Simon Reed

Reed’s shotmakers: Men’s return of serve

Simon Reed

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Simon Reed continues his look at his favourite shots in the game - this time he looks at the men's return of serve.

THE BEST - Andre Agassi

It is difficult to judge who has the greatest return of serve because different players produce different types of return. My top three though are Jimmy Connors, Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi.

However, for me, Agassi was the most exciting because he could attack off even a very good serve. I thought it was absolutely thrilling to watch him attacking serves. His hand-eye coordination was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.

Whatever he said he used in order to get it is another issue, but you can't deny it was absolutely fantastic to watch. For me he stands out as the greatest service returner I have ever seen.

There were many strong points to Agassi's game, but his returning was one of the highlights - if not the stand-out feature. Obviously his reading of the game and general court craft was exceptional, but if you were looking for a specific shot then I think return of serve is the one I'd pick - it was just bewilderingly quick.

He wasn't content with just getting the ball back in play either, he wanted to assert himself right from the start of the point and was often able to hit clean winners off the return.

THE REST

Connors and Hewitt had possibly the most effective returns ever. They virtually got everything back in play. Obviously if you get aced by a Robin Soderling or a Goran Ivanisevic or an Ivo Karlovic after they have hit their sweet spot, then there is not much you can do.

However, apart from the odd mega-big serve, it was amazing to see some of the balls that Connors and Hewitt were able to get to.

Their percentages spoke for themselves. They had the best return records out there and consistently won more return games then anyone else when they were in their prime.

Hewitt was amazingly quick with his body when it came to getting to things; he just always seemed to be there when big serves arrived. While Connors almost had the same hand-eye coordination as Agassi, that is how he got so many returns across.

Looking at some other names... I'll probably get slated for this because people think I'm in his pocket, but I do think Andy Murray is pretty much as good as you get on the Tour at the moment.

He has that great hand-eye coordination and his movement and quickness is quite phenomenal for a guy of his size. He has had problems with his serve from time to time - his second serve is not what it should be - so he needs to win a number of return games to win matches.

Roger Federer is another you have to mention. Basically Federer doesn't have any weaknesses, and his return of serve is one of his many strong points.

Finally, if you are looking for a more unheralded name, I think Jonas Bjorkman merits a mention. He was sensational with the blocked return and he could also get some magnificent winners off some blazing serves. Again, he had superb hand-eye coordination which he also illustrated at the net. Those elements are what helped to make him such a great doubles player.

Who has the best women's return of all-time? Simon offers his opinion on Friday. 

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