The service return most recently was the special province and domain of champions such as Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors, considered two of the greatest returners in history.
Now, the return, together with the serve which was always considered the most important shot in tennis by most observers, has risen in importance in the game to equal the serve.
USA Today recently published some statistics to show that top level player rankings are best measured by a combination of BOTH successful service returns AND serves...
Article: Getting to the top in tennis, stats say, is all about the return (Sept. 10, 2009)
From the article:
"Last year, for instance, the most accurate statistical barometer for predicting a top-10 finish in the year-end rankings came in two return categories: points won returning first serve, and break points converted."
"Players used to attack," says 15-time major winner Roger Federer, who launched his record-breaking career in 1998. "Now they defend more. (The analysis) just confirms what the feeling is of everybody."
(Photo Credit USA Today)
Points to consider as players build their return game...