Tall advantage: Top 10 all-time fastest servers in men's tennisBy Apr 26, 2020
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Tall advantage: Top 10 all-time fastest servers in men's tennis
John Isner is no stranger to serving records—he’s been the ATP’s ace leader the last four years in a row, and in seven of the last 10 years.
Published Apr 26, 2020
The serve is one of the most important shots in tennis—not only does it set the tone for the rest of the point, but it is also the only shot a player has complete control over. Some players’ serves are so powerful that they almost always start the point in complete control, giving them a tremendous advantage.
So, who are the fastest servers in tennis?
The ATP, WTA and ITF don’t keep official serve speed rankings for a variety reasons—serve speed isn’t captured on every court at every tournament, and sometimes the technology being used isn’t consistent from event to event. But the most complete data belongs to SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT), who have been tracking serve speeds with the best technology for more than 30 years.
And according to that most complete data, here are the Top 10 fastest servers in men's tennis:
No. 9 (tied): Gael Monfils and Dusan Vemic (235.0kph/146.0mph)
Kicking off the Top 10 is a tie for ninth place between the Frenchman, who hit a 146-m.p.h. serve in his 6-3, 7-5 win over Marat Safin in the quarterfinals of Washington DC in 2007, and the Serbian, who matched that in Los Angeles in 2008.
No. 8: Ivo Karlovic (236.6kph/147.0mph)
“Dr. Ivo” has been unofficially clocked as fast as 156 m.p.h. in a Davis Cup doubles match in 2011, but according to SMT his fastest serve was 147 m.p.h. during his run to the semifinals of Las Vegas in 2006. The Croat is the ATP’s all-time ace leader, though—he’s currently at 13,599 aces.
No. 7: Sam Groth (238.2kph/148.0mph)
The Aussie’s fastest serve, according to SMT, was 148 m.p.h. in his second-round match against Marcos Baghdatis in Atlanta in 2015, but he does have the fastest unofficial serve of all time, a 163.4-m.p.h missile at an ATP Challenger event in Busan, South Korea in 2012.
No. 6: Robin Haase (240.0kph/149.1mph)
Not too long after what was arguably the biggest week of his career, reaching his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Canada, Haase hit the biggest serve of his career—149.1 m.p.h.—against Fabio Fognini in the first round of Beijing in the fall of 2017. The Italian still won the match, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
No. 5: Taylor Dent (241.0kph/149.8mph)
After a career year in 2005, setting his personal best ranking of No. 21, Dent was limited to just four events in 2006 due to back injuries. But he did manage to hit his fastest serve that season, cracking a 149.8-m.p.h. bomb in his 6-4, 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych in the first round of Rotterdam.
No. 4: Marius Copil (242.0kph/150.4mph)
The Romanian cranked a 150.4-m.p.h. serve against Stan Wawrinka in the second round of the 2015 Australian Open, though he would fall to the three-time major champion that day, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3. Copil is perhaps best known for his run to the final of the ATP 500-level event in Basel in 2018.
No. 3: Milos Raonic (243.0kph/151.0mph)
Already up a set against Nicolas Mahut and serving at 0-1, 30-0 in the second set of his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington DC in 2017, the Canadian blasted a 151-m.p.h. ace up the middle, and went on to beat the Frenchman in a pair of tiebreaks, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (8).
“There are a lot of things I need to be happy with,” said Raonic, who finished the match with 26 aces. “I lost of bit of sharpness and discipline in the second set, but I’m glad I was able to get through.”
No. 2: Andy Roddick (244.6kph/152.0mph)
The former world No. 1 lit up the crowd at Flushing Meadows in 2004 with not one, but two serves at 152 m.p.h.
The first one came during his 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 first-round win over American teenager Scoville Jenkins, and the second in his 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 second-round win over another teenager, then-world No. 49 Rafael Nadal. His scorcher against the Spaniard came in just his second serve of the match.
He was asked after his win over Nadal if, after hitting 152, he was thinking of going for even more.
“No, man. I think about just trying to hit it hard again,” he said. “People talk a lot about the serve, but that’s one of my accomplishments I’m least proud of. It’s just one point. It’s just one serve. And I know I can do it. So the novelty has kind of worn off. I play it more as an effective shot than going for glory.”
No. 1: John Isner (249.4kph/155.0mph)
Serving at 2-3, 15-0 in his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. in 2019, the American unloaded a 155-m.p.h. rocket into the body of Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole got the ball back in the court, but Isner won the point a few shots later with a forehand winner, and eventually won the match, 6-4, 6-4.
Coincidentally or not, it was around the time of that record serve when Isner started to play his best.
“The match got off to a bit of a rough start. I had to save a bunch of break points,” the American said after the match. “I think at a certain point in the match, I started to play really well. It was probably at 3-all in the first set when I started to pick it up. I was, in my opinion, fortunate to even be at 3-all.”
The American No. 1 is no stranger to serving records. He’s been the ATP’s ace leader the last four years in a row, and in seven of the last 10 years. Isner is also closing in on the all-time ace record—he currently has 12,266 career aces, trailing only Karlovic.