Greatest Serves of All Time

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

  1. VGP

    VGP Legend

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    Did he win the match?
     
  2. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Not relevant
     
  3. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Limpin, we really don't disagree as much as you seem to think. Again, results do matter. But the point everyone has been trying to make here, which you apparently reject wholesale, is that results alone do not paint the complete picture regarding a single shot, especially one as important and independent (relatively speaking, compared to other shots) as the serve.

    Let me try one more time. As pc1 noted upthread, the ATP stats show that Karlovic has by far the worst return of serve among the current top players, significantly worse than even Isner's (8% vs. 13%), which occupies the penultimate place. Yet even so, he has managed to reach the QF of a major ('09 Wimbledon). That's one step further than Isner or Arthurs ever did/has done (both failing to advance further than the 4th round in their career).

    So if making the SF of a major is a reasonable threshold by your standard, isn't it then also reasonable to say that Karlovic's serve is up there, since he's almost certainly the worst player on the list but still managed to fall just one round short of the SF? Like I said, a Karlovic or an Isner would never win a major no matter how good their serve was, since the rest of their game doesn't quite measure up to that of the top pros. But they can still pull off an occasional upset against the best of them--yes, including Fed, Rafa and Djoko. It's quite implausible that these upsets were not due in large part to their serves. That's what we're trying to say, not that results don't matter.

    If you still disagree, then take us through how a Karlovic could serve all the way to a championship despite his limited arsenal. What could he possibly do that would beat the odds, which would be heavily stacked against him?

    Well, I was talking about top amateurs who spent the bulk of their prime years separated from the best (pro) players, so big names like Newcombe, Smith or Ashe don't qualify. Again, if what you say is true--that Froehling never played on the pro tour--then it's really all but impossible to guess how well his serve would've matched up against the best players during his heyday, for the simple reason he never played them and thus never had a chance to "attain great results against other champions," as you put it. I'm sure I don't need to explain to you how one's service stats are affected by his opponent.

    Again this isn't exactly what I had in mind. Let me put it somewhat differently, then: Did Dibley have as big a serve as Karlovic, Ivanisevic or Arthurs? And was it consistent?

    No beef here.

    It's a shame that accounts of Doeg's serve are hard to come by. Are there any others that you guys can share? Maybe he deserves an honorary mention as well?

    For the record this rule was in effect before Laver's heyday (Wikipedia says 1908-1961). Plus, more importantly, it's not a given that a big serve requires a big leap. Just on this list you have servers like Tanner and Stich, who used a minimal knee bend but still could serve as big as anybody (especially in Tanner's case).

    Right, you really can't separate the mental aspect completely. That's why I do give out bonus points for being able to come up with the goods in the clutch, and also why I emphasize that we're trying to rate these serves as stand-alone shots, just so people understand that the mental side of the stroke is being given less weight than usual. But, as I've been saying for some time now, it's more than just being able to come up with big serves, but also how your serve (and, of course, service stats) is influenced by the quality of your opponent's return, or by the quality of your opponent period. I once wrote a dissertation on this very topic, which I won't quote in full (too long) but people can read here:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=5267685#post5267685

    I wouldn't quite put it like that (that the numbers are "less impressive"), but yes, that's what makes comparing these service stats even trickier. After all, how many times have we seen players get hot for nearly two weeks only to fall apart (or short) in the finals? It'd be nice to have someone do a comprehensive analysis of some of these servers' stats, to see how well they serve under pressure in big matches compared to how they do on average.

    BTW, I wouldn't call serving at/over 70% necessarily impressive, because if you're getting so many 1st serves in, then you're probably not getting enough free points! Not even Karlovic makes that many 1st serves on average, and with good reason. On the other hand, you also don't want to get just barely half of your 1st serves in. I'd say low to mid-60s are probably the best of both worlds. High 60s are most likely a little too high, unless you've got the ground game of a Nadal to compensate for the relatively low # of freebies (though, I should also note, even Rafa beefed up his serve to get that elusive USO and career GS) or unless you're a near 7-footer like Karlovic or Isner. By contrast, mid- to high 50s, while pretty good, could be better still.

    (BTW, as I explained in that long post I linked to earlier, these general "rules" should apply to the more recent service stats only, because of the changes in technology and strategy.)

    But to answer your question, yes, everything else equal it'd obviously be a greater feat to serve at a high percentage in a major final rather than in the 2nd or 3rd round of a smaller event, especially if we're assuming the same opponent. To me this is just common sense.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  4. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes. And your point ?
     
  5. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    I don't know if you've been following this thread all this time, but in case you haven't noticed, one of the biggest eye-openers (I'm tempted to say "revelations") so far has been the oft-overlooked stat of unreturned serves. I was really surprised to find that Karlovic's and especially Isner's %'s of unreturned serves weren't as high as one might expect, while McEnroe, Becker or even Sampras, whose 1st serves we tend to think inferior to those of the certified bomb-throwers, often had over 40%, sometimes even 50%+ of their serves unreturned by their opponents.

    Now some of this no doubt has to do with the fact that Mac, Becker and Sampras were simply better players, so their opponents were compelled to take more chances on their returns. But then, as I explained in my last post, a Karlovic or an Arthurs hasn't had to face the best players as often, on pressure-filled stages, which has the opposite effects on their service stats. This is a delicate balance we've been trying to sort out in our rankings.

    BTW, you might be interested to know that Goran, Krajicek, Isner and Pim-Pim have nearly identical/similar stats in # of aces and DFs. Only Karlovic has clearly superior stats, though he deserves special consideration (more on this shortly). Here are the complete stats, sorted (in order) by 1st-serve %, aces per 100 service points, and DFs per 100 service points (hat tip to poster bricks):

    Ivaniesevic (1996) 58.1/19.74/5.81
    Karlovic (2007) 68.6/25.40/2.23
    Krajicek (1997) 58.1/18.76/4.03
    Isner (2010) 69.3/18.25/2.37
    J.Johansson (2004) 63.2/19.35/5.70

    As you can see, Krajicek and Isner hit slightly fewer aces on average, but then they also DF less. These guys are really neck and neck.

    Now we turn to Karlovic. As I've noted upthread, Ivo is most likely the worst player on my current list; he makes even Isner look like Becker by comparison. And it's just as likely that he has had to play the best players least often (per year), less seldom than even Isner or perhaps Arthurs. So there's always that possibility that his service stats are inflated compared to the other monster servers with a limited arsenal.

    And then there's the issue of his 2nd serve, which may well be the weakest (or at least one of the weaker ones) among these all-time great serves. Now, to be fair to Ivo, his 2nd serve isn't quite as bad as some of his detractors make it out to be. He usually gets some pretty good mileage on it, just over or under 100 mph, which is slightly lower than Isner's or Roddick's average. At the same time, though, there's usually little action on that 2nd serve, nor does he vary it well, and he gets punished as a result. He should either add some more kick a la Roddick or Krajicek, which would make it harder to return, or just bite the bullet and practically go for two 1st serves, as a recent NYT article suggests might be best for a great # of players.

    Speaking of which, I tend to think, if anything, players today are too afraid to DF. This isn't unlike what I said about 1st-serve %'s: yes, high first-serve %'s are good, but if you're averaging close to 70% regularly, you're probably not getting as many freebies as you can. Similarly, if you're committing next to no DFs on average, you're probably playing it too safe on your 2nd serves. And those above stats (and others compiled by bricks), which show a noticeable drop in # of DFs, reinforce my impression.

    I disagree slightly. You're right, Fed's serve is clearly not on par with Ivo's, nor is it probably in the all-time top 25 as a pure shot. Still, the % of service games won can indeed be useful here, as Fed's own stats show quite conclusively.

    If you recall, since he began dominating the tour Fed has always been at or near the top of the pack in % of service games won, usually averaging around 90%. According to the conventional wisdom, that's because Fed's overall game is so good it makes up for the relative weakness of his serve. And it sure sounds plausible; after all the guy lost only 3-4 matches for an entire year at his peak.

    Except there's one problem: his return stats. If you recall, Fed won about 30% of his return games in '04, 31% in '05 and 32% in '06. Good, maybe great, but not quite in Agassi, Djokovic or (I'm guessing) Connors' league.

    So we know for a fact that, relatively speaking, his serve is stronger than his return, which leaves us with two possible explanations. One is that his serve is mediocre and his return even more so, but his superhuman groundstrokes and movement more than compensate for these almost insurmountable deficiencies. Or there's the other explanation, which is that while his return is merely good, he does back up the rest of his already formidable game with a (nearly) great serve. I think most people, including some of his loudest detractors, would agree that it's the latter explanation that makes more sense.

    And it becomes even more sensible when you consider that his BH is usually considered a relative weakness compared to that of the very best one-handers, or that even now he can average a high % of service games won--89% so far this year, and ranked 3rd on the tour--though he's converting a mere 26% of his return games (ranked 16th overall).

    As you can see, % of service games won can indeed provide some insights if used in conjunction with other stats. All of these stats are related, if to varying degrees, one way or another.

    pc1, I'm not gonna touch that one. This is already too exhausting as it is. :)

    As for Lendl, I think it fair to say his serve is about in the same boat as Borg's or Fed's, give or take a notch. Remember, even Ashe has been ruled out, and he was no slouch, either. Just the fact that his and Lendl's name have been brought up speaks well of their serves, I think, given the fierce competition they face from all of tennis history.

    I remember this match well. Pete pretty much toyed with Roddick that night, so one explanation is that he went for a big serve nearly every time and missed more often as a result (he got just 45% of 1st serves in and 13 aces, though this was one of the best serving streaks of his career, at least at the majors). Or maybe he just had a bad hair day.

    In any case this is yet another reminder that we shouldn't judge a player's performance by superficial stats only. Most of Pete's best performances, at least among those I've seen, aren't accompanied by eye-popping service stats, despite the conventional wisdom about that legendary serve of his. And the same holds true for many other players.

    Thanks as usual for the stats. I'm actually not surprised to see that some of 'em are pretty high, especially those after/since 2008 when, by his own admission, he beefed up his serve. Can anyone point to more matches where he had over 35-40% of his serves unreturned? Like I said his serve as a pure shot probably isn't top 25 all-time, but given the clutch factor perhaps we should assign him a ranking, however low it may be.

    Also, for all the talk about the grass having been "clay-courted" (which, BTW, is one of the most overblown myths that just won't die, but I won't get into that here), it's interesting to see that most of his best serving performances came on those very Wimbledon grass courts that are supposedly so much slower these days. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  6. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    OK, so we disagree. No big deal. But just out of curiosity, would you be willing to name a couple of Becker's big matches where his serve let him down?

    Here I disagree strongly. And I don't say that just because of that infamous post-match crying incident. One of my most vivid memories of the match is Fed talking to the umpire early in the 5th set, and then seemingly fading away almost completely, as if he'd already given up on the match. For me it's hard to believe that it was some minor grievance that threw him off like that. I do think Nadal had gotten to him, perhaps even before the first ball was struck.

    Now this is more plausible. True, maybe Fed was just having a bad day. But I also remember him getting less and less of his 1st serves in later in the match (though, of course, I could be wrong). And here I also didn't see much fight from him in the last sets, a view I think is widely shared.

    It was really surprising to see him come out flat (serving-wise) in this match, because he'd been playing well in this tournament. His serving exhibition against Soderling earlier was one of the best I've seen from him (along with another against the same opponent in the '09 FO final).

    I do think the conditions helped. Plus he usually seems to bring out his best in the WTF, as we saw just last year.

    BTW, a great performance by Fed last night. His rematch against Tsonga should be good. :)

    C'mon, Limpin, are you daring to call out Ashe and Alexander? What blasphemy! :)

    Seriously, though, you might be right about Smith's serve. I just want a few more 2nd opinions before adding him to the list.
     
  7. rod99

    rod99 Professional

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    to me, you can't look at stats to determine who has the best serve. it's more of an "eye test".

    if you get into stats too much than things get skewed b/c other part of players games come into play. in addition, you shouldn't focus on aces as an huge indicator of a serve, b/c service winners are generally a better indicator of a great serve, and these stats are often hard to come by.
     
  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Thanks, this is exactly what I was asking about. I was just wondering how you viewed the stats of such lower-ranked servers in light of the fact that they don't progress as far into later rounds as champions do, and this answers my question clearly.

    Agreed to that, since I think some weight should be given to the fact that champions do progress farther and have greater pressure to deal with. How much weight should go to that intangible is entirely up to the list-maker and I think it can vary widely and still be reasonable. I think the Times article puts a lot of weight on it; in a list like yours the pure shot is emphasized while the mental side of the stroke is being given less weight than usual, and under those terms I can see Federer being ranked much lower.

    Just in case you haven't seen this discussion on that article: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=332138&page=3

    I'm not sure that's necessarily true for someone like Federer. For someone who relies more on pure power it could be a mistake to take speed off just to get a high percentage. But Federer mixes up his serve well and relies on superb placement, as much as pure speed, for his aces, service winners and set-ups.

    He served at 76% in the USO final against Agassi. That was his highest % in a Slam final, to date. Yet as you can see in the list above, he was getting plenty of free points. His rate was 41.1%, not that far below his top rate against Sampras.

    And that rate against Sampras was on grass, so it was naturally higher. On the list the only time he bettered his Agassi rate on a hardcourt was the 2007 Masters Cup vs. Nadal -- and that match was a blowout so a high stat should be expected there.

    In short I don't think his high first-serve percentage against Agassi hurt him. But that's just one example and in general terms I agree with what you're saying.
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    All excellent points that Krosero and NonP have pointed out. That's why when you look at a Sampras and realize that he led the ATP in percentage of holding serve for a good amount of years in the 1990's you understand how great he was. That being said you can also argue that of Roddick since he's been a top ten player for many years and yet he is not of the level of some players.
     
  10. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Although you haven't said it expressly, I suspect that the problem you are having is that it's easy to quantify mph, serve holding percentage, 1st and 2nd serve winning percentage, unreturned serves, etc., etc. You can certainly do that, but, it would be like measuring the greatness of a player by counting up the majors and disregarding the non-major championships and leave it at that. Some would correctly argue that there's more to it than that. But, it's not so easy to quantify a player's ability to utilize a great shot to be a champion without considering all of the other factors that make a champion. I'm guessing that it leaves too much room for argument and subjective opinions for your liking. Nevertheless, IMO, being a champion has to be a factor in measuring the greatness of a shot, especially one as important as the serve. If you agree, then it necessarily means that the best statistics don't necessarily equal the best serve.

    PS: I don't know how I forgot this, but, Frank Froehling did play on the pro tour. To what extent I'm not sure. But, as I now recall, he played in the first WCT event that I saw as a teenager.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  11. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    Had a long chat with a former NCAA champ and US top ten'ner who played the greats from Gonzalez, Laver, Ashe etc etc. He said out of them all, Stan Smith was the toughest to play, largely due to his serve (almost impossible to break during his peak...). His height (angles) and smooth action (deceptively fast delivery) made it difficult to read and return consistently.

    Since I'm a little younger, along with Newcombe, I'd like to think Roscoe Tanner's delivery was up there as one of the best serves...:)
     
  12. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

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    Tanner was fun to watch serve to Conners with his quick action motion. Jimmy was like wait....huh, what just happened? Did he just serve? LOL. I dont remember what year it was when he took Jimmy out of Wimbledon. I have the highlights on one of the Wimbledon highlight videos somewhere. I believe Borg took him out that year. 1976 maybe?
     
  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    OK, I'm dying to know who you had your chat with! Was it Dick Stockton?

    PS: Bob Lutz?

    PPS: Jeff Borowiak? C'mon I'm dyin' ovah heeah!
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  14. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    haha! Ok, only if you keep it a secret between us... its Allen Fox ;)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Fox
     
  15. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Wow! I wasn't thinking that far back. Great to hear an opinion from someone who's played against the best. Thanks for sharing.
     
  16. slice serve ace

    slice serve ace Rookie

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    sampras 42 winners, roddick 16, including aces
    roddick had 5 winners in first 2 sets combined


    no
     
  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    We've counted unreturned serves for two Newcombe matches and two involving Stan Smith. Since we're comparing their serves, I've put those stats below along with some other matches from the time period.

    1975 AO final
    Newcombe served on 135 points and 45 serves did not come back: 33.3%
    Connors served on 140 points and 39 serves did not come back: 27.9%

    1972 Wimbledon final
    Smith served on 179 points and 31 serves did not come back: 17.3%
    Nastase served on 157 points and 34 serves did not come back: 21.7%

    1974 Wimbledon SF
    Rosewall served on 163 points and 37 serves did not come back: 22.7%
    Smith served on 180 points and 45 serves did not come back: 25%

    1970 Wimbledon final
    Newcombe served on 158 points and 34 serves did not come back: 21.5%
    Rosewall served on 143 points and 30 serves did not come back: 21%

    1976 Wimbledon final
    Borg served on 112 points and 32 serves did not come back: 28.6%
    Nastase served on 108 points and 23 serves did not come back: 21.3%

    1975 Wimbledon final
    Ashe served on 105 points and 34 serves did not come back: 32.4%
    Connors served on 131 points and 28 serves did not come back: 21.4%

    1969 Wimbledon SF
    Laver served on 92 points and 30 serves did not come back: 32.6%
    Ashe served on 117 points and 31 serves did not come back: 26.5%

    1969 USO final
    Laver served on 122 points and 34 serves did not come back: 27.9%
    Roche served on 126 points and 33 serves did not come back: 26.2%

    1976 WITC SF
    Borg served 58 points and 9 serves did not come back: 15.5%
    Laver served 64 points and 10 serves did not come back: 15.6%

    1968 USO final (1ST 26 GAMES ONLY)
    Ashe served on 69 points and 36 serves did not come back: 52.2%
    Okker served on 95 points and 34 serves did not come back: 35.8%

    Right now these are all the unreturned counts we have for Smith, Newk, Ashe, Nastase, Roche and unfortunately even Laver.
     
  18. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I have one other service stat for Newcombe, from the '71 Wimbledon final in which he beat Stan Smith in five sets: he won 19 consecutive points on serve according to the New York Times.

    "In the finest sustained serving streak since Bob Falkenburg won here in 1948, he had four service games at love and was 5-4 and 40-love. Not a single point had Smith won against service all the way through the set."

    That comes to 19 consecutive points on serve, which if not the alltime record at that time (no one knows what the alltime record was), was certainly one of the greatest service streaks in tennis history. John Doeg had a streak somewhere between 16 and 23 consecutive points way back in 1930. Tanner reached 19 once, Borg twice.

    (These marks have since been broken; currently I've got Federer at the top of my list with 35 straight service points against Lopez at the 2007 USO.)

    Anyway I do disagree with Limpin on this one point: both Smith and Newk's serves were serves that won championships.
     
  19. Frankenstine

    Frankenstine New User

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    I would have to give this one to Sampras, but that's just my opinion. And if you were doing women I think Dementieva, always so solid and consistent.
     
  20. LuvTheGame

    LuvTheGame Banned

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    On the Women's side - Serena!

    On the Men's side - Sampras!
     
  21. okdude1992

    okdude1992 Hall of Fame

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    Good points. But you have to remember, Karlovic for much of his career was pretty highly ranked, so he did have to play against the top players frequently. And he often played them close or even won, despite his abysmal return stats. Also with modern equipment, returning serve is easier than ever before. So most opponents facing Karlovic would know that they just have to get the serve back, and they will usually win the point (unlike with other dominant servers who backed up their serves better) Yet despite this, the man still made a Grand Slam quarterfinal, losing to Federer. This proves the greatness of his serve
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  22. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Krosero,

    Great information. A couple of points here, Stan Smith was NOT considered the greatest returner in the world so that stats for his opponents may look better than with some greats. Also the grass at the US Open at the West Side Tennis club was pretty awful with a lot of bad bounces so the service return totals may not be that great. Despite that, Ashe's servicing in the 1968 US Open final against Okker seems incredible with 52.2% not returned in the first 26 games.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  23. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In the same way I think Smith's numbers would be higher if not for good returning by Nastase and Rosewall.

    They played 39 more games and we do know that Ashe fell off that pace, which is no suprise. In those first 26 games he had 16 aces; in the remainder of the match he served just 10 more.
     
  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Some Goran stats from Moose and myself:

    1992 Wimbledon quarterfinal
    Ivanisevic served 151 points and 74 serves did not come back: 49%
    Edberg served 165 points and 69 serves did not come back: 41.8%

    1992 Wimbledon final
    Agassi served on 156 points and 40 serves did not come back: 25.6%
    Ivanisevic served on 166 points and 81 serves did not come back: 48.8%.

    1998 Wimbledon final
    Sampras served on 155 points and 71 serves did not come back: 45.8%
    Ivanisevic served on 178 points and 83 serves did not come back: 46.6%

    Your '95 Wimby stats are good to compare, you posted them in a separate thread, don't know if they've come up in this thread yet:

    1995 Wimbledon semifinal
    sampras 44.8%
    goran.... 51.8%
     
  25. NikeWilson

    NikeWilson Semi-Pro

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    Yeah definitely the 2 best Servers in Men's Tennis are Sampras and Ivanisevic.
    But ofcourse Boris Becker had a dominant rocket serve back in his era. And Stefan Edberg had arguably the best kick serve in history.
    Gotta give love to the new guys too: Roddick has a cannon for a serve(fastest serve of all time). And Federer is nearly an exact replica of Pete Sampras' serve. Nearly.

    On the women's side, unquestionably Serena. But there's a couple other women who had great serves too.
    Steffi Graff - she had an excellent flat serve that often produced Aces. She had a very high toss, but she nailed that serve every time.
    Martina Navratilova - she had that lefty, slice and kick serve. Very good pressureful serve that she used, and came running in behind to knock off the volley. She's the greatest Female Serve & Volleyer of all time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
  26. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    It was against James Blake, that has got to mean something...

    hahaha
     
  27. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I don't know if you can check the stats but when I watched Laver and Rosewall years ago it just seemed to me that big servers like Tanner, Smith and Newcombe had far fewer aces against them than regular opponents. I guess you could include Borg in that also.
     
  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I don't think we have enough stats to confirm that. You may be right in the sense that great returners will force server stats down, at least some of the time. But offhand I know Tanner always had large numbers of aces against Connors and Borg, even when losing to them. Newk against Connors, had 13 aces at the '73 USO, in just 3 sets, and a whopping 18 aces at the 75 AO.

    The other players you mentioned, we just have too few stats to really say.
     
  29. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I doubt I need to point it out, but this, of course, is another nonsense post.

    Historical records of aces "in a row"...well....LOL

    Of course, it is no secret that servers like Tilden, Tanner, and Gonzales have all been the subject of 4 aces in a row stories, beyond that, I know of no statistics for something like this for the great servers of the past.

    Naturally, 10 aces in a row would have been exceedingly rare then, just as it is now. Querry....or for that matter...ANYONE else in the world...hardly makes a habit of this! ;-) LOL

    The village idiot strikes again!
     
  30. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    An Aussie named James Anderson served 4 in a row in Davis Cup against "Little Bill" Johnston. It was in 1923 at Forest Hills, and he celebrated by rolling on the ground while the crowd cheered.
     
  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    NonP, we've mentioned Tanner so often in this thread, have we posted his unreturned stats at all? Moose and I have only two.

    1979 Wimbledon final
    Borg served 152 points and 51 serves did not come back: 33.6%
    Tanner served 167 points and 52 serves did not come back: 31.1%

    1983 Wimbledon quarterfinal
    Lendl served 132 points and 49 serves did not come back: 37.1%
    Tanner served 98 points and 33 serves did not come back: 33.7%
     
  32. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    well, one thing was that he committed quite a few more double faults than fed - in general . He did go for more on his 2nd I know, still the double faults factor cannot be overlooked, especially since the difference is not small

    my first thought was the Wimbledon 90 final where he got broken twice in the final after being up a break vs edberg . Edberg was returning well no doubt, but he missed 3 first serves in the game when he got broken at 4 all in the 5th ...

    then from what I remember he didn't serve that well vs stich in the 91 final either .... Then quite a few DFs vs sampras in the 95 Wimbledon final.

    Well anways that is just my impression from the Becker matches I've watched so far.

    The umpire thing was after he had run out of challenges I think, the flurry of UEs had already started by then.

    I don't think you read my point properly. Fed's ground game was pretty good that day , till set 4, one of the best he has played vs nadal. Why did he serve so badly then ? If he was affected that badly by nadal - his ground game wouldn't be that good till set 4.


    his worst serving % was in the first set, IIRC it was something like 36% and best serving was in the 3rd set, after delpo had fought back to take the second set.

    The fourth set TB was decided on a single mini-break - federer DF. He only 'fell apart' in the 5th IMO
     
  33. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    As far as Becker's double-faults --

    In 3 meetings with Edberg at Wimbledon:
    Becker served 16 aces, 19 df

    In 3 meetings with Sampras at Wimbledon:
    Becker served 35 aces, 29 df

    In 7 matches against Sampras in Germany (all on carpet):
    Becker served 159 aces, 50 df

    Almost seems like a different player in Germany.
     
  34. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I have written about this much but I think one person severely shortchanged on this list is Jack Kramer. Kramer was considered by many to have the greatest overall serve ever. Pancho Gonzalez mentioned that he was the greatest server he ever face. Sedgman mentioned the two best servers (tied) he ever faced was Gonzalez and Kramer.

    Kramer was also known for the best second serve ever plus he had a slice serve that could pull you really wide. Vic Braden mentioned this in his book Tennis 2000. Kramer is to my mind top ten, perhaps top five in serving. He had pace on his first serve, a great second serve and he had a great slice and kick serve. What else do you need?
     
  35. lilkhmerkid4u

    lilkhmerkid4u New User

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    Sampras beats all :)
     
  36. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think Fraser's serve was every bit as good as Kramer's serve. He didn't have quite the power, but, he had a bigger kick and he was a lefty. Having said that Stan Smith had a bigger, better serve than either of them. I can't imagine a greatest serve list without Stan Smith high in the mix.

    PS: Wherever you would rank Newcombe's serve, Smith's serve should be at least one place above that!
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I guess we will have to disagree on Newcombe and Smith's serves respectively. Either way, both of their serves were very close in effectiveness in their primes.

    You could be right about Fraser's serve. Many rank his serve as one of the best ever but so many also rank Kramer's serve as the best ever also.
     
  38. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I think, the discussion depends mainly, how you can isolate a single shot or see the effectiveness in the combination with other shots. Newcombe subsided his serve with one of the best punch forehand volleys in the game, also his second serve was one of the best alltime (similar to Sampras), as was his big forehand. In this context i would prefer his serve ahead of that of Stan Smith.
    Kramer is a bit of an enigma for me. I have seen not that much of him. The clips from his Wimbledon wins in 1947 indicate, that he primarily played from the baseline before turning pro. From what i have read, not unlike Newcombe, the combination of his serve and volley and his big forehand was deadly in his day.
     
  39. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Urban,

    I would agree with everything you wrote. Kramer was actually similar to Newcombe in several other ways, as with Newcombe, Kramer is considered to have one of the best second serves of all time. He had a strong kick serve plus a great sharp angle slice serve. You add that he had great power in his flat first serve and that's pretty great. Kramer was also considered a great volleyer, not quite on the level of a Sedgman but great with, as with John Newcombe, his forehand volley being his best volley.

    Pancho Segura wrote in one of his books that Kramer and Newcombe won the most sets with just one service breaks that he had ever seen so they also have that in common.
     
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You asked for some confirmation about the greatness of Stan Smith's serve. Perhaps you overlooked these posts:

    So, now you have the opinion of one player who has seen many if not most of the players on your list play live, and you have a former World class player who has actually played against the top players of the 60's and 70's who says that Smith was the toughest to play because of his serve.

    Once again, IMO, wherever you rank Newcombe's serve, Smith's serve has to be at least one place above him.

    PS: I didn't see your latest question about Froehling, and I can't find it at this point.

    As for Dick Stockton, he did have a great smash, as did Ken Rosewall. But, IMO, his serve was not of an all time great calibre. It was a very good serve, nothing more. Stockton's strength was that he had a complete game with no real weaknesses, and he was nearly Borg like in his focus and competitiveness. But, he didn't have any real weapons from what I saw. He was certainly an underacheiver as a pro considering his standout junior and collegiate records.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  41. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The difference between Smith and Newcombe in this context is that Smith won major championships primarily on the greatness of his serve. Newcombe won because of his whole game. He had better groundstrokes on both sides, better volleys on both sides (although Smith's net game was just as good because of his size and ability to take full advantage of it), and Newcombe was more versatile. He was one of the all time great touch/dink players as he demonstrated against Connors.
     
  42. tomwill65

    tomwill65 New User

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    The veteran American Art Larsen said that Lew Hoads serve was faster than Roddicks, Hoad is not on any ones list. TomWill.
     
  43. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Hoad belongs on the list I believe.
     
  44. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Don't have the time to reply to everyone. Just a bump. :) Will follow up later.

    Isner is coming on strong. And anyone dare to rank now the recently departed Ljubicic?
     
  45. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I'm very impressed with Isner's serve but it's a little early to rank him. Even red clay doesn't seem to slow the effectiveness of his serve much.

    For discussion purposes this is one of the best threads I've seen here by the way.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Both, Kramer and Newcombe should be much higher.
     
  47. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Newcombe serve was superior because of the great quality of his second ball.Let´s also add John Sadri and Bob Seguso in the list.

    Panatta had also a great serve, with very high %.Not inferior´s to Noah, IMO.
     
  48. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I've seen the both. IMO, Smith's first and second serve were better than Newk's, as great as Newk's serve was.
     
  49. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Frawley,Alexander,Dent,Edmondson,Pecci,Teacher,Stockton,Sadri,Pfister,Amaya,Noah,Denton,Hooper,Panatta,Buehning,Curren and, of course, Mc Enroe and Roscoe Tanner.Plenty of great services in the late 70´s-early 80´s.
     
  50. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    I know, but since last year he's had some big results--not least of all a top 10 ranking which I thought would be out of reach for someone with his return game. No doubt that's largely due to that monster serve of his.

    Thanks, pc1. Really appreciate it.

    BTW no one wants to dissect Ljubicic's serve? Hate to sound like a broken record but he and Flipper probably should be on the list somewhere.
     

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