Serve and Volley has often been announced dead, but what does this mean?
There still are practitioners of it today, young and old. The question perhaps is which style of game is dominating. Most people I’m sure will say the baseline game, but even the best base-liners today have beautiful volleys or at least effective ones.
The big 3 of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic can all volley extremely well, it’s just not on the backs of serves. It’s a mistake to think you don’t need volleys. During Nadal’s Wimbledon wins, he came into the net to get the job done, which many people failed to notice. Think of some other great base-liners – Rios, Moya, Safin, Kuerten. They all had good volleys.
So what about the straight-up serve volley game?
Who today plays in the style of say Sampras, Edberg, Rafter and Henman with any kind of success. The average age is pretty high with players like Taylor Dent recently retiring, the landscape doe not look too healthy. The reality might just be that the all-round game, which includes good net play, becomes the ticket to a champion.
Let’s look at the current crop of technically out-and-out serve and volleyers:
Feliciano Lopez – Age 29
A lefty, Lopez has a dangerous game with a big serve and wicked slice but surprisingly has not done better on fast surfaces.
Nicolas Mahut – Age 29
A challenger circuit veteran, Mahut had match points in the final of Queens one year and of course is best known for the marathon Wimbledon match, but just hasn’t been able to break through with his route 1 serve volley game.
Dustin Brown – Age 26
Recently switching to play for Germany, Brown could go far. Perhaps under the German tennis federation, they can help him finesse his game and take it to the next level.
Radek Stepanek – Age 32
Radek can cause anyone a fright on his day, but against the top players he doesn’t bring enough game to trouble them.
Michael Llodra – Age 30
Arguably the best volleyer of the bunch here, Llodra spends a lot of time on the doubles court, which might have hurted his singles game over the years, but he’s having his best years as he reaches the twilight of his career.
Ryan Harrison – Age 18
The youngest player plying the serve and volley trade. All eyes are on him to come good. Will he do it with out and out serve-volley?
Sergiy Stakhovsky – Age 25
A bit of an over-achiever in my book but hard to see him cracking the top 10 anytime soon.
Kevin Anderson – Age 24
Looking good for the top 30 soon, Anderson could climb higher especially on hard and grass courts. A late bloomer by some extents at 24.