10 Point Beginner’s Guide to Tennis Tactics – #10 Return of Serve
I’ve put the return last not because it is necessarily the least important thing, but because it might be the most difficult to interpret at times, at least in my opinion. It could also be argued that it is one of the most difficult things for players to really control. Everyone is built differently, and while the return is something one can work on, there is a lot to be said for having naturally good reactions. It is also a bit difficult to fault incredibly tall guys like Isner and Raonic for sometimes struggling to return well.
That said, returning serve, while not always decision based, is something some players definitely do better than others, and is particularly important on the second serve. Picking out particularly good returners can be a quick and easy way to know who may have a shot against particularly big servers, for example. Some of the statistics on returning at the official ATP site may surprise you. If you’re looking to take a shot at predicting matches, check out tennis betting at TopBet.eu Sportsbook.
How can we tell what an ideal return of serve is? Typically, anything that takes away time from an opponent is best. Any combination of deep and flat – what possibly the best returner ever Andre Agassi did consistently – is best.
Overall, it is best to judge a player’s returning ability over a large sample size against various types of opponents and serves. Start by looking at how players return second serves. Are they able to keep the ball deep? Can they hit their return into space to start the rally effectively? Are they able to hit return winners consistently?
From there, move on to returning first serves. This largely has to do with reactions, height, and reach. Furthermore, some players are much more comfortable returning from both wings as well as putting a lot of topspin on the ball to give room for error. Players who hit particularly flat all of the time can struggle returning big, first serves, especially on the women’s side.
The serve and return obviously go hand in hand. If you know the patterns, habits and ability of both players you may be able to predict the start of rallies before the match has even started.