Nowadays, most players are scared of the net. The baseline is the name of the game. The tallest girls on the tour are nervous about ending a point with a volley, feeling uncomfortable and hesitant when they have to. Take the likes of Sharapova and Madison Keys who only follow up an approach to net when forced. In the midst of Wimbledon though, it’s interesting to see that those who do still make effort to reach the net find themselves having a lot of success on the grass. Even in the age of 100 mile per hour one-handed backhands (think Stan), crashing the net is still remarkably effective. Want some proof?
Dustin Brown took out Rafael Nadal in a stunning serve and volley fashion. He made it to net 85 times against one of the greats and won almost 60% of those points. On the fast grass, the Spaniard couldn’t counteract the speed and aggression. While Brown couldn’t dominate in the same way in his third round match against Viktor Troiscki, there’s still a lot to be said for his aggressive game.
Federer does not have the impressive quantity of net points that Brown boasts, but his Wimbledon play still shows its positive effect. He has come to net around 30 to 40 times every match and has won around 70% of those points. There are many other factors that go into his victories at Wimbledon (so far he has only dropped one set), but his aggressive movement forward is a major part of it.
Crashing the net isn’t the only game plan that works on the grass. Djokovic and Murray are both having successes of their own with their stellar movement and their aggressive baseline game, but there is something to be said for the finesse of the net game. We are used to the dominating effects of the baseline game, but the power, the hands, and the superhuman dives that the net demands adds flair to these players’ Wimbledon wins. And at the end of the day, isn’t it all about the entertainment?