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View Full Version : So who REALLY has the best return of serve in the women's game?


Cakeisgood
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:07 AM
I'm curious to see what other people think in regards to the "best" returner in the game. While the poll options are my opinion, I strongly believe that these players are the strongest returners in women's tennis today. Let's say within the past three years as the timeframe.

So who do you think? Here's my two cents.

Serena Williams
Pros: Incredibly explosive, especially off the forehand wing. Crosscourt forehand return is incredibly powerful. Backhand wing is excellent as well (less raw force, more consistency). 2nd serves are no match.
Cons: Prone to inconsistency and breakdown particularly off the forehand side. Tends to get caught flatfooted on the backhand.

Kim Clijsters
Pros: Solid off both sides. Forehand return is dangerous down the line in particular. When she's on, she barely misses any returns.
Cons: High balls continue to trouble her, and good kick serves to the backhand side cause her problems. Also has a tendency to take the ball late.

Victoria Azarenka
Pros: Takes the return RIDICULOUSLY early. Cuts off angles well and neutralizes big serves remarkably. Capable of hitting angles well to draw short balls.
Cons: Return winner count is quite low, due in part to her natural lack of big power. Returns of 2nd serve deliveries are curiously less effective than 1st serves. ROS is her biggest weapon, but may only look so good due to an otherwise relatively pedestrian game.

Maria Sharapova
Pros: Similar to Serena in explosive returns, though perhaps even more versatile off both wings. Forehand crosscourt and backhand DTL particularly effective. Eats puffball 2nd serves easily. High winner count.
Cons: Like the rest of her game, prone to breakdown under pressure. Return of big 1st serves is below average. Occasionally takes the ball far too late.

Petra Kvitova
Pros: Also has a huge return game, mostly off the forehand side. Leftiness is a big advantage and the sheer flatness of her shots mean that shots that aren't even close to the lines tend to be winners. Huge winner count.
Cons: The quintessential "ballbasher". When the wheels come off, they REALLY come off.

Jelena Jankovic
Pros: It seems like an eon ago, but JJ's ROS was once a beast. Neutralization of big serves first-rate. Great ability to redirect pace. Stab returns off the forehand and backhand unmatched.
Cons: Lack of power means return of 2nd serves is significantly less effective. Tends to resort to defense too quickly, and takes one hand off the racquet a little too readily.

Other
Did I miss anyone?

LoLex
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:16 AM
JJ at her best. But the Empress got old and lazy, so I say Serena is the best returner.

Cakeisgood
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:18 AM
JJ at her best. But the Empress got old and lazy, so I say Serena is the best returner.

:sobbing:

SO tragic. I miss peak JJ's return. It was so pretty and effortless.

borrowedheaven
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:24 AM
I like your analysis.
In terms of punishing weaker serves, Serena. But if we talk about bringing difficult serves back decently, Azarenka or Clijsters.
And about Clijsters having trouble with the kick serve on the backhand, she actually does that quite well, considering she's not that tall. At the YEC, se returned Stosur's serves really well.

KBlade
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:36 AM
I agree, a great analysis. Consistency would be a tough one between Azarenka, Clijsters and Jankovic. However, for pure fear factor, when it's on, Serena's return is probably the best.

Keadz
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:46 AM
Dementieva used to own this shot, today I guess azarenka...one of her few redeeming qualities.

Then there is the short players or those with pretty shitty serves that have to rely on their return to stay in matches. Cibulkova, radwanksa, Zheng etc etc.

Maria rocks
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:50 AM
Maria at her best has an awesome return of serve.

bandabou
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:52 AM
For pure bringing balls back, Azarenka's the best.

Most explosive and reliable on crunch-time? Serena..I think Masha still has nightmares of that forehand return winner Serena hit against her in ' 05 Oz open SF.

Matej
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:14 AM
Dementieva used to own this shot, today I guess azarenka...one of her few redeeming qualities.

Then there is the short players or those with pretty shitty serves that have to rely on their return to stay in matches. Cibulkova, radwanksa, Zheng etc etc.

And Zakopalová. :)

These stats might be helpful (even though they by no means tell the whole story, obviously):
http://www.wtatennis.com/SEWTATour-Archive/Rankings_Stats/match_stats.pdf

POINTS WON RET FIRST SERVICE
Pos Player % / Match
1 NICULESCU , MONICA 46.0 / 14
2 SHARAPOVA , MARIA 44.9 / 32
3 AZARENKA , VICTORIA 44.0 / 40
4 ZAKOPALOVA , KLARA 44.0 / 27
5 CLIJSTERS , KIM 43.6 / 25
6 BARTOLI , MARION 43.4 / 46
7 WOZNIACKI , CAROLINE 43.1 / 53
8 DOMINGUEZ LINO , LOURDES 42.9 / 21
9 JOHANSSON , MATHILDE 42.9 / 13
10 SUAREZ NAVARRO , CARLA 42.8 / 13


POINTS WON RET 2ND SERVICE
Pos Name % / Match
1 SHARAPOVA , MARIA 62.0 / 32
2 CLIJSTERS , KIM 60.9 / 25
3 AZARENKA , VICTORIA 60.4 / 40
4 MEDINA GARRIGUES , ANABEL 60.1 / 30
5 PETKOVIC , ANDREA 59.8 / 39
6 WOZNIACKI , CAROLINE 59.5 / 53
7 BARTOLI , MARION 59.2 / 46
8 CIBULKOVA , DOMINIKA 59.1 / 25
9 JANKOVIC , JELENA 58.9 / 40
10 ERRANI , SARA 58.7 /34

Beny
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:29 AM
Bartoli definitely returns well.

I would say
Azarenka, Bartoli, Kvitova, Sharapova the best

SerenaClijsters
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:56 AM
Clijsters and Azarenka. Probably Serena too, but she's better at punishing weak serves than returning strong ones back into play.

madmax
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:00 AM
as of now? Maria and Vika by far, as evidenced by all match stats.

Gilas.
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:01 AM
I despise Azarenka, but her returns are huge and she barely misses them, so she has to take the cake.
Nobody defeats PeakRena in RAGE mode though :shrug:

Beat
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:11 AM
Victoria Azarenka
ROS is her biggest weapon, but may only look so good due to an otherwise relatively pedestrian game.

:spit:

Feyd
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:13 AM
Azarenka and Sharapova at the moment.

L'Enfant Sauvage
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:22 AM
Cons: Return winner count is quite low, due in part to her natural lack of big power. Returns of 2nd serve deliveries are curiously less effective than 1st serves. ROS is her biggest weapon, but may only look so good due to an otherwise relatively pedestrian game.

:bigcry:

Azza is the best at handling difficult first serves, Serena is the best at punishing seconds. Kim also has a great ROS.

Shvedbarilescu
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:25 AM
And Zakopalová. :)

These stats might be helpful (even though they by no means tell the whole story, obviously):
http://www.wtatennis.com/SEWTATour-Archive/Rankings_Stats/match_stats.pdf

POINTS WON RET FIRST SERVICE
Pos Player % / Match
1 NICULESCU , MONICA 46.0 / 14
2 SHARAPOVA , MARIA 44.9 / 32
3 AZARENKA , VICTORIA 44.0 / 40
4 ZAKOPALOVA , KLARA 44.0 / 27
5 CLIJSTERS , KIM 43.6 / 25
6 BARTOLI , MARION 43.4 / 46
7 WOZNIACKI , CAROLINE 43.1 / 53
8 DOMINGUEZ LINO , LOURDES 42.9 / 21
9 JOHANSSON , MATHILDE 42.9 / 13
10 SUAREZ NAVARRO , CARLA 42.8 / 13


POINTS WON RET 2ND SERVICE
Pos Name % / Match
1 SHARAPOVA , MARIA 62.0 / 32
2 CLIJSTERS , KIM 60.9 / 25
3 AZARENKA , VICTORIA 60.4 / 40
4 MEDINA GARRIGUES , ANABEL 60.1 / 30
5 PETKOVIC , ANDREA 59.8 / 39
6 WOZNIACKI , CAROLINE 59.5 / 53
7 BARTOLI , MARION 59.2 / 46
8 CIBULKOVA , DOMINIKA 59.1 / 25
9 JANKOVIC , JELENA 58.9 / 40
10 ERRANI , SARA 58.7 /34

Monica Niculescu with the highest percentage of points won returning the 1st serve. :bowdown:

Somehow I think that will surprise a few posters here. But the fact is Monica consistently breaks her opponents serve as much as just about anyone else on the tour. It is just a shame her own serve is so weak.

Pops Maellard
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:35 AM
Azarenka.

BartoLiNa
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:37 AM
At her peak Serena is a better returner than all the other options combined.

Joey Darling
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:40 AM
I think that Serena has an absolute beast of a return game. Can't fault her in that category.

Corswandt
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:51 AM
Superb OP.

So it's very much unfair that I'll start with the nitpicking.

Petra Kvitova
Pros: Also has a huge return game, mostly off the forehand side.

BH. Kvitova typically hits a full swing BH on ROS, and even though it isn't even very compact, it's technically flawless, very fluid and she can time it perfectly, taking the ball very early and bending her knees and leaning into the shot to transfer her upper body weight into it. When it fully clicks, it's a rocket, landing right at the opposite baseline, and the biggest Terror Shot on today's Tour.

Disagree that Serena's return has been among the Tour's best over the past three seasons. Like Venus, she throws away whole return games with botched ROS, in her case mostly due to lazy footwork. The ability to hit a few bullshit ROS winners at crunch time to intimidate her opponents doesn't make for a consistently effective return game like say Toria Azarenka has.

As for Sharapova, I think it would be worth mentioning just how difficult it is to ace her due to her huge wingspan. Also, her return of really big (180+ km/h) first serves has improved somewhat - she was once completely hopeless at it.

As for the player who is currently the best at putting huge serves back into play, that's Kimberley by far. Agreed that it used to be prime Jankovic, but she's too burnt out and lackadaisical nowadays.

Victoria Azarenka
Pros: Takes the return RIDICULOUSLY early. Cuts off angles well and neutralizes big serves remarkably. Capable of hitting angles well to draw short balls.
Cons: Return winner count is quite low, due in part to her natural lack of big power. Returns of 2nd serve deliveries are curiously less effective than 1st serves. ROS is her biggest weapon, but may only look so good due to an otherwise relatively pedestrian game.

:lol: @ bolded part. This "Cons" section actually has some of the sharpest observations of the whole post, but I'd still say Toria Azarenka has the WTA's very best ROS by a considerable margin.

Mistress of Evil
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:17 AM
Practically, the girls who cannot serve have the best ROS. :shrug:
Best example of this was Lenochka, her serve was disastrous through almost all of her career so that she worked on her return game, and it was great.
Now, one of the best returners is Azarenka, simply because her serve is a joke and she cannot win matches only on it and needs her return game to be top quality.
Sharapova's return improved a lot in recent years due to the hopelessness of her own serve after the comeback. She needs a better return game now in order to win matches.

Apoleb
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:20 AM
Also, her return of really big (180+ km/h) first serves has improved somewhat - she was once completely hopeless at it.


I reckon that's going by the Lisicki match, and even though Lisicki's pace on the serve is impressive.. not so much her placement.

lol @ people voting for Sharapova. She's got late reactions to shots hit strong and deep when it comes to both groundstrokes and serves. It's why she's such a bad matchup with Kvitova on at least fast surfaces and why she has been owned by the WS over the few years. You get her on the backfoot before she makes you to, and she's killed.

People will hate on Victoria, but her retreiving abilities are second to none. She reacts better than anyone at anything coming big and powerful at her. Too bad that she can't generate pace on her own, and that's the key to her uselesness.

Serena I think remains a formidable returner but only on select occasions. Usually she can't be bothered and she doesn't need to, because she has that freakin serve.

Slutiana
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:20 AM
Great first post. But since so many of them aim to do completely different things on the ROS, I think it's helpful to categorize them.

Of the explosive returners, there is no doubt that Serena is top. Azarenka is certainly the best at cutting off angles, taking the returns so early and redirecting the returns at will but her return has never been very effective vs either Williams. And of the defensive returners, peak Jelena is/was easily number one. She was just ridiculously good at landing every single return right at the feet of her opponents. Both V & S fucking hated her for it.

Though at times this week, Petra was almost a combination of all three. Unbelievably huge, explosive returns taken extremely early and often aimed right at the opponents feet. The latter being most prominent in Wickmayer's match. Evil Wicky just had no time to even think about reacting and it was utterly unplayable. For the first time in my life, I felt really, really sorry for her.


ROS is her biggest weapon, but may only look so good due to an otherwise relatively pedestrian game
Hilarious, but true. Though I do agree with Cors that her return is probably consistently the best of the lot.

bandabou
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:27 AM
Serena slipped a lot in this department...the Serena of old, certainly would've broken Marion Bartoli more than just once. :lol:

bandabou
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:38 AM
Serena I think remains a formidable returner but only on select occasions. Usually she can't be bothered and she doesn't need to, because she has that freakin serve.

Well said about Serena. She usually just banks on breaking once or twice a set and then it's riding the serve to the finish line.

Corswandt
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:42 AM
I reckon that's going by the Lisicki match, and even though Lisicki's pace on the serve is impressive.. not so much her placement.

No, Martha really has improved on that over the past couple of years. Particularly now that she can't afford to waste/borderline tank return games with "hit and hope" ROS. She can still be handcuffed with fast body serves fairly easily as she will never have the hands to control the return of those, though.

homogenius
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:44 AM
Azarenka.Jelena and Serena used to be better though.

dane
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:49 AM
Caroline Wozniacki has the best return of serve. She returns big serves easily. Go watch her matches vs Kvitova, Sharapova, Serena...
lol @ haters who didn't include her on the poll :lol:

Pump-it-UP
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:51 AM
Vika

Slutiana
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:52 AM
I agree with those saying that Martha's returns have improved thanks to her awful serve - one of the few parts of her game that has improved in recent years. That, and her serve and volley technique. :worship:

And regarding Serena, I think she just takes a sadistic pleasure in watching her opponents feel like they're staying with her in the match, only for Serena to come up with something ridiculous like 3 clutch return winners in a row when it matters.

LUVMIRZA
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:57 AM
Victoria Azarenka
Pros: Takes the return RIDICULOUSLY early. Cuts off angles well and neutralizes big serves remarkably. Capable of hitting angles well to draw short balls.
Cons: Return winner count is quite low, due in part to her natural lack of big power. Returns of 2nd serve deliveries are curiously less effective than 1st serves. ROS is her biggest weapon, but may only look so good due to an otherwise relatively pedestrian game.



With that Pedestrian game, she ripped ur favourite's ass both at Stanford & Miami:worship: Wat a miss at Rome:sad:

Ferg
Jul 5th, 2011, 12:27 PM
Marion?

Mynarco
Jul 5th, 2011, 12:28 PM
Serena, Azarenka and Peak JJ

Break My Rapture
Jul 5th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Azarenka by a mile. She rarely ever misses one and her trademark ROS down the middle into the feet of her opponent is SO effective, particularly on hardcourts.
She is also one of the very few players who was able to actually do something with GOATrena's first serve most of the time.

Also, I remember the YE WTA statistics from '09. Snickers won 49% of all the return games she played throughout the season, the best of anyone that season.

KBlade
Jul 5th, 2011, 12:40 PM
Caroline Wozniacki has the best return of serve. She returns big serves easily. Go watch her matches vs Kvitova, Sharapova, Serena...
lol @ haters who didn't include her on the poll :lol:

Shut up. That is all.

Edit - Yeah, I see what you're talking about. Wozniacki really handled Kvitova's serve when she got obliterated at Wimbledon :rolleyes:

18majors
Jul 5th, 2011, 12:45 PM
Vika.

hurricanejeanne
Jul 5th, 2011, 01:36 PM
Azarenka has the best consistent return of serve.

Serena's is great under pressure and Maria's has improved almost as a survival mechanism since her serve woes began.

Serenaluv
Jul 5th, 2011, 02:33 PM
Azarenka? really, lay of the weed. Azarenka has more lucky returns than actual timed ones.

Serena Williams is the best returner, however she can also be the worst returner.

Spring Pools
Jul 5th, 2011, 02:46 PM
Dementieva when she was still playing. But currently I'd give it to Azarenka since she is one of the best at returning first serves as well as second. However, I think that Sharapova or Kvitova have the best 2nd serve ROS. They both hit a lot of return winners.

MB.
Jul 5th, 2011, 02:50 PM
Azarenka. Sharapova's is starting to look Good again.

Serena's when she can be bothered to try.

Jelena back when she knew how to play tennis.

mboyle
Jul 5th, 2011, 03:34 PM
I despise Azarenka, but her returns are huge and she barely misses them, so she has to take the cake.
Nobody defeats PeakRena in RAGE mode though :shrug:

I agree about Serena. However, I think Maria actually neutralizes big serves better than Azarenka. Maria returned more of Kvitova's serves than Azarenka did. Maria just also double faulted six times and wasn't even going for big serves in the final. She would have won Wimbledon with a decent serve.

mboyle
Jul 5th, 2011, 03:36 PM
But I think the conventional wisdom is that Monica Seles owned the greatest ROS of all time. Watch old tapes of her. It was kind of scary. Hingis got a lot of big serves back, but didn't hit as many return winners. Same with JJ, who actually led the tour for a few years in return games won.

Fantasy Hero
Jul 5th, 2011, 03:40 PM
Flavia maybe isn't the best returner, but she is probably one of the best when it comes to deal with big servers (see her record with Sam and Venus)

Cakeisgood
Jul 5th, 2011, 03:57 PM
Superb OP.

So it's very much unfair that I'll start with the nitpicking.

BH. Kvitova typically hits a full swing BH on ROS, and even though it isn't even very compact, it's technically flawless, very fluid and she can time it perfectly, taking the ball very early and bending her knees and leaning into the shot to transfer her upper body weight into it. When it fully clicks, it's a rocket, landing right at the opposite baseline, and the biggest Terror Shot on today's Tour.

Disagree that Serena's return has been among the Tour's best over the past three seasons. Like Venus, she throws away whole return games with botched ROS, in her case mostly due to lazy footwork. The ability to hit a few bullshit ROS winners at crunch time to intimidate her opponents doesn't make for a consistently effective return game like say Toria Azarenka has.

As for Sharapova, I think it would be worth mentioning just how difficult it is to ace her due to her huge wingspan. Also, her return of really big (180+ km/h) first serves has improved somewhat - she was once completely hopeless at it.

As for the player who is currently the best at putting huge serves back into play, that's Kimberley by far. Agreed that it used to be prime Jankovic, but she's too burnt out and lackadaisical nowadays.


I would expect nothing less :lol:
Yes, watching some highlight reels back, I would definitely agree with Petra's BH being the primary weapon. Her return is like Vaidisova's, but infinitely better. Like Petra, Nicole always took an ENORMOUS swing at every return, which usually meant a winner or a back fence UE.


With that Pedestrian game, she ripped ur favourite's ass both at Stanford & Miami:worship: Wat a miss at Rome:sad:

Uhhhhh read my sig. Vika is one of my favorite players, but there is absolutely no denying that her game isn't particularly extraordinary.
Her peak game is rarely unplayable, and she is usually unable to maintain a high level consistent throughout a match (AO 2010 vs. Serena, FO 2009 vs. Dinara). She's merely "good" at most aspects of the game, but she hasn't broken through at GS's for reasons similar to Caro. When the opponent brings their A game, there's little she can do.

floco
Jul 5th, 2011, 07:39 PM
Why isnt Bartoi in the poll... She's definitely one of the best returners.

doomsday
Jul 5th, 2011, 07:54 PM
Azarenka by a mile. She rarely ever misses one and her trademark ROS down the middle into the feet of her opponent is SO effective, particularly on hardcourts.
She is also one of the very few players who was able to actually do something with GOATrena's first serve most of the time.

Also, I remember the YE WTA statistics from '09. Snickers won 49% of all the return games she played throughout the season, the best of anyone that season.

Azarenka's consistency in ROS is great she makes you work so hard on every service game no doubt about that but she doesn't have those BIG returns a la Maria or Serena, they can hit winners off basically every serve.
Maria was really impressive in ROS this fortnight (Sabine hit 0 aces she was hitting a lot more in her previouus matches, Petra hit one ace vs Maria but 9 against Vika and plenty in her previous matches too) and even Navratilova said Maria had the best ROS in the game atm, last year it was Azarenka though.

BartoliBabes
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:00 PM
Why isnt Bartoi in the poll... She's definitely one of the best returners.

this.

Stonerpova
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:15 PM
Serena (of course) and Maria. Her returning was the only reason she got as far as she did at Wimbledon.

blumaroo
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:34 PM
I really miss Mauresmo's chip return of big serves (and Juju's). She could return almost anything.
No one is able to these days.

2Black
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:43 PM
I voted Serena simply because her returns can be downright scary. lol

AcesHigh
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:50 PM
Serena I think wins this by a mile. I'm not convinced by Sharapova YET to put her even close to Ree.
As someone mentioned, Serena's problem is laziness and that affects her footwork. Especially on a shot that allows such little reaction time as the ROS.

Smitten
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:52 PM
Sharapova is only great at punishing really short and slow serves.

I'd honestly overall give this to Azarenka day in & day out. Too bad she's useless after the return goes into play.

Serena's return is generally more clutch and there when she really needs it but those fuckfests past few years against Petrova, Dementieva, and a few other names on return are just too big to ignore.

Break My Rapture
Jul 5th, 2011, 08:56 PM
Azarenka's consistency in ROS is great she makes you work so hard on every service game no doubt about that but she doesn't have those BIG returns a la Maria or Serena, they can hit winners off basically every serve.
Maria was really impressive in ROS this fortnight (Sabine hit 0 aces she was hitting a lot more in her previouus matches, Petra hit one ace vs Maria but 9 against Vika and plenty in her previous matches too) and even Navratilova said Maria had the best ROS in the game atm, last year it was Azarenka though.
Those big returns you speak of are the ones both Pova and Rena tend to rip, I assume? Well, they end up as error more frequently as a winner, most of the time due to slow reactions and footwork. Azarenka doesn't go that big everytime, she has a "safer" approach by merely using the pace and redirecting it, and IMO with that she scores more points tha Pova or Serena do because it's more consistent than ripping a return.

Maria's wingspan is bigger than Vika's. Petra played a 3 setter against Vika and genuinely served well when her groundies didn't go AWOL (the second set was complete meltdown; both serve and groundies dissolved).

I only hope Navratilova changes her opinion quickly because Maria often has the tendency to return horrendously bad even if it has become a better aspect of her game since the surgery, her return games CRUMBLE when she feels the pressure of having to serve and not having the security cushioning of being able to break, Snickers doesn't have that problem.

For an example of the bolded part see 2:29
n3R4MX_Honc

doomsday
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:19 PM
Those big returns you speak of are the ones both Pova and Rena tend to rip, I assume? Well, they end up as error more frequently as a winner, most of the time due to slow reactions and footwork. Azarenka doesn't go that big everytime, she has a "safer" approach by merely using the pace and redirecting it, and IMO with that she scores more points tha Pova or Serena do because it's more consistent than ripping a return.

Maria's wingspan is bigger than Vika's. Petra played a 3 setter against Vika and genuinely served well when her groundies didn't go AWOL (the second set was complete meltdown; both serve and groundies dissolved).

I only hope Navratilova changes her opinion quickly because Maria often has the tendency to return horrendously bad even if it has become a better aspect of her game since the surgery, her return games CRUMBLE when she feels the pressure of having to serve and not having the security cushioning of being able to break, Snickers doesn't have that problem.

For Serena's case it may be true especially out of majors considering her lack of motivation but Maria I don't agree, Maria is in the top of points won in ROS (first and seconds serve) so I don't know why Navratilova would change her approch this year Maria is the best returner in the game now onto the HC season to see if she keep it up.

madmax
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:29 PM
For Serena's case it may be true especially out of majors considering her lack of motivation but Maria I don't agree, Maria is in the top of points won in ROS (first and seconds serve) so I don't know why Navratilova would change her approch this year Maria is the best returner in the game now onto the HC season to see if she keep it up.

I wonder what will it take for GM to finally start appreciating Pova and her return game?:lol: Even if all stats point to her having the best return game on tour (on par with Vika at least), our dear "experts" still find a way to discredit her. And of course, Serenka can suck balls for years on return now and she would still be the best in the eyes of GM community...fascinating stuff

Break My Rapture
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:29 PM
For Serena's case it may be true especially out of majors considering her lack of motivation but Maria I don't agree, Maria is in the top of points won in ROS (first and seconds serve) so I don't know why Navratilova would change her approch this year Maria is the best returner in the game now onto the HC season to see if she keep it up.
We'll see in the YE statistics, I'm always excited to see those. But if Maria was the best returner in the game, I feel like she could have done a better job against Kvitova in the Wimbledon final. I don't think Kvitty served as well as she is capable of doing but Maria struggled immensely with the lefty slice serve. That's probably the one thing that keeps me from agreeing that she is the best returner atm.

moby
Jul 5th, 2011, 09:33 PM
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?p=19361005 (stats through May 2011)
Check out return points won on first serve, second serve, and return games won. Martha leads Toria in every category.
Even so, you do feel like Vika is making more returns off the first serve. Probably she doesn't make her better ROS count as much.

I'm surprised Date-Krumm is so low on that list actually. I think she has a great ROS. But like the rest of her game it's probably too erratic and her lack of reach kills her.

Serena_Williams_
Jul 5th, 2011, 10:33 PM
Right now i would say Vika.Serena cant even be bothered to return anymoore :lol:

DefyingGravity
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:01 PM
Bartoli is pretty underrated with her returns. She manages to get a lot of them back very deep, and she doesn't have the reach of most players.

Azarenka seems to just like pace given to her and redirect it. I've not seen her really do a whole lot with mid-high paced second serves. She likes slow second serves and generally high paced first serves. Hence why she does well with Serena and, while giving Venus a bit of trouble, she can't get the same advantage off the return.

SoBlackAndBlue
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:03 PM
Maria's leading simply because she handles mediocre serves best out of all the top players. Unfortunately for her, most of the people she's likely to run into in the second week of a slam have good or great serves.

Which raises the question: If she owns powderpuff serves but is generally helpless against good firts serves, if that really an effective return of serve?

Break My Rapture
Jul 5th, 2011, 11:17 PM
Bartoli is pretty underrated with her returns. She manages to get a lot of them back very deep, and she doesn't have the reach of most players.

Azarenka seems to just like pace given to her and redirect it. I've not seen her really do a whole lot with mid-high paced second serves. She likes slow second serves and generally high paced first serves. Hence why she does well with Serena and, while giving Venus a bit of trouble, she can't get the same advantage off the return.
I think her return can be very inconsistent, ranging from both generating her own pace on slow serves to high-paced ones that immediately get her in trouble if she's not positioned correctly. Last year against Azarenka in Montréal, she was missing a lot of returns and on second serves too, Vika's second serve isn't the best one out there. Plus she's so easily jammed when the opponent throws in a body serve, much like Maria in that case.

JCTennisFan
Jul 6th, 2011, 12:34 AM
I think everyone kinda mentioned the reason why azarenka's ros and sharapova's are different..... Sharapova is actually producing (or atleast attempting without erroring) her own pace on ros, where as Azarenka is just redirecting the power.

When you have slow serves, maria is simply better at attacking them because she can produce her own power to generate a strong return. Azarenka cannot do this to the same extent. But on faster serves, maria's attempts to generate her own power hinder her, because the timing required to return a hard serve with interest is extreme. When maria is perfectly timing her shots, it doesnt matter whether it is a 1st or 2nd, she will punish it. But if her timing is off, she will often times hit returns off 1st serves long.

Ultimately I believe she simply needs to try to redirect faster serves in, but actually hit through 2nd/slow serves. This would presumably fix any issues maria could technically have with her ROS. Fortunately for maria (and unfortunately for Azarenka) its easier to take away power from the return then add additional power on. Maria has the same issue with her 2nd serve. She just needs to take a little off of it and her consistency will rise accordingly. Maria's game is just too much a "live by the sword die by the sword" kinda game, and if she would reduce her aggressiveness in a few key areas it would take her to the next level (ie slam winning)

Cakeisgood
Jul 6th, 2011, 03:20 AM
Frankly, I'm quite surprised Serena is leading this poll. She's immensely clutch, but prone to be lazy.

Poor Empress JaJa. Three years ago, she'd be winning :sobbing:

Spring Pools
Jul 6th, 2011, 03:27 AM
Frankly, I'm quite surprised Serena is leading this poll. She's immensely clutch, but prone to be lazy.

Poor Empress JaJa. Three years ago, she'd be winning :sobbing:

Nah, three years ago, a certain blonde goddess hadn't retired yet.

Cakeisgood
Jul 6th, 2011, 03:39 AM
Nah, three years ago, a certain blonde goddess hadn't retired yet.

I miss her so much :sad:

DeliriousPotato
Jul 6th, 2011, 04:36 AM
Lisicki's down the line forehand returns in Doubles at Wimbledon were awe-inducing :sobbing:
If she gained more consistancy in those returns she would definitely be at the top with the ladies you mentioned :)

starin
Jul 6th, 2011, 05:01 AM
:cheer:Venus!!!:cheer:

http://i51.tinypic.com/2nuq26a.png

young_gunner913
Jul 6th, 2011, 05:06 AM
Serena. It's an amazing sight when she gets into a groove and just starts slapping ROS winners at her own pleasure.

Leelee.
Jul 6th, 2011, 05:16 AM
Azza is the Queen of neutralizing the servers' advantage, like JJ used to be. It's her one "strength".
Removing Serena for now, Bartoli is the best at 2nd serve returns. She thrives on playing mind games, and knows she take the ball super early and crush you.
Petra has to be the scariest, though. You can play a fine serve game and it may not matter at all.

bobito
Jul 6th, 2011, 05:33 AM
For sheer audacity you can't beat Pironkova returning a Kvitova slice serve with a drop shot.

bandabou
Jul 6th, 2011, 06:25 AM
:cheer:Venus!!!:cheer:

http://i51.tinypic.com/2nuq26a.png

:lol: Dang Vee..what a bad match! Pironkova lost only 3 points on serve?! :spit:

Gdsimmons
Jul 6th, 2011, 07:10 AM
Serena. It's an amazing sight when she gets into a groove and just starts slapping ROS winners at her own pleasure.

Co sign

duhcity
Jul 6th, 2011, 07:41 AM
Lord, I don't recall Serena ever slapping Return winners one after another. Maybe I don't watch enough Serena matches.
I really can't see how Serena could be at the top of this. She's surely among the best at returning 2nd serves, but isn't returning the first serve more important?

Slutiana
Jul 6th, 2011, 08:29 AM
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?p=19361005 (stats through May 2011)
Check out return points won on first serve, second serve, and return games won. Martha leads Toria in every category.
Even so, you do feel like Vika is making more returns off the first serve. Probably she doesn't make her better ROS count as much.

I'm surprised Date-Krumm is so low on that list actually. I think she has a great ROS. But like the rest of her game it's probably too erratic and her lack of reach kills her.
Yup. As the OP said, she has a great ROS, but it's quite useless when the rest of your game is so average.

Tennisation
Jul 6th, 2011, 08:30 AM
Sharapova is overrated in ROS. Sure she screams really loud when punishing a weak ass serve but she's like a dear in headlights when returning more powerful or well placed serves.

Mistress of Evil
Jul 6th, 2011, 09:58 AM
Sharapova is overrated in ROS. Sure she screams really loud when punishing a weak ass serve but she's like a dear in headlights when returning more powerful or well placed serves.

http://i864.photobucket.com/albums/ab210/_svetlio_/GIFS/maria2nf9.gif

L'Enfant Sauvage
Jul 6th, 2011, 12:57 PM
Lord, I don't recall Serena ever slapping Return winners one after another. Maybe I don't watch enough Serena matches.
I really can't see how Serena could be at the top of this. She's surely among the best at returning 2nd serves, but isn't returning the first serve more important?

This is just one match that immediately comes to mind:
hZslPEreUWE
7:02 BH return that forced an error, 7:06 BHDTL return winner, 7:15 angled CC FH return winner(my favorite of her returns when it's on.) Those were all consecutive points from 2-4 0-0 to 2-4 40-0 BTW. Also, not a winner but the hardest FH return I've ever seen other than maybe that Pierce one vs Safina at 8:33, one point inbetween and another at FH return winner at 8:50.
Bonus ROS winners: 1:55, another one that forced an error at 4:16. Pretty good for a quick albeit patchy 2 set win.

Cakeisgood
Jul 6th, 2011, 10:11 PM
This is just one match that immediately comes to mind:
hZslPEreUWE
7:02 BH return that forced an error, 7:06 BHDTL return winner, 7:15 angled CC FH return winner(my favorite of her returns when it's on.) Those were all consecutive points from 2-4 0-0 to 2-4 40-0 BTW. Also, not a winner but the hardest FH return I've ever seen other than maybe that Pierce one vs Safina at 8:33, one point inbetween and another at FH return winner at 8:50.
Bonus ROS winners: 1:55, another one that forced an error at 4:16. Pretty good for a quick albeit patchy 2 set win.

AM-dKKakqUc&hd=1

6:00 til the end is pure domination.

homogenius
Jul 6th, 2011, 11:19 PM
Surprising result.Serena used to have a GREAT ROS but when it's on in only a couple of matches/year (the ones already mentionned, the AO07 final vs Maria etc...)I'd not call her the best returner on tour.It hasn't been consistantly good since like forever and she almost didn't play in the last 12 months, so I'm a bit confused to see she's leading the poll while someone like Vika for example.

Sammo
Jul 6th, 2011, 11:27 PM
Lucic, all of them go to the net or out but it's very powerful :yeah:

Break My Rapture
Jul 6th, 2011, 11:44 PM
AM-dKKakqUc&hd=1

6:00 til the end is pure domination.
Yes. Vika went 4-0 up and from then on it looked like a whole new match started, Vika was trying her absolute hardest to hold on to her lead but Serena hit return winner after return winner. There's not much you can do about that except for having a better serve but it begs the question if that would even make a difference when someone like Serena is making minced meat of serves on that moment.

bandabou
Jul 10th, 2011, 02:08 PM
:lol: The commentator said it best: "If you didn't know by now: You never ever count out Serena Williams!" :worship:

18majors
Jul 10th, 2011, 02:22 PM
Petra.

azinna
Jul 10th, 2011, 02:40 PM
:lol: The commentator said it best: "If you didn't know by now: You never ever count out Serena Williams!" :worship:

Yep. From the voice, it's good ole Pat McEnroe, always very insightful in his commentary....

BuTtErFrEnA
Jul 10th, 2011, 03:35 PM
Surprising result.Serena used to have a GREAT ROS but when it's on in only a couple of matches/year (the ones already mentionned, the AO07 final vs Maria etc...)I'd not call her the best returner on tour.It hasn't been consistantly good since like forever and she almost didn't play in the last 12 months, so I'm a bit confused to see she's leading the poll while someone like Vika for example.

does it matter how "consistent" you are on regular days if at the end of it all that great ROS still fails you at important moments??

vika consistently returns...quite amazingly actually...but how much does she show for it??

serena is not at consistent in going for a lot match in match out, granted...but she has way more to show for it, hence why her ros is more famous (and feared/respected) than almost anyone else


ETA: - check the HL of that match at AO 2010...once serena stopped moving back after the vika return and started the rally on the front foot, there really wasn't much vika could do then...check how hard it was for vika to try to do that after serena got her return game going...THAT'S the difference, for me, in having a great ROS...

n_niclas
Mar 26th, 2012, 07:12 PM
I would say the best return belongs to Azarenka, 2nd Williams, 3rd Sharapova

Miss Atomic Bomb
Mar 26th, 2012, 07:14 PM
Don't think Serena is in this equation anymore.

Smitten
Mar 26th, 2012, 07:18 PM
Serena's return is generally more clutch and there when she really needs it but those fuckfests past few years against Petrova, Dementieva, and a few other names on return are just too big to ignore.

Add Stosur to this list.

Tenis Srbija
Mar 26th, 2012, 07:24 PM
Lucic, all of them go to the net or out but it's very powerful :yeah:

And how is that good, yet alone the best return??? :scratch: