Greatest Serves of All Time

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by NonP, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    When I first started taking this stat I was partly thinking of a comment I once read about Pancho Gonzalez, that he made his first serve nearly all the time when down break point, something like that.

    I have that stat on 8 Becker matches:

    1987 Davis Cup vs. Mac, made his first serve on 10 of 17 break points
    1989 W SF vs. Lendl, 0 of 6
    1989 USO final vs. Lendl, 6 of 11
    1989 Davis Cup vs. Edberg, 1 of 2*
    1989 Davis Cup vs. Wilander, 2 of 3
    1995 W SF vs. Agassi, 9 of 14
    1995 W final vs. Sampras, 9 of 16
    1996 YEC round-robin vs. Sampras, 6 of 10

    *Edberg was 9 of 11 himself but lost the match decisively, a somewhat unusual case (and the only time I tracked this stat for him)

    I found some more matches where I had that stat, so altogether we're talking about a sample of over 50 matches.
     
  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Mac's % in the '84W final is often reported as 75%, but I got 73%. And Moose got 69% for the '83 match. Still a 4-point difference but somewhat small.
     
  3. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    Its crazy. That's all you need. A karlovic or ivanisevic 1st serve. No fancy spin or variety, just straight up the T or out wide with the heat. Obviously, the 2nd serve is more of an issue for them. They actually have to think. But not very much. But, can you imagine just going up there like Ivanisevic and knowing that if you get it in, even the very best players in the world (who also understand what is coming) can't do anything with it. Must be nice.
     
  4. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    thanks, and I look forward to yours!

    These are the two boxscores I meant, both from 1997 Wimbledon. Since we've been talking about unreturned serves, the "service winners" are relevant, though I don't know how to tell for sure whether they include the aces.

    Sampras Becker
    Aces 19 6
    Service winners 52 35
    Double faults 3 2
    1st serve pct. 69 62
    Percent 1st serve pts won 79 62
    Break points 5-9 0-3
    Return points won 36 20
    Net points 67-88 57-94
    Total points won 123 86

    Norman Ivanisevic
    Aces 25 46
    Service winners 90 92
    Double faults 18 19
    1st serve pct 51 56
    1st serve win pct. 81 85
    Break points 2-9 3-17
    Return points won 27 56
    Net points 104-152 97-133
    Total points won 191 207

    And the Sampras-Korda boxscore, from the same Wimbledon, is identical in format so I presume it would be using the same definition of service winners as the other two boxscores:

    Sampras Korda
    Aces 28 13
    Service winners 82 72
    Double faults 4 10
    1st serve pct. 68 52
    Pct 1st serve pts won 82 72
    Break points 3-11 0-3
    Return pts won 54 32
    Net points 105-142 51-174
    Total points won 185 161

    Incidentally, take a look at Norman-Ivanisevic: 37 double-faults between them.

    (The ATP has only 26 but they appear to have dropped the fifth set altogether from their stats: they list only 39 games played, which is how many service games there were in the first four sets. Not a common problem at the ATP as far as I know but I've seen it in two or three matches, again in the 90s).
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  5. slice serve ace

    slice serve ace Rookie

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    yes for 2 of them
    i count aces in as well, so if you are interested only in other clean winners, just substract aces

    so, goran vs becker wimby 94

    goran 52 winners ( 14, 16, 22 by sets)
    becker 29 winners ( 6, 15, 8)

    goran vs krajicek wimb 98

    goran 90 winners ( 11, 14, 13, 12, 40)
    krajicek 80 winners ( 7, 9, 15, 18, 31)
     
  6. slice serve ace

    slice serve ace Rookie

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    i calculated a bit and it seems to me that these "service winners" are actually total number of unreturned serves, including aces

    here is the example
    sampras served 157 points against korda( when we lose aces and dfs that are counted twice) ; korda served 189 points

    82/157 = 52.2% for sampras
    72/189 = 38.1% for korda

    which is pretty much in line with previous stats i posted

    if it didn't include aces it would be 110/ 157 = 70.1% for sampras which is waay to much


    and about atp dropping 5th sets from stats, it happened also for sampras - kafelnikov ao 94:)
     
  7. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    thanks

    could you post winner counts for these as well if you have them?

     
  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think this is a strong argument, you're probably right.

    Very interesting, that one went to 9-7 in the fifth. The four matches that I knew about (where several games from the fifth set were being dropped, or the fifth set altogether) all have the same thing, a fifth set that goes beyond 6-all:

    - Becker-Pioline, 1995 Wimbledon QF (9-7 in the fifth)
    - Norman-Ivanisevic, 1997 Wimbledon, R64 (14-12)
    - Rusedski-Stark, 1997 Wimbledon, R64 (11-9)
    - Ivanisevic-Krajicek, 1998 Wimbledon SF (15-13)

    You know what, it's worth checking now everytime there's an extended fifth set in the 1990s, whether the ATP boxscores are reporting the total number of service games correctly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  9. slice serve ace

    slice serve ace Rookie

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    wim 94
    sampras 44 (19, 18, 7)
    goran 48 (27, 19, 2)

    uso 96
    sampras 41 (6, 12, 12, 11)
    goran 54 (11, 14, 21, 8 )

    hannover 96
    sampras 50 (17, 17, 16)
    goran 56 (22, 17, 17)

    uso 02
    sampras 60 (20, 27, 13)
    schalken 22 (11, 9, 2)

    frankfurt 94
    sampras 56 (12, 14, 11, 19)
    becker 54 (16, 8, 19, 11)
     
  10. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Seriously doubt that so many players are ahead of Fed in serving. After Doha, the commentators was saying Fed improved his kick serve. Lately he's been taken off some pace including the slice serve to add better placement and high 1st serve %. He was giving Davy a lot of trouble, and Davy is no slouch in returning, not to mention a 2 handed bh is better to deal with a kick serve.
     
  11. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    you are incorrect. federer has a very good serve but it's not in the top 15 of all time. it's the rest of his game that makes him the GOAT. if you took federer's serve away and gave him one of these guys' serves then he'd be even stronger.
     
  12. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    I think it safe to say Fed did improved his serve and still can. If you have watch the WTF and Doha lately, you would know. Annacone could be the reason for it.

    Keep in mind Sampras improved his serve as he got older.

    You say the rest of Fed's game makes him the goat. Well, in this forum, he's not one of the elite group in the bh, volley, lop, passing shot, and few other areas. There's no way a player can win 16 GS in over 6 yrs, and set so many records. No way.
     
  13. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    what are you talking about? sure, he can improve his serve. that still doesn't mean he's going to have a top 15 all time serve. he's got a very good serve, the best forehand of all time, good volleys, a solid backhand (not top 20 of all time), outstanding movement, and a great match player. that is why he's arguably the GOAT.
     
  14. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Before I respond to the individual posts, great stats, guys. Keep 'em coming. The more stats we have, the better.

    krosero, thanks for taking over the crib the other day. And yeah, I'd say that's a large enough sample. Have you or other TW posters contacted the ATP so they could make any necessary corrections? It looks like you already have but got no response. At any rate they should look into it.

    Well, I did say Pete still at the top of his game, and though he did play quite well that day, prime Sampras he was not. This was a big upset at the time and given both players' stature it's natural that people tend to remember it, but what they forget is that just two rounds earlier Pete served just as well if not better (identical 1st-serve % and # of aces, but fewer DFs), but was also pushed to 5 sets by... Barry Cowan. Pete's main problem by then, as slice serve ace pointed out, was his declining ability to break: 16.8% of return games won on grass in '01, as opposed to 23.6% from '91-'98.

    And I think that slow but noticeable decline, which unfortunately not even the greatest players are immune from, is less physical than mental. Once you get to Sampras' or Federer's level and compete against the world's best, tennis, like virtually every other pro sport worth its name, becomes a mostly mental game. Some people talk like there's a colossal gulf purely in terms of game between a Sampras/Federer and, say, a Goran/Safin, when it's in fact a lot smaller than they think. I'm not denying that the gap exists--all other things being equal, the former's best game would beat the latter's best game most of the time--just that it explains a 13-14 difference in GS counts. One GOAT who best illustrates this is Wilander: didn't have a single big "shot," but his mental resourcefulness and versatility was enough to win him 7 majors, 3 of 'em in the same year.

    Another example might help. If you watched last year's USO SF between Federer and Djokovic, I'm sure you remember the point at 15-30 in the 5th set, where Fed drew a weak stab volley from Nole, ran it down, but, instead of directing the ball to the ad court, chose to hit it right back at him and lost two opportunities to break. Similarly, Pete had a chance to pass Fed, break and serve for the match at 4-all in the last set, but hit right back at him and lost the point.

    Those are the type of big shots Pete and Fed used to make more often than not in their prime (even the GOATs have quite a few close matches at their peak), but the percentage declines as they age. Whether that's due to a lost step or two, simple wear and tear, or whatnot, hard to say, but again my guess is that the decline is largely mental. It's awfully hard to stay focused and keep your intensity up for so long (though, as players with such a big and varied arsenal, Pete and Fed can manage to hold back and switch up gears when needed), and when your body can no longer accommodate your commands, it becomes even more difficult.

    All that said I don't mean to take anything away from either Fed's or Djokovic's win. Fed executed some of the best returns I've seen against Pete that day, and Nole hit some incredible FHs to save 2 BPs, hold at 4-5 and win the crucial (and decisive) next game in the last set. (That was in fact the most clutch performance I've ever seen from Djokovic, and one I was very glad to see 'cause I was beginning to think he might well be the one-Slam wonder his detractors had been saying he was.) Both deserved to win.

    It's been quite a while since I watched that match, but unless I'm mistaken, yes, Korda did play as well as he did in Flushing Meadows a few weeks later, if not better. When Pete won the 2nd set I expected him to cruise, but then Korda nearly came hopping back (heh heh, get it) and took the next two sets in TBs. The outcome remained uncertain until Pete finally got that break in the 5th. And as slice serve ace said, Pete was having the best serving streak of his career, and this was on the fast Wimby grass to boot, faster than the USO HC (which is still true IMO, but that's a different topic).

    Good to know. :)
     
  15. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Moose, I'm a little surprised that Isner's % of unreturned serves was that low, especially considering Roddick's relatively subpar return and the quality of that very match, which I remember being rather high. But then this is just one match, and a long 5-setter at that, so Isner might have gone more for placement than power. Also Isner probably doesn't go for as much on his 1st serves as Karlovic--he "picks his spots," according to Gilbert--which might have had something to do with the low %.

    Do share any Karlovic stats you have. So far we have a sizable number on Pete and Goran, but not Ivo.

    As to your take on the lack of copious sabermetrics in tennis, I don't think manpower/money is the problem, but rather the inertia of tradition. For example, many in the basketball community would love to see stats like points gained from screen/rolls and rebounds per minute rather than per game, but the NBA ain't gonna change their record-keeping anytime soon, despite having enough resources.

    slice serve ace, first let me join krosero in acknowledging your vast collection. And it's obvious you know your tennis. Do post more, this board could certainly use more posters like you.

    Unfortunately I couldn't find a single vendor that carries either the '97 Wimby or '93 GSC match. I'll let you know if I come across one.

    More stats are always good. :)

    You're quite right about Becker. Their '96 YEC final remains a classic and rightly so, but what many of us forget is that Boris had beaten Pete in their two previous indoor meetings--Stuttgart final and YEC RR--which were as close as the scores indicated. And Pete did little wrong in both matches, but Boris still won. Shows what a beast Becker was indoors.
     
  16. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    both are here:

    http://www.tennislifedvd.org/
     
  17. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Because you argue that Fed’s game makes him the goat, I have disagree with you that many of his repertoire are judged as "very good", and not first class like other past players. Michael Jordan is widely considered a goat for his position(shooting guard). Compared to other shooting guard, he belongs in the elite group(if not at the very top) in offensive, defense, rebound, athleticism, mental toughness, clutch. Same with Phelps…he’s great in the butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke. If these athletes are regard as "very good", they are not at where they are right now.
     
  18. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    you're comparing apples to oranges. you can't compare individual aspects of one sport to another b/c they are so different. every single tennis player who could be considered in the conversation of GOAT is not in the top 15 of every category. players learn to maximize the use of their strengths and make sure that their (relative) weakness is a solid/good shot.
     
  19. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I actually agree with you for once. I think Federer has a top 10 serve all time, butl probably not top 5. I think it is debateable if even someone like Roddick has a better serve or not, and I think Roddick at #6 all time in the serve is about right for him.
     
  20. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    i'm a huge federer fan but i disagree strongly. the way that i assess a serve is if you took federer's serve away and gave him another players serve, would federer be more successful. and off the top of my head i can name 20 people that i would replace federer's serve with.
     
  21. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    1. regarding the fed-sampras match, I was just pointing out how well federer returned in that match . Neither was truly at the peak of their powers

    2. Towards the end of the first set, one of the commentators ( IIRC it was mac) that was not the second serve that barry cowan saw ( implying sampras was serving quite a bit better )

    3. @ bold part, IMHO, pete was a bit surprised at how easily fed picked up that half-volley and it came back faster to him that he'd expected. Better indicators of neither players being at the absolute peak of their powers would be the overhead misses at crucial stages in sets 1,2 and 3

    P.S. This isn't to say they couldn't commit mistakes at crucial moments @ their peak. Just that it was lesser.

    For example, sampras flubbed an easy volley (IIRC) at setpoint to hand over the 4th set to becker in their YEC 96 F encounter

    4. @ djoker-fed USO semi-final, that was djoker's clutchest performance ( atleast in the final set ) ....He was pretty good in madrid 2009 as well, but rafa just took control, and djoker lost though he did nothing wrong.

    But I don't think the situations in the USO SF and wim 2001 4R match are that similar, fed was an error-machine for quite a bit in that match


    hmm, interesting. I haven't seen that match , will reserve judgment on that. But I haven't heard/seen anyone saying korda played that well in this match before.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  22. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Here are stats on '07 Legg Mason SF(Isner d Monfils 67, 76, 76)

    Isner - 22 aces, 49 unret, 39.8%
    Monfils - 25 aces, 43 unret, 42%
     
  23. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Swimming is an individual sport.

    I made my point clear. If Phelps is just "very good" in all of his swimming styles, then he would never set so many records in Beijing. Likewise for Federer, he would never win 16 slams and set many records in a little over 6yrs span.

    We have to agree/disagree.
     
  24. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Well on the list NonP gave I wouldnt think Federer would do better with the serves of half of them than his own. I dont think he would be better than he is now with Rusedski's serve, Noah's serve, Stich's serve, Becker's serve, McEnroe's serve, Arthur's serve, or Curren's serve than with his own serve. So if those are supposably the best 16 I would respectfully disagree. And I am not a Federer fan.

    I see Federer at a similar level to Roddick considering he is a much better clutch server and while year round Roddick has the better serving stats, Federer regularly outserves him in their big meetings (yes I know Federer being a way better returner is part of that, but not it all). Roddick shockingly outplayed Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final off the ground and overall but was outserved enough (even considering his own poor return of serve which aided Federer) that he still lost.
     
  25. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    federer's serve has let him down in some key matches. he barely served 50% against del potro at the US Open and has struggled with his % many times against nadal.

    i would take all of the serves that you mentioned over federer. in fact, IMO it's not even close when you're comparing him to stich and becker.
     
  26. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    yes, i guess we will. so are you saying that federer has one of the top GOAT backhands? b/c if you are, you are 100% delusional.
     
  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Sampras unreturned serves

    These are the remaining service stats that Moose and I have gotten for Sampras in our own counts, from matches not already posted by Slice Serve Ace.

    Same format as SSA has been using: 1st serve %, aces, total unreturned serves, % of serves unreturned

    1990 USO
    Sampras – 1st 53%, 13 aces, 30 unreturned, 41.7%
    Agassi – 1st 77%, 0 aces, 16 unreturned, 16.0%

    1991 Philadelphia
    Sampras – 1st 56%, 10 aces, 22 unreturned, 38.6%
    McEnroe – 1st 49%, 0 aces, 20 unreturned, 33.9%

    1992 RG
    Agassi – 1st 65%, 3 aces, 17 unreturned, 20.2%
    Sampras – 1st 45%, 8 aces, 32 unreturned, 33.7%

    1995 USO
    Sampras – 1st 54%, 24 aces, 57 unreturned, 47.1%
    Agassi – 1st 56%, 8 aces, 29 unreturned, 25.2%

    1995 Davis Cup
    Sampras – 1st 50%, 11 aces, 41 unreturned, 26.8%
    Chesnokov – 1st 60%, 11 aces, 27 unreturned, 17.4%

    1996 AO
    Philippoussis – 1st 62%, 29 aces, 49 unreturned, 42.2%
    Sampras – 1st 54%, 5 aces, 41 unreturned, 36.6%

    1996 RG
    Kafelnikov – 1st 54%, 12 aces, 24 unreturned, 31.6%
    Sampras – 1st 58%, 9 aces, 29 unreturned, 29.0%

    1997 Davis Cup
    Sampras – 1st 68%, 14 aces, 44 unreturned, 44.9%
    Rafter – 1st 64%, 7 aces, 37 unreturned, 30.3%

    1997 GS Cup
    Sampras – 1st 64%, 12 aces, 36 unreturned, 52.2%
    Rafter – 1st 60%, 6 aces, 32 unreturned, 34.8%

    1998 USO
    Rafter – 1st 61%, 11 aces, 66 unreturned, 48.9%
    Sampras – 1st 48%, 16 aces, 50 unreturned, 32.3%

    2000 W
    Sampras – 1st 64%, 27 aces, 69 unreturned, 52.3%
    Rafter – 1st 58%, 12 aces, 66 unreturned, 39.5%

    2001 USO
    Sampras – 1st 63%, 25 aces, 70 unreturned, 41.7%
    Agassi – 1st 65%, 18 aces, 46 unreturned, 27.1%

    2001 USO
    Hewitt – 1st 64%, 7 aces, 25 unreturned, 32.5%
    Sampras – 1st 60%, 11 aces, 33 unreturned, 33.3%

    Note: for 1990 USO final, 2000 W final and 2001 USO QF, I'm using published 1st serve percentages. Otherwise everything comes from our own counts.
     
  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Becker unreturned serves

    And here's a list for Becker from our own counts, again in matches not already posted by SSA.

    1985 Queens
    Becker – 1st 57%, 11 aces, 27 unreturned, 50.0%
    Kriek – 1st 63%, 2 aces, 13 unreturned, 23.2%

    1985 W
    Becker – 1st 60%, 21 aces, 56 unreturned, 39.7%
    Curren – 1st 46%, 19 aces, 65 unreturned, 40.1%

    1986 W
    Becker – 1st 60%, 13 aces, 58 unreturned, 50.4%
    Leconte – 1st 53%, 11 aces, 41 unreturned, 35.7%

    1986 Atlanta (AT&T Challenge, won by Becker 3-6, 6-3, 7-5)
    Becker – 1st 64%, 12 aces, 28 unreturned, 28.6%
    McEnroe – 1st 63%, 13 aces, 33 unreturned, 41.3%

    1987 Queens
    Becker – 1st 51%, 13 aces, 31 unreturned, 29.5%
    Connors – 1st 77%, 0 aces, 14 unreturned, 14.6%

    1987 Davis Cup
    Becker – 1st 65%, 18 aces, 68 unreturned, 33.3%
    McEnroe – 1st 63%, 16 aces, 82 unreturned, 34.2%

    1988 W
    Becker – 1st 54%, 6 aces, 34 unreturned, 41.0%
    Cash – 1st 60%, 8 aces, 29 unreturned, 37.7%

    1988 W
    Edberg – 1st 57%, 2 aces, 39 unreturned, 33.1%
    Becker – 1st 67%, 6 aces, 44 unreturned, 34.1%

    1989 W
    Becker – 1st 49%, 17 aces, 61 unreturned, 41.8%
    Lendl – 1st 64%, 9 aces, 63 unreturned, 31.2%

    1989 W
    Becker – 1st 46%, 5 aces, 28 unreturned, 30.8%
    Edberg – 1st 67%, 0 aces, 25 unreturned, 26.9%

    1989 USO
    Becker – 1st 55%, 10 aces, 50 unreturned, 35.0%
    Lendl – 1st 63%, 4 aces, 25 unreturned, 20.0%

    1989 Davis Cup (indoor carpet)
    Becker – 1st 54%, 12 aces, 31 unreturned, 40.8%
    Edberg – 1st 69%, 2 aces, 25 unreturned, 28.4%

    1989 Davis Cup (indoor carpet)
    Becker – 1st 56%, 13 aces, 33 unreturned, 50.0%
    Wilander – 1st 59%, 1 aces, 14 unreturned, 18.4%

    1990 USO
    Agassi – 1st 71%, 0 aces, 25 unreturned, 22.3%
    Becker – 1st 56%, 6 aces, 26 unreturned, 18.6%

    1995 Monte Carlo
    Muster – 1st 68%, 3 aces, 42 unreturned, 25.9%
    Becker – 1st 60%, 16 aces, 48 unreturned, 31.8%

    1995 W
    Becker – 1st 61%, 22 aces, 49 unreturned, 34.3%
    Agassi – 1st 66%, 4 aces, 33 unreturned, 21.3%
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  29. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    So Federer had an off serving day in the U.S Open final vs Del Potro. You dont think the serves of Becker or Stich have ever let them down. Becker served horrendously in the 95 Wimbledon final. And Stich didnt serve well at all vs Agassi in the 94 U.S Open final or even vs Kafelnikov in the 96 French Open final. It doesnt change that all 3 are great servers though.

    If you think Federer would be better with their serve that is fine. I dont happen to agree though.
    Becker already had a stronger backhand and stronger volleys than Federer, both which he would do better with than his own, sorry it is hard to imagine Federer would want to trade half or more of his own game with someone of Becker's level and be better (which would be the case if you added the serve). I do think Federer would be better with say Karlovic, Ivanisevic, or Sampras's serve for sure, but those serves or on a whole other level. Becker's serve seemed revolutionary when it first came but it looked much less so once Sampras, Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Philippoussis, all came on the scene with significantly harder and more accurate serves than he had.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2011
  30. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    McEnroe's unreturned serves

    And a list for McEnroe. Some of these matches we've listed upthread, but now the opponent's info is added.

    1979 Davis Cup (grass)
    McEnroe – 1st 54%, 1 ace, 35 unreturned, 35.7%
    Alexander – 1st 66%, 4 aces, 39 unreturned, 30.5%

    1979 Masters
    Borg – 1st 63%, 4 aces, 21 unreturned, 17.5%
    McEnroe – 1st 51%, 4 aces, 26 unreturned, 24.5%

    1980 W
    McEnroe – 1st 61%, 14 aces, 51 unreturned, 42.1%
    Connors – 1st 67%, 1 aces, 33 unreturned, 22.8%

    1980 W
    Borg – 1st 62%, 9 aces, 57 unreturned, 29.1%
    McEnroe – 1st 63%, 11 aces, 70 unreturned, 38.9%

    1980 USO
    McEnroe – 1st 58%, 7 aces, 71 unreturned, 39.4%
    Borg – 1st 47%, 4 aces, 25 unreturned, 15.2%

    1980 Masters
    Borg – 1st 64%, 3 aces, 27 unreturned, 23.3%
    McEnroe – 1st 57%, 5 aces, 36 unreturned, 33.6%

    1981 W
    McEnroe – 1st 61%, 8 aces, 57 unreturned, 34.8%
    Borg – 1st 57%, 9 aces, 35 unreturned, 23.3%

    1981 USO
    McEnroe – 1st 54%, 10 aces, 35 unreturned, 30.7%
    Borg – 1st 55%, 9 aces, 24 unreturned, 21.4%

    1982 W
    Connors – 1st 64%, 0 aces, 33 unreturned, 18.1%
    McEnroe – 1st 54%, 20 aces, 55 unreturned, 34.8%

    1982 Davis Cup (indoor clay)
    McEnroe – 1st 56%, 16 aces, 37 unreturned, 21.6%
    Noah – 1st 58%, 13 aces, 51 unreturned, 29.7%

    1983 W
    McEnroe – 1st 69%, 17 aces, 49 unreturned, 49.5%
    Lendl – 1st 72%, 4 aces, 38 unreturned, 37.3%

    1984 RG
    Lendl – 1st 70%, 5 aces, 28 unreturned, 18.1%
    McEnroe – 1st 43%, 7 aces, 35 unreturned, 22.6%

    1984 W
    McEnroe – 1st 73%, 9 aces, 26 unreturned, 47.3%
    Connors – 1st 67%, 0 aces, 17 unreturned, 24.3%

    1984 USO
    McEnroe – 1st 60%, 18 aces, 51 unreturned, 32.5%
    Connors – 1st 78%, 1 aces, 25 unreturned, 15.6%

    1984 USO
    McEnroe – 1st 62%, 8 aces, 33 unreturned, 45.2%
    Lendl – 1st 64%, 3 aces, 15 unreturned, 18.1%

    1985 RG
    Wilander – 1st 72%, 1 aces, 23 unreturned, 18.1%
    McEnroe – 1st 57%, 5 aces, 15 unreturned, 14.2%

    1985 Canadian
    McEnroe – 1st 60%, 6 aces, 31 unreturned, 45.6%
    Lendl – 1st 54%, 6 aces, 27 unreturned, 39.1%

    1985 USO
    McEnroe – 1st 51%, 4 aces, 38 unreturned, 26.4%
    Wilander – 1st 69%, 5 aces, 26 unreturned, 17.9%

    1986 Atlanta (AT&T Challenge, won by Becker 3-6, 6-3, 7-5)
    Becker – 1st 64%, 12 aces, 28 unreturned, 28.6%
    McEnroe – 1st 63%, 13 aces, 33 unreturned, 41.3%

    1987 Davis Cup
    Becker – 1st 65%, 18 aces, 68 unreturned, 33.3%
    McEnroe – 1st 63%, 16 aces, 82 unreturned, 34.2%

    1987 USO
    Lendl – 1st 63%, 8 aces, 29 unreturned, 38.7%
    McEnroe – 1st 56%, 1 aces, 32 unreturned, 36.8%

    1991 Philadelphia
    Sampras – 1st 56%, 10 aces, 22 unreturned, 38.6%
    McEnroe – 1st 49%, 0 aces, 20 unreturned, 33.9%

    A few notes. For '81 Wimby final, I'm using published first serve percentages. And two of our matches are incomplete: 1979 Masters (missing 2 games) and 1982 Wimby (missing 6 points).
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In Becker's list, I've added the 1985 and 1989 Wimbledon finals.
     
  32. SusanDK

    SusanDK Semi-Pro

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    I thought I was losing my mind. I knew I followed tennis closely during this time, and remember Becker's repeat win in '86 after the amazing win in '85. But I had absolutely no recollection that he played Leconte in the final.

    So I looked it up - it was Lendl. :)
     
  33. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Some think (including Newcombe), that the first two sets, which Becker played against Leconte in the Wim sf 1986, were the best he ever played. His serve was murderous that day.
     
  34. jonahnaturals

    jonahnaturals Rookie

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    Sampras, Becker, Lendl, Federer, McEnroe
     
  35. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Disagree for not having Ivo and Goran. But anyway, in this forum you are not allow to have Fed in any of the top 5 in any repertoire(except the FH).
     
  36. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I think Fed might be ranked top-5 all time in movement and anticipation.

    TMF, we value your opinion. But around here, ya really gotta earn it (no "fanboyism" or blind, mindless adulation) because one's fave is competing with the best--the very best of the entire history of the game. We have very long memories.

    This ain't no place for wannabees or flash-in-the-pan players. The competition is stiff, very stiff.
     
  37. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^
    I wasn't being serious.:)
     
  38. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Howdy, folks. I'm still trying to digest the two shockers in tennis today. Hope you've been faring better.

    On to the individual posts....

    OK.

    Yeah, I remember that, but I think Mac was being Mac and emoting a little bit. I couldn't check the service stats of this particular match, but in his last two Wimbledon matches (in '02, obviously) Sampras' 2nd serves registered 112 mph :shock: and 105 mph on average against (respectively) Lee and Bastl. I rather doubt that his average 2nd serve against Cowan was significantly below that level.

    (BTW I was quite taken aback by these stats. Unless my memory or eye-radar is seriously faulty, Pete was relying considerably more on his serves than I remember.)

    No disagreement here. And good point about the overhead misses.

    I agree the situations are quite different. I compared them just to illustrate a point.

    You should grab a copy if you can. It really was a barnburner.

    Speaking of which, Moose has provided a link:

    And Moose, thanks for the other Isner stats. This time I think his relatively low % of unreturned serves can be attributed to Monfils, who has a big reach. Besides 39.8% is still pretty good.

    And also props to krosero for compiling the boatload of TW service stats. Thanks again.
     
  39. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Sorry, sometimes it's hard to tell.

    Sarcasm and facetiousness do not translate well through a keyboard.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  40. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    ...deleted...
     
  41. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Not an update this time, but rather an addendum, or an effort at adding to the current list.

    On this other GSOAT thread (in my defense, this one talks about the biggest servers of all time, not the greatest :)), I saw the following names tossed around (listed here by order of birth):

    Gerald Patterson
    Geoff Brown
    Bob Falkenburg
    Alex Olmedo
    Mike Sangster
    Dennis Ralston
    John Alexander (urban also talked about him once on this thread)
    John Feaver
    Chip Hooper
    Paul Annacone
    Slobodan Zivojinovic

    Schroeder was also mentioned, but nothing I've read so far tells me he belongs in the same sentence as Tilden, Vines, Kramer and Gonzales as an all-time great server. We're still trying to rank Ashe and Smith (and Korita), and Dibley was eventually ruled out due to his inconsistency.

    I can't discuss the old-timers, but I can say that of the more recent ones I've seen play, Zivojinovic and Annacone don't quite belong up there. Remember, we're trying to honor the best of the best. Likewise, were Olmedo and Ralston's serves so feared back then? As always your input will be appreciated.

    A few choice nuggets of info on some of these servers:

    - "Patterson was known as the 'Human Catapult' for his powerful serve that many of the top players had trouble returning" (Wikipedia). Can anyone tell us how Pattern's serve compares to McLoughlin's?

    - Newcombe called Brown's serve the hardest he knew.

    - Kramer on Falkenburg: "What he did have was a great serve; he was exceptionally tall, and just as skinny, and he could uncoil aces."

    - Again from Wiki:

    - Poster Trinity TC said, "John Alexander of Australia usually had the most aces per set in the early 70s before Roscoe Tanner hit the scene."

    - Moose also informs us that Feaver aced Newcombe 42 times at 1976 Wimbledon.

    - Courtesy of poster BounceHitBounce: "Someone else also said Chip Hooper, who had a CANNON on his arm. He was the first person I saw play LIVE who really impressed me with his serve, although Jimbo broke him in his first service game (this was back at the old Cincy ATP tournament many, many years ago)."

    Let's keep the discussion going, folks. This thread should never disappear from page 1. :twisted:
     
  42. Backhanded Compliment

    Backhanded Compliment Hall of Fame

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    on their best day against their toughest historical opponent on their best day:

    1. Sampras
    2. Ivanisevic
    3. McEnroe
    4. Becker
    5. Pancho Gonzales
    6. Federer
    7. Edberg
    8. Arthur Ashe
    9. Roddick
    10. Stich

    Only GS champs on my list, clutch serving is very important in my book.
     
  43. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Back after a long hiatus, which means time for another update. But before I ramble, what's with the (almost) complete silence since my last post? Nobody found it interesting? After all that time I spent reading and regurgitating that entire thread!

    Let me try a different approach then. First, the current (incomplete) list:

    1. Ivanisevic
    2. Karlovic
    3. Sampras
    4. Gonzales
    5. Krajicek
    6. Roddick
    7. Isner
    8. Arthurs
    9. Newcombe
    10. McEnroe
    11. Tanner
    12. Becker
    13. Stich
    14. Noah
    15. Curren
    16. Rusedski

    Honorary mentions:

    McLoughlin, Maurice - perhaps the first distinguished cannonball serve in tennis history
    Tilden - yet another storied cannonball serve, which he bolstered with spin and accuracy
    Vines - by all accounts, the best and fastest serve of the pre-WWII era
    Kramer - in addition to a formidable 1st serve, perhaps the best 2nd serve before Newcombe and Sampras
    Denton - his unusual service motion notwithstanding, could bring enormous heat
    Edberg - for his legendary kicker, arguably the best serve ever for S&V
    Johansson, Joachim - Denton of the 2000s

    Now this list hasn't been expanded in a long time. Some of the below names definitely belong on the list, or at least deserve an honorary mention. The question is which.

    I listed these potential contenders last time (see above for any particular info):

    Gerald Patterson
    Geoff Brown
    Bob Falkenburg
    Alex Olmedo
    Mike Sangster
    Dennis Ralston
    John Alexander
    John Feaver
    Chip Hooper
    Paul Annacone
    Slobodan Zivojinovic

    From what little I know and have seen, Zivojinovic and Annacone aren't quite among the best of the best. Neither are Olmedo and Ralston. Let us know if you disagree, otherwise the elimination axe awaits. On the other hand Alexander's name has been brought up on numerous occasions.

    I saw these names mentioned since my last visit (again listed by order of birth):

    Frank Froehling
    Colin Dibley
    Hank Pfister
    Victor Amaya
    Scott Warner
    Marc-Kevin Goellner

    pc1 has argued that Dibley was too inconsistent to rank near the top. Warner was mentioned such a long time ago I don't even remember how he got eliminated. Goellner was ruled out by yours truly as he's about in the same league as Zivojinovic, Querrey and their cohort. I don't have anything useful to say about Froehling, Pfister and Amaya, except that the latter two were probably active more in the doubles circuit and thus should be excluded. Again feel free to share any objections.

    Also these names have been floating around for a while:

    Ashe
    Smith
    Eric Korita
    Forget
    Rosset
    Philippoussis
    Ljubicic

    All these players save Korita certainly have the results to back up their candidacy. The difficult part is figuring out how much of their success can be attributed to their serve, not their game as a whole. This is where your input is sorely needed.

    Someone also mentioned Wheaton, Martin, Rafter, Kafelnikov, Medvedev and Henman (on a thread about the best servers of the '90s, naturally). Now, Wheaton and Martin did have pretty big serves, but they were not quite as overpowering as, say, Goran, Krajicek, Flipper and the other bona fide monster servers (Sampras says as much about Martin in his book). Rafter had a great kicker on par with Edberg's, but it wasn't as feared, and Edberg himself merits a mere honorary mention. And I think most of us would agree that Kafelnikov, Medvedev and Henman aren't quite up there.

    So what do you think? Which of these names should be added to the VIP list? Do remember that the goal (or at least mine) is to rank these serves as stand-alone shots. It's fine if you want to consider clutch and other intangibles, but try not to rely too much on the player's overall resume. And let's try not to get this thread stuck on page 5. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  44. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Let me add a second of Stan Smith on your list above. He was tall and had a great S&V game.

    Nastase, I believe, used to refer to Smith as Goliath.
     
  45. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Wow, only 1 comment since my last update? I hoped the increased traffic during the FO would yield some more feedback this time. What wishful thinking that was!

    Maybe this will actually draw a few responses. I believe someone (can't recall his/her username) quoted and translated this portion of a Spanish article:

    So do you agree with the '04 Spanish DC team? Is Arthurs' serve better than Roddick's, despite the significant gap in their respective 1st-serve %s?

    And, of course, I wouldn't mind your input on the other issues I raised in my last update. :)
     
  46. The Hermit

    The Hermit Semi-Pro

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    It is Karlovic And it is not even close, the guy has only serves yet he still in the tour for many years.
     
  47. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    It was "Godzilla!" But, it was for his backhand overhead (not his serve), which, along with his regular smash, made Smith virtually un-lobable. This was particularly irksome for Nastase who was accustomed to hitting topspin lob winners off of both sides. BTW, as great as Smith's serve was, Nastase's was nearly as good.
     
  48. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It's a great thread Nonp and the work you have done on it is fabulous. The reason I haven't commented is just that I don't know how much more I can add to this thread. You already know my opinions on this. I think it's one of the best threads we've had.
     
  49. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    So you don't think Smith is up there? What about Ashe, Falkenburg and other names I mentioned above? Also, you seem to have a high opinion of Alexander's serve. How would you rank his?

    Thanks, pc1. But I want some rankings, damnit! :) This list has been static for a millennium now?
     
  50. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    Some of you gentlemen have placed Becker ahead of Stich in the serve department? The only department Becker wins is probably the power but Stich is not that far behind. Accuracy, spins, artistry/fluidity...Stich wins IMO.
     

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