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June 27, 2007

Who Plays Net More... and/or Better?!

Grass Net

Roger Federer is trying to tie Bjorn Borg’s amazing accomplishment of winning 5 straight Wimbledon titles.  A major reason for Borg’s success on the grass courts at Wimbledon was his strong first serve.  However, Borg also adapted his traditional baseline game and actually served and volleyed at times.  Federer comes to net these days even less than he did when he first started

 to compete at Wimbledon.  In fact the top female players such as Justine Henin and 2006 Wimbledon Champion, Amelie Mauresmo, actually serve and volley more than most men on the tour!  In their first matches this year, Henin and Mauresmo came to net about 20 times during a  two set match while Federer only came in a couple times more in three sets!  Even baseliner, Jelena Jankovic, came in 18 times in her first round and 15 times in her brief second round match winning 78% and 93% of the points respectively.  Conversely, Rafael Nadal only approached the net 11 times in his three set first round match winning 82% of the points while fourth-seeded Serbian, Novak Djokovic, approached 26 times in his first round match only winning 62% of the points.  Big-serving third-seeded, Andy Roddick, only approached 16 times in his three set first round match winning 75% of the points, but came in more in his second round, i.e. 36 times, but only won 67% of the points.  That’s a lot of statistical data to crunch through, but the bottom line is that after so many years of baseliners dominating the women’s game and big-serving net-rushers dominating the men’s game, the tide has shifted around rather dramatically.  Federer clearly has the talent to serve and volley and rush the net much more than he chooses to which may explain why he does so well on clay, i.e. he is a baseliner at heart…

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