As a companion piece to my list of the ten greatest servers in tennis history, I have decided to compile a list of the game’s standout returners over the last 25 years. ‘But why only the last 25 years, James?!’ I hear you cry. My reasoning is thus: it would be unfair to compare eras that were quite distinct, in that improved racquet technology changed the sport dramatically during the mid-1980s. When it becomes apparent that Jimmy Connors did not make the cut, well, now you know why.
As was the case in the previous article, the sum of a player’s return will be taken into consideration. Decisions will also be weighted in favor of fast-court returners. It should go without saying that this is not an exact science, and I do not have a concrete formula written down as a guide to my choices. It is entirely subjective. With no further caveats in mind, let’s get on with the list.