The Game

Serve and volley tennis is back!

Maxime Cressy is out of the Australian Open after losing to Medvedev 2-6 6-7 7-6 5-7. But despite the loss, serve and volley tennis is back!

Serve and volley tennis is back in Maxime Cressy only so far, but at least he is showing that this style of play can be used also against the best players in the world. He is having the tennis time of his life with an ATP final in Melbourne Summer Set (lost to Rafa) and a fourth round at the Australian Open. He is breath of fresh air in a sport where players mainly hang around the baseline.

In the 80s and 90s, serve and volley was in full force seeing players like Becker, Edberg, Sampras and Rafter fight over who could get to the as fast as possible. But since the 2000s, it’s become rare to almost extinct. Why?

Well, thanks to polyester strings and bigger racquets it’s easier to hit passing shots and lobs that dip in. The extra spin and control that polyester strings give you will help you to “thread the needle”. But players are also fitter than ever before and move better. This means better returns, running down seemingly impossible volleys and so on. It’s simply seemed close to impossible to have any success with a serve and volley tactic unless used a few times in a match.

Enter Maxime Cressy

But Frenchborn and now American Maxime Cressy believes that he can bring serve and volley into the new era of tennis. These are some of his quotes after his win over Chris O’Connell in the third round.

“I believed from the start that I would make a deep run at a Grand Slam, even though I wasn’t in the lineup my freshman year,” Cressy said. “I had that self belief and that carried me through the following four, five, six years and I just kept improving ever since.”

“I don’t have a paid sponsorship yet. I wait, I’m patient, I will wait until I have a major breakthrough and I have a leverage to negotiate,” Cressy said. “Especially now during the COVID and everything, it’s much tougher to have a great deal with a sponsorship. So I prefer really breaking through to the top-50, top-10 and then I will negotiate.”

“I see myself reaching the Top-10, even No. 1. I’m very confident. My game style can beat anyone, so starting this year I’m very confident. I played [Rafael] Nadal and I really believe that it really put him in an uncomfortable position,” Cressy said. “So if I really stick to my routines and to a very disciplined mindset, I can do it.”

He also commented that he has a notebook on the court to ground himself mentally. Apparently he has done quite a turnaround with his game mentality as he just to scream and be very frustrated with himself in matches before.

Shaking things up

Players are not used to facing the serve and volley tactic. It was clear that it frustrated Medvedev who takes every return a few meters behind the baseline and struggled to sprint to a short volley for the passing shot. I was a bit surprised to see him not change up his return position more, but maybe Cressy got into his head. Here are few comments suggesting that he did:

I think you create your own luck in tennis but I can understand Medvedev’s frustration after failing to take his break point chances over and over again.

This shows how important it is to play your opponent and to use strategy in tennis to win more matches.

Cressy in the future

How far can Cressy go? Well, top 50 or even 20 seems fair. I’m not sure he can reach the top 10 though. It feels only playing serve and volley might make you a bit one-dimensional players might figure out a way to approach it. But if he serves well, he is not going to be easy to beat.

I will root for him though because I think tennis is at its best when you have a match-up of contrasting styles and personalities and Cressy, like Dustin Brown and Nick Kyrgios, is something quite unique on a tennis court.

What racquet does he use? Well, since he doesn’t have a sponsor yet, it seems like he is using a Babolat Pure Aero 2016. From what I’ve heard from stringers on tour, he is using Solinco Tour Bite Diamond Rough strings.

What do you think of Cressy and his game? How far can he go?

TN

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