Originally Posted by NonP
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:
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.