players speed serves

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by juanparty, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. juanparty

    juanparty Semi-Pro

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    anyone could tell me the serve speed of these players in comparision with actual top players.

    Edberg
    Mac
    Connors
    Becker
    Bjorg
    early Agassi and 2000's Agassi, (same with Sampras)
    Courier

    and others legends from 80's
     
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  2. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    This has been commented on too many times to mention, but to wit, we don't know for sure what mph those players' serves would've registered today, largely because of the changes in radar technology but also changes in serving strategy, racquets, etc.

    Suffice it to say that Borg would've served in the 110-130 range according to today's radar, ditto Mac (perhaps with slightly less pop, but of course better variety, disguise, placement, etc.). Edberg used more topspin and would've gotten a little less mileage, Connors about the same. Sampras and Becker would've easily registered 120-140 mph. Courier just about what he averages now on the senior tour, around or slightly below 130 mph. Take about 5 mph off for Agassi.
     
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Post #2, maybe subtract 15 for Mac and Connors just broke 100 for flats down the middle on ad court.
    Dibley served 149 in 1978 with a k-glass reinforced DunlopMaxFort. Amaya served 144 same timed event.
    Phillipousis and Kraijeck were known to be able to hit into the highest 140's, and maybe exceed that when loose and relaxed.
     
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  4. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    UGH. No. Disregard this post, particularly the first line.(this poster has no idea what he's talking about).

    NonP was right on though with all his comments.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    :) Well, I've only watched live, maybe 6 matches with Connors and a few more with Mac on courtside, 10 rows up, just off center.
    Those guys wouldn't even participate in fast serve contests.
    Yes, both were better players than all the hard servers, but both, especially Connors, chose to hit only topspin first serves to start the point in their favor, so their NEXT shot would take over the rally and win the point.
    But you can believe what you want, if you think their (Connors and Mac) had real serves.
    I believe those former #1's, AND Agassi and Nadal, choose to start the point with their serves, not WIN the point on their serves.
     
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  6. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Mac's serves would almost certainly register above 120 mph today, and even Jimbo's on occasion. Again you really can't trust the radar measurements because the technology has changed over time. The one big change happened around the beginning of the '80s, when the radar guns began measuring serve speeds near the net, not as the ball leaves the racquet as they do today. So, if anything, those measurements of Dibley and Amaya might have been even more "accurate" than those of the '80s.

    The Flipper & Krajicek readings are probably more up to date.

    Agassi definitely got his share of freebies on his serves (his 2000 AO run comes to mind). Nadal's serve wasn't as big a weapon, at least not as consistently over his career, but as we saw at the '10 USO he's capable of cranking 120-130+ mph bombs with the best of 'em.
     
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  7. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes, well in fact,they sometimes do! Mac in particular could really pop one even with wood in his hayday, even though it's not what he relied on.

    Yes, one myth about Agassi was that he never had the big serve...the other myth being that whenever he came out and hit a bunch of big serves, commentators would declare it "new" and, the dawning of a new day for Andre. LOL

    More accurately, Agassi never seemed to have the big serve consistently from match to match, week to week. Having observed...maybe 5 or 6 distinct incarnations of his serve motion, all were capable of popping big flat serves...but one day it would be 125mph....the next day it would be 111mph....(or in the olden days or radar: 117 and 102!). Not only that, but he seemed to know it, and almost seemed like he was throwing the point away when he went for his big serve....in a handful of matches I can think of.....odd matches....Becker 90 Masters semi.....92 Canadian open (a few matches), he actually seemed to BELIEVE in his flat serve, and expect to whack aces decisively. In many other matches, he barely seemed to concentrate or aim...just kinda say: OK...I think i'll whack one out there...here I go....toss.....and just try to smack it hard....in a corner....might be 15 feet long....who cares....I don't really expect it to work....

    Towards the end of his career...he seemed pretty accurate on these occasional attempts...but didn't want to pull the trigger too much, and have too many second serves....but it still seemed throwaway to me....hard to describe. Like for example, if he went into his motion, and got interrupted as he started, he pause for about 3ms, not bother looking over at the receiver and then immediately just go into it again. Like a man who just wants to get it over with! It was only my impression, and Agassi did always like to play fast, but I sometimes wonder if he might have been more effective just with an attitude change: a more ritualized pre-serve motion, and a belief that the bomb IS coming. On the other hand, Chang did this...but just kept blasting the bomb into the net ;-)
     
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  8. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    they had philipouses serve with a wood racket. he served 3 to 4 mph slower.


    i was watching some old goran highlights (his match vs edberg at the quarters of the 96 us open) the gun was saying 127-130 and i was thinking they were more like 145-150.
     
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  9. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    I'd add to that the 2000 AO. Not a whole lot of aces, but he still killed Kafelnikov and Sampras(!) with that serve of his.

    Chang did send a lot of his 1st serves into the net. He's probably one of the few who would've benefited a lot from today's bigger racquets. As I observed on that other thread about the seniors tour, Chang was hitting a pretty good % with his new stick, IIRC more than the 50-55% he used to get (only a one-off instance, I know).

    P.S. Whoa, Data has been banned? WTH happened?!
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    BIG problem here, one of which few of you choose to bother to understand.
    We are talking fast serves here, right?
    Now are we thinking theoretical fastest serve ever, for each player, or what they actually hit during a match, in tour play?
    McEnroe....former, maybe 128. Later, 105.
    Connors.... former, maybe 125 Later, 105.
    Dibley...... former, maybe 149. Later, about the same.
    DickStockton f, maybe 135. Later, about 130.
    Kriek, at 5'8"...... f, maybe 135. Later, about 130,'
    Chang 125. But in any match, 110.
    I"m Asian, have watched Chang for a while. He had no handicap with his racket. His PrinceChangs were 28" long, about 93 sq in., moderately stiff, and served BIG, even compared to rackets of 2012. I had FIVE of them, all stolen at different times from my car.
    Dibley's serves made Newcomb's and StanSmith's seem super slow motion. Both those farts served around 125 on flat firsts.
    Dibley's serve made even RoscoeTanner's seem only "pretty fast". You couldn't really see Dibley's serves, sitting behind his opponent 7 rows up.
    Dibley cam into our booth, to have his racket glassed over. His wingspan must have been well over 7'3". Lotsa leverage, to say the least. He was a knuckle dragger.
     
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  11. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    In 1959, Gonzales and Hoad were tested, with Gonzales measured at 112 mph, and Hoad at 110 mph.
    This measured the entire serve, start to finish, not just the speed when it leaves the raquet (which is when it is fastest).
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's been mentioned, once it was legal to jump to hit serves, that Pancho could hit about 125 by modern measurement standards.
    Sounds about right.
     
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  13. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Braden thinks it'd be higher, over 140 at the top end. Sampras would be hitting 120-140 on today's radar, and since Pancho was a couple inches taller that sounds about right to me.

    BTW the jump isn't that much of a factor when we're talking top-end speeds. Look no further than Tanner, Stich, etc.
     
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  14. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    There is definitely something strange about the radar guns of the 90's compared to the radar guns today. Looking now at video of some of Becker's and Sampras' serves, they seem to be equal to the 140 mph serves Soderling and Roddick hit 10 years later, Yet, the radar guns of the 90's measured them at 115-120. There's something fishy going on with today's radar guns. It doesn't pass the smell test.

    Having said that, I don't know if Pancho could serve bigger than Sampras with equal equipment. Yes he was taller, but, look at Sampras motion. He squeezed every ounce of power out of his body and racquet there was to squeeze. Pancho was also famous for his service motion, but, more for its grace, beauty and efficiency. I think Pancho could serve up to 120 with his racquet. Perhaps he could reach 140 with a Pure Drive. But then, I think peak Sampras was hitting at least 140 with his racquet, and could have gone somewhat above that with a Pure Drive.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
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  15. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    This topic has been beaten to death. :) To make a long story short, they were measuring serve speeds around the net, rather than on the point of contact as they do now. This change took place around the late '90s/early '00s, so... as a general rule you can add about 10-20 to radar readings of the '80s and the '90s, though there are exceptions 'cause radar systems differ from event to event even today (for example the guns in Davis Cup tend to show slightly higher readings than those at the majors, due to their use of radar-array technology which captures especially wide serves more accurately).

    I think Becker served slightly faster than Sampras, at least at the top end, just like Bobo might have served a tad harder than Becker. Put another way, 140 or above would be very rare for Pete, but for Becker it'd be a relatively regular shot.

    As for Pancho, well, let's face it, he probably wouldn't have reached 140 with anything, at least not with that old motion of his. As you may well know percentage was big back in Pancho's heyday, and his motion and mindset reflected that. (In fact I've seen it mentioned that Pancho's regular 1st serves were more like Pete's best second serves!) I'm pretty sure Braden was taking into account the changes Pancho would make in the modern era, with the jump, knee bend, etc.

    BTW no racquet is gonna gain you a whopping 20 mph, at least not if you're a Sampras or Gonzales. The big uptick was due to the radar changes that I just mentioned.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Well, Pancho had one of the biggest serves in tennis history with a wood racquet. Mike Sangster and Colin Dibley are the only players I can think of off the top who served bigger with wood. IMO, Stan Smith, who also had a big serve, imitated Pancho's motion. I would love to be able to serve with such an efficient motion. Especially Pancho's pronation. I've never seen anyone pronate better than Pancho.

    PS: Now that you mention the difference in power between wood and modern racquets, there was an article that appeared in Tennis Magazine a decade or so ago, as I recall, in which Mark Philoppoussis' serve was measured, at sea level, with a Dunlop Fort and with his regular graphite frame, and he only serve 1mph faster with his regular frame. And, I can tell you from personal experience, the Dunlop has a soft head even for wood compared to a Kramer, Slazenger or Davis racquet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
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  17. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    The modern method of measuring the speed of the ball as it leaves the racquet strings is obviously less relevant than the older system used for Gonzales and Hoad, which looked at the speed when the opposing player received the ball. This is what really counts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
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  18. GregHenley

    GregHenley New User

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    REAL players serve speeds..

    Guys-

    I've seen all of these guys from Connors, Borg, Mac......up to now with Isner. I've been very close and seen VERY many matches with the radar guns. After a while you start to be able to guesstimate serve speeds with some accuracy. --as Brad Gilbert does on TV. All players serve in a range of course and occasionally surprise themselves with the speed. Mostly in the range though. Remember when Nadal got a few 130s? It was an eye opener. Nothing since then. It wasn't a "grip change"!
    So here is the Scoop:

    Connors: the slowest of the list. Like a WTA serve. Range: 70s-100teens(on a good day!)
    Borg: Sometimes heat. Rare. Slow second. 1st serves 80s-low 120s
    Mac: Moslty 1st serves in the 100-120 range. Never above 125.
    Becker: very big for the day. 1st serves in the 115-130 range
    Edberg: rarely up above 120. Often around 105-110
    Agassi/Courier: rare serve above 120. Mostly in the 100teens.
    Don't forget, Sampras in the 1st 3 or 4 yrs as a pro was in the 1-teens. RARELY getting into the 120s. Later her was routine 120s, some 130s. Roddick was the 1st dependable 130s server.

    Greg
     
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  19. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I thought that Chang used a big Prince even back in his prime.?
     
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  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    According to TW, he started with a POG oversized which was 107si. In the second half of his career, it was commonly mentioned that he used an extra long racquet for more power. Having said that, I think I've seen old pics of Chang using a Prince Pro which was an aluminum frame with a huge head size, maybe 110.
     
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  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^Yes, that's what I thought. So he played with 107-110 sq. in. when in his prime.

    Dang! What's he playing with now that's bigger? 120?
     
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  22. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    For the record I wasn't focusing on Pancho's motion per se, but rather the strategy behind it at the time. As you may well know players didn't go for an outright freebie on every serve back then (Pancho himself is on record for claiming that flat serves were for showoffs). Obviously he'd have a different approach today, and here Braden's guess is probably not too far off.

    Yes, I've seen even a few good club players serve near their usual speeds with wood, and with less than a day's practice to boot. No reason to think an all-time-great server like Pancho wouldn't achieve the same result as well.

    He did, and now he'd be using a bigger one that makes Bartoli's look minuscule in comparison. :lol:

    In all seriousness, I wasn't just thinking in terms of size, but also spin. Most likely he'd get a higher % of 1st serves in today, and we all know that used to be his biggest problem.
     
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  23. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I've seen one match of Pancho's(his 112 game match, a 2224 16 1614 63 119 win over Pasarell at '69 Wimbledon) & in terms of power his serve doesn't seem anywhere near the league of Newcombe, Ashe or even Laver.

    But as you said his goals on serve weren't to hit aces etc, but to get a high % in(he made 33 straight 1st serves at one point & served at 84% in the last 2 sets....I can only recall Wilander, Borg or Nadal getting those kinds of numbers so late in a match)

    I can see why he had such legendary stamina, since he paced himself so well on serve. And backed it up so well with great volleys & overheads(think he hit more overheads in this one match than any player today hits in months)

    Only lost serve 3 times, one in the 1st, twice in the 2nd(& it seemed like he basically tanked the 2nd set since he was infuriated by the decision to not stop play after the 1st set. Light was pretty bad at that point)
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
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  24. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I don't think you can judge Pancho's serve by that match. Pancho was 40 years old, and that match was a war of attrition against the #1 ranked American at the time.

    From what I've read, Pancho had the biggest serve, and hit the most aces, of anyone on the pro tours he played on. The fact is, Pancho went for, and succeeded at hitting a lot of aces when he was down. Vic Braden writes at length about how dominant Pancho's first serve was. He explains that, because Pancho's serve was so dominant, a pro event was held in which the players were allowed only one serve per point. Pancho dominated even more than usual with only one serve.

    Pancho's serve technique was immaculate. Check out his serve here at about 25 seconds. If you stop it at just the right moment after contact (right foot stepping across, right elbow up, racquet head past vertical), you can capture the amazing pronation that Pancho got on is serve.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=l2rydnvswts#t=25s
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
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  25. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    from what I've read(& from what Kramer said throughout the match & according to Pancho himself) is that Pancho was big on making a lot of 1st serves throughout his career (surely you've heard of his rep of always making 1st serves down break point?)

    doesn't that seem like a bit of a contradiction? that someone could serve at such a high % throughout his career & also be a 'big server?'
    and did 'big server' in those times really mean what it came to mean once Becker started hitting 100 aces in one tournament(while only serving at like 50%)? Would love to know what the 'most aces' meant in the 1950s. I'm guessing it meant something quite differently than we think of today.

    Now I'm not saying he was just spinning his serves in, they were agressive serves(they had to be because he was coming in behind all of them) but they were much more about placement than power(seemed like he could hit a dime)

    Yeah its just one match(which happens to be the most famous match of his career), but I really doubt Pancho circa '59 served anything like Sampras or really played so differently from Pancho '69(Kramer went on about how he was still as fit as ever & hadn't gained an ounce since his 20s. Like Rosewall he was a freak of nature)

    His service motion was not really one designed to get a lot of aces or service winners, certainly not compared to say Newcombe imo. Not surprised he could dominate with one serve(of course I heard that story as well) since he had such great volleys & overheads & court coverage in general (he had an incredible reach, it seemed almost impossible to get the ball by him at times) He was quite a bit more than a serve(btw he never came over his bh once in this match, it was Rosewall like)

    It was quite a treat to see this match, I don't imagine any other Gonzales matches will ever turn up, something is better than nothing. Maybe you will get to see it on youtube some day.
     
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  26. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I would guess so too, it's hard to tell without more footage.

    I've watched the 46 games of the first set, in Gonzalez-Pasarell. Pancho's serve does not seem like a monster, but he did serve more aces when he was younger.

    1948 Forest Hills final, lasted 43 games, he served 16 aces.
    1949 Forest Hills final, lasted 67 games, he served 27 aces.

    The '69 match went 112 games, I don't know what his ace total was but he may have had fewer than in the much shorter '48 match.

    His serve back in the '40s was described as "thunderous" and "devastating." No one would say that about his serve in '69.

    But nothing strange about that. People who observed Tilden in 1940 said that his cannonball lacked its past "fury".

    He may have been fit, but you can see how much speed he's lost. He seems not as fast as Pasarell, certainly not as fast as Laver was at that Wimbledon.
     
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  27. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Why don't you post it up on youtube? Better to share a historic match like that with the whole world than compiling stats and sharing them to a handful of nerds on the internet (borderline autistic behaviour). Do you actually like the game of tennis like the rest of us on this forum, or is it numbers and statistics you like?

    I mean, virtually all of the matches you do already have statistics on them, at the end of the sets and matches they flash up on the screen. I'd understand if you were a PHD student or writing a book or something..?

    Look at the effect Krosero's posting of Rod Laver's matches on youtube had. No one was considering him to be a great player like Federer until then. Tennis journalists wrote articles about it and linked Krosero's videos. No one could have imagined a 5'7'' player with a wooden racket was so good until they saw it with their own eyes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
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