One of the talking points of the US Open has been about Roger Federer’s return of serve which has even received its own name called ‘SABR’ which stands for Sneak Attack By Roger. This return of serve I first saw against Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati final and we are seeing it more and more with some claiming it is disrespectful or is it just clever?
The return of serve is something we have never seen before. It’s new, innovative and I think it’s very clever but more importantly effective. Federer wins most points whilst return serve with this method and it does visibly frustrate the opponents which is what you want to get your opponent rattled.
As you can see above we have seen Roger returning serve (majority second serve) from these positions where the red circle covers. It’s brave and bold but is it disrespectful. Some say it is and some say it isn’t. I do slightly agree that it can be seen as disrespectful to the opponents serve but at the same time especially on second serve if you are going to let the serve drop so short like some do with no variety you can’t expect your opponent to sit on the baseline and just knock it back. I think if it is used to often it can be seen as disrespectful but he isn’t breaking the rules.
I listened to Boris Becker on Sky Sports and he said:
“If he would have played a McEnroe, Connors, Lendl or even me, we would have said ‘Roger, in all honesty I like you very much [but] I’ll go straight at you’.
“In my generation guys would not have accepted as it is now.
“It’s almost disrespecting the other guy’s serve. Everybody talks about that’s his new strategy – he comes in. It’s within the rules.”
I do actually agree with everything that Boris. I do think it can be seen as disrespectful to the opponents serve however he does make a very good point, if you know he is going to do it then hit the ball straight at him.
It’s a tactic that works but if people don’t like it then you have to find a way to counteract it. I’m on the fence with this return of serve. I think it is clever but I think there is a fine line between being clever and disrespecting the opponents serve buy taking it in the service box.
What do you think? Is it disrespectful or is just clever?