Simon Reed

Reed’s shotmakers: Women’s return of serve

Simon Reed

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Simon Reed continues his look at the best shotmakers in the game - this time he looks at the women's return of serve.

THE BEST: Monica Seles

On Wednesday I plumped for Andre Agassi as the best men's returner of all-time. Looking at the women, and the one person I would put top of the list is Monica Seles.

Seles might not have been the greatest mover in the world but she had sensational hands which made up for that fact. She got to pretty much everything and liked to dominate too. So from the outset she was taking control of points.

It was her hand-eye coordination and willingness and ability to attack that puts her ahead of the rest for me.

Even against excellent servers she would take on anything that was within reach. Whether it was a blocked return or even a half swing, she was in the point - and not just in the point, but looking to dominate it straight from the return.

There are not enough women who do that for me these days, which is a real shame.

A number of the top women playing at the moment do not have great second serves but they often get away with murder because not enough players are willing to attack them.

THE REST

If you were looking at who had the best defensive return game then I don't think you can look too far past Martina Hingis. In a way she is a female equivalent to Lleyton Hewitt. She could get to all sorts of serves and had very good return stats.

Kim Clijsters has a more attacking return. She likes to get into points, no matter how big the serve she is facing.

However, I think the two best returners who are currently playing are Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic.

With those two you have one very attacking returner (Serena) and one who is very strong defensively (Jankovic).

Jankovic has just phenomenal movement for a woman of some stature. She can get virtually everything back, and she needs to at times too because she does not have a great serve.

That means the pressure is often on her to win a number of games against the serve, and boy does she do that.

Looking at Serena, and she just has one of the most ruthless returns of serve I have ever seen. If anything is left short against her then she just demolishes it. Watching her return serve is a sight for sore eyes at times.

I often think that Serena and Jankovic are the only two players who take full advantage of the poor standard of serving on the WTA Tour at the moment.

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