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NonP 01-14-2010 04:12 AM

Greatest Serves of All Time
 
I've noticed that among the zillion GOAT threads in this forum there isn't a single one devoted to the greatest serves (for real), and since the serve is the shot least affected by outside variables (including racquets and strings) I've decided to create a new thread myself. Here's my preliminary ranking:

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

Honorary mentions:

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

Now a couple of things:

1) The purpose of this thread is to rank the serve as a pure stand-alone shot mostly free of outside factors. That is, McEnroe's serve had top-notch disguise, variety and placement and, as pc1 pointed out, his great hook in the ad court won him many points, but would his serve be as effective for a non-S&Ver? That's an important question to me, whether the player's serve would suit all playing styles. (I suppose we could create two separate rankings--one for net-rushers and the other for baseliners--but that would make this discussion even more hopeless than it already is.) By the same token, Edberg and Rafter had great kick serves that they could follow up with their tried-and-true forays to the net, but I think we can agree that most players would pick Goran's or Karlovic's serve over that of these S&V masters.

Similarly, Goran and Stich were headcases and as a result their whole game suffered on occasion, but not when they kept their head together. On the other hand Arthurs' 1st-serve percentage often averaged below 55%, which tells me the problem was more than mental. And my ranking is weighted more toward the 1st serve and based on serves as opposed to service games. These are the reasons why Sampras doesn't rank at the very top as some of you have fairly argued.

2) Let's limit this list to the best of the best. Put more bluntly, we can talk about mere big servers like Safin and Tsonga on another thread.

3) Given the lack of sufficient visual evidence and the different rules they had to serve under (like keeping one foot on the ground), I think it all but impossible to rank such old-timers as Tilden, Vines and Kramer with a fair degree of certainty. Hence their honorary mentions.

Now it's your turn to sound off and tell us where these and other servers should rank. Just try to give some reasoning behind your rankings especially of the pre-1980s candidates. Much as I appreciate your input I can't take anyone's word on faith. So instead of just stating the obvious like "X could crank it up" or "Y had a great 2nd serve," say something more helpful like "Tanner's great disguise and nearly on-the-rise delivery put him ahead of (fill in the blank)." You get the drift.

AndyArodRoddick 01-14-2010 05:12 AM

what ? richard and michael above andy ??? you cannot be serious!..otherwise its OK.

pc1 01-14-2010 05:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NonP (Post 4276314)
I've noticed that among the zillion GOAT threads in this forum there isn't a single one devoted to the greatest serves (for real), and since the serve is the shot least affected by outside variables (including racquets and strings) I've decided to create a new thread myself. Here's my preliminary ranking, in descending order:

Ivanisevic
Karlovic
Krajicek
Sampras
Stich
Roddick
Becker
Rusedski

Now a couple of things:

1) Let me stress that this thread is about serves as opposed to service games. For example, Edberg and Rafter had great kick serves that they could follow up with their tried-and-true net approaches, but I think we can agree that non-S&Vers would pick Goran's or Karlovic's serve over that of these masterly net-rushers.

2) My ranking is weighted heavily toward the 1st serve, which is why Sampras doesn't rank very high.

3) Let's limit this list to the best of the best. Put more bluntly, we can talk about mere big servers like Safin and Tsonga on another thread.

4) For now only those servers with a relatively respectable resume are included, so a few bomb throwers including Forget, Rosset, Arthurs, Johansson and Isner have been left out. (I suppose that should also put Karlovic and Rusedski out of contention, but these two are so infamous for their serves it was impossible not to include them.) But there are a few iffy ones like Curren and Philippoussis who are not all-time greats but no one-trick ponies, either. Anyway feel free to make your case and tell us where these and other servers should rank. IMO Flipper is about in the same league as Stich.

And last but not least I've only included players since Borg, so the title of this thread will be a misnomer for some time. I just don't feel qualified to rank, say, Newcombe and Tanner, let alone Vines, Tilden and Gonzales. But again you can sound off on these old-timers and others below. (BTW speaking of old-timers, who were the great servers of the '80s? Off the top of my head I can think of McEnroe, Becker, Curren, Forget... and that's it.) Like I said this list is preliminary and I plan to add to and revise it for the next few days.

If you're going to just include first serves than I guess we have to look at the effectiveness of the first serve and the percentage that they got it in. Goran to be had the best first serve if he got it in but guys like Roddick, while I don't think his first serve (when he got it in) is as effective as Ivanisevic gets it more often. It's not unusual for Roddick to get it in about 80% of the time.

I'll go with Goran when he gets it in but I'm not sure about overall effectiveness.

You really should include second serve in the equation because that's a very important part of the serving process.

Smartbucks 01-14-2010 05:50 AM

Roscoe Tanner and Kevin Curren are vastly underrated servers imo.

mtr1 01-14-2010 07:03 AM

Karlovic. All the others had groundstrokes. Karlovic's serve has got him into the top 15, when the rest of his game is outside the top 100. Goran is a clear second, then you could group Sampras, Stich, Becker, Roddick etc as similar in standard.

drakulie 01-14-2010 07:06 AM

There are plenty of threads on this subject.

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/searc...archid=7177762

Anyway, Sampras hands down has the best serve of all time.

SirSweetSpot 01-14-2010 07:18 AM

^^LMMFAO!!!

Er...Sampras in a landslide, dude never even had to concentrate on serve LOL.

NonP 01-14-2010 12:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pc1 (Post 4276440)
If you're going to just include first serves than I guess we have to look at the effectiveness of the first serve and the percentage that they got it in. Goran to be had the best first serve if he got it in but guys like Roddick, while I don't think his first serve (when he got it in) is as effective as Ivanisevic gets it more often. It's not unusual for Roddick to get it in about 80% of the time.

I'll go with Goran when he gets it in but I'm not sure about overall effectiveness.

You really should include second serve in the equation because that's a very important part of the serving process.

Looks like I didn't put my point across very well. I didn't mean that I was excluding the 2nd serve entirely. My point was just that I gave a greater weight to the 1st serve. Maybe "heavily" was too strong a word.

Also I did consider the percentages. That's why Rusedski is ranked rather low despite the serious mileage he put on his 1st serves.

hoodjem 01-14-2010 01:08 PM

1. Ivanisevic
2. Karlovic
3. Krajicek
4. Sampras
5. Stich
6. Roddick
7. Becker
8. Rusedski

Is this your numerical order?

NonP 01-14-2010 01:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hoodjem (Post 4277573)
1. Ivanisevic
2. Karlovic
3. Krajicek
4. Sampras
5. Stich
6. Roddick
7. Becker
8. Rusedski

Is this your numerical order?

For now. Like I said I'll be adding to and revising the list after hearing people's opinions, looking at the stats and watching more videos than my free time allows. :)

hoodjem 01-14-2010 01:34 PM

Here's mine:

1. Sampras
2. Ivanisevic
3. P. Gonzales
4. Roddick
5. Krajicek
6. Stich
7. Tanner
8. Newcombe
9. Tilden
10. Curren
11. Edberg
12. Federer
13. McEnroe
14. Becker
15. Dibley
16. Karlovic
17. Rusedski
18. Kramer
19. Fraser
20. Denton
21. Noah
22. Borg
23. D. Pate
24. S. Smith

World Beater 01-14-2010 01:43 PM

wow...roddick lower than stich

ok. interesting choice.

roddick wins more 1st serve % pts than stich and sampras i believe.
that too in this reduced court speed era.

Blade0324 01-14-2010 01:47 PM

I'm not going to say that he is the best server ever as that would simply not be true. However, IMO he should be mentioned as having one of the best serves out there even though the rest of his game was not as good as some others. Scott Warner held the record for fastest serve in competition at 147 until Roddick broke that. To go along with that he is 6'5" and the ball kicks extremely high off both first and second serves. This was good enough to get him into the top 100 in late 1989. You can watch some of his work by looking for the 1989 Sydney Indoor video's against Mark Kratz and Daren Cahill.

NonP 01-14-2010 01:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hoodjem (Post 4277661)
Here's mine:

1. Sampras
2. Ivanisevic
3. Krajicek
4. P. Gonzales
5. Stich
6. Karlovic
7. Tanner
8. Tilden
9. Roddick
10. Becker
11. Edberg
12. Federer
13. McEnroe

Thanks for your input, but I'd like to read your reasoning for some of these old-timers. Most of us have barely seen Gonzales and particularly Tilden play.

And I must say I don't think Federer belongs on this list at all. In fact it's quite debatable he's the 3rd best server even now.

Don't Let It Bounce 01-14-2010 01:53 PM

I also am underqualified to rank the old guys with any degree of certainty, but Colin Dibley may deserve the same pass on Condition 4 as Rusedski and Karlovic. Given how much is made of the difference equipment has made in the power level of the pro game (too much, maybe, but that's another thread), it's noteworthy that Dibley and his woodie (insert your own joke here) held the fast serve record for a long time after wood racquets were museum pieces.

Like the above poster, I think it's hard to overrate the importance of Roddick's 1st serve %. That, along with the effectiveness of his 2nd serve, makes his the one I'd want, even over Sampras's and Karlovics, if I could have anyone's.

NonP 01-14-2010 02:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by World Beater (Post 4277690)
wow...roddick lower than stich

ok. interesting choice.

roddick wins more 1st serve % pts than stich and sampras i believe.
that too in this reduced court speed era.

One thing I didn't stress in the OP was that I want to rank these serves as pure shots mostly free of outside factors. That is, Goran and Stich were headcases and as a result their whole game suffered on occasion, but not when they kept their head together. On the other hand Rusedski's 1st-serve percentage usually averaged around 50%, which tells me the problem was more than mental. I'll add this note to the OP.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blade0324 (Post 4277703)
I'm not going to say that he is the best server ever as that would simply not be true. However, IMO he should be mentioned as having one of the best serves out there even though the rest of his game was not as good as some others. Scott Warner held the record for fastest serve in competition at 147 until Roddick broke that. To go along with that he is 6'5" and the ball kicks extremely high off both first and second serves. This was good enough to get him into the top 100 in late 1989. You can watch some of his work by looking for the 1989 Sydney Indoor video's against Mark Kratz and Daren Cahill.

Unfortunately Warner is rather unrepresented on the Web (not even a short article on Wikipedia) so it'll be pretty hard to give the guy due consideration. Thanks for the shout-out anyway. Never heard of him before.

NonP 01-14-2010 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don't Let It Bounce (Post 4277714)
I also am underqualified to rank the old guys with any degree of certainty, but Colin Dibley may deserve the same pass on Condition 4 as Rusedski and Karlovic. Given how much is made of the difference equipment has made in the power level of the pro game (too much, maybe, but that's another thread), it's noteworthy that Dibley and his woodie (insert your own joke here) held the fast serve record for a long time after wood racquets were museum pieces.

Like the above poster, I think it's hard to overrate the importance of Roddick's 1st serve %. That, along with the effectiveness of his 2nd serve, makes his the one I'd want, even over Sampras's ad Karlovics, if I could have anyone's.

I know Dibley used to hold the record, but as you say the guy's from the medieval times. That's why I'm asking people to weigh in with what they know and have seen.

BTW the difference equipment makes in serve speed is negligible, for pros anyway. We're talking about 4-5 mph plus max with a proper technique.

And I just addressed your point about Roddick above.

hoodjem 01-14-2010 04:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NonP (Post 4277792)
I know Dibley used to hold the record, but as you say the guy's from the medieval times.

I guess that would make Gonzales ancient, and Tilden prehistoric.

mental midget 01-14-2010 04:56 PM

i'm going to narrow it to first serves, that i got to see on a consisent basis:

1. goran, no question. he got the ball so far from guys, he may as well have been serving to the opposite service box.
2. three way tie! stich, forget, krajicek.
3. pete

plenty of other great guys, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind.

edit: just for the record, overall serve goes to pete. no big surprise, but when you factor in the 2nd, along with repeatability over time, and clutch moments, i don't know how i could pick anybody else.

Changmaster 01-14-2010 05:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mental midget (Post 4278574)
i'm going to narrow it to first serves, that i got to see on a consisent basis:

1. goran, no question. he got the ball so far from guys, he may as well have been serving to the opposite service box.
2. three way tie! stich, forget, krajicek.
3. pete

plenty of other great guys, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind.

edit: just for the record, overall serve goes to pete. no big surprise, but when you factor in the 2nd, along with repeatability over time, and clutch moments, i don't know how i could pick anybody else.

You're forgetting Karlovic:)


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