Sampras by a nose on North American hard courts career? The above are the grass numbers, no?
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
Then there is another interesting category that I think Meles has been tracking.

Sampras has the biggest positive difference between % of points and % of BPs. Anything positive is good. Sampras is 4.45% to the positive for his career, and that shows part of the thing we all know intuitively: he could raise his game on grass more than anyone in the last 25 years.

I haven't run the same kind of stats for Sampras on HCs, but there is probably something similar there too.

Sampras was one of the most clutch players ever on fast surfaces, and that's where stats do not tell the whole story.
I've just looked at clay court numbers extensively. How much of this postive 4.45% clutch factor is on serve for Sampras. Most players are slightly negative on serve and slightly positive on return.
 

maruzo

Semi-Pro
first, some context for this question

jim courier himself as to why pitting the best server vs the best returner is a big mismatch in strengths, referencing the sampras vs agassi matchup


keeping this in mind, why is it in today's game, the player with the better defense and return is always touted as the favorite over the power baseliner that has a massive serve and big shots?

examples: players like isner, karlovic, cilic, del potro, raonic etc losing and having negative H2Hs against players like djokovic, murray, nadal, nishikori etc.

generally pre-matches people always say something along the lines of "yea murray/djokovic/nadal have better defense and ROS so they're gonna win"

really? so the better server loses out against the better returner?

was courier in the wrong with his statement or was he simply commentating on the game during a different time and era when tennis was a completely different game compared to today?
You answered your own question. A player with a massive serve and big shots will spend a lot more energy making these massive serve and forehand/ backhands. Where as the quick defense player basically use the power of the massive shot maker against him.

That's why you see Nadal wear out his big hitting opponents time and time again by been a counter puncher. If you watch enough of Nadal's matches, you'll see that a typically rally starts with Nadal's big hitting opponent going all out smashing 90+ mile strokes as Nadal runs and bounces the shot back. After 4 or 5 massive shots, the opponent usually tires a bit and reduces in strength. That's when Nadal goes all out and hits a winner.

Not every rally is like how I described, but you get the idea.

It's like the biker who hides behind the wind generated by the leading biker for a long time, using as little energy as possible while following closely behind the lead, and when the lead biker tires, the 2nd place biker calls upon all his reserved/ saved energy and overtakes the lead biker just as they come close to the finish line.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I've just looked at clay court numbers extensively. How much of this postive 4.45% clutch factor is on serve for Sampras. Most players are slightly negative on serve and slightly positive on return.
Yes, but the two also cancel out, on average.

Of the champions, these are the highest:

Sampras:
1.18 serve
3.27 return
4.45 net

Federer:
-0.54 serve
3.56 return
3.02 net
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
So is Federer better on grass by a nose for his career and Sampras by a nose on North American hard courts career? The above are the grass numbers, no?
Those stats don't show that Sampras is better. If you go by % of games won, Federer is better. If you go by 1st serve, Sampras is better, 2nd serve, Federer is better. And so on.

But they are close, and it is two different decades, two different eras. My answer: they are the best on grass, and that's as far as I would go.

HCs is is more complicated.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
that clutch factor and BP factor is why I think you can make the case that Pete has the best serve ever. On raw numbers Karlovic may be ahead but he also hasn't been tested in teh clutch department yet.
I would never never EVER say that Federer has a better serve than Karlovic. When it comes to best serve, it is a battle of servebots. Karlovic's serve is so good precisely because he does not have other weapons to back it up. I don't buy the idea that his stats are only so good because he does not go deep. That fact is that they guy gets more free points, wins faster (fewer strokes) and so on. If he had Fed's other weapons, his record winning service games would be even higher.

Isner, Raonic and Karlovic have the best serves and win the highest % of service games on grass. But all three are so far down in return games that you can't find career averages. They don't make the top 200 or so.

If you look only at 1st serves on grass, Ivanisevic leads everyone. But his 2nd serve was very weak and was usually his downfall.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I would never never EVER say that Federer has a better serve than Karlovic. When it comes to best serve, it is a battle of servebots. Karlovic's serve is so good precisely because he does not have other weapons to back it up. I don't buy the idea that his stats are only so good because he does not go deep. That fact is that they guy gets more free points, wins faster (fewer strokes) and so on. If he had Fed's other weapons, his record winning service games would be even higher.

Isner, Raonic and Karlovic have the best serves and win the highest % of service games on grass. But all three are so far down in return games that you can't find career averages. They don't make the top 200 or so.

If you look only at 1st serves on grass, Ivanisevic leads everyone. But his 2nd serve was very weak and was usually his downfall.
i said sampras
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I would never never EVER say that Federer has a better serve than Karlovic. When it comes to best serve, it is a battle of servebots. Karlovic's serve is so good precisely because he does not have other weapons to back it up. I don't buy the idea that his stats are only so good because he does not go deep. That fact is that they guy gets more free points, wins faster (fewer strokes) and so on. If he had Fed's other weapons, his record winning service games would be even higher.

Isner, Raonic and Karlovic have the best serves and win the highest % of service games on grass. But all three are so far down in return games that you can't find career averages. They don't make the top 200 or so.

If you look only at 1st serves on grass, Ivanisevic leads everyone. But his 2nd serve was very weak and was usually his downfall.
and you look at Raonic...in pretty much every big match of his career his serve has let him down. I mean that was a pathetic display there in the Wimbledon final. Given that how do you take his serve over a Pete? Maybe he wins slightly more games against the mugs but who cares when his serving has been poor in pretty much every big match he has played? Isner and Karlovic have not played those big matches so who knows. All things considered the more I think about it the more I think Pete could have the best overall serve or second behind Karlovic. However Isner and karlovic rely more on placement rather than power so that style would play better against better opponents I think as opposed to Raonic.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
and you look at Raonic...in pretty much every big match of his career his serve has let him down. I mean that was a pathetic display there in the Wimbledon final. Given that how do you take his serve over a Pete?
I take his SERVE over Pete's because he has a better SERVE. But he has none of Pete's weapons to back up the serve.

I'd take Pete's SERVICE GAME over Raonic's, for two reasons: First, Pete had the ability to raise his game in critical situations. Second, no one got the stats on serving in the 90s that players get now.
Maybe he wins slightly more games against the mugs but who cares when his serving has been poor in pretty much every big match he has played? Isner and Karlovic have not played those big matches so who knows. All things considered the more I think about it the more I think Pete could have the best overall serve or second behind Karlovic. However Isner and karlovic rely more on placement rather than power so that style would play better against better opponents I think as opposed to Raonic.
Again, you can't totally compare winning games now against winning games in the 90s.

And you can't separate 1st and 2nd serves, because if we do that Ivanisevic is hands down the best server of the 90s based only on 1st serve. It's a package deal.

But the main reason that Raonic loses is that he wins around 15% of his games on return, so he has no plan B when plan A (the serve) is not working...
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I take his SERVE over Pete's because he has a better SERVE. But he has none of Pete's weapons to back up the serve.

I'd take Pete's SERVICE GAME over Raonic's, for two reasons: First, Pete had the ability to raise his game in critical situations. Second, no one got the stats on serving in the 90s that players get now.

Again, you can't totally compare winning games now against winning games in the 90s.

And you can't separate 1st and 2nd serves, because if we do that Ivanisevic is hands down the best server of the 90s based only on 1st serve. It's a package deal.

But the main reason that Raonic loses is that he wins around 15% of his games on return, so he has no plan B when plan A (the serve) is not working...
pete raised his serve in the biggest moments...raonic lowers his. To me the choice is clear. Has nothing to do with the rest of their games, speaking purely about the serve.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
pete raised his serve in the biggest moments...raonic lowers his. To me the choice is clear. Has nothing to do with the rest of their games, speaking purely about the serve.
I don't care about when the serve is removed from the rest of the game because only aces and unreturnable serves are only about serving. The rest of the serves only work when there is some kind of really good follow up shot.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I don't care about when the serve is removed from the rest of the game because only aces and unreturnable serves are only about serving. The rest of the serves only work when there is some kind of really good follow up shot.
not true, raonic can put away a service line sitter as well as pete can. The key is getting those balls.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
not true, raonic can put away a service line sitter as well as pete can. The key is getting those balls.
OK, Raonic has equal skills to Pete's in backing up the serve, regardless of where those serves come back, or how hard?

If that's your position then we might as well stop this.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
OK, Raonic has equal skills to Pete's in backing up the serve, regardless of where those serves come back, or how hard?

If that's your position then we might as well stop this.
Nice strawman, but if the guy hits back a sitter return or overhead? Any ATP pro can put that away, you don't need the Sampras volleys or the Federer forehand. Heck I could too. We are not talking a low return or half volley or a deeper return which is where pete or federer is far superior.

The point is that saying the serve influence extends to aces and unreturnables is just not true. If you opt for placement, as Pete or Federer does, you are going to be getting those easy balls even if you don't hit an ace or unreturnable. If you opt for power and don't serve smart, as Raonic does, the good returners will just hit it back deep and you are screwed because you don't have those weapons. Then you would need Pete or Federer's offensive games to do well, but if Raonic emphasized placement as Pete or Federer do in big matches, he would be far better off. He may get a few less aces but would win a lot more on the first serve.

And regardless that is all diverting away from my main point which is that I'll take the more clutch serve and the serve that gets brought to the big matches over the serve that wins maybe 1-2% more games in the first 4 rounds but then is MIA against the elite opposition. That ability. imo, is purely part of your serve, not the overall service game. Hence Pete>Raonic.

I mean if you are in a semi or final of a slam you would be insane to take Raonic's serve over Pete's despite what the overall stats say because you know that Pete's serve can dominate any returner while Raonic's can be picked apart by a good one which has been shown time and time again. Tennis is a top heavy sport. What you do in the last 3 rounds matters 100 times more than the first 4.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Nice strawman, but if the guy hits back a sitter return or overhead? Any ATP pro can put that away, you don't need the Sampras volleys or the Federer forehand. Heck I could too. We are not talking a low return or half volley or a deeper return which is where pete or federer is far superior.
Sure. Any good player will handle those shots. But Raonic is not going to win every point that way. Sooner or later he has to hit a 2nd serve, and not just one. Any great player has weaker games with the serve, and then an opponent gets a crack at a couple 2nd serves. Then put that together with an occasional sharp return on a good 1st serve and its a break.

So someone hits a great return to Raonic's backhand. Raonic doesn't like to hit a backhand. He is usually camping out on the sideline, almost, running around the forehand. Or he moves that way to avoid the backhand, and a great player rifles something back down the line, to his forehand.

That's what great returners do.

Guys like Sampras and Federer have additional skills to back up their great serves for when rallies get to neutral.

Raonic doesn't. Ivanisevic didn't. Usually Roddick didn't, but he's more in the middle.

I'm saying that a Pete and a Roger have it all. They have the great serves, then they have all the other great shots to back it up. Fed in particular has always had very high stats in returning 1st serves, around 31% for his career on grass, better than anyone else at the top of the game.

Somehow people get the idea that those return skills are only valuable on returning, but they are just as valuable serving when a server is surprised by a great return or is pushed to a neutral rally.

Raonic so far has won around 74.5% of all his service points, and he's won 59% of his 2nd serve points.

But he remains so far back in winning return games that you can't even find career stats for him on grass, returning. We can only go by a rounded number in his profile for winning games returning - 13%.

13% is awful.

The greatest players are at 24% and above, with the exception of Sampras, at 22%. But as mentioned before, you can't go by that with Sampras because he didn't BOTHER to break when he was ahead. He had another gear.

Raonic doesn't have another gear, and he never will have another gear with those return skills. He could get wildly hot and win a slam, Ivanisevic style, but if he does he'll squeak through.
The point is that saying the serve influence extends to aces and unreturnables is just not true.
I think it is true.

No strawman. Just an absolute difference of opinion.
 
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