Maxime's Mission: Saving Serve & Volley
Serve and volley is dead. Just don’t tell Maxime Cressy.
The 6’ 6” Paris-born American, who on Saturday defeated Australian Christopher O’Connell to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in just his fourth Grand Slam outing, is determined to restore the lost art to its rightful place in the game.
Courts are too slow? Returners are too good? Don’t believe it for a second, says Cressy, who is ‘all in’ with serve and volley.
“My vision from the very beginning was to bring serve and volley back,” he said after today’s 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2 win. “I’ve had many different people tell me that it’s dead, that it’s not going to be efficient or effective today… I’ve heard many excuses that it was not going to be the best style for me, but I had a vision and I believe it’s going to happen.”
Cressy said that he commits to being ultra-aggressive on serve, even if it means littering up the stats sheet. He served 32 double faults in his two opening wins against John Isner and Tomas Machac, but was at the top of his game against O’Connell, firing 28 aces to just four double faults.
“The mindset is to go for it. Sometimes I have good days, sometimes bad days and I feel like on the good days it’s very difficult to beat that style of play going for both serves,” he said.
Next up is World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who strikes fear into the hearts of all servers with his exceptionally deep returning position. But there is recent precedent to suggest Cressy’s approach may have a chance of success.
Searching for a new game plan following his loss to Medvedev in the 2021 US Open final, Novak Djokovic threw out the playbook in last year’s Rolex Paris Masters final, serving and volleying 22 times (winning 19 of those points) to take the Russian by surprise en route to the title. In the 2019 US Open final, Rafael Nadal won 17 of 20 serve and volley points against Medvedev.
Cressy says that he won’t be intimidated by Medvedev or his return position.
“I actually don’t even think about my opponent because they try many things,” he said. “He would try to return close or if that doesn’t work, far from the baseline… They try different things to get in my head and if I focus on them it disrupts my game. My mindset is to completely block off what my opponent does.”
Cressy, who failed to make the singles line-up in his freshman year at UCLA, suffering daily beatdowns from his teammates, said that it was not until his junior year that he began to have thoughts of playing professionally.
“I had many doubts, of course, but the most important thing is that I kept going and stayed determined. Now the doubts are completely gone.”
That belief has also given him the confidence to pass on any small sponsorship deals as he looks to more lucrative offers as his continues his rise up the ATP Rankings. Last year he won six of 12 matches 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), 6-3 in the final.
He believes as the results come, sponsors will follow.
“I wait, I’m patient. I wait until I have a major breakthrough and I have leverage to negotiate. I prefer to break through to the Top 50, Top 10, then I negotiate,” he said.
“I can even go to No. 1. I’m very confident. My game style can beat anyone. I played Nadal and I really believe that it really put him in an uncomfortable position.”