One of the main innovations introduced by Roger Federer with the new racket was the SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger), a sort of counter-leap response to the serve and then immediately take the net. This tactical choice has been remarkably successful even in the most important games, although many experts – including six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker – have called it disrespectful.
The former world number 1 only played in the Australian Open this year, where he almost miraculously reached the semifinals by giving in three sets to future winner Novak Djokovic. The Swiss phenomenon has undergone two knee operations in the space of a few weeks, opting not to force recovery times for the start of next season.
During a Twitch conversation with colleague Gael Monfils, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray admitted that he didn’t understand the hype of so many people in front of the SABR or a report from below.
Andy Murray on Roger Federer’s SABR
Roger Federer unveiled the SABR shot back in 2015, where he would come very close to the service line on the return and take it on the half-volley before attacking the net.
“I remember a few years ago when Roger Federer was standing really close to return the second serve and some people were saying that was disrespectful,” Andy Murray said on a Twitch chat with Gael Monfils. “I just don’t see it.
I don’t understand why that was. I don’t get that. I don’t understand why that’s disrespectful to do that. If you’re capable of doing it and it’s successful then why not. Always when that happens, you hear it the commentators they always start going, ‘Oh is it disrespectful to hit an underarm serve?’ I don’t understand it,” Murray said.
“If players are going to stand six or seven metres behind the baseline to return the serve, I think it’s a completely legitimate play and as we’ve seen it has been at times pretty successful. It’s not like players are doing it to mess around.
It’s used as a legitimate tactic when players are standing that far behind the baseline. I thought it was a smart play, I certainly wasn’t expecting it when I was watching the match and he [Medvedev] obviously won the point so it’s a good play,” he added.
Murray admitted that players might end up looking foolish if the underarm serve doesn’t work, but added that they end up winning half the points when they use it. “I’d imagine if you miss it as well – I don’t remember ever doing it in a professional match – you’d probably feel quite silly,” Murray said.
“You feel like a bit of an idiot. I would say, often when you see it a lot of the time you’re seeing the highlights and people like to put it there when it has worked. But I would say it’s a pretty successful tactic and it’s not like guys are only winning one out of every 10 points when they’re doing it. I’d think they’d be winning at least half.”