The ultra-attacking American Maxime Cressy produced the biggest shock of the US Open so far in defeating Pablo Carreno Busta on Tuesday. His huge serve and incredible volleys were the foundations of that victory. However, is the net charging style of the American ever going to see a player to outright Grand Slam champion glory?
Can You Win A Major Playing Like Maxime Cressy?
A Throwback To The 20th Century
Of course, having a net rushing attacking game is nothing new in tennis. In fact, moreover, it was the de facto way to play the game for many years.
Most professional tennis players for most of the 20th century thought that getting to net gave you the advantage. Indeed, there were good reasons for that. Vintage equipment meant that the ball was much harder to get topspin on, so passing shots were much more difficult. Also, the pace of groundstrokes meant that they were much easier to handle as the volleyer and much less decisive as a baseliner.
There are lots of other factors as well, of course. The surfaces that were used in the game were different. A lot more grass court tournaments, and venues that played on carpet were also more regular.
However, the tactic began to wane in the 1980s and suffered an almost terminal decline into the 21st century. Players such as Andre Agassi had great success from the back of the court, even on surfaces like grass.
Is it time for a net-rush renaissance?
Maxime Cressy’s performance on Tuesday will make many think that the attacking game can be a way forward in the modern day.
With so few adopting this style it certainly can be very effective as some players will not know how to answer it. Carreno Busta had his rhythm completely disrupted. The constant pressure put upon the Spaniard meant that he rushed his shots and he had to play passing shots in most rallies rather than occasionally.
Where Cressy has improved since his college days is his tactical side. Back then he would approach the net off any shot; now he is a bit more selective. There is some method to the madness. It also helps to have a booming serve–very few possess this key tool though.
Can You Win Grand Slams With An Ultra-attacking Game?
There’s clearly a reason why very few players play this way. Getting through a few rounds may be possible, but up against the elite? Of course, Novak Djokovic can take apart any game at his best, but also players like Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev would probably relish absorbing the attacks.
It is also very taxing physically and mentally. The points are shorter but you are using more dynamism. This means the fast-twitch muscles are being employed and these are the ones that need more energy and develop lactic acid quicker. In five-set matches it isn’t ideal.
I have no doubt that if you bring a game like Cressy’s to, say, Newport or Kitzbuhel at altitude, that tournament wins would come. Picking and choosing the tournaments you could win titles and get good ranking points. However, until there is more of a change in either the surfaces, equipment, or some other factor, I don’t think it’s very likely anymore.
Come on Maxime Cressy. Prove me wrong!
Main Photo from Getty.