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"Don’t know if Novak Djokovic can read my mind" - Alexander Zverev on why the Serb is the best returner in the world

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
ANALYST
Modified 04 Mar 2021
News

Novak Djokovic’s return of serve is widely regarded as one of the greatest shots in tennis history. With his immaculate technique and physical flexibility, Djokovic almost always manages to return even the biggest of serves with interest.

As such, it is hardly a surprise that several of Novak Djokovic’s peers - including Alexander Zverev - consider the Serb’s return to be the best in business.

Zverev recently got together with Bianca Andreescu, Diego Schwartzman and Marin Cilic to talk about a variety of topics, including who the best returner on tour is. The German quite expectedly went with Novak Djokovic, stressing that nobody deals with his mammoth serve as well as the Serb.

Alexander Zverev revealed that he was unaware about Novak Djokovic's exact strategy, but went on to call the 33-year-old's return 'incredible' and 'unbelievable'.

"I'm going with Novak because I’ve played him a few times," Alexander Zverev said. "I can serve 230-235 right on the spot and for some reason he puts the racket there. I don’t know how he does it, I don’t know if he reads it, I don’t know if he knows where I’m serving, I don’t know if he can read my mind. But the return comes back faster than my serve every single time; it’s incredible, it’s unbelievable."
Novak Djokovic (L) and Alexander Zverev at the 2021 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic (L) and Alexander Zverev at the 2021 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic produced a returning masterclass during the recently concluded Australian Open, earning 19 breaks of serves during the second week of the tournament. In contrast, Daniil Medvedev (who finished as the runner-up) could only manage 12 breaks of serve in his second-week fixtures, including twice against Djokovic.

Interestingly, Djokovic’s figure of 19 breaks is identical to Rafael Nadal’s during the second week of the 2020 French Open - arguably the Spaniard's most dominant title run at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic is super consistent: Bianca Andreescu

Bianca Andreescu also went with Novak Djokovic.
Bianca Andreescu also went with Novak Djokovic.
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Like Alexander Zverev, World No. 9 Bianca Andreescu also opined that Novak Djokovic is the best returner on tour.

"I’m going with Novak on this one, (he is) super consistent," Andreescu said.

Diego Schwartzman initially picked Novak Djokovic too, but quickly changed his mind and threw his weight behind Andy Murray’s return.

"I’m going to choose Novak, no, no no, sorry I change, Andy Murray return," Schwartzman said.

During his peak years, Andy Murray was widely regarded as one of the best returners on tour. The Brit’s remarkable shot-making, especially when under pressure, even gave Novak Djokovic nightmares on more than one occasion.

Published 04 Mar 2021, 16:38 IST
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