Former world champion Stefan Edberg calls for more diversity in today's tennis. «A little more serve and volley game is the only thing I miss for an even greater entertainment», says the 45-year-old player from Småland (a Southern province in Sweden, annotation), who tomorrow plays an exhibition match at the Kungliga Tennishallen.
It was there that Edberg left the ATP Tour in 1996 after a fairytale-like career during which he recorded a total of 42 tournament titles, including six of Grand Slam.
An aggressive yet soft and attacking play characterized Edberg, whose retirement meant the end of the great successes for truly serve and volley players. Australian Patrick Rafter and Britain's Tim Henman still played that style a few more years, but encountered obstacles in the form of slower balls and surfaces.
«With the softer balls that are available today, it is harder to play serve and volley. But I think it would succeed and that it also could give anyone trying it an advantage, because many today block the returns. It's a shame that it has almost disappeared from tennis», says Edberg, who still does not think it was better before.
«No, today's men's tennis is fantastic and Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are definitely better than the top players a decade ago. They are better trained and play much faster. Murray can also be counted there. Although he has not taken a Grand Slam title, for years he has been in the top quartet which dominates».
«There I am not so sure that it has become so much better».
Stefan Edberg thinks Novak Djokovic can dominate the next one or two seasons. «But he is unlikely to repeat what he has done this year», says Edberg who believes that world number two Rafael Nadal's heyday may be over.
«A golden period usually lasts three to five years, Federer has had his time and it may be the same with Nadal. But both are still so good that they are in with a chance of Grand Slam titles».
«He is just behind the top four and has the potential to take a Grand Slam title».
As for net play, has he got much to learn from you?
«Almost all of today's players can improve a lot there. Although Robin will never get a serve and volley player, he can develop his net playing the same way as Mats (Wilander) did.
The audience at the Kungliga Tennishallen in tomorrow's exhibition match will see more volleys than during the entire next week at the Stockholm Open.
«I hope we can offer reasonably good entertainment», says Edberg for the meeting with five years younger Goran Ivanisevic.
During his career, the Croat was considered one of those dreaded bomb-servers that reduced the entertainment value to the point that the game was made slower.
The match will also be a small preview of what we have to expect next year when Edberg, John McEnroe and other six players will take part in a Champions Tour tournament in Stockholm.
«Abroad, interest is great for the tour and I hope it will be the same here», says Stefan Edberg.
Replies to This Discussion
I really miss seeing serve and volley at the top of the men's tour. Fed tries it, but his serve and volley is boring in comparison to Edberg, Rafter, or Mac's. I didn't find Sampras serve and volley as interesting as the other three because I don't think he had the same skill in the volley. His serve was the emphasis.
As for the article, I think Edberg is perhaps correct. It's hard to be the top dog for very long, in his day and nowadays. Nadal's a great competitor though. We will see...
Nadal might beg to differ, I'm sure. The serve-and-volley is a great technique, but must predicate on a few necessary skills. One needs a great serve, with either good pace, excellent placement, or both. Quickness in getting up to the net is also necessary, thus a well-developed split step helps. Maybe alot of pros just feel it's too risky, and therefore avoid too much of it. Good for a change of pace though, as it keeps your opponent guessing. I was trying it with my 5.0 friend a few days back, epic fail, ha ha ha!
Well, Mark T. is both a Nadal and Edberg fan, so I'd like to know what he thinks of the article. :)
But looking back, let's say Nadal was super great in 2008, 2009, 2010, and had troubles with Djoko 2011. The big question is will Nadal make the strategic, psychological and technical changes to surmount Djoko's s, p and t changes.
I hope Nadal is not just relying on the psychological. I'd want him to be drilling down the line shots for finishing these rallies. I like that Nadal has decided to lead his racquet tip more. I'd want him to get that second serve more effective, and win more than 50 % of those second serve points against Djoko's return.
Serve and volley requires a bulletproof first and second serve that propels the server at least a foot or two into the court. Mac had it, Rafter had it, Edberg had it, Sampras had it, Krajicek had it, Phillipoussis had it.
Federer doesn't have that type of serve. He does not lead much with the left hip, but goes straight down in his platform and lands not as far into the court as the nineties serve and volleyers. So he always looks a bit slow getting to the net. Nadal, Djoko and Murray, forgettaboutit. They don't land into the court very far. They are setting up for a groundie and rally commences. lol
When Mac said that Nadal volleys better than Fed, I agree totally. Fed sometimes is so casual with his forehand volley that he misses. Nadal's racquet head is upright and he can knife it. Fed goes for the cupping and the flair, hardly ever see him knife a volley hard.