Your top 10 ATP servers of all time

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
 

fundrazer

G.O.A.T.
Have a hard time deciding who exactly goes where, but here are the guys I'd include

Pete, Goran, Krajicek, Roddick, Fed, Pim Pim, Karlovic, Isner, Becker, maybe Raonic? No particular order here either. Trying to think if I'm forgetting anybody.
 

Standaa

G.O.A.T.
I'd rather have Ivo's overall serve than Pete's.

people tend to get influenced by how much better Pete is at everything else when comparing their serves.
 

James P

G.O.A.T.
Not sure about order, but most of what everyone else said...

Karlovic, Sampras, Ivanisevic, Isner, Raonic, Johanssson, Krajicek, Federer, Groth, Philippoussis, Roddick

I'd probably throw in Kyrgios and Opelka, too
 

chic

Professional
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
Best all time or best relative to equipment available in the era?
 

Open Stance

Semi-Pro
Seriously no McEnroe? No Rafter? No Edberg? No Tanner?
In his prime, McEnroe's serve was wicked and facilitated his S&V game perfectly. His lefty "can opener" slice serve to the ad court could be the best in tennis history. How many game / break points did he win/save with that serve? Even if the returner could get it back in play, he was off the court enabling an easy first volley. Then when the opponent starts leaning to the left for the return, he would zing the flat serve up the T. Just to make things a little more difficult he had a great body serve which would kick into the right hip of the returner. His extreme closed stance disguised the direction of the serve and enabled a huge shoulder turn which allowed him to put the spin needed for his big slice.
 

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
Their serves were good, but the first volleys were the best of the open era and made the serves look better.
Yes, but it was their serves that got them into that position. Everyone in the stadium knew they were coming in. You need a pretty spectacular serve to live that way.
 
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
I'd rank Andy roddick above roger
 

Druss

Hall of Fame
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
Why Sam Groth? He may have had the record fastest serve, but it wasn't a particularly effective serve.
 

Druss

Hall of Fame
1) Sampras
2) Karlovic
3) Isner
4) Roddick
5) Kyrgios
6) Ivanivestivic
7) Krajicek
8) Raonic
9) Federer
10) Becker
 

FatHead250

Professional
1) Isner
2) Karlovic
3) Raonic
4) Opelka
5) Querrey
6) Kyrgios
7) Lopez
8) Federer

I dont know about sampras since ive never watched him play. Probably a couple of old schoolers and Sampras could fit in between 4th and 5th. But no way Sampras or any other older guys had better serves than the two metre guys playign with modern racquets. Im not estimating serving talent just the serves. Opelka isnt the greatest serving talent but he blasts 230 serves regularly and lands them in
 
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FatHead250

Professional
Federer on most lists. This is what kills about 40-15.
Federer here is mostly for his most reliable (after Isner) 2nd serve in history tennis. He misses his first serve often, especially under pressure. His first is not the most sound motion
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
I know it's a complete waste of time trying to educate most of these jokers, but for the remaining few who actually care to learn:

OE #1 is indeed Pistol. The likes of Karlovic, Isner, Raonic and Kyrgios might be more dangerous day to day, and even as a fan I'd long resisted putting Pete atop Ivo and Goran, but what matters is whether you can bring your best against the strongest competition and that's where Sampras towers over the rest. Actually forget about Sampras, Goran at '01 Wimbledon aced his opponents more than Ivo or Isner in their own '15/'18 Wimby runs through corresponding rounds.

Three more things you likely aren't very familiar with:

1) Contrary to received wisdom re: surface "slowdown" service stats across the board have been creeping up, thanks to the extra spin made possible by today's more powerful racquets. That's why, among other things, you don't see many top players average less than 60% on 1st serves these days, whereas the opposite held true in the '90s.

2) Aces are nice but a more accurate barometer of serving prowess is % of serves that aren't returned by the opponent, and while the two stats generally go hand in hand Sampras (or Roddick for that matter) got an unusually higher proportion of the latter than most servers. In fact he had a whopping 50.8% of his serves unreturned in his seven Wimbledon finals, when even a Karlovic, Isner or Raonic often fails to clear the 50% mark on grass in non-pressure situations. Suffice it to say it's unlikely any of these servebots matches Pete's % across 7 Wimby finals vs. comparable opponents.

3) The ATP counted aces and DFs twice for most GS matches of the '90s, which has led to some of you regurgitating the howler that Pete friggin' Sampras won a lesser % of 2nd-serve points than the likes of (just to name a few) Delpo, Nishi, Thiem, Gasquet, Coric, Millman, Sock and Monaco. Fortunately a brave soul in @slice serve ace has completed the herculean task of (mostly) correcting the %s for the top '90s guys:


And that's despite Pistol S&Ving on a lot more 2nd serves than any baseliner then and now which almost certainly brought down his average. In short there's no one since Newcombe whose 2nd serve was anywhere near the same weapon as Pistol's. (And before you say Isner, check out his SF vs. Anderson and then try to tell me with a straight face Pete wouldn't have done more damage with his own 2nd serve.)

More in-depth (linked) explanations in the OP here:


Any of these guys could outserve another on a given day and the list is a perpetual work in progress, but it's definitely a whole lot better than the ATP's bogus "Serve Rating" most of you take as gospel. I suggest you check out some of my dissertations in that OP if you really care to find out more.
 
Yey, a servebot thread, my favourite tennis is when guys smash 50 aces and service winners and nothing else happens.

Definitely Sampras.
 
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
Although Federer's serve is among the best ever, he is the odd man out here, because he isn't a servebot.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
Have a hard time deciding who exactly goes where, but here are the guys I'd include

Pete, Goran, Krajicek, Roddick, Fed, Pim Pim, Karlovic, Isner, Becker, maybe Raonic? No particular order here either. Trying to think if I'm forgetting anybody.
Good call on Pim Pim. I never watched much of him, was his serve really as good as I've heard?
 

skaj

Legend
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
This seems about right, except for Federer should be ranked lower. And maybe Isner higher , I feel like his second serve is better than the rapper's.
 

Thetouch

Professional
Sampras
Becker
McEnroe

Because they are all unique and effective. Don't really care about the rest. If Ivanisevic had better nerves and more skill I would put him on too. Federer would be on top of my list as far as current players go.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
Who are your top 10 servers of all time? Here's my list, taking into account both 1st and 2nd serves:

1. Pete Sampras
2. Ivo Karlovic
3. Goran Ivanisevic
4. John Isner
5. Roger Federer
6. Andy Roddick
7. Milos Raonic
8. Richard Krajicek
9. Sam Groth
10. Boris Becker

Discuss. Feel free to post your top 10 for both 1st and 2nd serves
1. Becker (at his best)
2. Sampras
3. Ivanisevic
4. Federer
5. Stich
6. Krajicek
7. Forget
8. Roddick
9. Tanner
10. Kyrgios
 

Beckerserve

Legend
No Karlovic or Isner? I get factoring in the second serve, but imo more weight should be placed on the first serve.
I look at clutch serving as a big factor. Isner and Karlo would have far better careers if they could be like Becker and Sampras and pull out aces break point down regularly.
 

Third Serve

G.O.A.T.
I look at clutch serving as a big factor. Isner and Karlo would have far better careers if they could be like Becker and Sampras and pull out aces break point down regularly.
They would have far better careers if they had other weapons apart from the serve. Isner's forehand comes the closest to that but it's nothing special.
 

The Green Mile

Bionic Poster
Well they go a step further and avoid going down break point to begin with.
That wasn't even needed lol, the cheek to say that Isner and Ivo don't serve down unreturnables on BPs regularly

I'm pretty sure there are other things holding these two giants back, not their inability to hit aces on BPs :laughing:
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
I know it's a complete waste of time trying to educate most of these jokers, but for the remaining few who actually care to learn:

OE #1 is indeed Pistol. The likes of Karlovic, Isner, Raonic and Kyrgios might be more dangerous day to day, and even as a fan I'd long resisted putting Pete atop Ivo and Goran, but what matters is whether you can bring your best against the strongest competition and that's where Sampras towers over the rest. Actually forget about Sampras, Goran at '01 Wimbledon aced his opponents more than Ivo or Isner in their own '15/'18 Wimby runs through corresponding rounds.

Three more things you likely aren't very familiar with:

1) Contrary to received wisdom re: surface "slowdown" service stats across the board have been creeping up, thanks to the extra spin made possible by today's more powerful racquets. That's why, among other things, you don't see many top players average less than 60% on 1st serves these days, whereas the opposite held true in the '90s.

2) Aces are nice but a more accurate barometer of serving prowess is % of serves that aren't returned by the opponent, and while the two stats generally go hand in hand Sampras (or Roddick for that matter) got an unusually higher proportion of the latter than most servers. In fact he had a whopping 50.8% of his serves unreturned in his seven Wimbledon finals, when even a Karlovic, Isner or Raonic often fails to clear the 50% mark on grass in non-pressure situations. Suffice it to say it's unlikely any of these servebots matches Pete's % across 7 Wimby finals vs. comparable opponents.

3) The ATP counted aces and DFs twice for most GS matches of the '90s, which has led to some of you regurgitating the howler that Pete friggin' Sampras won a lesser % of 2nd-serve points than the likes of (just to name a few) Delpo, Nishi, Thiem, Gasquet, Coric, Millman, Sock and Monaco. Fortunately a brave soul in @slice serve ace has completed the herculean task of (mostly) correcting the %s for the top '90s guys:


And that's despite Pistol S&Ving on a lot more 2nd serves than any baseliner then and now which almost certainly brought down his average. In short there's no one since Newcombe whose 2nd serve was anywhere near the same weapon as Pistol's. (And before you say Isner, check out his SF vs. Anderson and then try to tell me with a straight face Pete wouldn't have done more damage with his own 2nd serve.)

More in-depth (linked) explanations in the OP here:


Any of these guys could outserve another on a given day and the list is a perpetual work in progress, but it's definitely a whole lot better than the ATP's bogus "Serve Rating" most of you take as gospel. I suggest you check out some of my dissertations in that OP if you really care to find out more.
I was too lazy to start a thread, but based on my research a while back I’m willing to bet that Bobo’s ace count at 1987 Wimbledon was unprecedented(according to articles he served 75 aces over 3 matches. In 86 Becker was the first player to hit 100 aces when he did that over 7 matches at 86 W)
 

The Green Mile

Bionic Poster
Top ten servers is nice and all, but what would you be your picks for best specific directional servers? For instance...

Deuce Tee - Krajicek
Deuce Wide - Karlovic
Ad Tee - Sampras
Ad Wide - Ivanisevic

I gotta say Kyrgios gives Krajicek a good run for his money on the Deuce Tee IMO... Muller probably gets the most swing on a lefty deuce Tee serve I've ever seen, even more than Arthurs IMO...
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
1. Becker (at his best)
2. Sampras
3. Ivanisevic
4. Federer
5. Stich
6. Krajicek
7. Forget
8. Roddick
9. Tanner
10. Kyrgios
You keep pushing your wacky narrative about the Becker serve and I really take no joy in shooting it down as Boris was my own 1st tennis idol and remains one of my top 3 faves ever (along with Pete and Novak), but he most certainly did NOT have "the best flat serve on deuce and out wide on ad side of all time."

In fact it's quite debatable whether he was the best server of his own era. I've got a busload of stats from dozens of Mac's matches and I can tell you the guy would regularly win 35-40% of his service points outright as his opponent would struggle to read that motion of his. And we're talking late '70s to mid'-80s, when many top players including Mac himself till after '81 were playing with wood and didn't score anywhere near as many free points on serve. Put prime Mac in Boris' heyday and chances are these two go neck and neck in the unreturned-serve race.

And while stats for Zivojinovic are harder to come by a simple eye test would tell you the guy served even harder than Boom Boom, in fact as hard as anybody today (I'd go so far as to say harder than anyone currently active period). And as Moose just pointed out Bobo at '87 Wimbleedon was serving up aces at an unprecedented pace, including 26 in the 3rd round vs. Bates where he also had 50.9% of his serves unreturned. From a quick glance the only times Boris topped that % were in the 1988 DC SF vs. Bobo himself (57.3%) and in the '92 YEC RR vs. Pete (53.3%). As a stand-alone shot Bobo's serve was probably as good, if not even better.

Oh and Curren demolished Connors - you know, the same guy who'd play Boris tough even in his late years - with 17 aces in the '85 Wimby SF where Jimbo failed to put a whopping 57.6% of Kev's serves back in. Such a % was virtually unheard of back then, and Curren did it against the best returner in a major SF. He also handed Jimbo another L and 33 aces in '83 with wood, though that 4th-rounder was a more competitive 4-setter.

And that's just the '80s. You still would bet your guy has the best serve of all time? I sure wouldn't.

I was too lazy to start a thread, but based on my research a while back I’m willing to bet that Bobo’s ace count at 1987 Wimbledon was unprecedented(according to articles he served 75 aces over 3 matches. In 86 Becker was the first player to hit 100 aces when he did that over 7 matches at 86 W)
This is great new info... but I want the full count! Do you have it?

Top ten servers is nice and all, but what would you be your picks for best specific directional servers? For instance...

Deuce Tee - Krajicek
Deuce Wide - Karlovic
Ad Tee - Sampras
Ad Wide - Ivanisevic

I gotta say Kyrgios gives Krajicek a good run for his money on the Deuce Tee IMO... Muller probably gets the most swing on a lefty deuce Tee serve I've ever seen, even more than Arthurs IMO...
These are good picks, though what little I've got for Kyrgios ain't up to Krajicek's almost robotic standard. Need to study Muller (and Arthurs) more before I can render a verdict.
 
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