Standing Sideways To Return Serve

nishKei Nishikori stands sideways waiting for the server to start his motion. What’s the benefit and is it a good idea?

You would think that it would put him at a disadvantage if the serve were to go to his backhand; but actually, as the server tosses the ball, Kei brings his right side forward, parallel to the service line, and does a hop step as the server strikes the ball. This allows him to land just as he needs to decide which way to move to return serve.

A tournament opponent, Dan Garrick started the same way; but since I was in my service motion, I couldn’t see what he did after that.

Is It Right?

It would seem to me that the angular start is just Kei’s way of insuring that his body weight is going forward in anticipation of the serve coming his way. I do something similar, but not at the angle.

Mine came from the Australian doubles champions, The Woodys… they suggested starting your return of serve position two-three feet back from where you want to be; but then moving forward and doing the split step to get your body weight going forward and your body in balance to move.

Other thoughts?

P.S. As you can see from the score on the TV, Nishikori was down a set in the Memphis semi-finals vs. American Sam Querry. But I believe the TV announcers said the Japanese star’s career three set record was something like 22 and 3 (and he came back from a break down in the third to pull out the victory).

But then again, Sam helped him.

PPS There is a Super Senior tournament going on this week in Sarasota. the link is HERE.

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4 thoughts on “Standing Sideways To Return Serve

  1. Works great against lefties who can hit curve balls out wide on the add side. I used to struggle against Neal Newman until I turned sideways and then bingo I could hit it in the court.

    Larry, wow, I would have thought it would be less effective vs lefties. GEORGE

  2. Perhaps Larry could clarify. Do you mean you angle to the right or the left when returning against a lefty in the ad court? I would think angling to the right means you have to turn your body that much more to the left to get into position to hit a backhand, which robs you of a few milliseconds of time. But who am I to argue with success?

  3. To clarify a righty against lefty serve, the serve is curving out wide which means when you hit the return the angle off your racquet will go even more left. So if you are aiming down the line without turning into the court there is a good chance you will hit a lot of balls late & wide. By turning into the court you are reducing the angle and have better chance to hit the ball earlier and back into the court. Naturally if you are a lefty returning the rightly in the deuce court you would want to turn into the court as well. It seems lefties are better at hitting the curve ball out wide as they play righties most of the time.

    Larry – I will try it! thanks for the clarification. george

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