Serve and volley is dead. Right?
Approach and volley is also an inferior strategy that needs to be put to bed. Forget about it. Stop coming forward, people. It just doesn’t work.
Right? So, so wrong.
The world got a reminder at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday that the net can be one of the most successful places to be to finish a point.
Mischa Zverev didn’t just beat Andy Murray. That was the easy part. Zverev took traditional tennis wisdom by the scruff of the neck and shook it senseless. This victory changes the course of our game, making the front of the court relevant once again.
How do you beat a baseliner? Go to the net. It really is that simple.
In one of the most important matches our sport has witnessed in a long, long time, Zverev doubled down on what is commonly thought of as a losing strategy and defeated the No.1 player in the world.
Zverev literally changed lives. Lives of kids who were destined to spend their time running around only on the baseline. Now they can go to the net too. Liberating.
Before this match, tennis coaches from Melbourne to Miami to Madrid didn’t even dare teach the ancient art of serve and volley. Approach and volley was also looked on with disgust.
Until today. Until Zverev used both tactics to reach the quarterfinals of Australian Open 2017.
Tomorrow is a new day in our sport. Literally. Tomorrow in Shanghai and St. Petersburg and San Francisco, coaches and players and fans of our great game will once again believe in the front of the court as a viable option.
Zverev convincingly defeated Murray 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4. The 29-year-old German, ranked No.50 in the world, is not good enough to pull that victory off just from the baseline. Murray played 145 baseline points. Zverev played 71 – less than half.
The net just became the sexiest part of a tennis court.
Let’s be honest. Of the other 127 players in the main draw, Murray would have a winning record from the baseline against every single one of them. If he wins just 55 per cent, he is No.1 in the world – which he is. The baseline is 10.97 metres wide, and Murray currently owns it in every latitude and longitude on this planet.
Zverev knows that, so he took the battle elsewhere. It’s called the net. It used to be popular – and it’s about to be supremely popular once again.
From the baseline, Murray only won 42 per cent (61/145). Zverev played their half as much and actually won more, winning 48 per cent (34/71).
The baseline was irrelevant in this match. It’s about to become a lot less relevant all over the world.
Murray served and volleyed three times, winning two. That’s a tactical error that will cause him to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. If your opponent owns the net, why not take it away from him by getting there first?
Zverev played 71 points from the baseline, but played 119 serve and volley points. He won 59 per cent of those points. Jackpot.
Serve and volley is back. Approach and volley is back. If anyone disagrees with you, simply tell them to watch a replay of this match. It will send chills up their spine.