PDA

View Full Version : Best volleyer- Navratilova or King


justineheninfan
May 23rd, 2011, 11:40 PM
I think the consensus of most is the best two volleyers, atleast of the Open Era are probably Navratilova and King. Who do you believe was the better overall volleyer of the two though.

bionic71
May 24th, 2011, 01:46 AM
I think King was a superb technician on the volley, she understood the geometry of the court and her first volley placement was extraordinary. She was a master of shot placement in general and played the percentages well, usually just doing enough with the volley to make it incredibly difficult for her opponent to pass her.

Navratilova learnt much from her association and doubles partnership with King. She too was a naturally gifted volleyer and aggressive shot maker like King.
What made Martina such a formidable volleyer was her speed and strength. She was an imposing net figure, quick and powerful.

Technically Martina improved her forehand volley over time, in the 70s she took at all mighty swing at that shot and it was prone to error at clutch moments. By the mid 80s that technical deficiency had almost been erradicated, through sheer hard work and modification of the swing, getting down lower and bending her knees on contact. The errors only came when she failed to get low to the net. Her strength, confidence and anticipation made up for the slight technical imperfection.

I can't seperate them really.

Ralph214
May 24th, 2011, 02:27 AM
I`m slightly leaning on Navratilova because of her speed and athleticism. If you only consider the volleys though (technical), Billie Jean is somewhat equal to Martina if not better. :)

Claycourter
May 24th, 2011, 09:56 AM
I'll go with Martina.

laschutz
May 24th, 2011, 06:32 PM
tough call, off topic but the sad thing is that 50 year old navratilova was a better volleyer than all the TOP WOMEN PLAYING TODAY! anyway, i think the edge has to go to martina, no woman in history has ever, ever been able to come up with the acrobatics, reflexes, and touch and power than martina!

court had the reach and power, but martina is better at that than court.

king might have had the touch and technical skill of the volley, but not enough in power.

martina is the best of both worlds, and we're not even talking about martina's overhead and speed getting to the net, which she is the best ever in those regards too!

Rollo
May 24th, 2011, 09:16 PM
If we're talking volleys only my vote goes to King. She looks just as acrobatic to me as Martina in her prime. And her backhand volley was to die for.

What made Martina better overall IMO was her groundstrokes.

alfajeffster
May 24th, 2011, 09:57 PM
I've always maintained Billie Jean was a better volleyer- maybe the best at the net ever. One thing that has to be considered (along with Martina's sometimes erratic forehand volley) is that in comparison, none of Navratilova's contemporaries were really great serve-volley players who could consistently force Martina to pass. Billie Jean on the other hand had Court, Goolagong, Wade, Bueno and several other world class volleyers to contend with in any given tournament, and she was usually the better net player than any of them. Martina only had a rarely in form Mandlikova and the gangly Sukova who could push her on the odd occasion. Even Ros Fairbank could occasionally give Navratilova fits from the net. In comparing the King volley to that to Navratilova, you also have to take into consideration the standard size racquet King used most of her career as opposed to the mid-sized composites Martina had to work with. More apples and oranges, but a fun thread nonetheless.

justineheninfan
May 24th, 2011, 10:58 PM
I know not really part of the topic but how were King's groundstrokes. Looking at tapes of them they seem pretty weak even for the era, but she was a very crafty player. Well her backhand was pretty good, but her forehand looked like a poke almost and was very attackable. A 16 year old Evert was already barely losing games to her on clay.

alfajeffster
May 25th, 2011, 07:57 AM
I know not really part of the topic but how were King's groundstrokes. Looking at tapes of them they seem pretty weak even for the era, but she was a very crafty player. Well her backhand was pretty good, but her forehand looked like a poke almost and was very attackable. A 16 year old Evert was already barely losing games to her on clay.

Well, teenager Chris Evert beat Margaret Court just after Margaret completed the Grand Slam in 1970. Margaret was a much better clay courter than Billie Jean King. While King did win the French title in 1972, she never warmed to the surface, just adapted her game in a year when the field was pretty weak. Have you ever tried to volley on red clay? It's not just difficult, it's very difficult. Edberg, Henman and Rafter all had clay court experience, and were always comfortable at the net- even on clay, but most players will tell you it's a baseliner's game with few exceptions (Court, King, and Navratilova) all managed to do it at the net. Margaret Court was great from the baseline as well as the net, and that explains her 5 titles. There were no red clay courts in Southern California when Billie Jean Moffitt was learning to play.

Betten
May 25th, 2011, 08:58 AM
Have you ever tried to volley on red clay? It's not just difficult, it's very difficult.

I just wanted to note: I've always played on red clay and I love to go forward and finish the point with a volley. I have never found it difficult to volley on clay. When I first played on an indoor hard court I did struggle with my volleys, because of the difference in speed and bounce. I don't think it has much to do with the inherent qualities of the surface and that it is more about what you're used to. Billie Jean was evidently handicapped in this case.

justineheninfan
May 25th, 2011, 02:04 PM
It is pretty surprising the year King won the French she did beat Goolagong fairly easily in the final. I wonder how she ever pulled that off, on clay that is very surprising.

alfajeffster
May 25th, 2011, 02:57 PM
I just wanted to note: I've always played on red clay and I love to go forward and finish the point with a volley. I have never found it difficult to volley on clay. When I first played on an indoor hard court I did struggle with my volleys, because of the difference in speed and bounce. I don't think it has much to do with the inherent qualities of the surface and that it is more about what you're used to. Billie Jean was evidently handicapped in this case.

Well God bless you if you've mastered the art of volleying well on clay, but you're definitely in the minority. Volleying normally requires firm, steady footwork and the ability to change direction on a dime- things which clay often takes away from you at the net. It is definitely the least conducive surface on which to charge the net. Really sticking a first volley on clay is at a premium, because if you hit any volley that would normally do damage on hard courts, grass or carpet, you also have to factor in the fact that the ball sits up and it's easier to pass a net rusher on clay. It frequently requires the volleyer to have to hit several volleys before actually winning the point. This is why you see so many drop volleys- it compensates for the additional liabilities clay forces on the volleyer. It's also easier for a returner to dip the return at the net rushers' feet on clay, usually making the next ball a much easier pass or put away, let alone lob. The ball comes back much more often on clay than with a hard court or faster surface.

daze11
May 25th, 2011, 03:44 PM
I've always maintained Billie Jean was a better volleyer- maybe the best at the net ever. One thing that has to be considered (along with Martina's sometimes erratic forehand volley) is that in comparison, none of Navratilova's contemporaries were really great serve-volley players who could consistently force Martina to pass. Billie Jean on the other hand had Court, Goolagong, Wade, Bueno and several other world class volleyers to contend with in any given tournament, and she was usually the better net player than any of them. Martina only had a rarely in form Mandlikova and the gangly Sukova who could push her on the odd occasion. Even Ros Fairbank could occasionally give Navratilova fits from the net. In comparing the King volley to that to Navratilova, you also have to take into consideration the standard size racquet King used most of her career as opposed to the mid-sized composites Martina had to work with. More apples and oranges, but a fun thread nonetheless.Mandlikova had an extremely formidable volley with deft touch though.... I dare say better than Martina. She was less consistent by far, point to point, in her play within a match & thus her never getting past being #3 in that era, but she was NOT inconsistent once she had the volley on her racket. I think of McEnroe's volley when I think of Hana... we're not talking best serve & volley player mind you, but just the volley. But I dont know anyone who understands the technique of the volley better than Alfa!! So I defer...while making my point. ;)

daze11
May 25th, 2011, 03:48 PM
If we're talking volleys only my vote goes to King. She looks just as acrobatic to me as Martina in her prime. And her backhand volley was to die for.

What made Martina better overall IMO was her groundstrokes.And her ego. Granted, Billie Jean has the bigger ego in some ways and was more demonstrative on court, but Martina's prime is defined by her unwillingness to believe she could lose, and I dont think BJK was ever that arrogant. And I am actually complimenting MN in this use of that word, btw, because that's how you kick ass in sport. She had a little Muhammad Ali in her.

Betten
May 25th, 2011, 04:56 PM
Well God bless you if you've mastered the art of volleying well on clay, but you're definitely in the minority. Volleying normally requires firm, steady footwork and the ability to change direction on a dime- things which clay often takes away from you at the net. It is definitely the least conducive surface on which to charge the net. Really sticking a first volley on clay is at a premium, because if you hit any volley that would normally do damage on hard courts, grass or carpet, you also have to factor in the fact that the ball sits up and it's easier to pass a net rusher on clay. It frequently requires the volleyer to have to hit several volleys before actually winning the point. This is why you see so many drop volleys- it compensates for the additional liabilities clay forces on the volleyer. It's also easier for a returner to dip the return at the net rushers' feet on clay, usually making the next ball a much easier pass or put away, let alone lob. The ball comes back much more often on clay than with a hard court or faster surface.

I know all those things... I just said I volley on clay, remember. Of course a volleyer is more vulnerable on slow clay, but you made it sound as if it was mission impossible to pursue such a strategy because of the disadvantages. It really isn't. If you play often on clay (me, I was raised on clay) you learn to adapt and compensate for some of the deficiencies. It's probably a different situation in the professional tour, but some players, like Navratilova (who, coincidentally, also learned to play S&V on clay first), still managed to achieve great success on the surface.

justineheninfan
May 25th, 2011, 08:28 PM
I always thought Martina's ego was neccessary to her success since I think with her upbringing and history of defecting, being lesbian, not always being accepeted, being overweight and lacking success for someone of her talent for so long, deep down she lacked a certain amount of belief and self confidence. So the ego was something almost self taught as a way to smother that lack of self confidence deep down.

gabybackhand
May 25th, 2011, 09:39 PM
I know all those things... I just said I volley on clay, remember. Of course a volleyer is more vulnerable on slow clay, but you made it sound as if it was mission impossible to pursue such a strategy because of the disadvantages. It really isn't. If you play often on clay (me, I was raised on clay) you learn to adapt and compensate for some of the deficiencies. It's probably a different situation in the professional tour, but some players, like Navratilova (who, coincidentally, also learned to play S&V on clay first), still managed to achieve great success on the surface.
I can see your point about playing volleys on clay, but it's true it's harder to stick to that style there than on faster surfaces. I've played both on red clay and hard courts all my tennis life and I do play much at the net (I LOVE it), but I know that I have to choose my approach shot better to charge to the net, also if I might have a chance of chipping and charging just to put pressure on a fast court, my chances to win the point that way on clay are less. I mean, you can volley equally well, you can adapt to the surface and slide and all that to be comfortable at the net, but the surface ALWAYS gives your rival more time and a better chance to pass you than on hard courts. Besides, a good clay court must be more wet than dry, and that also makes more difficult for you to kill your volleys. Granted, you can use it more if you have a nice drop volley.

alfajeffster
May 26th, 2011, 12:30 AM
I know all those things... I just said I volley on clay, remember. Of course a volleyer is more vulnerable on slow clay, but you made it sound as if it was mission impossible to pursue such a strategy because of the disadvantages. It really isn't. If you play often on clay (me, I was raised on clay) you learn to adapt and compensate for some of the deficiencies. It's probably a different situation in the professional tour, but some players, like Navratilova (who, coincidentally, also learned to play S&V on clay first), still managed to achieve great success on the surface.

When I was playing regularly, I loved playing on clay, and thanks to a place called the West End Racquet Club in Lancaster, PA, as well as that amazing day with daze on the upper west side of Manhattan, got to play a few times on the terre battue. Also in Lancaster, I belonged to a weekend private club that had a calcium composite surface that played a little faster (and more inconsistent with bounces) and did so every Saturday for years. It's definitely not mission impossible. My point is if you had to choose the best surface on which to volley, you'd probably go for grass or a fast indoor carpet. Most of my clay court volleying was in doubles, which made it easier to not have to cover the entire net. The singles players who've been successful on clay by attacking the net are definitely in the minority. Chris Evert's 6 titles are three times as many as Martina's tally. All that said, Martina's dismantling of Chris in the 1984 final at Roland Garros is breathtaking to this day.

justineheninfan
May 26th, 2011, 12:36 AM
Martina was a bit of a choker at Roland Garros. She should have won more titles than she did there.

Betten
May 26th, 2011, 07:37 AM
I think we're all basically saying the same thing. How about this for a conclusion: volleying is harder on clay than on other surfaces because of the higher bounce (which gives the opponent more time to pass the net player or retrieve a volley), but if you've learned to play on clay and adapted your game accordingly you will fare much better on it than those who didn't, despite the inherent disadvantages of the surface.

alfajeffster
May 26th, 2011, 07:57 AM
I think we're all basically saying the same thing. How about this for a conclusion: volleying is harder on clay than on other surfaces because of the higher bounce (which gives the opponent more time to pass the net player or retrieve a volley), but if you've learned to play on clay and adapted your game accordingly you will fare much better on it than those who didn't, despite the inherent disadvantages of the surface.

Now if we can only get the USTA to aggressively promote red clay courts in the USA! Ah well, I guess I can't complain too much, it used to be called the United States Lawn Tennis Association. My absolute worst surface btw, is American green clay (Har-Tru). Our club has 4 such courts and erects a bubble so play on them continues all winter long. I have more robust legs and on green clay my feet actually stick to the surface. I've fallen more than once and much prefer red clay, where I can actually slide.

calou
May 26th, 2011, 12:25 PM
Martina was a bit of a choker at Roland Garros. She should have won more titles than she did there.

Agree:yeah:

calou
May 26th, 2011, 12:31 PM
i was a miserable volleyer, so i have a lot of respect for this type of play .I always loved the serve and volley game, specially at Wimbledon because i'm not a fan of long rallies (not very happy with the game today ...)For me Nav and Bjk were 2 tremendous volleyers ,may be a little edge for Martina due to her athleticism .

austinrunner
May 27th, 2011, 01:27 AM
It is pretty surprising the year King won the French she did beat Goolagong fairly easily in the final. I wonder how she ever pulled that off, on clay that is very surprising.

What makes you think that the match was easy? Goolagong Cawley was up a break in the second set at 3-2.

austinrunner
May 27th, 2011, 01:33 AM
I know not really part of the topic but how were King's groundstrokes. Looking at tapes of them they seem pretty weak even for the era, but she was a very crafty player. Well her backhand was pretty good, but her forehand looked like a poke almost and was very attackable. A 16 year old Evert was already barely losing games to her on clay.
King never played Evert on clay when the latter was 16.

At age 17, Evert defeated King 3 times on clay by the following scores:
6-1, 6-0
6-2, 6-3
6-4, 6-2

MurrayState84
Jun 16th, 2011, 07:27 AM
My memory/impression is this: Billie Jean was an artist at the net, hitting incredible angles that Martina never did. In contrast, Martina was much stronger and her volleys were more potent. Of course, when the sport changed and Graf/Seles came along, it took all of her suburb athleticism just to get her racquet on those balls, and then volley them off out of reach. Incredible to watch.

alfajeffster
Jun 25th, 2011, 07:24 PM
My memory/impression is this: Billie Jean was an artist at the net, hitting incredible angles that Martina never did. In contrast, Martina was much stronger and her volleys were more potent. Of course, when the sport changed and Graf/Seles came along, it took all of her suburb athleticism just to get her racquet on those balls, and then volley them off out of reach. Incredible to watch.

I've always felt that Martina's lefty serve really helped her get so many easier returns to volley away, that is, if the ball (especially in the ad court) even came back. I also feel that, despite the couple of years the oversized composite racquets may have helped both King and Navratilova in the short run, both would have had even longer careers with a standard size frame. By the end of Martina's playing days, there were a handful of girls with power returns off both wings, and could out muscle the muscular one's attack with devastating returns. Her last success against a top player was against Graf, largely because almost half of the backhand ad court returns were slices and chips that sat up for an easy volley.

laschutz
Jun 25th, 2011, 07:45 PM
off topic, but i thought the very first time that evert and king met was in early 1971 on clay in florida and chrissie won 6-7, 6-3, and i forgot the third set score but evert was leading when king defaulted,... and this being early 1971 chrissie was 16, not 17.....?

preacherfan
Jun 25th, 2011, 07:59 PM
I vote Martina. I'll admit I didn't see a younger BJK play. What made Martina better than anyone was the mixture of movement, touch and power. I remember watching Evert hit great groundies at Martina and seeing her volley them back with such pace and power that they were unreturnable. She had great touch, maybe Kimg was as good or better with that, but the sheer strength that she showed made her impossible to deal with.

austinrunner
Jun 25th, 2011, 09:45 PM
off topic, but i thought the very first time that evert and king met was in early 1971 on clay in florida and chrissie won 6-7, 6-3, and i forgot the third set score but evert was leading when king defaulted,... and this being early 1971 chrissie was 16, not 17.....?
Correct. April 1971. St. Petersburg. They did not start the third set. King defaulted because of leg cramps.

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/09/25/images/xlarge/SpecLi_Nomask_2008976.jpg
(http://www.sptimes.com/2007/09/25/images/xlarge/SpecLi_Nomask_2008976.jpg)

Wimbledon9
Jun 25th, 2011, 10:39 PM
I saw an interview with Petra Kvitova at the Tennis Channel today, she said her volleys are in for improvement although I find them rather decent.
She said to Martina who was in the studio she would like to have her volleys, I did get the impression she would be very happy to get some volley lessons from Martina.

rimon
Jun 26th, 2011, 09:41 AM
I wish that I could contribute, but unfortunately I haven't been able to watch a lot of either players. :sad: I am really enjoying reading the comments though.

Just wondering, how would you compare Margaret Court to the two?

austinrunner
Jun 26th, 2011, 10:53 AM
Just wondering, how would you compare Margaret Court to the two?

http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=206844
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=434326
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=424849

rimon
Jun 26th, 2011, 02:07 PM
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=206844
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=434326
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=424849

I just mean how you would compare her to the two in volleying?

alfajeffster
Jun 26th, 2011, 02:37 PM
I saw an interview with Petra Kvitova at the Tennis Channel today, she said her volleys are in for improvement although I find them rather decent.
She said to Martina who was in the studio she would like to have her volleys, I did get the impression she would be very happy to get some volley lessons from Martina.

There is some speculation that Martina would love Petra to sit on her face, oops! I mean she would like to work with Petra and likes her game/sees potential. Navratilova has been very complimentary of the Kvitova serve out wide to the ad court (Martina still owns the patent). It's refreshing to see a current player actually acknowledge that some great players were around before they were born. Kvitova is a great and talented ball striker, but I just don't see her becoming really consistently at the top because of her limited mobility. No amount of training can make her a quick around the court as Martina Navratilova was.

justineheninfan
Jun 27th, 2011, 08:32 AM
Given the era Kvitova is coming up in I doubt limited mobility will be much of a problem for her. She hardly ever loses matches due to mobility even as it is, it is almost always due to making too many unforced errors. Even Serena wasnt able to attack Kvitova's mobility much in the Wimbledon semis last year. And I dont see the likes of Wozniacki, Azarenka, and Radwanska pushing her around the court much.

alfajeffster
Jun 27th, 2011, 09:35 PM
Given the era Kvitova is coming up in I doubt limited mobility will be much of a problem for her. She hardly ever loses matches due to mobility even as it is, it is almost always due to making too many unforced errors. Even Serena wasnt able to attack Kvitova's mobility much in the Wimbledon semis last year. And I dont see the likes of Wozniacki, Azarenka, and Radwanska pushing her around the court much.

Agreed, however I do think her leftiness has to be considered, and she's a lefty with a pronounced spin to her game on both the serve and the forehand. Moving your opponent around the court is much easier if you're working with the usual right-hander instead of the exception to the norm like playing Navratilova. Sure, there are other lefties out there, but virtually none at or near the top who use their leftiness as the weapon it is. Monica Seles never really used her leftiness to her advantage. If she'd have had Navratilova's or Kvitova's big lefty hook serve, it would be hard to imagine anyone beating her at all!