Thanks To Mischa, Serve And Volley Is Back
Serve and volley is relevant again, and Mischa Zverev is a big reason why.
Zverev shocked the tennis world at the Australian Open in January by defeating World No. 1 Andy Murray 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in the Round of 16. The German served and volleyed 119 times against the Scot to single-handedly resurrect one of our sport’s most maligned strategies.
The 29-year-old Zverev achieved a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 30 at the end of February, capping off one of the most inspiring comebacks from injury our sport has seen.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Zverev’s resurgence points back to the 2016 Asian Swing as the period when his game caught fire.
Zverev had won only four ATP World Tour main draw matches during the first eight months of 2016, but he would go on to win eight in the final six weeks of the season.
The ATP Stats LEADERBOARDS, powered by the Infosys Information Platform, show that Zverev has actually been performing better on the returning side than on the serving side during the past 12 months.
His ATP Stats LEADERBOARDS Return Rating has him 22nd best on tour, whereas his ATP Stats LEADERBOARDS Serve Rating puts him at 29th best. Zverev is a commendable 15th in break points converted, at 42.6 per cent during the past year.
The German has a 6-7 record in 2017. He has won 63 per cent (686/1090) of his total serve points and 37 per cent (410/1116) of his return points. As a comparison, his return numbers are slightly higher than World No. 4 Milos Raonic, who is at 36 per cent.
Zverev’s blocking return game is very solid, but it’s his serve-and-volley strategy that is turning heads, proving it is a viable counter-strategy against the current crop of baseliners at the pinnacle of our sport.
In defeating Murray in Melbourne, Zverev served and volleyed on a staggering 88 per cent (119/135) of his service points, winning 59 per cent of them. Zverev won only 48 per cent (34/71) from the baseline, so it’s clear to see coming forward trumped staying back.
Through five matches at the Australian Open, Zverev played more serve-and-volley points than baseline points – something unheard of in today’s game. Serve-and-volley points won accounted for a staggering 44 per cent of Zverev’s total points won through five matches.
Serve and Volley = 63% (289/459)
Baseline = 49% (169/348)
There is much to celebrate in the Zverev household these days, as Mischa’s 19-year-old younger brother, Alexander Zverev, posted a career high ranking of No. 18 just last month, and currently sits at No. 20.