Serve and volley is dead. Don’t tell Maxime Cressy.
The 6′ 6” Paris-born American, who beat Australian Christopher O’Connell on Saturday to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in just his fourth Grand Slam outing, is determined to bring the lost art back to its rightful place in the game.
Courts are too slow? Returnees are too good? Don’t believe it for a moment, says Cressy, who is “all in” serving and volleying.
“My vision from the very beginning was to bring back serve and volley,” he said after today’s 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2 win. “I’ve heard from a lot of different people that it’s dead, that it won’t be efficient or effective today…I’ve heard a lot of excuses that it wouldn’t be the best style for me, but I had a vision and I believe that it is going to happen.”
Cressy said he commits to being ultra-aggressive when serving, even if it means dirtying the stat sheet. He hit 32 doubles in his two opening wins against John Isner and Tomas Macach, but topped his match against O’Connell, shooting 28 aces to just four doubles.
“The mentality is to go for it. Sometimes I have good days, sometimes bad days and I feel like on the good days it’s very hard to beat that style of play with both serves,” he said.
Next up is Daniil Medvedev, the world number 2, who is terrifying all servers with his exceptionally deep return position. But there is recent precedent that suggests Cressy’s approach has a chance of succeeding.
Seeking a new game plan after his loss to Medvedev in the 2021 US Open final, Novak Djokovic threw the playbook in last year’s Rolex Paris Masters final, serving and volleying 22 times (of which 19 points were won). to surprise the Russian on his way to the title.
Cressy says he will not be intimidated by Medvedev or his return position.
“I actually don’t even think about my opponent, because they try a lot of things,” he said. “He would try to come back close or if that doesn’t work, far from the baseline… They’re trying to get different things in my head and if I focus on that, it disrupts my game. My mentality is to completely block what my opponent is doing.”
Cressy, who failed to make the singles draft in his freshman year at UCLA, and dealt with the defeat of his teammates on a daily basis, said he didn’t start thinking about playing professionally until his junior year.
“Of course I had a lot of doubts, but the most important thing is that I kept going and remained determined. Now the doubts are completely gone.”
That belief has also given him the confidence to pass on small sponsorship deals as he looks for more lucrative offers as he rises further in the ATP rankings. Last year he won six of the twelve competitions at tour level. He is already 9-2 this year, including a run to the final of the Melbourne Summer Set, where he upset Reilly Opelka and Grigor Dimitrov before pushing Rafael Nadal to 7-6(6) and 6-3 in the final.
He believes that when the results come, the sponsors will follow.
‘I’m waiting, I’m patient. I wait until I have a big break and I have leverage to negotiate. I’d rather break into the Top 50, Top 10, than negotiate,” he said.
“I can even go to number 1. I have a lot of confidence in it. My game style can beat anyone. I played Nadal and I really believe it put him in an awkward position.”