Greatest Serves of All Time

Damn 68% for the whole match? Pretty surprised to see such a number from Anderson who I think has a top-notch serve but not an overpowering one. I'll pay closer attention to him from now on.

Didn't catch a single second of yesterday's shocker live but it seems like typical stuff from Kev: no panic despite being down, kept playing solid and in this case got the W. He should be able to get by Isner (though if John returns like he did yesterday it'll be pretty close) but again come up short in the final.

BTW my old desktop/hard drive went kaput literally 2-3 days after my recent move and my local PC guy (who happens to be one of my clients) couldn't save it, so I'll need to pay a specialty data recovery center a small fortune to get my tennis spreadsheets back. :mad: Should have most of the stuff backed up already if the worst comes to pass... but obviously I'll be crossing my fingers.
Yikes, painful to think of so much work lost, hope you recover everything.
 
Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on a match in Philly, March 16, 1934, Vines d. Cochet 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1

Vines Outpaces Cochet

Vines, now the hardest hitter in tennis, had entirely too much pace for Cochet from the back courts. At times the Californian was wild, but once he got the range Cochet realized the hopelessness of trying to battle it out with the youngster from the base line.

So Henri decided to carry his campaign to the net and for a time was successful. The younger man finally drove the Davis Cup star from overseas back with beautiful passing shots, and after that it was all over. Vines’ cannon-ball service and his stroking overhead were fearsome weapons that made the crowd gasp as the Californian sent the ball whistling through the air with such speed that the eye could not follow its flight.

In bringing the match to an end on his own service Vines whistled over four service aces that no player in the world could have touched.​
 
Yikes, painful to think of so much work lost, hope you recover everything.
Well, just got a quote from the data recovery shop and it turns out that exhuming my dead HD will set me back... $481!!!!!!! Granted it was somewhat lower than I expected (my client had estimated $700-1200, based on his past experience with them), but I just picked up my new desktop for $360 for Pete's sake (that client gave me a sweet deal). That's with an extra backup drive attached!

They did say my chances of recovering most of the data are high, but given that I've been bleeding cash like Marie Antoinette that's only a small comfort. :(:mad:

Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on a match in Philly, March 16, 1934, Vines d. Cochet 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1

Vines Outpaces Cochet

Vines, now the hardest hitter in tennis, had entirely too much pace for Cochet from the back courts. At times the Californian was wild, but once he got the range Cochet realized the hopelessness of trying to battle it out with the youngster from the base line.

So Henri decided to carry his campaign to the net and for a time was successful. The younger man finally drove the Davis Cup star from overseas back with beautiful passing shots, and after that it was all over. Vines’ cannon-ball service and his stroking overhead were fearsome weapons that made the crowd gasp as the Californian sent the ball whistling through the air with such speed that the eye could not follow its flight.

In bringing the match to an end on his own service Vines whistled over four service aces that no player in the world could have touched.​
By just about all contemporary accounts Vines was the Sampras of his generation, not just in terms of their serving prowess but also their high-risk approach to the game. I think you already know I often compare Elly to Pete and Budge to Fed, at least if we're to go by Kramer's description of his predecessors.

Per NY Times, 60% of Isner's serves were unreturned vs Raonic. And 47% of Raonic's serves were unret.
I wish they'd provide the xxx/total points breakdown when they cite stats like this. Would make our job a lot easier.
 
Last edited:
Wimbledon.org has Anderson and Isner each at 47% unreturned serves today: http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/news/articles/2018-07-13/isner_v_anderson_the_battle_by_numbers.html

Anderson served 278 points, Isner 291.
You see, this is why I'd like to see an actual point breakdown for these stats, because when they say each had 47% of his serves unreturned in long matches (let alone marathons like this one) there's usually a bit of wiggle room. Anywhere between 130-132 unreturned serves would give Anderson 47%, while 136-138 would result in the same % for Isner. How hard is it to share a couple more numbers here? Or better yet just make unreturned serves a standard serve stat for all matches going forward!

Anyhoo much has been made of Isner's new record 214 aces at this edition of Wimbledon, so let's compare his #s with those of his predecessor. From Goran's '01 run:

Here are Goran's ace %s from each round of his '01 Wimby run, calculated as # of aces divided by total service points (in parentheses):

1R - 31.0% (22/71)
2R - 28.9% (35/121)
3R - 36.9% (41/111)
4R - 25.9% (22/85)
QF - 22.4% (30/134)
SF - 20.9% (36/172)
F - 16.5% (27/164)
Total - 24.8% (213/858)
And John's:

1R - 31.8% (28/88)
2R - 41.6% (64/154)
3R - 28.8% (21/73)
4R - 22% (22/100)
QF - 21.7% (26/120)
SF - 18.2% (53/291)
Total - 25.9% (214/826)

So Isner actually had a better ace % (his 2nd-round % is actually higher than even Goran's against a totally hapless Roddick in his 3rd round)... but if you take out Goran's beloved final vs. Rafter you get 26.8% (186/694) for the Croat. That's without taking into account the likely higher average 1st-serve % Goran would be posting with the latest racquet. Which shows what a dream run Ivanisevic had that magical fortnight (in fact his average % thru the 1st four rounds is actually superior to Karlovic's from his '15 run, as I showed in my original post), and why his serve may well be the most devastating weapon in tennis history.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Damn 68% for the whole match? Pretty surprised to see such a number from Anderson who I think has a top-notch serve but not an overpowering one. I'll pay closer attention to him from now on.

Didn't catch a single second of yesterday's shocker live but it seems like typical stuff from Kev: no panic despite being down, kept playing solid and in this case got the W. He should be able to get by Isner (though if John returns like he did yesterday it'll be pretty close) but again come up short in the final.
nothing typical about it. Anderson has choked so often before. So it was a huge surprise that he held it together to take 3 sets in a row from Fed.
And fed blew his chances apart from being below par after set 1.
 
To @abmk @Moose Malloy @NonP or anyone who knows --

Were the unreturned serves recorded at this Wimbledon? I see "service winners" next to the aces but those are low numbers and undoubtedly just the judgment calls.

Would be interested in particular to track what the unreturned serves were in Djokovic/Nadal (Novak had a career-high in aces).
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
To @abmk @Moose Malloy @NonP or anyone who knows --

Were the unreturned serves recorded at this Wimbledon? I see "service winners" next to the aces but those are low numbers and undoubtedly just the judgment calls.

Would be interested in particular to track what the unreturned serves were in Djokovic/Nadal (Novak had a career-high in aces).
I often saw unreturned serves listed by the BBC at the end of sets but they didn't always show the same stats, not sure if it varied by court or something.
 
Let's start with the long-overdue update:
  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. Stich
  17. Tanner
  18. Rusedski
  19. Federer
  20. Muller
And the Honorary Hall of Fame (by order of birth as usual):
  • 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
NonP, hope it went well with your data recovery.

So I've been saying for a long time on this thread that I have a lot of data on pre-OE greats in an unorganized form. Well I'm finally putting together large parts of the data and getting some real results.

Starting with Pancho Gonzalez for now, will try to put something together for Elly Vines next.

I have service data for Pancho taken from 24 of his matches in the 1948-56 period. Nearly all of them were in fast indoor conditions, with two long matches on grass from his amateur period.

He won 20 of these 24 matches.

His totals:

He won 56.2% of all games

He served a total of 252 aces

He won 68.2% of his own service points, and 87.1% of all his service games

And he won 25.5% of all his return games
 
@NonP:

Someone will do the stats & post the unreturned serve#s on TennisAbstract, I think.
I might have told you this before but I'm not really sold on TA. When I looked at their #s they always seemed to have one annoying error or another. Maybe they've gotten better, but I'd still trust our stats or the official ones over theirs.

nothing typical about it. Anderson has choked so often before. So it was a huge surprise that he held it together to take 3 sets in a row from Fed.
And fed blew his chances apart from being below par after set 1.
I'll take your word for it but I said that about Kev cuz he just doesn't seem to panic. (In fact unflappable is the word I tend to associate with him or at least his demeanor.) Of course he may just hide it better than most.

To @abmk @Moose Malloy @NonP or anyone who knows --

Were the unreturned serves recorded at this Wimbledon? I see "service winners" next to the aces but those are low numbers and undoubtedly just the judgment calls.

Would be interested in particular to track what the unreturned serves were in Djokovic/Nadal (Novak had a career-high in aces).
I know this is a (very) late reply but no, I don't think so. Since some of the broadcasts seemed to show URS's I was hoping the Wimby website would include 'em in the match stats, but all of 'em (or at least the ones I checked) followed the same standard format used for the other 3 majors (1st-serve %, aces, service games won, etc.). I'm beginning to think IBM shares URS stats with the tournaments but keeps 'em from public consumption for $$$ reasons.

NonP, hope it went well with your data recovery.

So I've been saying for a long time on this thread that I have a lot of data on pre-OE greats in an unorganized form. Well I'm finally putting together large parts of the data and getting some real results.

Starting with Pancho Gonzalez for now, will try to put something together for Elly Vines next.

I have service data for Pancho taken from 24 of his matches in the 1948-56 period. Nearly all of them were in fast indoor conditions, with two long matches on grass from his amateur period.

He won 20 of these 24 matches.

His totals:

He won 56.2% of all games

He served a total of 252 aces

He won 68.2% of his own service points, and 87.1% of all his service games

And he won 25.5% of all his return games
Yes, thankfully they did a bang-up job with pretty much all the important data. (As they damn should have for $481!!!!!!!) Haven't had time to transfer all the files 'cause I got back my old HD less than 2 weeks ago and had to leave town soon afterwards for a 6-day road trip (a bud was moving to Denver so I decided to tag along), but once I do I'll try to update my collections with the latest stats and share them here.

Those are pretty impressive #s for Big Pancho. I'm guessing 87.1% of service games won would translate to something like 90% today, and 25.5% of return games won ain't half bad, either. And of course few of his opponents were scrubs, which makes his #s stand out even more.
 
Yes, thankfully they did a bang-up job with pretty much all the important data. (As they damn should have for $481!!!!!!!) Haven't had time to transfer all the files 'cause I got back my old HD less than 2 weeks ago and had to leave town soon afterwards for a 6-day road trip (a bud was moving to Denver so I decided to tag along), but once I do I'll try to update my collections with the latest stats and share them here.

Those are pretty impressive #s for Big Pancho. I'm guessing 87.1% of service games won would translate to something like 90% today, and 25.5% of return games won ain't half bad, either. And of course few of his opponents were scrubs, which makes his #s stand out even more.
Good to hear and look forward to whatever you have.

BTW these are the 24 Gonzalez matches

d. Sturgess, 1948 US Champs final

d. Schroeder, 1949 US Champs final

lost to Kramer, 1949 Baltimore pro tour match

d. Richards, 1950 Philadelphia Pro R16

d. Segura, 1950 Philadelphia Pro QF

d. Riggs, 1950 Philadelphia Pro SF

d. Kramer, 1950 Philadelphia Pro final

d. Kovacs, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. van Horn, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. Segura, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. Riggs, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

lost to Kramer, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. Kramer, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (1st of 2 meetings)

d. Kovacs, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (1st of 2 meetings)

d. Segura, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (1st of 2 meetings)

d. Segura, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (2nd of 2 meetings)

lost to Kovacs, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (2nd of 2 meetings)

d. Kramer, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (2nd of 2 meetings)

d. Sedgman, 1954 NYC WS opener

d. Segura, 1954 NYC WS opener

d. Budge, 1954 Philadelphia RR

lost to Segura, 1954 Philadelphia RR

d. Sedgman, 1954 Philadelphia RR

d. Trabert, 1956 Philadelphia pro tour match


My data set for Vines is larger, I have 43 matches, from 1930-39. It's not fully organized yet but I can see already that some of the numbers are lower than Pancho's. Service points won, Vines has a high of 70.4% (against Tilden in a '34 meeting) and he goes as low as 35.4% (loss to Perry in '38). Pancho's high was 79.6% (vs. Sedgman in a '54 match), his low 57.1% (loss to Segura in '54).

But if Vines' numbers are shown to be lower than Pancho's, that would not mean that Pancho was the greater server necessarily, not if service numbers have been going up steadily over the years as we've been speculating.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
I might have told you this before but I'm not really sold on TA. When I looked at their #s they always seemed to have one annoying error or another. Maybe they've gotten better, but I'd still trust our stats or the official ones over theirs.
yeah, but that's more to do with stats like winners/UEs....I don't trust TA charters in that regard.
But unreturned serves should be fine. Point by point is charted and the total no of unreturned serves gets summed.
Hard to get that wrong (though obviously not impossible)



I'll take your word for it but I said that about Kev cuz he just doesn't seem to panic. (In fact unflappable is the word I tend to associate with him or at least his demeanor.) Of course he may just hide it better than most.
that's just how he looks. He's a pretty big choker/mentally weak in reality.

In fact, just a few weeks before Wimbledon, he choked big time at RG vs Schwartzmann.
up 2 sets to love and 5-4, he lost 3 games in a row.
serving again for it at 5-4 in the 4th set, got broken and lost that set in a TB.

https://www.sport24.co.za/Tennis/Fr...throw-away-french-open-quarters-spot-20180604
 
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.
Well i remember watching Dibley on tv hitting aces with his acient racquet on slow red clay. On the other hand, during the 70s players werent that used to returning really fast serves. Thats why nowadays its much more difficult to hit aces. Federer doesnt even try. He just camouflage where and with what spin he serves, giving him often an easy putaway.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
@NonP :

I was just watching Fed vs Falla Wimbledon 2004 (2R). Curious how exactly that had gone after having watched the near debacle in Wim 2010.
Fed beat him 1,2 and 0. Flawless stuff from fed (everything was clicking). falla didn't do much wrong tbh, just didn't have overpowering weapons.

But importantly for this thread , noticed fed's unreturned serves were high. So quickly ran though the match.

1st set : 10/21 unreturned (9/18 on 1st and 1/3 on 2nd)
2nd set : 10/22 unreturned (6/16 on 1st and 4/6 on 2nd)
3rd set : 8/14 unreturned (6/9 on 1st and 2/5 on 2nd)

So total = 28/57 (49.12%). Just barely missed the 50% mark. was 26/51 before the last game (where he went 2/6) !!

1st serve unret. = 21/43 (48.83%)
2nd serve unret. = 7/14 (50%)

Federer had 75% of 1st serves in (43/57)
Winning % on 1st Serve 36 of 43 = 84 %
Winning % on 2nd Serve 9 of 14 = 64 %

https://web.archive.org/web/2004062...on.org:80/en_GB/scores/stats/day4/1065ms.html
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
@abmk @NonP
I read that only 14% of Del Potro's serves were unreturned today. Do either of you know what typical rates are for him? Or have his stats in the W QF vs Nadal?
vs Nadal in Wim 18 QF :

64/175 = 36.57%

http://www.tennisabstract.com/chart...on-QF-Rafael_Nadal-Juan_Martin_Del_Potro.html

There are 62 matches charted for JMDP over here:
http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/meta.html

For any match on TA :

Check the return breakdown. (of opponent)
Get the in play field (service returns in play)
Check the no of DFs

Unreturned serves = Total number of serves - in play - DFs
 
vs Nadal in Wim 18 QF :

64/175 = 36.57%

http://www.tennisabstract.com/chart...on-QF-Rafael_Nadal-Juan_Martin_Del_Potro.html

There are 62 matches charted for JMDP over here:
http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/meta.html

For any match on TA :

Check the return breakdown. (of opponent)
Get the in play field (service returns in play)
Check the no of DFs

Unreturned serves = Total number of serves - in play - DFs
Thanks. Do you think his low number today was due to the slow surface or a poor serving day?
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Thanks. Do you think his low number today was due to the slow surface or a poor serving day?
was it from this ?

To be sure, Djokovic had to work hard over the course of the battle. Only 14 percent of his serves were unreturned by an opponent with a very long wing span.

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2018/09/novak-djokovic-juan-martin-del-potro-us-open-final/76858/

That's referring to unreturned serve% for Djokovic, not Delpo.

Djoko didn't serve all that well.
Delpo served ok, but could've done better. He had 89 service points. 6 aces. I'm guessing he'd have had atleast another 12 unreturned serves. so total unret. serves% would be above 20%(>=18), but don't expect it to be higher than 25% (<=22 total unreturned serves I'm thinking) and definitely less than 30% (<=27 total unreturned serves)
 
From https://www.bbc.com/sport/tennis/45468005

Before the final, Del Potro had seen 41% of his serves unreturned in the tournament.

That figure dropped to 17% in the first set as Djokovic wore him down in some long rallies.​

Early in the second set, I think, the ESPN commentators said that Djokovic had missed very few returns, and they gave the exact numbers though I don't recall what they were. But IIRC it was something in the single digits.
 
Good to hear and look forward to whatever you have.

BTW these are the 24 Gonzalez matches

d. Sturgess, 1948 US Champs final

d. Schroeder, 1949 US Champs final

lost to Kramer, 1949 Baltimore pro tour match

d. Richards, 1950 Philadelphia Pro R16

d. Segura, 1950 Philadelphia Pro QF

d. Riggs, 1950 Philadelphia Pro SF

d. Kramer, 1950 Philadelphia Pro final

d. Kovacs, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. van Horn, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. Segura, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. Riggs, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

lost to Kramer, 1951 Philadelphia Pro RR

d. Kramer, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (1st of 2 meetings)

d. Kovacs, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (1st of 2 meetings)

d. Segura, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (1st of 2 meetings)

d. Segura, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (2nd of 2 meetings)

lost to Kovacs, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (2nd of 2 meetings)

d. Kramer, 1952 Philadelphia Pro RR (2nd of 2 meetings)

d. Sedgman, 1954 NYC WS opener

d. Segura, 1954 NYC WS opener

d. Budge, 1954 Philadelphia RR

lost to Segura, 1954 Philadelphia RR

d. Sedgman, 1954 Philadelphia RR

d. Trabert, 1956 Philadelphia pro tour match


My data set for Vines is larger, I have 43 matches, from 1930-39. It's not fully organized yet but I can see already that some of the numbers are lower than Pancho's. Service points won, Vines has a high of 70.4% (against Tilden in a '34 meeting) and he goes as low as 35.4% (loss to Perry in '38). Pancho's high was 79.6% (vs. Sedgman in a '54 match), his low 57.1% (loss to Segura in '54).

But if Vines' numbers are shown to be lower than Pancho's, that would not mean that Pancho was the greater server necessarily, not if service numbers have been going up steadily over the years as we've been speculating.
I know this is real late (again) but those are lots of Ws for Pancho. Not sure what the W-L% is like for your Vines collection but I suspect his % is lower, which if true would make this comparison between the two even trickier.

yeah, but that's more to do with stats like winners/UEs....I don't trust TA charters in that regard.
But unreturned serves should be fine. Point by point is charted and the total no of unreturned serves gets summed.
Hard to get that wrong (though obviously not impossible)
For the record the TA stats I looked at were fairly standard stuff (1st-serve %, aces, DFs, etc.)... and in one case their 1st/2nd-serve tallies didn't even match the total # of service points! That's why I'm still not sold on TA. If these were winners, UFEs and the like I wouldn't have been nearly as harsh.

that's just how he looks. He's a pretty big choker/mentally weak in reality.

In fact, just a few weeks before Wimbledon, he choked big time at RG vs Schwartzmann.
up 2 sets to love and 5-4, he lost 3 games in a row.
serving again for it at 5-4 in the 4th set, got broken and lost that set in a TB.

https://www.sport24.co.za/Tennis/Fr...throw-away-french-open-quarters-spot-20180604
OK, had forgotten about his result at RG. Still he definitely gained a new fan in me at this year's Wimbledon. Dig the guy's composure and sportsmanship.

Well i remember watching Dibley on tv hitting aces with his acient racquet on slow red clay. On the other hand, during the 70s players werent that used to returning really fast serves. Thats why nowadays its much more difficult to hit aces. Federer doesnt even try. He just camouflage where and with what spin he serves, giving him often an easy putaway.
Actually it's all but certain players are hitting more aces these days, because whatever advantages the returner gains with the new racquets is probably more than canceled out by the extra spin it gives the server. And like you said most players' mindset has changed as well in that they try to win as many free points on serve as possible these days whereas they were more strategic with their serving (particularly for S&Vers) in the '70s.

But your Dibley impression is duly noted and in fact widely shared by your fellow fans from the '70s. The reason why he hasn't even made the Honorary HoF is because so far nobody has offered anything really concrete about his serve and I require some stats to back up anecdotes. You're welcome to share your numbers if you have any.

@NonP :

I was just watching Fed vs Falla Wimbledon 2004 (2R). Curious how exactly that had gone after having watched the near debacle in Wim 2010.
Fed beat him 1,2 and 0. Flawless stuff from fed (everything was clicking). falla didn't do much wrong tbh, just didn't have overpowering weapons.

But importantly for this thread , noticed fed's unreturned serves were high. So quickly ran though the match.

1st set : 10/21 unreturned (9/18 on 1st and 1/3 on 2nd)
2nd set : 10/22 unreturned (6/16 on 1st and 4/6 on 2nd)
3rd set : 8/14 unreturned (6/9 on 1st and 2/5 on 2nd)

So total = 28/57 (49.12%). Just barely missed the 50% mark. was 26/51 before the last game (where he went 2/6) !!

1st serve unret. = 21/43 (48.83%)
2nd serve unret. = 7/14 (50%)

Federer had 75% of 1st serves in (43/57)
Winning % on 1st Serve 36 of 43 = 84 %
Winning % on 2nd Serve 9 of 14 = 64 %

https://web.archive.org/web/2004062...on.org:80/en_GB/scores/stats/day4/1065ms.html
Thanks. I admit I've been rather lazy with my compilation of the latest postings but will get to it eventually. Stay tuned. :cool:

@abmk @NonP
I read that only 14% of Del Potro's serves were unreturned today. Do either of you know what typical rates are for him? Or have his stats in the W QF vs Nadal?
From https://www.bbc.com/sport/tennis/45468005

Before the final, Del Potro had seen 41% of his serves unreturned in the tournament.

That figure dropped to 17% in the first set as Djokovic wore him down in some long rallies.​

Early in the second set, I think, the ESPN commentators said that Djokovic had missed very few returns, and they gave the exact numbers though I don't recall what they were. But IIRC it was something in the single digits.
Afraid I only had two rates for Delpo, both with Fed, so I dug up three more from Voo's site (it's quite possible I got my DP-Fed numbers from him as well - see below) and here's what I've got:

2016 DC F W Cilic - 32.1% (52/162), 17 aces, 3 DFs [34.6% (55/159), 34 aces, 2 DFs]
2009 YEC F L Davydenko - 31.6% (18/57), 8 aces, 0 DFs [35.1% (20/57), 7 aces, 2 DFs]
2012 OLP SF L Federer - 26.6% (51/192), 11 aces, 5 DFs [40.2% (70/174), 24 aces, 2 DFs]
2013 WIM SF L Djokovic - 22.5% (43/191), 4 aces, 4 DFs [30.5% (54/177), 22 aces, 2 DFs]
2009 USO F W Federer - 21.1% (36/171), 8 aces, 6 DFs [24.9% (45/181), 14 aces, 11 DFs]

My human gauge tells me Delpo's overall % hovers around 30%, and we all know Delpo is a somewhat mediocre server for a player of his stature (in both senses), so that 41% before the final was a very good average for him or almost anyone else for that matter. (Haven't saved/compared the event stats for this and recent years yet, but I'm guessing the moaning about this USO being slow was probably overblown.)
 
I know this is real late (again) but those are lots of Ws for Pancho. Not sure what the W-L% is like for your Vines collection but I suspect his % is lower, which if true would make this comparison between the two even trickier.
Indeed the win/loss for the Vines sample is lower, your guess is correct. I want to proof my numbers one more time (actually the proofing process is more or less continuous as you well know) but in all the matches thus far for which I have data on service/return games won, Vines is only 29-22. So the win/loss rate is much lower than my sample for Pancho which right now is 20-5.

My Tilden sample should be 34-22, much more comparable to what I have for Vines. But I think we can get more data. So my next step, after I finish organizing everything and fine-tuning the templates I'm using, is to continue searching for boxscores; the American press provided a lot of boxscores for the US Championships at Forest Hills even for early-round matches, so that could give us a lot more data for Vines and especially for Tilden. We might get a few more for Pancho as well, in his two wins at Forest Hills, but the postwar period seems to have fewer boxscores and I'm afraid we may never increase the sample size for him by very much. Nevertheless I'm going to keep looking.

2016 DC F W Cilic - 32.1% (52/162), 17 aces, 3 DFs [34.6% (55/159), 34 aces, 2 DFs]
2009 YEC F L Davydenko - 31.6% (18/57), 8 aces, 0 DFs [35.1% (20/57), 7 aces, 2 DFs]
2012 OLP SF L Federer - 26.6% (51/192), 11 aces, 5 DFs [40.2% (70/174), 24 aces, 2 DFs]
2013 WIM SF L Djokovic - 22.5% (43/191), 4 aces, 4 DFs [30.5% (54/177), 22 aces, 2 DFs]
2009 USO F W Federer - 21.1% (36/171), 8 aces, 6 DFs [24.9% (45/181), 14 aces, 11 DFs]

My human gauge tells me Delpo's overall % hovers around 30%, and we all know Delpo is a somewhat mediocre server for a player of his stature (in both senses), so that 41% before the final was a very good average for him or almost anyone else for that matter. (Haven't saved/compared the event stats for this and recent years yet, but I'm guessing the moaning about this USO being slow was probably overblown.)
Very good, and here's one more.

2012 USO qf, L Djokovic 6-2, 7-6, 6-4

http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/IDS/StatsReport-Detailed_MS5041.pdf

Delpo 29% unr, Djok 27%
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
For the record the TA stats I looked at were fairly standard stuff (1st-serve %, aces, DFs, etc.)... and in one case their 1st/2nd-serve tallies didn't even match the total # of service points! That's why I'm still not sold on TA. If these were winners, UFEs and the like I wouldn't have been nearly as harsh.
link/links ?
 
Sampras Serving Statistics



1991-87%-Percentage of serve games held-2nd
1992-86%-4th
1993-90%-1st
1994-88%-1st
1995-89%-1st
1996-91%-1st
1997-91%-3rd
1998-89%-1st
1999-89%-2nd
2000-91%-1st

What's very impressive is that Sampras was the leader six out of ten years and was never lower than fourth. Very consistent. Clearly the best overall service game in tennis of those ten years.
With the trend toward higher percentage of holding serves nowadays I would think we have to look more at least at Standard Deviations for the top ten or perhaps top twenty in serving statistics.

Look at the stats by Sampras in the 1990s to 2000. He was first in six years in percentage of holding serve!

Even in 2001 he held 86% of the time and that ranked 6th on tour. In 2002, his last year on tour he was 4th, holding 87.2 percent of the time just behind Roddick. The leader in 2002 was Arthurs who held serve 90% of the time.

Sampras' stats for holding serve is amazing but it's probably still behind that of Isner and Karlovic even adjusting with SD but I haven't checked.
 
Last edited:

abmk

Bionic Poster
Sampras Serving Statistics



1991-87%-Percentage of serve games held-2nd
1992-86%-4th
1993-90%-1st
1994-88%-1st
1995-89%-1st
1996-91%-1st
1997-91%-3rd
1998-89%-1st
1999-89%-2nd
2000-91%-1st

What's very impressive is that Sampras was the leader six out of ten years and was never lower than fourth. Very consistent. Clearly the best overall service game in tennis of those ten years.
these is from an old collection, I assume.
Some corrections.
#1 in 91 with 87.3%
#5 in 92 with 85.5%
#2 in 98 with 88.7%
#1 in 99 with 89.9%

(From ATP site)
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
^^^^^^^^
A bit OCD, aren't we? :rolleyes: You missed the point.
No, I didn't miss the point at all.
I was just mentioning the correct stats/position for Sampras' service games% held in those years.
If you don't want correct stats , that's your problem, not mine.

If i were correcting say decimal points of something, that'd be OCD. Its not OCD when I am correcting positions of Sampras' service games% held by year.
 
Imo the best serve ever is karlovic.of course he has that unfair advantage of being like 7 foot tall but he has barely any other skill that is top200 in the world worthy and has the highest hold percentage ever despite playing in the slow court era against topspin grinders and bashers.
 
1. Sampras
2. Ivanisevic
3. P. Gonzales
4. Karlovic
5. Roddick
6. W. Arthurs
7. Krajicek
8. Tanner
9. Tilden
10. Becker
11. Stich
12. Federer
13. Fraser
14. Newcombe
15. McEnroe
16. Curren
17. Dibley
18. Ljubicic
19. Rusedski
20. Kramer
21. Edberg
22. Denton
23. Vines
24. Noah
25. D. Pate
26. S. Smith
27. Philippoussis
28. Isner
29. Johansson

Cannot say I agree, but this is more in the ballpark. This is a good list on which to start a conversation.
 
Somewhat off topic, but just noticed this:

http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/13770406/tennis-players-risk-defeat-g
oing-safe-second-serves


Some of you might remember me insisting that today's players play it too safe on their 2nd serves, and while my own claim was with respect to their increasingly less DF frequency a similar logic applies here as well. In fact Karlovic himself was clearly DFing more than usual at this year's Wimbledon, and despite what most people would think (according to them, fewer DFs = better serving) it worked out quite well for him:



Just another textbook case of how statistics can mislead when unaccompanied by a critical understanding of the issue at hand.

Could be. Often thought second serves should generally be more aggressive than they are. I'd be interested to here a top player explain why he/she doesn't go for more on the second. It sometimes seems like some fallacy that has passed down through the years. But maybe the numbers say otherwise, I wish I knew.

Here is an ordering of best to worst ratios of Double Faults to Aces. I looked at "huge servers" and "pretty big or big servers" whom had at least made a Slam final. Plus, I added in Karlovic, Isner and Kyrgios. "Pretty big" I defined as at least 0.55 aces/game. Some of these boys just barely made it.

I rounded up and down before dividing, so these are approximate ratios.

In light of the view that the DF ratio might be a misleading statistic because it might indicate timidity on second serve, I would be interested in which of the following players you guys think is/was overly shy with the second serve.

Herewith:

Roddick - 14.6/100 (I don't think Andy was shy on the second)

Isner - 15.3/100

Ivo - 17.7/100

Raonic - 20.5/100

Philippoussis - 23.8/100

Federer - 24.0/100

Tsonga - 25.0/100

Kyrgios - 25.0/100

Safin - 28.1/100

Krajicek - 28.9/100

Guga - 30.2/100

del Potro - 30.2/100

Cilic - 30.6/100

Berdych - 31.0/100

Soderling - 33.3/100

Sampras - 33.3/100

Martin - 33.9/100

Ivanisevic - 34.6/100

Johansson - 35.2/100

Murray - 37.5/100 (I rounded Andy up to make the cutoff)

Verkerk - 40.0/100

Rusdeski - 40.7/100

Baghdatis - 44.1/100

Becker - 45.4/100

Rafter - 48.6/100

Stich - 50.0/100


FERNANDO GONZALEZ - SPECIAL MENTION. Gonzalez came up just short of my arbitrary standard of 0.55 aces/game (he was at 0.54). Fernando's ratio of DFs to aces was
58/100!

My impression is that a lot of these guys who are keeping it at 30/100 or below have strong second serves - Isner, Kyrgios, Federer, Philippoussis, Safin, Kuerten, del Potro, and, Roddick.

I think when you get above that 30/100 ratio you need to rethink something. unless you are a special case, such as:

Sampras: slightly above 30/100 but such a great second serve
Becker: far higher still, but a second that was like a first
Rafter: he had to get to the net effectively at all costs

But Goran's second service was not particularly strong - it was "good" - and so I think the DF ratio works against him in consideration as one of the greatest. With his good but not threatening second serve and his highish DF ratio, I don't see Goran as close to No. 1. But I still would put him pretty high because of what he was able to do in key matches. I think these ratios call into question Rusdeski and Stich, although Michael had a nice second serve. Perhaps Roddick deserves higher consideration.
 
Last edited:
Could be. Often thought second serves should generally be more aggressive than they are. I'd be interested to here a top player explain why he/she doesn't go for more on the second. It sometimes seems like some fallacy that has passed down through the years. But maybe the numbers say otherwise, I wish I knew.

Here is an ordering of best to worst ratios of Double Faults to Aces. I looked at "huge servers" and "pretty big or big servers" whom had at least made a Slam final. Plus, I added in Karlovic, Isner and Kyrgios. "Pretty big" I defined as at least 0.55 aces/game. Some of these boys just barely made it.

I rounded up and down before dividing, so these are approximate ratios.

In light of the view that the DF ratio might be a misleading statistic because it might indicate timidity on second serve, I would be interested in which of the following players you guys think is/was overly shy with the second serve.

Herewith:

Roddick - 14.6/100 (I don't think Andy was shy on the second)

Isner - 15.3/100

Ivo - 17.7/100

Raonic - 20.5/100

Philippoussis - 23.8/100

Federer - 24.0/100

Tsonga - 25.0/100

Kyrgios - 25.0/100

Safin - 28.1/100

Krajicek - 28.9/100

Guga - 30.2/100

del Potro - 30.2/100

Cilic - 30.6/100

Berdych - 31.0/100

Soderling - 33.3/100

Sampras - 33.3/100

Martin - 33.9/100

Ivanisevic - 34.6/100

Johansson - 35.2/100

Murray - 37.5/100 (I rounded Andy up to make the cutoff)

Verkerk - 40.0/100

Rusdeski - 40.7/100

Baghdatis - 44.1/100

Becker - 45.4/100

Rafter - 48.6/100

Stich - 50.0/100


FERNANDO GONZALEZ - SPECIAL MENTION. Gonzalez came up just short of my arbitrary standard of 0.55 aces/game (he was at 0.54). Fernando's ratio of DFs to aces was
58/100!

My impression is that a lot of these guys who are keeping it at 30/100 or below have strong second serves - Isner, Kyrgios, Federer, Philippoussis, Safin, Kuerten, del Potro, and, Roddick.

I think when you get above that 30/100 ratio you need to rethink something. unless you are a special case, such as:

Sampras: slightly above 30/100 but such a great second serve
Becker: far higher still, but a second that was like a first
Rafter: he had to get to the net effectively at all costs

But Goran's second service was not particularly strong - it was "good" - and so I think the DF ratio works against him in consideration as one of the greatest. With his good but not threatening second serve and his highish DF ratio, I don't see Goran as close to No. 1. But I still would put him pretty high because of what he was able to do in key matches. I think these ratios call into question Rusdeski and Stich, although Michael had a nice second serve. Perhaps Roddick deserves higher consideration.
I dont think its fair to compare ace statistics on fast courts like grass to aces hit on slow French clay which is more difficult. Also on high attitude its more easier. And its also not fair to compare the older days with modern times because nowadays balls are made slower.
 
Somewhat off topic, but just noticed this:

http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/13770406/tennis-players-risk-defeat-going-safe-second-serves

Some of you might remember me insisting that today's players play it too safe on their 2nd serves, and while my own claim was with respect to their increasingly less DF frequency a similar logic applies here as well. In fact Karlovic himself was clearly DFing more than usual at this year's Wimbledon, and despite what most people would think (according to them, fewer DFs = better serving) it worked out quite well for him:



Just another textbook case of how statistics can mislead when unaccompanied by a critical understanding of the issue at hand.

EDITED POST

I wrote this post because it appeared from the ATP statistics that there was a strong correlation between a low DF/ace ratio and success on second serves. It appeared that Goran, Boris and Stich, three of the most prominent players on your list, had very poor percentage of success on second serves, compared to the fellows with very low, or low, DF/aces ratios, such as Roddick, Federer and Isner. I dealt with several other players as well. I suggested that it was problematic to keep Becker, Stich and Rusdeski (as well as Mueller) on the list because of their poor second-serve success rate, and that Ivanisevic could not possibly be No. 1 on this same basis.

My statistics, and therefore, my conclusions, may have been unreliable, probably were. I don't quite understand this, but I am posting below a long-ago post by Krosero that discusses the issue of "double counting" of double faults. In the event that, in fact, Becker, Stich and Ivanisevic were more successful on second service than the ATP reports, that is a very good thing.
 
Last edited:
I dont think its fair to compare ace statistics on fast courts like grass to aces hit on slow French clay which is more difficult. Also on high attitude its more easier. And its also not fair to compare the older days with modern times because nowadays balls are made slower.
Exactly. A lot of these subtleties are missed on the stats monkeys. They don't actually watch or play that much tennis.
 
Federer and Sampras are my Top 2 because they converted their servers into the greatest success.

Roddick is my #3 because it was damn good and he's a 6 Slam guy at worst without just the GOAT in his way. It broke him mentally so frankly he could be 12 Slams.

My Top 5 gets rounded out by Isner & Karlovic. Not many DFs and both have developed their serve to win them a lot of matches on its own. There's something to be said getting your serve to win you matches when you have little outside that to even be on the ATP.
 
EDITED POST

I wrote this post because it appeared from the ATP statistics that there was a strong correlation between a low DF/ace ratio and success on second serves. It appeared that Goran, Boris and Stich, three of the most prominent players on your list, had very poor percentage of success on second serves, compared to the fellows with very low, or low, DF/aces ratios, such as Roddick, Federer and Isner. I dealt with several other players as well. I suggested that it was problematic to keep Becker, Stich and Rusdeski (as well as Mueller) on the list because of their poor second-serve success rate, and that Ivanisevic could not possibly be No. 1 on this same basis.

My statistics, and therefore, my conclusions, may have been unreliable, probably were. I don't quite understand this, but I am posting below a long-ago post by Krosero that discusses the issue of "double counting" of double faults. In the event that, in fact, Becker, Stich and Ivanisevic were more successful on second service than the ATP reports, that is a very good thing.
Aces and df's counted twice

I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the ATP stats until the discussion in the other thread prompted me to take another look today. I started adding up how many extra points Sampras was being given by the ATP, and that was the key.

It turns out that the ATP, in a lot of its matches, counted aces and double-faults twice in their figures for Total Points Won. The aces and df's themselves are listed correctly -- but they were included twice in the other rows (e.g., service percentages, success on first and second serve, Total Points Won, etc.)

Counting them only once resolves all the major discrepancies that I've listed in the posts above.

These are the ATP stats for the 1995 AO final:



They've got Agassi winning 151 points overall, and Sampras 154, even though Agassi won more games (and won the match).

Sampras was given 154 points because his aces, and Andre's double-faults, were counted twice.

28 aces + 4 df = 32 extra points

154 - 32 = 122 points won (in line with my own count)


And Agassi got his aces, and Pete's doubles, twice:

10 aces + 6 df = 16 extra points

151 - 16 = 135 points won (in line with my own count)


And this explains why Agassi, per the ATP, won fewer points than Ivanisevic despite beating him in the '92 W final: because he had only 9 aces while Goran had 37.


In fact all the boxscores I posted in the original post now line up with the ATP stats, when the aces and doubles are subtracted from the Total Points Won:



Almost all of them line up exactly with the ATP. With the '92 W final, subtracting the aces and df's actually leaves Goran with 157 points rather than the 159 that he has in my count and in the newspaper boxscore. It leaves Bruguera-Courier with a point margin of 152-145 instead of the 153-146 in the print media (partly because the ATP has blank boxes where the double-faults should go). And Sampras-Agassi at '95 USO is left with a point margin of 123-111 rather than what's in the boxscore and my count (124-112).

So the ATP's counting is not perfect; but otherwise it lines up exactly with published figures, once the aces and df's are subtracted.

The problem is that there's no way of knowing which matches in the ATP database have mistakes, other than to check against another source. A lot of ATP stats, esp. in the '90s, are incorrect. But even in that decade there are at least a few matches where the ATP does agree with published boxscores, or with other stats (including our own counts).

The only way to confirm an ATP boxscore is to check it against stats in a newspaper, tournament website, TV network, or your own count.
 
Top