Who is the Greatest Server of All-time?

Greatest Server of All-time

  • Sampras

    Votes: 47 43.9%
  • Ivanisevic

    Votes: 16 15.0%
  • Federer

    Votes: 9 8.4%
  • Isner

    Votes: 4 3.7%
  • Karlovic

    Votes: 22 20.6%
  • Roddick

    Votes: 3 2.8%
  • Raonic

    Votes: 3 2.8%
  • Groth

    Votes: 3 2.8%

  • Total voters
    107

Mick3391

Professional
It's hard to judge players from different generations, but I thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss. Couple of tihngs that must be taken into account though:


Old days:
-not as good racquet technology, so lower serve speed
-but this means it's also hard to block the serve with weak string/racquet, etc.

Nowadays:
-coursts are WAY slower, so harder to ace/hit service winner
-players return much better because of racquet technology/better reflex, etc.
The reason I saw Pete is because Fed and Agassi agree. Agassi, who played a prime Fed said Pete, he made this quote, paraphrase a little "Get to your serve return position, take two huge leaps to your right and mark it, then do the same to the left, Pete could hit either anytime he wanted, and there is nothing you can do about it".

Yea Pete would serve, coast receiving, then just break the guy once, and it would be over, awesome player that Sampras!
 

ultradr

Legend
Greatest Server of All-time? Where is Pancho Gonzales?

Federer has more votes than Ivanisevic :confused:
Ha ha ha, that's how knowledgeable this board is.
And how much it is crowded with Federer fanatics, not Federer fans.

Yes, definitely Pancho somewhere in top 3. His game was Sampras equivalent
in pre-Open era. Arguably GOAT with his 20+ pro/amateur slams.

Sampras backed up his serves with rest of his game and managed it well.
That's why his serve was considered the best.

But many consider Ivanesvic and Krajicek's serve the most devastating
and probably best if you think the serve alone, both 1st and 2nd.
 
Last edited:

fed_rulz

Hall of Fame
Sampras' serve is overrated because of the faster surfaces in his time. No way his serve would be as dominant today.
a voice of reason among the flood of "oh Pete has the best serve hands down" crowd (not surprising, given many other aspects of Pete that are overrated). Pete was not even the best server of his era; Goran was. Karlovic is the best server of all time.
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
Pancho Gonzales' serve was unbelievable, even in his 40s. He had such a fluid motion as well, that didn't put pressure on his shoulder like other service motions.
 
N

NadalDramaQueen

Guest
LMAO at Pete winning this poll. Planet Peter Warehouse at its finest. :)
 

Sid_Vicious

G.O.A.T.
Something interesting. When it comes to winning points on 2nd serves, Nadal and Federer are the greatest players in the open era. Nadal has won 57% of his career 2nd serve points while Federer has won 56%. Sampras is ranked 19th in the all time list in this department.

And as far as sheer 1st serve quality is concerned, Karlovic has Sampras and Ivanisevic beaten by quite a margin.
 
Last edited:
Sampras many players said that they can not read his serve and he can ace you with the second serve!
roddick, Isner and karlovic are clearly better Servers than pete. they both have higher hold percentages despite playing on much slower surfaces and having worse secondary stuff.

Federer also doesn't belong up there. he is a fantastic Server but his hold percentage is also based on his good ground game. and still his hold percentage is about 5% lower than roddick/Isner/karlovic.

that being said he still is clearly the best Server of the top4. murray, nole and nadal are not even in the top50 all time considering the serve (they are not bad but not great either).
 

President

Legend
Something interesting. When it comes to winning points on 2nd serves, Nadal and Federer are the greatest players in the open era. Nadal has won 57% of his career 2nd serve points while Federer has won 56%. Sampras is ranked 19th in the all time list in this department.
Federer and Nadal probably have the two best baseline games of all time, when discounting the serve AND the return (neither are phenomenal returners, but on a second serve they don't have to return).
 
N

NadalDramaQueen

Guest
I would post a gif in reply, but the moderators seem to frown upon successive gifs. :(

Anyway, Peter Peter pumpkin eater had a great serve, but it just doesn't match up against some of the bigger guys whose serve may be the sole reason they are professional players. :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

byealmeens

Semi-Pro
I think Ivanisevic has the greatest first serve of all time. But combine the two and it's really not even close ... Sampras all the way.

I do think Isner has a great motion, and has an excellent first and second. His placement and variety need to improve a bit to get in this discussion ... but I think he has a chance to get there.
 

fed_rulz

Hall of Fame
I think Ivanisevic has the greatest first serve of all time. But combine the two and it's really not even close ... Sampras all the way.

I do think Isner has a great motion, and has an excellent first and second. His placement and variety need to improve a bit to get in this discussion ... but I think he has a chance to get there.
Actually, if you take the effort to dig for stats (not nostalgia), you'll find that you're completely wrong... Karlovic trumps them all.
 

byealmeens

Semi-Pro
Actually, if you take the effort to dig for stats (not nostalgia), you'll find that you're completely wrong... Karlovic trumps them all.
Stats are misleading. Sampras played better returners more often than a guy like Karlovic who barely gets out of the first couple of rounds.
 
N

NadalDramaQueen

Guest
Stats are misleading. Sampras played better returners more often than a guy like Karlovic who barely gets out of the first couple of rounds.
If stats are misleading, then perceptions are doubly so.
 
a voice of reason among the flood of "oh Pete has the best serve hands down" crowd (not surprising, given many other aspects of Pete that are overrated). Pete was not even the best server of his era; Goran was. Karlovic is the best server of all time.
Yup that a guy like Karlovic with a horrendous 5.0 ground game can consistently take the top 4 to tiebreakers in this era of slow courts, unequivocally proves he is the best server of all time.
 

PseudoFed

Banned
Stats are misleading. Sampras played better returners more often than a guy like Karlovic who barely gets out of the first couple of rounds.
Allow me to do some lendings of my Tennis expertise. Because I have a huge collection of my Tennis matches on DVDs and I do some watchings in my spare time with dear Mirky. So you can safely say I am a fan of Tennis, just like you. I mean, not quite like you, but you get my point. Back in Pistol Pete's days, the ball movings was faster, allowing servings to be faster, and returnings much tougher. Since my rulings over Tennis, ball movings is slower and returnings is easier. So Pistol Pete was having the benefits. Karlovic, despite my trainings and tippings and schoolings (you're welcome, Ivo) is having disadvantage in stats. So Ivo > Pistol Pete. Don't thank me, you're welcome.
 

Sid_Vicious

G.O.A.T.
Allow me to do some lendings of my Tennis expertise. Because I have a huge collection of my Tennis matches on DVDs and I do some watchings in my spare time with dear Mirky. So you can safely say I am a fan of Tennis, just like you. I mean, not quite like you, but you get my point. Back in Pistol Pete's days, the ball movings was faster, allowing servings to be faster, and returnings much tougher. Since my rulings over Tennis, ball movings is slower and returnings is easier. So Pistol Pete was having the benefits. Karlovic, despite my trainings and tippings and schoolings (you're welcome, Ivo) is having disadvantage in stats. So Ivo > Pistol Pete. Don't thank me, you're welcome.
Man, that is horrendous.
 

jrs

Professional
Roscoe's the man

Roscoe Tanner.
My vote goes to Tanner! I've read about how good Pancho Gonzalves serve was but never seen him play - do don't know.

Right now - I would say Ranoic - easy power; Karlovic would be second!
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Karlovic, look at how many aces he got.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wbgyec9jcCM

After all, how else could someone with poor groundstroke consistency, and the worst movement and backhand on the tour manage to win matches against top players.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4Sgt7ZJTLc

Sampras and Pancho Gonzalez also have very strong arguments.
Nice choices with Pancho Gonzalez in there.

Vic Braden who does computer analysis of strokes wrote in his book Tennis 2000 that he had no doubt that Gonzalez would serve in the 140 miles per hour range (this was the late 1990's that he wrote that) with the current racquets. He wrote essentially that the Pancho Gonzalez serve was so smooth that it took very little out of him so he could serve powerfully even late in the match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd0gJzm_EQY

I might toss some names like Jack Kramer and John Newcombe also. Both had great first AND second serve like Sampras did.

Not that it means much but I'm amazed there is a poll in which Federer isn't winning. :shock:
 

Hawkeye7

Professional
It really depends on your definition. Statistically Karlovic has a better service game winning percentage than anyone else in history, but I'd still argue Isner's 2nd serve is better than Karlovic's. Yet, Nadal has the best 2nd serve winning percentage. It's tough to separate a player's ground game from their serve entirely.
 

BeHappy

Hall of Fame
Poll/thread fail.

Where are Pancho Gonzales, Bill Tilden, Roscoe Tanner and Mark Phillipoussis?
Would you really have Flipper ahead of Ivanisevic? No one can compare to Ivanisevic. He was an ace machine. And unlike his only statistical challenger Karlovic he did it against top players in finals too, not against journeymen in the second round. I think Goran even got to the QF of the French Open.

Also, and people forget this, next to Monfils he's the fastest 6'4"/6'5" player I've ever seen. He was a track star in Croatia as a junior. Such a talent.

Goran's undoing was that like Becker and Sampras he hit two first serves, but unlike Becker and Sampras he would just double fault like crazy (particularly after his shoulder injury). People on this forum who didn't watch tennis back then wouldn't believe their eyes if they saw it. He won something like 98% of points where his serve went in.

I saw a statistic once that Goran had an average of 2 service winners in every single service game he played the year he won Wimbledon. That means he was basically 30-0 up to start with. If the returner got it back at all it would be a weak floater that he'd easily put away.
 
Last edited:

rossi46

Professional
Poll/thread fail.

Where are Pancho Gonzales, Bill Tilden, Roscoe Tanner and Mark Phillipoussis?
Yep, I would throw Becker and Stich into the fray and if Groth (not sure who he even is) is in the list surely to God both Safin and Arthurs should be in it as well.
 

papertank

Hall of Fame
Karlovic, that man has absolutely nothing in his game but a serve and yet he has made it as high as 14 in the world.
 

Leelord337

Hall of Fame
Karlovic, that man has absolutely nothing in his game but a serve and yet he has made it as high as 14 in the world.
his forehand is pretty hard when he's hitting it well and his slice is decent. but yes his serve is about 70% of his entire game...Hey if u never lose serve its hard to lose a match right?
 

Blocker

Professional
Ask any person on the street, not necessarily a tennis fan, which tennis tournament is the most important in the world and most will say Wimbledon.

Ask any person on the street, not necessarily a tennis fan, which player has the greatest serve in history, and most will say Pete Sampras.

Whether Sampras has the greatest serve or not is debatable, I will debate it is, but it is neither here nor there anyway because the perception of the masses is that it is Sampras. If there is a perception, there has to be some truth to it. No male player in history has benefitted as much from his serve as Sampras, he was an exceptional player in any event but his whole game revolved around his serve. Everything else such as percentage of first services won or second services won is really just splitting at hairs.

First up it's Sampras.

Second up is daylight.

Thirs up is [insert anyone you care to argue for here].
 
Top