Top 10 servers of modern times:
Andy Roddick. It may be unorthodox, but Roddick’s service motion is the key behind the success of this shot. A-Rod gets full use of his legs to drive up at the ball and send down serves that regularly appear in the 140mph bracket. The holder of the record for the fastest serve (155mph), until early 2011, Roddick has served his way to a US Open title and three Wimbledon finals.
Pete Sampras: The Sampras serve was solid from every point of view. Although it was never the fastest even back when he was number one, Sampras would deliver serves between 120-135mph on a regular basis, even on second serves, with pinpoint accuracy. The American’s serve, often described as “heavy”, is considered by some to be the best in the history of the game.
Samuel Groth: Although a name some may not be familiar with, Groth set the record for the fastest serve at a second-tier Challenger tournament in Korea in May. The 6ft 4in Australian sent down a huge 163.4mph serve beating Ivo Karlovic’s previous record of 156mph. This sparked discussion among the top players, with Roger Federer describing it as “an incredible number”. Karlovic has told The Tennis Space that it is “strange” how Groth extended his record by so much.
Roscoe Tanner: In the 1970s, he was recorded hitting a serve at 153mph; while there were some quibbles about the accuracy of the recorded equipment, everyone was in agreement that he had a formidable left-handed delivery.
Boris Becker: In 1985, a 17-year-old Becker won his first career title at Queen’s Club. Three weeks later, he became the first unseeded player to win Wimbledon. This victory made him the youngest ever Wimbledon champion, a record which still stands today. Becker’s game was based around his fast and well-placed serve, which earned him the nickname “Boom Boom”. The German went on to win the Wimbledon title again the following year and in 1989.
Mark Philippoussis: His serve was undoubtedly the foundation of his game and played a huge part in his run to the final of Wimbledon in 2003, taking out Andre Agassi (one of the greatest returners ever) in his path. The Australian’s powerful serve earned him the nickname ‘The Scud’. Philippoussis would regularly clock serves at 135mph or more, sometimes even on second serves.
John Isner: Standing at 6ft 9in, Isner holds the world record for the most aces in a match. In 2010 he and Nicolas Mahut played what is, and will probably always be, the longest match in tennis history. Isner served 113 aces in a match which lasted over 11 hours, with the final set ending 70-68 in favour of the American. In the next round, he lost in straight sets to Thiemo de Bakker and failed to hit a single ace.
Ivo Karlovic: The Croatian giant once hit a 156mph serve, which was the record until his mark was superseded by Samuel Groth. Standing at 6ft 10, Karlovic’s height allows him to find seemingly impossible angles on his serve which has helped him to a career high of number 14 in the ATP rankings. In 2009 he fired 78 aces past Radek Stepanek in a Davis Cup Tie, but ended up losing the match 16-14 in the fifth set.
Milos Raonic: The Canadian burst on to the tennis scene in early 2011 as a qualifier at the Australian Open. An impressive run saw him reach the fourth round, eventually losing to David Ferrer. With a personal record of 155mph, Raonic’s serve has greatly assisted his surge up the rankings. Having had to retire during the 2nd round at last year’s Wimbledon, Raonic will surely look to bounce back this year and hope to serve his way in to the second week at SW19.
Taylor Dent: Probably most famous for possessing one of the biggest serves in tennis ever, Taylor Dent’s unique style and technique on serve is recognisable to almost everyone in the world of tennis. The huge upper body rotation on his serve caused reoccurring back problems for the American which led to him having back surgery in 2007. Returning from injury in 2008, Dent never quite managed to get back to the standard of play which saw him reach a career high of 21 in the world rankings back in 2005. In 2010, Dent set a new record for the fastest serve recorded at Wimbledon, sending down a missile at 148mph against Novak Djokovic.