Getting a Good Return
Let’s assume a player, who is returning, wants to play his opponent using the forehand to forehand rally. Is there a strategy for determining aggressive vs. conservative returning? If I am returning on the deuce side, I already have the diagonal in my favor. Consequently, I will be very conservative on my returns and play my forehand crosscourt and my backhand inside out to the opponent’s forehand. I will hit higher over the net and focus on depth, although trying to keep the ball out of the middle. There is no reason to risk missing a return in this situation as the diagonal favors me. I have a good chance to win this point even though my opponent is serving; thus a return error would be a sin.
Conversely, when I am retuning on the ad side, the opponent has both the serve and the diagonal in his favor. The odds are stacked against me to lose this point. Therefore, I will take more chances with my return game. From the ad court, I’ll use chip and charge, crush the return and rush the net, go for a return winner, or stand way back on the serve and loop high and deep to the deuce side to change the diagonal.
My goal is to pick up one point on the ad side. If I can do this, I should heavily increase my chances to break my opponent’s serve. Obviously, if I am losing many of the points on the deuce side, I might think about taking more chances with this return as well. However, I’d first diagnose whether the return is costing me points, or I am missing some of the ground strokes in my favorable diagonal.