Greatest Serves of All Time

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

  1. Shaolin

    Shaolin Legend

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    Have you seen Arthurs play? I think he deserves to be in the top 10 of all servers. His wicked lefty serve made pros look like 3.5s out there trying to return it. If the rest of his game was better more people would know who he is.
     
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  2. CopolyX

    CopolyX Professional

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    Oh to Ivansevic...Nice Tennis Bed Side Story for those of with Tennis on the mind and can't sleep..

    Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Croatia, the great magician Merlinic was casting a spell to make the world's greatest tennis player.

    Make him tall, make him strong.

    Make him ace against everyone.

    Give him courage and nerves of ice.

    Give him the fastest of second serves.

    Let him be ruthless, he won't be an emo.

    All the world shall know him as: Lil' Ivo.

    The magician cast his spell and "Lil' Ivo" grew to be 6'10" tall. He also could beat many people and soon became the best in his land.

    One day Ivo entered into the well-known Wimbledon tennis tournament.Tennisplayers from all countries came to compete and see who could be the best. Ivo played and beat quite a few players.

    Then, one day, Ivo had to play one of the greatest tennis players—Roger Federer (carrying a powerful new RF97 tear jerking letter).

    While everyone was scared of how strong Ivo was, Roger wasn't. Roger let Ivo serve his aces. He waited until the time was right and pounced on Ivo's serve, stealing two of Ivo's service games from him.

    Ivo went to put his sunglasses on but it was too late. He was crushed and beaten by Roger.

    There was great crying and anger in the kingdom of Croatia. When Ivo returned, one night, to his homeland, a large crowd of villagers with torches were waiting to meet him.

    Ivo ran from the people. The blood-thirsty crowd followed him up to Merlinic's castle. Ivo bolted the huge door which the mob tried to break down.

    Ivo shouted at the magician, "Why? Why? Why?"

    Merlinic looked at his creation with a huge amount of compassion and pity and said, "My son, did you train at all? Did you work on your volley? Your backhand? Your ground strokes? What, you expected to win the tournament on just your serve alone? Now there is a crowd out there that wants your blood. Here, take this large pile of tennis balls and defend yourself."

    Ivo went out to the castle window and looked down to the angry mob before. He started smashing 150-mph balls down on the crowd. Many fell and the rest were stunned and ran away.

    Ivo tried to train to be a tennis player, but he was already too old and elected to stay as a recluse in the castle. No one ever saw or heard from him again.

    Some in the nearby village can still hear tennis balls being swatted through the night.

    The moral of the story:

    Nothing good ever comes from townsfolk hanging around at night with torches.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goran_Ivanišević
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
  3. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I think you are confusing two different players. Did you mean "Ode to Karlovic." BTW, the other player's name is spelled Ivanisevic.
     
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  4. CopolyX

    CopolyX Professional

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    Corrected his name, But yes to Goran I!
     
  5. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Don't have time to respond to everything now except to say thanks to the contributors, but since the subject came up in one of my email exchanges tonight I figured this would be a good time to post the numbers here. @abmk and others, here are all the Fed matches I have (23 so far) with the total # of his unreturned serves/service points, in order of descending %:

    2001 Wim 4R d Sampras - 89/181 (49.2%)
    2003 YEC SF d Roddick - 26/56 (46.4%)
    2003 Wim F d Philippoussis - 43/93 (46.2%)
    2009 Wim F d Roddick - 88/197 (44.7%)
    2012 Wim SF d Djokovic - 44/101 (43.6%)
    2005 USO F d Agassi - 44/107 (41.1%)
    2007 YEC SF d Nadal - 21/48 (43.8%)
    2007 Wimb F d Nadal - 58/156 (37.2%)
    2006 YEC F d Blake - 31/86 (36.0%)
    2013 Wim 2R l Stakhovsky - 52/158 (32.9%)
    2004 Gstaad F d Andreev - 33/101 (32.7%)
    2008 AO SF l Djokovic - 33/109 (30.3%)
    2004 Wim F d Roddick - 46/154 (29.9%)
    2004 YEC SF d Safin - 24/81 (29.6%)
    2015 USO F l Djokovic - 40/137 (29.2%)
    2008 USO F d Murray - 22/81 (27.2%)
    2006 YEC SF d Nadal - 16/60 (26.7%)
    2004 USO F vs Hewitt - 23/89 (25.8%)
    2012 AO SF l Nadal - 33/135 (24.4%)
    2009 AO F l Nadal - 41/172 (23.8%)
    2008 AO 2R d Santoro - 13/61 (21.3%)
    2006 FO F l Nadal - 24/119 (20.2%)
    2006 Rome F l Nadal - 31/180 (17.2%)

    Notice how he rarely cracks the 40-45% ceiling, and in fact apart from his lone match vs. Pete we have yet to come across a single match where he flirted with breaking 50%, which is indeed rather underwhelming by the high standards of ATG servers. Now I do think I underrated Fed's serve when I grouped it more or less in the same vicinity as Safin's or even Tsonga's, but given these stats I just find it hard to rank it higher than the 19th place reserved for him at this point (which will likely move further down as we add more names). Of course contrary viewpoints are always welcome, as long as they're backed up with facts and solid reasoning. :D
     
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  6. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    ^on page 17, slice serve posted ljubicic's numbers vs fed in 4 of their matches. I'm sure he tracked Feds numbers as well in those matches, you should contact him. I suspect he had more unreturned serves in 2003 than in other years, perhaps due to the fact that he s&ved a bit more then(and of course the number 1 & 3 matches on your list had way more net approaches than every other match you listed)
    I have a few more that I haven't posted(none with high rates), will dig those up.
     
  7. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Still don't have time to respond to previous posts, but an email pal of mine asked me yesterday if I had Roddick's unreturned-serve %s and since Andy is another one I have more or less everything organized for I'm posting his #s here, this time with ace/DF totals as well as opponent's stats in brackets (where available) for your perusal. Here we go, again in order of descending % (29 matches in total so far):

    2004 USO QF L J. Johansson - 62.7% (74/118), 34 aces, 5 DFs [35.2% (57/162), 30 aces, 6 DFs]
    2005 Queen's F W Karlovic - 55.4% (41/74), 9 aces, 1 DF [39.5% (32/81), 16 aces, 3 DFs]
    2004 Cincinnati F L Agassi - 51.4% (55/107), 30 aces, 3 DFs
    2006 Cincinnati F W Ferrero - 50.9% (28/55), 17 aces, 2 DFs [27.8% (15/54), 9 aces, 2 DFs]
    2003 USO F W Ferrero - 50.6% (44/87), 23 aces, 2 DFs
    2007 Queen's F W Mahut - 50.5% (49/97), 24 aces, 1 DF [32.7% (36/110), 21 aces, 4 DFs]
    2006 Indianapolis F L Blake - 48.4% (45/93), 18 aces, 3 DFs [30.2% (38/126), 15 aces, 9 DFs]
    2011 Memphis F W Raonic - 45.1% (51/113), 20 aces, 4 DFs [39.0% (48/123), 32 aces, 3 DFs]
    2008 AO 3R L Kohlschreiber - 45.1% (82/182), 41 aces, 3 DFs
    2004 Wim 1R W Wang - 43.6% (41/94), 18 aces, 5 DFs
    2004 YEC SF W Safin - 43.5% (40/92), 13 aces, 2 DFs [35.6% (31/87), 16 aces, 1 DF]
    2009 Wim F L Federer - 41.0% (98/239), 27 aces, 4 DFs [44.7% (88/197), 50 aces, 4 DFs]
    2009 USO 3R L Isner - 40.9% (63/154), 20 aces, 2 DFs [38.7% (63/163), 38 aces, 7 DFs]
    2004 AO QF L Safin - 40.7% (61/150), 18 aces, 2 DFs [30.9% (47/152), 19 aces, 6 DFs]
    2010 IW F L Ljubicic - 38.9% (28/72), 12 aces, 0 DFs [41.7% (40/96), 21 aces, 2 DFs]
    2003 YEC SF L Federer - 38.1% (24/63), 5 aces, 1 DF [46.4% (26/56), 12 aces, 2 DFs]
    2005 AO SF L Hewitt - 36.6% (49/134), 31 aces, 9 DFs [34.8% (47/135), 14 aces, 7 DFs]
    2002 USO QF L Sampras - 36.2% (25/69), 8 aces, 3 DFs [33.3% (25/75), 13 aces, 8 DFs]
    2009 Wim SF W Murray - 35.8% (49/137), 21 aces, 1 DF [33.6% (49/146), 25 aces, 5 DFs]
    2006 USO SF W Youzhny - 34.7% (42/121), 14 aces, 1 DF [18.2% (24/132), 6 aces, 6 DFs]
    2011 Brisbane F L Soderling - 34.3% (23/67), 12 aces, 1 DF [44.4% (24/54), 16 aces, 2 DFs]
    2003 AO QF W El Aynaoui - 34.2% (79/231), 27 aces, 2 DFs [28.9% (73/253), 25 aces, 8 DFs]
    2009 Memphis F W Stepanek - 33.3% (26/78), 8 aces, 1 DF [28.4% (19/67), 7 aces, 3 DFs]
    2005 Wim F L Federer - 32.3% (31/96), 7 aces, 1 DF [35.4% (28/79), 12 aces, 0 DFs]
    2010 Brisbane F W Stepanek - 31.3% (26/83), 7 aces, 1 DF [22.1% (21/95), 5 aces, 8 DFs]
    2004 Wim F L Federer - 30.8% (41/133), 11 aces, 5 DFs [29.9% (46/154), 12 aces, 3 DFs]
    2004 DC F L Moya - 28.8% (34/118), 12 aces, 6 DFs [22.7% (25/110), 7 aces, 4 DFs]
    2006 USO F L Federer - 26.2% (32/122), 7 aces, 1 DF [26.2% (27/103), 17 aces, 0 DFs]
    2003 Wim SF L Federer - 25.3% (25/99), 4 aces, 0 DFs [40.5% (34/84), 17 aces, 0 DFs]

    A few notes about the stats:
    • For reasons many of you already know I tend to trust our stats over those from any other source (including the ATP), so wherever there was a discrepancy in point totals and/or ace counts I went with our numbers.
    • I made a judgment call regarding Roddick's rate vs. Wang but feel pretty confident about it. Some years ago Moose (I think) linked to an old article that briefly mentioned Andy's service freebies in said match and wondered if the 41 unreturned serves included the 18 aces, but after a couple of comparisons I find that rather unlikely. The recent stats posted by Moose (again) on Muller's sensational serving exo against Young show him winning 33 or a whopping 73.3% of his 45 service points outright, and 82.5% of his 40 SPs won overall. Also Goran in perhaps his most commanding match at SW19 had 47 or 52.8% of his 89 serves unreturned, and 69.1% of his 68 SPs won. So if Roddick did have 59 (18 aces + 41 additional unreturned serves) free points on serve against Wang he would've notched 62.8% of his 94 SPs as freebies, which is barely plausible as Boris was somehow even less competitive against Goran than Wang against Andy (Goran won 76% of his SPs as opposed to Roddick's 73%), and also 85.5% of his 69 SPs won as such, which is even more unrealistic given Muller's sizable edge over Roddick in the unreturned %. And keep in mind, you don't see 60+% very often, let alone over 70% (in fact ever since we began tracking this stat in earnest I can recall only one more latter instance, where Isner failed to return 71% of Llodra's serves at the end of the 1st set, but I seriously doubt the Frenchman was able to keep up such a ridiculous rate for the rest of the match). So 43.6% (41/94) it is.
    • The '03 Wim SF stats come from said e-pal, but his total service points for Roddick differ slightly from the ATP's, which means the # of unreturned serves (25) might itself be slightly off.
    And for the record Andy is one of the five players along with Pete, Boris, Fed and Goran that I have a fairly decent sample size for (Mac is another but the largely technological changes over the years make it harder to compare him with his successors), and I'd say in average % of unreturned serves Roddick ranks most likely below Goran and probably below Sampras (which is one of the reasons why I consider Pete the superior server), perhaps about even with Becker, but definitely above Fed. Also notice how Roddick has a high % of unreturned serves even in some of his matches with a relatively low ace count, an atypical characteristic he shares with Pete.

    You're welcome.

    I actually have those #s but it didn't occur to me that slice probably has Fed's own #s from the same matches. I've sent him a PM regarding different matters but will ask him about this when he replies.

    And right, Fed's S&V of yore no doubt put more pressure on his opponents, but as you can see even his high %s are around what Pete and other ATG servers used to manage almost routinely. As a pure shot Fed's serve is clearly below the very best. It's his ability to back up his serve so consistently for so long that gains him a fair amount of extra credit.

    Think one of those Fed matches you haven't posted on might be the '12 DC rubber where he was upset by Isner, 'cause you've posted John's #s before but not Fed's. I downloaded the official scorecard for that match a while ago (alas they seem no longer readily available on the DC site, if at all) and it tells me Fed had 115 total service points, 13 aces and 1 DF. Let me know if you can dig up this and some other ones. As for me I'll add to Fed's list with a few more that I missed last time.
     
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  8. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    43 of 115 of Feds service pts were unreturned(37.39%) in the isner match
     
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  9. donnayblack99

    donnayblack99 Rookie

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    Sampras. In the clutch, it never let him down. He could place it on a dime, down the middle or out wide. It might not have been the fastest (Dr. Evo, Roddick, submit name...) but by far, the deadliest. It got him out of trouble and never let him down, even in the end when his game and legs were no longer there.
     
  10. metsman

    metsman Legend

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    People are understating Federer's second serve and his clutch ability/the frequency with which he used to bring it in big matches. Federer's second serve is really good at drawing forced errors or setting up short balls. I think combining everything, he has a top 20-ish first serve, top 5 second serve if not top 3, top 5 clutch/occassion ability if not top 3. Overall I think that adds up to somewhere in the 8-12 or so range all time.
     
  11. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Gotcha. Also it looks like Voo de Mar has a much bigger database of Fed matches than I expected, and that e-pal of mine has done a couple other matches recently. I'm doing all I can (so far I've got #s for about 50 Fed matches, almost double my last count!) but it'll be a long while before I have everything ready for Fed. Maybe I should just do intermittent updates after all.

    FYI mine is a ranking of these guys as pure servers, or their serve as a stand-alone shot. Put another way, I'm trying to rank serves rather than serveRs. I do take into account the clutch factor but it plays a relatively small role in my accounting. I believe @hoodjem's list places more emphasis on the intangibles you speak of.

    But I do partly agree with you, for that proverbial live-or-die match I'd trust Pete to serve for me over anyone else and Fed over several other names on my list. (Just imagine Goran trying to pull himself together in that scenario.) That said there's the other tried-and-true question: if you could pick one player's serve while keeping everything else the same whose shot would you pick? Given the marked gap in freebie % between him and the very best servers it's hard to see how Fed belongs in the top 8-12 of the Open era, let alone all time.
     
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  12. metsman

    metsman Legend

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    fair point, but in a Wimbledon or slam final all else being the same I'd definitely have Fed's serve as one of the 8 to 12 best. Probably one of the 5 best. Pete is second on my list behind Karlovic because of his clutch ability. Karlovic, Pete, Goran, Isner, Roddick I think are the best servers I have seen followed by Krajiceck and Raonic. Then maybe a guy like Arthurs, but I would feel comfortable slotting federer in the tier after this along with scud, rusdeski, becker. So around the 9-13 range I guess. Raonic would be higher as his pure serve and stats are excellent but his ability to bring his serve in big matches has been pathetic so far.
     
  13. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    I wouldn't put Isner quite up there. Perhaps you've seen this already but it should be worth another look:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/inde...erves-of-all-time.306579/page-21#post-9632917

    If we're downgrading Raonic for his underwhelming track record in big matches against the best opponents I think it fair to do the same for Isner. Anyway no big beef here. I still think Fed is a notch below the likes of Becker and Scud but I can see why one would feel differently. There's really not a huge gap outside the top tier(s).
     
  14. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Finally got some time to spare before I go into full-out Olympic mode. Let's start with the money list:
    1. Ivanisevic
    2. Karlovic
    3. Sampras
    4. Gonzales
    5. Krajicek
    6. Arthurs
    7. Roddick
    8. Newcombe
    9. Isner
    10. Becker
    11. Philippoussis
    12. Zivojinovic
    13. McEnroe
    14. Raonic
    15. Curren
    16. Tanner
    17. Stich
    18. Smith
    19. Federer
    20. Rusedski
    And the Honorary Hall of Fame (by order of birth only):
    • McLoughlin, Maurice - perhaps the first distinguished cannonball serve in tennis history
    • Tilden - yet another storied power serve, which he bolstered with spin and accuracy
    • Doeg, John - Ivanisevic to Vines' Sampras, a southpaw whose serve was considered one of the two or three greatest ever (along with Vines') in his heyday
    • Stoefen, Lester - one of the first giants with a feared high-rise rocket launcher
    • Vines - by many accounts, the best and fastest serve of the pre-WWII era
    • Kramer - in addition to a formidable first delivery, perhaps the best second serve before Newcombe and Sampras
    • Denton, Steve - his unusual service motion notwithstanding, an ace dispenser that could bring enormous heat
    • Edberg - for his iconic kicker (any logo ring a bell?), arguably the best ever for serve-and-volley
    • Johansson, Joachim - Denton of the aughts
    No major changes this time except for the exit of a beloved member (keep reading). Just downgraded Raonic below Mac and moved Curren up a couple notches. As @metsman and others have observed Milos has this unfortunate tendency to pad his stats against lesser competition only to wilt when faced with the elite. For proof look no further than the latest Wimby final, where he only managed a pitiful 25.4% (29/114) of free points on serve against Murray. Now TBF Andy is IMO the best returner of his generation and probably the most successful at neutralizing big servers including Karlovic and Isner (both of whom currently sit higher than Raonic in our ranking), but no matter what the opposition scoring a mere quarter of SPs for free is just an inexcusable performance for a server of Milos' caliber especially in his 1st major final. Until he learns how to exploit even the best returners with more variety and surprise Raonic may slip further down.

    And speaking of which here are the unreturned-serve %s I've got for Curren (as usual I've put his opponent's #s in brackets where available):

    1985 WIM SF W Connors - 57.6% (38/66), 17 aces
    1983 WIM 3R W Harmon - 50% (37/74), 9 aces [35.4% (28-79)]
    1985 WIM F L Becker - 40.1% (65/162), 19 aces, 8 DFs [39.7% (56/141), 21 aces, 7 DFs]
    1983 WIM SF L Lewis - 32.8% (59/180), 15 aces [38.3% (80-209), 9 aces]
    1984 AO F L Wilander - 25.7% (38/148), 9 aces, 6 DFs [28.5% (43/151), 4 aces, 2 DFs]

    (For a primer on % of unreturned serves click here.)

    Those are unusually high %s for the '80s (if you have no clue what I'm talking about you need another primer), and in fact that 57.6% would probably amount to 60+% today, still a rare threshold that even today's biggest servers struggle to clear. And Kev pulled this off against Jimbo, one of the all-time greatest returners! It's no doubt this level of redlining that led none less than Mac to concede that when on Curren was the world's best server.

    Granted all this took place on the grass courts of yore with unpredictable bounces, not to mention that we're looking at a very limited sample size, but given how guys like Mac and Fed with a vastly greater statistical pool have yet to crack 50% let alone 55% I'm beginning to think Curren may well be superior to the more infamous Tanner after all, hence their current ranking. Certainly he's one of the small handful along with Roscoe whose serve can be argued to be even more unreadable than Goran's (for those in the dark Kev was the rare server--unlike Roscoe, contrary to the common misperception--who did hit the ball on the rise).

    On the flip side I've decided to knock Noah off the pedestal. I've long kept him there because he's the only guy whose service motion I might take over Pete's and we still didn't have enough data available, but now that I've gathered more #s I find it difficult to make a case for his inclusion. Here are all the matches I have with his unreturned-serve %s:

    1988 Long Island F L Agassi - 41.0% (32/78), 10 aces, 2 DFs [24.7% (18/73), 8 aces, 5 DFs]
    1986 Dallas (WCT) 1R W Anger - 39.0% (32/82), 10 aces
    1990 AO SF L Lendl - 35.6% (26/73), 8 aces, 1 DF [13.2% (9/68), 3 aces, 4 DFs]
    1986 Wembley F W Svensson - 34.6% (63/182), 18 aces, 1 DF [18.2% (32/176), 1 ace, 2 DFs]
    1990 AO QF W Pernfors - 32.5% (27/83), 2 aces, 1 DF [6.3% (6/96), 0 aces, 2 DFs]
    1985 Washington F W Jaite - 31.4% (16/51), 1 ace, 2 DFs [12.3% (8/65), 4 aces, 0 DFs]
    1989 USO QF L Becker - 30.3% (23/76), 3 aces, 4 DFs [33.3% (21/63), 3 aces, 1 DF]
    1982 DC F (Indoor Clay) L McEnroe - 29.7% (51/172), 13 aces, 4 DFs [21.6% (37/171), 16 aces, 3 DFs]
    1984 La Quinta F L Connors - 22.4% (22/98), 8 aces, 3 DFs [13.5% (12/89), 3 aces, 1 DF]

    Even if we were to grade these #s on a curve we'd be looking at a guy roughly on the same level as Ashe, Forget, Tsonga and Kyrgios: good, even occasionally great, but not quite GOAT. So until we come across more data that tell us otherwise let's not begrudge Yannick his extra time singing calypso.

    And here are a few more #s for your perusal:

    Isner

    2016 Atlanta SF W Opelka - 63.6% (49/77), 22 aces, 5 DFs [38.5% (37-96), 15 aces, 4 DFs]
    2016 DC 1R W Groth - 56.6% (47/83), 20 aces, 2 DFs
    2013 Newport QF W Karlovic - 53.2% (41/77), 23 aces, 1 DF [45.3% (34/75), 14 aces, 3 DFs]
    2015 AO 3R L Muller - 52.2% (59/113), 30 aces, 2 DFs [47.4% (46/97), 23 aces, 3 DFs]
    2015 Washington F L Nishikori - 51.8% (44/85), 18 aces, 2 DFs [31.2% (24/77), 5 aces, 2 DFs]
    2010 Auckland F W Clement - 41% (41/100), 22 aces, 2 DFs [31.2% (29/93), 8 aces, 0 DFs]
    2007 Washington SF W Monfils - 39.8% (49/123), 22 aces, 5 DFs [42.2% (43/102), 25 aces, 4 DFs]
    2012 IW SF W Djokovic - 39.3% (45/112), 20 aces, 0 DFs [31.5% (35-111), 8 aces, 2 DFs]
    2009 USO 3R W Roddick - 38.7% (63/163), 38 aces, 7 DFs [40.9% (63/154), 20 aces, 2 DFs]
    2012 DC 1R W Federer - 38.2% (50/131), 14 aces, 5 DFs [37.4% (43/115), 13 aces, 1 DF] (of the 36 return errors he drew from Fed, 25 were BHs)
    2012 IW F L Federer - 32.4% (23/71), 4 aces, 1 DF [32.1% (18/56), 7 aces, 2 DFs]
    2015 Miami SF L Djokovic - 28.0% (23/82), 9 aces, 1 DF [32.8% (19/58), 10 aces, 1 DF]

    Pim Pim

    2005 AO 4R L Agassi - 51.0% (76/149), 51 aces, 9 DFs [46.0% (64/139), 16 aces, 4 DFs]
    2005 Marseille F W Ljubicic - 43.1% (25/58), 20 aces, 3 DFs [45.2% (28/62), 13 aces, 1 DF]
    2004 USO QF W Roddick - 35.2% (57/162), 30 aces, 6 DFs [62.7% (74/118), 34 aces, 5 DFs]

    As usual we're still trying to add or discard more names, including the following:
    • Gerald Patterson (1895)
    • Bob Falkenburg (1926)
    • Mike Sangster (1940)
    • Colin Dibley (1944)
    • John Feaver (1952)
    • Victor Amaya (1954)
    This may be the last time I'm listing Patterson as he doesn't seem to command as much attention as McLoughlin in the various contemporary accounts (including Budge's) I've read, so if you think he belongs up there you may want to make your opinion known pronto. As always stats, press reports and/or firsthand accounts are welcome.

    Now time to clean up the back burner....

    Arthurs definitely deserves a high ranking. Agassi and Ancic aren't the only ones who have sung similar praises for his serve.

    And we've got stats to back them up. Take a gander at this (hat tip to @slice serve ace):

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/ivo-or-goran.509157/page-2#post-8637529

    As you can see Wayne is quite possibly the only one who can challenge Ivo and Goran in doling out aces by the dozen. Also I actually have (courtesy of Voo de Mar) the % of Wayne's serves that Ancic failed to put back in play at that Scottsdale match, and it's pretty darn impressive: 33 out of 52, or 63.5%. FYI even the likes of Karlovic, Goran, Isner and Raonic don't exceed 60% all that often (in fact I've yet to see Milos crack it), and while this is admittedly only one match there's no reason to think it's a freakish anomaly for Arthurs given his machine-like ability to dispense aces. And of course the fact that he's a lefty doesn't hurt.

    I've got only 1-2 matches with actual stats for John, but from what I've seen and read I'm not sure if Alex is even on par with Ashe, Forget, Rosset, Tsonga and other peers in that group, let alone superior which at this point is a must for GSOAT membership.

    What about some of the other guys on our pending list? I see that Dibley was mentioned on another thread. Also while researching in the past few days I saw Feaver's (then) record 42 aces mentioned more than once.

    Update on 8/11/16: added Isner's 3rd-round loss at last year's AO to Muller.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  15. Shaolin

    Shaolin Legend

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    Great post…glad to see Arthurs get some respect and stats to go with it. The guy had a truly wicked serve no one wanted to face.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I've seen Alexander play live a few times. He was a big guy with a huge serve and a poetic service motion. But, I have no idea what his actual serve stats look like.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  17. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    @NonP
    Here are a couple more for Isner:
    Vs Djokovic at '12 IW 45/112(39.28%)
    Vs Opelka at '16 Atlanta 49/77(63.63%)

    And a few more for Curren:
    Vs Lewis at '83 W 59/180(32.77%)
    Vs Wilander at 84 AO 38/148(25.67%)
     
  18. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Now that I've filled in the gaps for the '92 Wimby QF here's everything I have available for Stich. Again I'm including ace/DF totals next to the %s of serves unreturned by opponents, whose own numbers are in brackets:

    1996 WIM 1R W Schalken - 51.5% (52/101), 23 aces, 8 DFs [27.1% (26/96), 0 aces, 6 DFs]
    1996 WIM 2R W Matsuoka - 48.5% (64/132), 17 aces, 7 DFs [37.1% (53/143), 12 aces, 5 DFs]
    1991 WIM F W Becker - 51% (51/100), 15 aces, 3 DFs [35.1% (40/114), 10 aces, 4 DFs]
    1997 WIM 1R W Courier - 48.1% (52/108), 16 aces, 7 DFs [26.9% (32/119), 5 aces, 9 DFs]
    1997 WIM QF W Henman - 42.9% (33/77), 9 aces, 4 DFs [35.5% (27/76), 1 ace, 10 DFs]
    1997 WIM 2R W Gimelstob - 42.7% (32/75), 7 aces, 6 DFs [29.1% (25/86), 4 aces, 10 DFs]
    1997 WIM 4R W Woodforde - 41.5% (56/135), 25 aces, 12 DFs [28.2% (40/142), 6 aces, 11 DFs]
    1996 WIM 3R W S. Stolle - 40.5% (47/116), 12 aces, 5 DFs [29.6% (32/108), 6 aces, 6 DFs]
    1993 GSC F L Korda - 40.1% (81/202), 31 aces, 14 DFs [25.9% (48/185), 4 aces, 7 DFs]
    1993 YEC F W Sampras - 39.8% (53/133), 27 aces, 2 DFs [25.5% (36/141), 11 aces, 8 DFs]
    1997 WIM 3R W S. Stolle - 39.6% (59/149), 12 aces, 5 DFs [36.3% (49/135), 7 aces, 8 DFs]
    1991 WIM SF W Edberg - 39.2% (62/158), 7 aces, 9 DFs [41.0% (55/134), 2 aces, 5 DFs]
    1994 USO F L Agassi - 35.8% (39/109), 11? aces, 10 DFs [28.1% (25/89), 3 aces, 2 DFs]
    1996 Wim 4R L Krajicek - 35.6% (37?/104), 9 aces, 7 DFs [49.0% (48/98), 13 aces, 7 DFs]
    1992 WIM QF L Sampras - 34.9% (22/63), 7 aces, 3 DFs [56.1% (46/82), 9 aces, 2 DFs]
    1995 Doha SF L Larsson - 30.6% (15/49?), 5 aces, 2 DFs [21.9% (14/64?), 4 aces, 1 DF]
    1992 GSC F W Chang - 29.3% (24/82), 8 aces, 5 DFs [19.8% (18/91), 2 aces, 3 DFs]
    1996 FO F L Kafelnikov - 26.5% (35/132), 15 aces, 6 DFs [29.4% (37/126), 10 aces, 8 DFs]

    As you can see Mike's #s fluctuated wildly, much like his overall game. :D Still the higher %s are more than respectable and along with his vaulted 2nd serve are enough to keep his name on the list.

    Onto the housecleaning:

    I don't exclude anyone from our GSOAT membership for good. The door is always open, provided that he's paid his dues. :p

    Anyhoo enough of your boy crush on Alexander. What can you tell us about Dibley and Feaver, other than your earlier claim that the former was too inconsistent to be included here?

    Merci as usual. So we finally have a 60+% for Isner, though this achievement is somewhat diluted by the fact that his opponent shares not only his serving prowess but also his godawful ineptitude on the opposite front. :p

    Not sure how I missed the Wilander match. As you may have noticed I try to include the opponent's #s as well so one can see how the two players fared against each other. . . . [The stats for Curren's opponents have since been added.]

    And finally one post that I couldn't address last time for lack of space....

    Standard deviation is definitely a better way to look at it. Last year might have been Fed's best ever in % of service games won, but does anyone in his right mind really think his actual service game is stronger now than it truly was at his absolute peak?

    Of course then the question is how to expand/limit the size/scope of our analysis. As you know I've been keeping records for each year's top 10 players in service/return games won, but is that really enough? What about top 20, or top 50? And is the bigger really the better in this case, given the possibility if not likelihood that the top guys might behave differently from the rest? You get the idea.

    Update on 8/10: Added more Stich matches from '96 and '97 Wimbledon with links to the official box scores on wimbledon.org (archived), bringing our total number of Stich matches to 19.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
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  19. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    @NonP
    Slice serve posted stats on the 93 YEC final, Stich-Sampras on page 17. I posted stats on Krajicek Stich 96 W in the match stats thread by krosero on Krajicek Sampras W QF match.
     
  20. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    I actually had the '93 YEC #s but only in my Sampras file. Damn even when you think you got everything there's always something slipping you by. Will add to the list shortly.
     
  21. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I said Dibley was too inconsistent? Hmm! Don't recall that. And, I know virtually nothing about John Feaver. Sorry!
     
  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  23. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Looks like I had the other match in my Krajicek file, too. :oops: Anyway both matches have been added.

    Maybe not quite that way, but I do remember you needling them 'cause they didn't get too far with their serve. :D Really would love to have something tangible on these guys. Would make my job a whole lot easier.

    Sweet. Keep digging. ;)
     
  24. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for this rare footage of Mike Belkin against Sangster in the 1967 Davis Cup series...Belkin actually won this match.
     
  25. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    @NonP
    Here's what I have for the Isner opponents in the matches I posted earlier:
    Djokovic 12 IW: 35-111(31.53%)
    Opelka 16 Atlanta 37-96(38.54%)

    And for Curren's opponents:
    Lewis 83 W 80-209(38.27%)
    Harmon 83 W 28-79(35.44%)
     
  26. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Great work NonP. Just a question. Do you have the stats for Ivanisevic in his first slam final in 1992? Because I agree with you that Raonic's number are very poor, but somehow it's not surprising. As a serve bot going into his first final against an overwhelming favorite, you expect him to get tight, and so you expect him to serve well below his best.

    So it would be interesting to have Ivanisevic's numbers, especially considering Agassi was also a great returner. The big difference is that Agassi hadn't won a slam yet. Not sure who was the favorite back then?

    Also how do you rank the old great in here? Because you have a ranking carefully build around stats, so it seems difficult to put Gonzales in there.
     
  27. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    ^48.8% of Goran's serves were unreturned in the 92 final. It's on page 14.
     
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  28. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    A few things before I update my original post. How did you get 38 unreturned serves for Curren against Wilander? If your count of 29 for Kev didn't include the aces do I have it right that Mats' total shouldn't be 39 but 43 (39 + 4 aces) instead?

    Also this NYT article says Kev had 16 aces as opposed to your total of 15, but as usual I'll go with our own # (I take it that like krosero you only count clean aces):

    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/07/02/sports/mcenroe-and-lewis-reach-final-lewis-in-final.html

    Looks like Curren wasn't quite 100% (he's quoted here as griping he "was sore coming into the match"). Maybe explains why he didn't make the final.

    And as you may have noticed I try to include ace/DF totals as well, so please share if you do have them (obviously I can easily find out about the Isner matches but any #s for pre-'91 matches are harder to come by).

    Speaking of which do you have Groth's #s in that DC match vs. Isner? Since Sam's another big server I'm guessing you did them as well.

    Thanks. I do have Goran's #s from his '92 Wimbledon final (I see that Moose beat me to it but what the hey): 48.8% or 81 of 166 serves unreturned. (FYI I plan to post all of Goran's stats here after checking a couple of them with @slice serve ace. Right now I've got #s for just over two dozen Goran matches.) Not quite as ridiculous as his 58.6(!)% rate in the SF against Sampras (who BTW handled Stich's serves awfully well in the QF), but still pretty darn good. And he actually had "only" 7 DFs (plus 37 aces!) so it really was Agassi's return that did him in, not Goran himself choking as one would expect.

    And Goran isn't the only "servebot" who brought the heat to his 1st major final. Here are the #s for some of the other names that have been mentioned here but who don't qualify as an all-time great (strictly speaking about their overall achievements):

    Ashe in 1968 USO F (W Okker - 1st 26 games only) - 52.2% (36/69)
    Tanner in 1979 WIM F (L Borg - technically not his 1st major but AO shouldn't count) - 31.1% (52/167)
    Stich in 1991 WIM F (W Becker) - 51% (51/100)
    Rusedski in 1997 USO F (L Rafter) - 33% (don't have the exact # of points, but should be something like 42/126)
    Philippoussis in 1998 USO F (L Rafter) - 27.4% (32/117)
    Roddick in 2003 USO F (W Fererro) - 50.6% (44/87)

    As you can see all of them had a higher % than Milos (though Scud was hardly less pathetic), and back in Roscoe's heyday players were winning significantly fewer free points in general and he was facing Borg who like Murray wasn't an easy guy to ace. And Ashe, Stich and even Roddick in particular won considerably more freebies than their average. If Raonic had managed something like 35% nobody in his/her right mind would fault him for that given the quality of Murray's return. Even 30% might have been understandable considering this was Milos' very major final. But 25% is just horrendous by any standards. That's something you'd expect from the likes of Okker and Ferrero, both of whom BTW still did better than Milos (35.8% and 28.9% respectively), and certainly not from a server of Raonic's stature and strength.

    Now I should add one caveat: those #s of Raonic's come courtesy of Voo de Mar, who while a nice fellow can be less than 100% accurate in his statistical work. But even if that's the case here these stats shouldn't be off by much, and Voo's total # of points for this match does match the ATP's (I usually don't bother to double-check Voo's #s further unless they're different from either the ATP's or our own), so yeah it does look like Milos put in a stinker this time. He definitely needs to prove he can bring his best serve when it counts before he can move up the ladder again.

    As for your question about the old-timers, you're right, it's hard to decide where they belong due to lack of evidence (be it statistical, visual, anecdotal, what have you), which is why I've put most of them in the Honorary HoF rather than the money list. I made an exception for Gonzales because his reputation is so pervasive to this day and none other than Vic Braden claimed that Gorgo would be able to serve over 140 mph regularly per today's radar, but it's true that his current ranking is more educated guesswork than a highly fine-tuned assessment.
     
  29. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    ^I never counted aces in my unreturned serves counts in any of my match stats threads(only do that in this thread)
    So 38 and 43 are correct for Curren and Wilander.
    In a lot of older matches, I've seen nbc/cbs count some nicked serves as aces, so my ace counts don't always line up with published accounts since I only count clean aces as aces. Ditto with winners, most statisticians today will count nicked balls as winners, I don't.
    I didn't know that Curren played 2 doubles matches the day before he played Lewis, that's rough. Pretty great match though. I think Lewis' oversize graphite may have been a factor in Curren having a lower unreturned serve rate(Lewis was blocking/hacking some big serves back in play that I think would have been hard to do with wood or smaller frames.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  30. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Gotcha, so Mats' edge here was even greater than I thought (28.5% vs. 25.7%). Will update my original post with the additional stats.

    I agree with you on counting only clean aces/winners. Also I don't think the networks' "nicked" approach is all that old. Just a few days ago I asked krosero how he got just 10 aces for Fed in the '04 USO final as opposed to the ATP's 11, and he told me he counts only clean aces and CBS (or whoever it was) probably counted one serve by Fed that barely touched Hewitt's racquet (he said it was hard to tell but one could hear the sound).

    BTW if we're counting only clean winners what should we do about service winners? As you know many box scores now include non-ace service winners in their total # winners and while that approach does make sense I also don't like how that conflicts with our clean-shots-only rule. Complicating matters further is that as you know the term is sometimes used to mean any unreturned serves by the player in question, which also makes sense but again many if not most of them aren't clean winners. And if we're only going to include aces in the overall winners that raises the question of how to separate those serves deemed service winners per some box scores. I recently began a new spreadsheet with all the winner/UFE totals from notable matches and these different terminologies have proved quite a headache. :mad:o_O

    Sounds like the '83 W SF was a crowd-pleaser. Will try to watch it sometime.
     
  31. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Some comments on lefthander John Doeg and his serve. Julius Heldman described the Tanner serve in the Rod Laver Tennis Digest, 1973, p. 150, and wrote that it was the fastest lefthanded serve since John Doeg. He also mentions, that Doeg served 32 aces in his 1930 Forest Hills sf win over Tilden, not a bad returner at all. Dan Maskell was present at this match as well as at the final of Doeg vs. Frank Shields, the grandpa of Brooke Shields. In his book From where i sit, 1988, p. 91-93, he gives impressions of those Forest Hills US championships matches. Doegs mother was Violet Sutton, the sister of May Sutton, who had won Wimbledon 1905. Doeg was a big, blond lefthander from San Diego, and he beat Tilden in the semi 10-8, 6-3, 3-6, 12-10. They played that semi in the middle of the horse shoe Stadium, where the grass was still lush, but they played with spikes. Tilden had just returned from his last Wim win, but according to Maskell, had some ankle problems, so that he lost to Doegs powerful serve. They final vs. Shields was played late in the day, because an ill-scheduled veteran final between Henry Bassford and "Pop" Gill did not end in time. The 10000 fans booed the old boys off the Centre court (they were at 11-11 last set removed to another court), to see their real final. But anyway, Doeg won 10-8, 1-6, 6-4, 16-14 in 2 and a half hours. Maskell writes (p. 92-93): "Doeg served particularly well. He was broken only once in the match (sic! cannot be in a 1-6 set) and imposed his serve and volley game against an opponent who, although he possessed a fine serve himself, seemd happier at the back of the court. On such a erratic surface, these were unwise tactics for Shields passing shots were not consistent enough to beat an as good volleyer as Doeg. Nor did Shields lob enough - to prevent Doeg from hanging his nose over the net."
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Doeg's serve has always been of interest to me. I only wish I could see some decent video of it. I get the impression his "egg ball" was sort of like Goran's slice serve.

     
  33. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the clip, pc1. Doeg seemed indeed, as Maskell writes, to be a sort of serve and volleyer. There were not so many in the 1920s and 30s, who practised that big game (some say it was invented by Kramer). I can mention from my head only Borotra and Vinnie Richards. Tilden, Vines, Budge, Johnston were all more baseliners (although having good serves). I don't know, if the "Comet" McLoughlin came to the net with his fast serve.
     
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  34. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think the networks have been counting "nicked" serves as aces for a long time. I recall a very old discussion we had about the Mac-Lendl final at RG (or the Wimb final that year?) where that seemed to be the case.

    And this goes back a long way in tennis. Bud Collins referred to what he called the “Allison Danzig rules of scoring”: if there’s no chance, no play on it (just as in baseball, he said), you give the server an ace.

    Moose and I have always stuck to clean aces/winners only, as the most objective way of counting. When we started tracking stats years ago, we knew that the networks were counting "service winners", making their total winner counts slightly higher than ours; I thought that service winners were the only judgment calls being made, but then Leo Levin confirmed for me that judgment calls were regularly made on all strokes, when counting winners.

    So in my own stats I started making notes of all possible judgment calls, on all strokes; and occasionally that helped me line up my winner counts with official counts. It's been so long I can't give you a specific example off the top of my head but I did that for a few matches and it did work (maybe Fed-Agassi USO final?)

    In short, I think it's essential to keep track of possible/probable service winners and to keep them as a separate stat, but that by itself won't necessarily line your counts up with official counts. There's often some other strokes in a match -- like a forehand that the opponent barely nicks with the edge of his racquet and sends up into row 29 -- that are judged as winners in the official counts.

    Again it's been so long that I'm not going to hazard an estimate on how often that happens but it's something to keep in mind.

    As for service winners, yeah, it's a mess, how exactly to define them. Here I'm just going to reproduce verbatim a list of all the different definitions that have been used for the term "service winners", in the official counts I've seen:

    1) Serves that the receiver reaches with a racquet, but that are judged to be as good as winners (sometimes called "unreturnable"). This is an extremely common definition, and today you can expect these winners to be included in Total Winner counts.

    2) All serves that the receiver gets a racquet on but does not put back in play (what I like to call the return errors). Example: 1987 Wimbledon final, Cash-Lendl, New York Times boxscore.

    3) All unreturned serves, including aces. Example: 1998 Wimbledon final, Sampras-Ivanisevic, Sports Illustrated boxscore.

    4) All the serves in category #1, combined with the aces. Example: 2005 USO final, Federer-Agassi, CBS broadcast.


    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/inde...mpras-and-agassi-9-slams.230946/#post-3188999
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  35. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Don't recall if I've posted this very interesting letter by Francis T. Hunter to World Tennis, published in their August 1960 edition:

    The styles of the great modern players who have followed Kramer are all based on what I call “incessant” net attack, using what I call deeply “placed” volleys from close in. This is sharply in contrast with the volleying, for example, of Beals Wright, Fred Alexander, Henri Cochet, Vinnie Richards, Bill Johnston or Bill Tilden. Perhaps the serving and volleying style of McLaughlin [sic], Borotra and Doeg might be more closely compared to Kramer and Gonzales, but the others I have mentioned did not advance to the net “incessantly” behind their serves and when they did, the point was more often accomplished in two volleys, the first almost from the service line and the second after a further “follow in.” Many times the whole point was concluded without the server having come to the net at all. Actually, the rush to the net after service for a volley was more often used as a surprise than a continuous and “incessant” method of play.

    All I know is that I have played them all many times and watched their other matches, too, so I am sure I am perfectly clear in mentioning this contrast of play between the greats of forty to twenty years ago and the greats of today.​
     
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  36. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    I just noticed last night that the old '96 and '97 editions of wimbledon.org (since archived) had tracked the unreturned serves of apparently all the individual matches, and I'll be going through the box scores for our GSOAT candidates over the next few weeks, but for now I've added more Stich matches to my original post bringing our total to 19. Please be aware that I put a question mark next to the stat that I couldn't verify to my satisfaction, but I figured it's still better to have something available even if it's off slightly, hence its inclusion. But for those counting I've removed the '93 AO SF vs. Courier as its numbers were most likely too misleading. It seems that Voo de Mar did not take out the double-counted aces/DFs and just took the total # of service points from the ATP database, which probably explains the unusually low 17.6% of unreturned serves for Mike. If anyone can get his hands on it and do the stats for us, do let us know.

    A few notes about the often confusing box scores. As we've discussed there's no clear definition of "service winners" even among the official statisticians, and in this case SWs refer to any unreturned serves minus aces. So while the '96 charts don't list aces per se you can still get the ace totals by adding the FH/BH unreturned serves and then subtracting the SWs. And the '97 stats do include aces, so if you want to track the # of unreturned serves for a particular match just add up the aces and SWs.

    Also many of you won't be surprised to know that the AEC's counts often differ slightly from the ATP's, in which case I went as usual with the official source.

    Time for housekeeping:

    Found one more for Isner: 2015 AO 3R L Muller - 52.2% (59/113), 30 aces, 2 DFs [47.4% (46/97), 23 aces, 3 DFs]. Will add to the list later.

    So I take it that you don't have Groth's #s from their '16 DC match? And speaking of Muller I'm thinking about adding him to our money list in my next update. Do you have Donald's #s as well from that Newport SF?

    Thanks for these tidbits. As you may recall @krosero has posted some service stats on two of Doeg's matches (along with several others involving other notable old-timers). Here they are:

    But these numbers probably top them all:

    John really seems to have been to Tilden or Vines what Goran was to Sampras, a truly formidable lefty who could go on unbelievable runs thanks to that serve alone. When I was making those extensive edits to Doeg's Wiki page I couldn't help but notice that he had a couple of sets in his major finals that indeed went the distance, so we know Budge was hardly exaggerating when he quipped "all his matches were forever running to 18-16." I have little doubt that were Doeg playing today he'd be in the conversation with the likes of Sampras and Roddick as the best non-giant server in tennis history, and probably even without that qualifier (as is the case with Pete and Andy).

    That's the only Doeg clip I could find. Perhaps some of the non-English sites have some more.

    Yes, I was thinking about that post of yours when I emailed you regarding service winners. I definitely agree that we should keep SWs separate from the other types of winners whenever we can. Just wish I'd realized it before I began my spreadsheet for winners/UFEs. :mad:

    But I actually didn't know that the loose definition is also used for non-service winners. I thought if one were to compare # of winners between two different sources one would not find a big discrepancy except for the SWs. I'll definitely need to keep this in mind going forward.
     
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  37. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    FYI, in my copy of Rod Laver's Tennis Digest (1973), pg. 150 is a Laver pictorial.
     
  38. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Could be that there were several editions. I thought, before i bought the book on the Internet, that Julius Heldmans portaits of some champs styles were in it, but this isn't the case in my Edition. The picures are also pretty awful. The Laver book of Collins Education of a Tennis Player also had several Editions, i have a copy of 1971, where some comments on Events in the 1970s were not published, which obviously went into later Editions of the 1970s.
     
  39. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    @NonP
    Can't find groths numbers. Have youngs, gimme a sec. Not sure muller is worthy of being on the list for this one very short match in a low level event. But I would like to see more of his matches. Thanks for the Wimbledon links, Goran, Krajicek and rusedski had some very high numbers in some of their early rounds(Goran was at 60% in his first round in 97)
    shame they don't put this stat on Wimbledons website anymore.
     
  40. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    Besides those matches against Young and Isner I've got one more for Muller: 2013 Marseille QF L Tursunov - 45.3% (39/86), 27 aces, 5 DFs [27.5% (28/102), 10 aces, 3 DFs]. Granted none of his three opponents are elite returners and Gilles is really on the borderline like Forget, Rosset, Ljubicic and Kyrgios, but I'm tempted to give him a spot at least near the bottom of the pole just for that 70+% match alone. :D Another stat in his favor is # of aces per match, which while flawed does put him slightly above the aforementioned names.

    But my real motivation is to see an unheralded pleb like him get the recognition he deserves. Before this thread even many of us "historians" didn't pay much attention to the likes of Doeg, Stoefen and Denton, if we knew of them at all, and some of the reaction to our current ranking of Arthurs, a fairly recent guy whose serve has been lauded as the best in the game by an impressive array of pros, is proof that many of these GOAT lists are little more than popularity contests without much rigor and scholarship behind them. Obviously I say this one is more serious and informed than most out there, and with good reason. ;)

    Speaking of who Kyrgios is another one we should keep our eye on. Take a gander at these #s from last year's AO (with another hat tip to Voo):

    2015 AO 2R W Karlovic - 47.9% (57/119), 25 aces, 4 DFs [39 aces, 6 DFs]
    2015 AO 3R W Jaziri - 49.5% (50/101), 25 aces, 2 DFs [6 aces, 2 DFs]
    2015 AO 4R W Seppi - 36.9% (69/187), 25 aces, 7 DFs [23 aces, 4 DFs]
    2015 AO QF L Murray - 22.7% (25/110), 9 aces, 3 DFs [36.8% (32/87), 13 aces, 1 DF]

    (BTW check out that returning from Murray. The guy really seems an awfully tough one to ace.]

    And of course he recently had almost 50% against Cilic. (BTW do you have Marin's #s too? So we've got Young and Cilic on the to-do list.) I'm not ready to put him up there yet as those #s against Seppi and Murray are rather underwhelming, but he's obviously someone we shouldn't dismiss quite yet either.

    Pete also had pretty damn high #s at '97 Wimby (believe he had something like 62% in the 2nd round). It's indeed a shame they don't bother with this stat anymore. Just a few days ago I said to @krosero (by email) that those box scores might be a bit of overkill, but now I think they should be brought back. If there's one thing I've learned while doing all this research it's that you never know which stats you might find useful in the future.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  41. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Levin told me by email that balls tipped out to the side fences or stands are usually counted as winners. He said that if the opponent "directs the ball back toward the net on the fly" the stroke will be marked merely as a forced error rather than a winner. So from then on, if I saw a player making contact with a ball but unable to return it successfully, with the ball not even reaching the net on the fly, I would mark it down as a possible winner, on a judgment call. But I kept those separate from my clean winner counts because obviously you never know how the official statistician has judged any single point; the only thing you can be sure of are the clean winners.

    But with this method I often got my counts to line up with official winner counts.
     
  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    By the way, I know what you mean here because I had a similar experience. When I emailed Levin I had already taken stats for a lot of matches. If I had known right from the start of my project that official statisticians made judgment calls on all shots, not just serves, I would have taken note of those in all my matches. But alas I'm not going to go back to all those matches just to look for tipped balls.

    But it's something to bear in mind when looking at old match stats. For example when I did a second run-through of Borg-Mac at Wimbledon (1980), to get service percentages, I decided, what the heck, while I'm doing this let me mark down the tipped balls. I noted about 7 or 8 such shots, IIRC. So under an official system those shots would be counted as winners. My stats for that match, counting only clean winners (and service winners), slightly under-represent the number of winners that Borg and Mac might get under an official statistician working today.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
  43. NonP

    NonP Hall of Fame

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    As some of you may know @krosero has been diligently researching the events of pre-Open era players, and it should surprise no one that one of his main subjects has been Vines. Here are the six Vines matches that krosero has been able to unearth with %s of unreturned serves by both Elly and his opponent. FYI it's all but certain that even the elites back then held serve with less frequency than today's average player, so for illustration I've also included the %s of service games won by both players. As usual the opponent's stats are bracketed:

    1931 USN SF W Perry - 35.7% (56/157) / 79.2% (19/24 games) [13.6% (18/132) / 75% (18/24)]
    1931 USN F W Lott - 23.8% (40/168) / 81.4% (22/27) [25% (42/168) / 73.1% (19/26)]
    1932 USN SF W Sutter - 20.2% (47/233) / 70.3% (26/37) [15.8% (38/241) / 63.2% (24/38)]
    1932 USN F W Cochet - 17.4% (16/92) / 80% (12/15) [13.6% (12/88) / 60% (9/15)]
    1933 WIM F L Crawford - 28.0% (44/157) / 82.1% (23/28) [13.8% (24/174) / 85.7% (24/28)]
    1939 Philadelphia (US pro tour) W Budge - 31.7% (26/82), 9 aces, 1 DF / 78.6% (11/14) [9.6% (9/94), 2 aces, 3 DFs / 50% (7/14)]

    Even now 35% would be an acceptable number against such a notable returner as Perry. Were I to venture a guess I'd say one can add about 15 percentage points to the %s of this era for a rough comparison with today's actual %s. And as I recently noted when a player wins over 50% of free points on serve he's practically unbreakable, so Elly clearly protected his serve well (again relatively speaking) against Fred.

    I've quoted krosero's #s on Doeg earlier but let me post them again along with a few extra from Cochet's '32 US National SF win:

    1930 USN SF - Doeg W Tilden - 34.3% (60/175) / 93.1% (27/29) [37.4% (68/182) / 86.2% (25/29)]
    1930 USN F - Doeg W Shields - 29.6% (61/206) / 84.8% (28/33) [29.4% (56/190) / 84.4% (27/32)]
    1932 USN SF - Cochet W Allison - 15.0% (31/207) / 76.7% (23/30 games) [19.7% (39/198) / 66.7% (20/30)]

    And speaking of whom....

    Yes, the inconsistency and uncertainty about those judgment calls are indeed reason enough to count only clean winners/aces. For those iffy points one can simply add a note explaining what happened.

    I plan to revisit the '97 Wimby final and when I do I'll see if I can get my counts to match the official ones. Should be fun. :D
     
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  44. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    @NonP, here are some more unreturned stats from the pre-OE. Not sure how many you have but some of them at least will be new for you.

    Budge d. von Cramm, 1937 Wimbledon final, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
    Budge served on 111 points and 15 serves did not come back: 13.5%
    Cramm served on 76 points and 12 serves did not come back: 15.8%

    Gonzalez d. Schroeder, 1949 U.S. Championships final, 16-18, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
    First set only (34 games):
    Gonzalez served on 96 points in the first set, and 35 serves did not come back (16 were aces): 36.4%.
    Schroeder served on 109 points in the first set, and 30 serves did not come back (6 were aces): 27.5%.

    Olmedo d. Laver, 1959 Wimbledon final, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
    In the 24 games I saw:
    Olmedo served on 60 points, and 17 serves did not come back: 28.3%
    Laver served on 82 points, and 21 serves did not come back: 25.6%

    Fraser d. Laver, 1960 Wimbledon final, 6-4, 3-6, 9-7, 7-5
    In the 36 games I saw:
    Fraser served on 106 points, and 33 serves did not come back: 31.1%
    Laver served on 137 points, and 28 serves did not come back: 20.4%

    Santana d. Ralston, 1966 Wimbledon final, 6-4, 11-9, 6-4
    Santana served on 133 points, and 39 serves did not come back: 29.3%
    Ralston served on 114 points, and 35 serves did not come back: 30.7%


    George Lyttleton-Rogers, an Irish player measuring six feet four inches tall, had 34 unreturned serves in a four-set Davis Cup victory over de Stefani, on grass (May 5-7, 1938). I don’t know how many points he served so I’m estimating an unreturned rate of around 28-34%.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  45. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In your email you asked me for all of the unreturned stats I had for Vines but we can actually include another one, and it would top all of these. Vines reportedly served 30 "aces" against Bunny Austin in the 1932 Wimbledon final, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-0. (He held in 11 of 12 service games.) I never calculated an unreturned rate for this match because we only know the "aces." But with 30 aces, I know he served 79 points in total, so that's an unreturned rate of at least 38.0%, which is, if I'm not mistaken, the highest we've yet found before the OE.

    I think Vines' rate in that match is not going to go higher; there's a very good chance that the "aces" here represent all of the unreturned serves.

    I may have mentioned before that American and British stats often differed dramatically, with Americans sticking closer to clean winners, and the English using judgment calls extensively, on serves and all other strokes.

    Best example: when Budge defeated von Cramm in the '37 Wimbledon final, an American boxscore gave Don just 2 aces, but he was credited with 15 "service aces" by Lawn Tennis and Badminton, a British magazine. Von Cramm had zero aces in the American boxscore, but across the pond he was credited with 12.

    Lawn Tennis and Badminton noted explicitly, in its report of that match, that their term "service aces" included every serve that was unreturned.

    The 30 "aces" that Vines served against Bunny Austin in 1932, I don't what the ultimate source for that stat was. But if the source was British, which I think it probably was, then we're likely looking at 30 unreturned serves in total, with an unknown number of "clean aces" in there.

    Anyway, Vines tops the pre-OE numbers so far, with at least 38.0%.

    Next best is Tilden in his 1930 loss to Doeg, with 37.4%.

    Then we've got Vines against Perry in '31, which you noted above, 35.7%.

    Doeg was 34.3% and 29.6% in his last two rounds at the 1930 US Nationals, which I think must be representative of what he could do, since that was the only major he won.

    Pancho Gonzalez, for one (long) set in 1949, was at 36.4%
     
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  46. krosero

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    Kramer ranking Vines and Gonzalez, in that order, as the two greatest servers of all time (May 1966 issue of British Lawn Tennis):

    BUDGE IS MY No. 1

    WATCHING Rod Laver or Lew Hoad in play, and especially practising, is quite an education. They hit the ball with tremendous power which is generated by co-ordination of their wrists rather than through firmness and a long follow through.

    They develop power by a snap and I believe that on their best form no one can play any better.

    They can hit the ball to any position of the court but it seems to me they do not do it so consistently as past men whom I feel were superior. Budge, Riggs—I am very solid on Riggs, the way he pioneered the modern game—and Perry would have been able to find something to force errors out of these fellows because of their use of wrist.

    They are capable of playing superbly, but because there is so much risk in the way they produce their shots a steadier type of player would have beaten them.

    I have never seen or played anyone like Don Budge. You never wanted to serve to the man though Laver is now developing a fine return of service.

    Watching the respectful way the others play against Laver, he must be a lot better than even he looks. The others are making a lot of errors trying to keep the ball away from certain positions and that is a mark of their fears.

    In my opinion the best five of the past 30 years are Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs and Pancho Gonzalez.

    I never saw the famous Frenchman or Big Bill Tilden at their best although I practised with Tilden a lot when I was a junior and he was in his late forties.

    However, I am a convinced Budge man and if I had to back any one of those to win a big tournament, he would be the man.

    I realise that Vines on his day played more of the Laver-Hoad type of game and he could score a placement from any part of the court, but I think it is essential to back consistency.

    No one is a better competitor than Gonzalez—until one considers Perry and Riggs. In fact, all those people had everything. Vines was, I think, by far the best athlete but apparently as an amateur he was a very excitable type; although he never looked it. He used to suffer from the old tummy turning over inside and so he did not always hit his best form.

    As for myself, on 1947-48-49 form I feel I would have stood a good chance against any of them. I would have preferred my chances against the other four than against Budge.

    My game would have been well suited for matches against Perry and Vines. Their service returns were hit with slight under-slice, as was Gonzalez’s.

    That is the reason I back Budge’s game against anybody’s. He hit the ball with overspin on the return of service from both wings. I do not think I would have had to take a back seat against any of them; in fact I like my chances against all of them except maybe Budge.

    The best serving I have ever seen was by Vines but Gonzalez is up there with him. Vines had a higher type kick service than Gonzalez who went more for the slice.

    Vines hit the ball as hard as it is possible. Gonzalez had a fantastic record for getting his big first service into court when he really needed it. One must rely on the word of men who played against them both.

    I did not play a great deal against vines but Budge competed against them both and he says Vines had the better service. So they are one-two in my book on that shot.

    The best forehand volleyer is more difficult to name. It is funny about this. You can go right down the list of volleyers today and they are all better on the backhand than the forehand.

    Possibly Wilmer Allison, Budge Patty and Frank Sedgman of all the men I ever saw had the best forehand volleys.

    On the backhand volley Budge was fantastic and Rosewall is excellent. Gonzalez is great on the drop volley. Ted Schroeder had a marvellous backhand volley.

    Reason all these fellows stand out is that they were so quick. Not only could they wreak a lot of damage when they reached the ball but it was almost impossible to pass them.

    Forehand ground stroke? There is no doubt in my mind that Segura had the best shot but it was a freak and perhaps it better to disregard him. So I think that Fred Perry had the greatest forehand of my 33 years.

    I only played him in practice after he had turned professional but I often watched him. Even when, in his own mind, he had finished with tennis, he showed enough to convince me that when he was young and fit it must have been as good a shot as has ever been developed.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Budge owned the greatest backhand ever though Kovacs had an equally great shot across the court. He hit it harder than Budge but Budge could drive the ball much harder down the line and he had a far superior approach shot.

    Rosewall has a fantastic backhand and Parker’s was tremendously accurate and steady on clay courts.

    You are right there with Budge again when it comes to return of service. He was supposed to have a weakness on the forehand but it was dangerous to serve to him on either wing.

    He hit his returns so hard and accurately that you ended up serving completely differently from normal.

    You could never get into a pattern against him because he would quickly find a groove and keep on thumping the ball unreturnably. Often it seemed best to serve him something simple. Maybe the lack of challenge made him miss.​
     
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  47. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I think you have a typo in the 9th paragraph.

    I can't argue against Vines' serve. He was tall and his technique was flawless. There is a video (in color as I recall), that I have seen showing Budge lunging for a Vines serve as the ball slams against the back fence. Unfortunately, I can't find it now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016 at 9:37 AM
  48. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Here's a good view of Vines' and Budge's serves, especially Vines' serve at about 1:20:

     

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