© Ella Ling

Milos Raonic

Top 10 servers of modern times


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.

  • Simon Wilson

    John McEnroe may not have had the fastest serve but it was deadly accurate and kicked and spat like a cobra.
    Goran? Rusedski?

  • Vinothnadal

    Where is Roger Federer in this list. 

  • Fedalle89

    where is Roger Federer ?? unfair , unprofessional article

    • Anonymous

      Is “big serve” really the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Roger Federer? 

  • Cougurl

    Female tennis players can serve too, this article is sexist!

    • Marion25

       But none of them have a serve that merits a top-ten ranking.

  • Marion25

    Federer and McEnroe should be on the list although you might argue that it was not only the serve but the folow-up shots as well that made the serve very efficient. But one name that has to be on the list without question: Goran Ivanisevic! Ace leader for a whole lot of years, lefty serve, maybe the best of all time.

  • Korzen

    Where is Goran Ivanisevic?

  • Kickserve7

    Where is Roger Federer and John McEnroe on this list?  Who made this list?  Come on now!

  • Gabriel13sp

    You missed Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek, Kevin Curren, john McEnroe, Steve Denton, to name a few. Either the rank is wrong or the title of the rank does not match up with the list.

  • Marketa

    I would add Ivanisevic, too.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, Goran’s serve was tricky in addition to being fast. His motion was so quick, opponents never had time to adjust. Plus he was a lefty and used a lot of disguise. Nobody could predict where it was going. 

  • Ivan

    Wait, so no Ivanisevic? You have Dent and not Ljubicic? Even Groth, believing in the accuracy of his record breaking service speed, hasn’t done enough to be considered in this ranking.

  • http://twitter.com/krisherdown Kris Schaefer

    No Goran makes this list irrelevant.

  • Tennis

    Are you kidding me???  No Goran makes this list a complete joke.  Taylor Dent?  Seriously?  

  • Me

    Joachim Johansson had a better serve than roddick!?
    He was in the same class as Ivanisevic but number
    one is Sampras for sure!

  • godofgamblers

    i remember when boris becker couldnt even see goran ivanisevics balls that he served, as they were too fast… sampras serve was and still the best..federer should hire him as a coach

  • James Rouse

    Someone missing from this list: ATP website: most career aces (since 1991) =>

    #1 Goran Ivanisevic 10183

    #2 Roddick 9074

    #3 Sampras 8858

    I saw them all play and Goran had the best serve – at the 1993 Paris indoor tournament at Bercy he was boo’d by the crowd even though he won because his unreturnable serves were boring to watch, at one point in the final Medvedev failed to return 12 serves in a row.

    After Goran beat Roddick at Wimbledon in 2001, Roddick (No 1 on your list) said ‘That was impressive. I’m cheering for you the rest of the way, that was just a lesson on how to serve and how to play on grass’

    Sampras (No 2 on your list) said of Goran in 1993 “he is the one guy who can serve me off the court”. Ivanisavic had beaten Sampras 5 times in 6 matches , and it wasn’t with his ground strokes!

  • robg5555

    Roger Federer’s serve is a work of art

  • dannyR

    Roscoe Tanner’s ultra-compact low toss average 140 mph when it was working was unreturnable. Even at that high speed it also carried a wicked lefty twist, and all this was done with the old-school rackets, and had to be *returned* with the same sort of racket. Impossible. Unfortunately, as someone once said: “As Roscoe’s serve goes, so goes his game.”

  • Guest

    Where is Ivo karlovic ??