A great return is that tool which has kept the complete dominance of great servers at bay, and has created a balance in tennis. The only way to nullify a great serve is to counter with a fierce return, a strategy which has helped quite a few players reach the zenith, including Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, arguably the best returner of all time. As Wimbledon draws near, we look at the top best returners on grass.
1. Andy Murray
ATP Return Rating: 175.9
Return Games Won: 37.8%
World No.1 Andy Murray is the prime example of how returning is an art just as subtle as serving, and can take you to great heights. It can be argued that Andy Murray is a whole lesser player without is scorching returns. His anticipation, his positioning and his ability to move with the ball are incomparable.
He has converted 47.5% of the break points and has a remarkable 1st serve return points percentage (34.8%) to go with one of the best 2nd serve return points percentage (55.8%).
2. Rafael Nadal
ATP Return Rating: 174.5
Return Games Won: 38.8%
Nadal’s statistics are legendary on clay, but pretty decent on grass as well. There was a time when Nadal’s unearthly returning ability was his major accomplice in establishing dominance, glimpses of which have been seen this year. The Spaniard’s quintessential stance, waiting for the opponent’s serve deep behind the baseline and his judging capabilities have put him on number 2 in the list.
His 1st serve return points win percentage of 36.1% is the best in business, and has a pretty decent 2nd serve points win percentage of 55.3% as well. He has a break point conversion percentage of 44.4%.
ATP Return Rating: 169.8
Return Games Won: 33.6%
The Argentine Diego Schwartzman can never outplay his opponents with his serve, owing to his short height, but he has developed a counter weapon in the form of his deadly returns. This way Schwartzman has ensured that he does not get rolled over, instead he has provided excellent competition.
He has a first serve return points win percentage of 34.0% and a second serve return points win percentage of 55.4% and has converted 46.9% break point opportunities.
ATP Return Rating: 165.8
Return Games Won: 31.0%
Nole has the uncanny ability to put his opponents under pressure on their serve, and is a genius in figuring out how to return on different serves. His exceptional returning ability is regarded highly even by his peers, and keeps them wary. Djokovic was at his prime a couple of years ago and conjured great returns out of nothing, which frustrated his opponents.
He has a 1st serve return points win percentage of 32.3%, second serve return points win percentage of 57.3% and a break point conversion rate of 45.2%.
ATP Return Rating: 160.2
Return Games Won: 31.1%
The Japanese has one of the best double-handed backhands in the professional circuit, second only to Murray and Djokovic. His weakness against wide serves has placed him lower down the pecking order, but even a slight error in serve, and Nishikori will pounce on it immediately.
He has a 1st serve return points win percentage of 30.4% and a 2nd serve return points win percentage of 54.7%, to go with the break point conversion rate of 44%.
*All stats courtesy ATP World Tour
*Stats only include active players