5 serve and volley players in modern day tennis
A technique once used extensively by the best in the sport, serve-and-volley has taken a backseat as tennis has largely been played from the baseline, a trend that has only taken on more momentum in the past decade. Fewer and fewer players are coming to the net, and there may be many reasons why.
Racquets have become more powerful, and players fitter; a more physical, forceful game combined with slower courts has meant that the game has shifted to the baseline, which means that volleyers have become somewhat of a rare breed.
But some players have in recent years used the technique – with fantastic results.
Here, we look at a few proponents of serve-and-volley in the modern day game:
Consistent and hard-working, Mischa Zverev did not, however see the limelight that his younger brother Alexander has experienced. While Sascha has spent the past year ascending the rankings – and last year won his first ever ATP title, Mischa saw middling results on the Tour.
With Sascha near the top 20 ranks, Mischa, far lower, entered the Australian Open and was drawn against World No. 1 Andy Murray in the fourth round. With the odds at 15-1 on Zverev, he was firmly not the favourite to win this tournament.
However, it was Mischa Zverev’s adept serve-and-volley technique that completely flummoxed a confused Murray this year.
Tennis from the baseline has been the go-to for players this year, and Zverev is by no means a bad baseliner. But his specialty this time around appeared to be the serve-and-volley that Murray was unable to handle. Equipped with a strong forehand, Zverev routinely charged the net, leading to a four-set loss for Andy Murray.
Like many of the best serve-and-volleyers out there, Zverev timed his shots to near-perfection, and at his net approaches took the ball early and slotted it perfectly.
Given that even Roger Federer, who has one of the best serve-and-volley games the sport has ever seen, has switched since to playing from the baseline to combat his ever newer, ever-younger opponents today, fans had not seen the classic style of gameplay in a while.
But Zverev timed his shots so perfectly that many considered it almost a masterclass in the technique.
The German routinely covered more distance than Murray, running to and from the net on multiple occasions. Those net approaches from Zverev translated to some classic attacking tennis, with the older Zverev brother playing some strong wristy forehands in the follow-up.
That was especially staggering considering Zverev had major wrist surgery in 2014 – and has struggled with herniated discs, back issues and more since.