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STAT ATTACK! The top ten hardcourt returners in 2020, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic vying for top spot

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Novak Djokovic celebration - hardcourt favoured surface

With the mini clay season now over, attention on the ATP Tour turns back to hardcourt tennis. So who has returned best on the surface so far this year?

We found the percentage of return points won so far this season on hardcourts, and the results are quite revealing.

  1. Grigor Dimitrov – 40.25%

Dimitrov is, in many ways, one of the forgotten men of the ATP Tour having suffered a worrying drop since winning the 2017 ATP Tour Finals. He was ranked third in the world at that point. He’s back up into the top 20 now, although he was as low as 78th at one point last year.

A big reason for that improvement could be his hardcourt return game, which is significantly up on last season’s total.

  1. Diego Schwartzman – 40.26%

Schwartzman is Mr Consistent these days and is currently enjoying a career-high ranking as a result. He is the kind of player who does nothing spectacularly but everything well.

Throughout his career he has earned a reputation for contesting every single point fiercely and his return game statistics support that – and it’s not just this season.

  1. Andrey Rublev - 40.58%
Andrey Rublev confused

Jim Courier described Rublev as ‘a woodpecker’ during the French Open – a relentless yet sometimes blunt power tool who never gives anyone a moment’s peace.

The Russian is having a career season so far in general and could well make his debut in the ATP Finals this year, so it’s no surprise to see him feature prominently in this list.

  1. Filip Krajinovic – 40.61%

The Serbian is one of those players that no one wants to draw in the early stages of competitions and it’s not hard to see why. He has steadily improved year-on-year and now boasts a pretty impressive all-round game.

His return game has improved a little since 2019 too, and he’s faced some pretty tough opposition on hardcourts so far this year.

  1. Marton Fucsovics – 40.63%

Fucsovics is another probable surprise on the list but he is another player who regularly punches above his ranking. He has taken a set from Roger Federer on hard court this year, so he must be doing something right.

It should be noted, though, that overall he hasn’t faced as consistently good opposition as others on this list.

  1. Daniil Medvedev – 40.88%
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It’s maybe a little surprising to see Medvedev so low here, although truth be told his return points percentage this season is just about identical to what it was last year when he had his outstanding summer.

There are few players more feared on hardcourts than the Russian right now and it’s quite easy to see why.

  1. Gael Monfils – 41.18%

Monfils seems able to bend in ways that other people can’t, so it makes sense that he would possess a pretty impressive return game.

It’s one area of his game that has improved dramatically over the last two years in a similar way to Medvedev. They were 48th and 53rd respectively in the ATP in 2017, so their progress is obvious.

  1. Roberto Bautista Agut – 41.67%

Another one of tennis’ most consistent schemers, Bautista Agut has long been considered the most underrated player in the ATP by many of its biggest stars.

The Spaniard has simply done what he does this season and churns out the points no matter who he plays, but his position here underlines the theory that he rarely gets the credit he deserves.

  1. Rafael Nadal – 42.15%
Rafael Nadal forehand

The top two were probably predictable, although the order in which they appear was maybe more uncertain.

2020 has felt so long that it’s hard to remember Nadal playing many hardcourt tournaments that he has played, but we perhaps forget how active he was at the start of the season.

He faced some very tough matches in it too, against Novak Djokovic at the ATP Cup and Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open, so he had to work hard for this placing.

  1. Novak Djokovic – 43.59%

If there has ever been a finer returner of a tennis serve, then we haven’t seen them. Djokovic somehow manages to get balls back into play that you’d never expect and gets plenty of quality on them too.

This season his return point percentage on hardcourt is the best it has been since his sensational spell in 2015 and 2016, which tells you everything you need to know about the kind of form the Serbian has found.

*Statistics accurate as of 14/10/2020

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