The serve is arguably the most important shot in tennis. It starts off the point, and if used well, it can put you in a great position to win the point or even finish the point immediately. There have been some great servers in the tennis history – the likes of Goran Ivanisevic and Pete Sampras – but this era may be the strongest in terms of elite servers.
Let’s take a look at the top nine servers on tour, each of whom can use their serve to devastate opponents.
Muller’s biggest accomplishment came on the back of his serve – an impressive five set victory over Rafael Nadal in last year’s Wimbledon. Rafa was unable to handle Giles’ massive serve as the Luxembourgian hit every spot on the court.
Muller’s serve tends to be a bit more spinny than the other big servers, and there’s good reason for this. Muller is left-handed, meaning that the ball spins away from right-handed opponents. This lefty spin combined with the power that Muller can put on his serve make it an incredibly strong weapon.
Muller showcased his impressive serving variety by moving Rafa all around the court, taking him out wide before following it up with a flat serve down the T. But Muller’s greatest strength might be his mental fortitude; he doesn’t crack under pressure, and this is what allowed him to handle the pressure under the Wimbledon lights.
Muller might be getting older, and he might not be the same player that he was a year ago, but his serve is still one of the best on tour.
Del Potro might be known best for his forehand – perhaps the best in the history of tennis – but his serve is still an incredible weapon. The Argentinian has found a resurgence late in his career, and after a series of wrist injuries, it looks like he’s finally back as one of the premier players on the tour.
Like the rest of his game, Del Potro’s serve is incredibly flat – he hits with massive amounts of power. The Tower of Tandil serves 7.3 aces per match, and with such an incredible ground game to back his serve up, it makes Del Potro a lethal opponent.
Del Potro has rode his serve to an incredible career, winning the 2009 US Open, beating Rafa and Roger on the way there. The Argentinian has an incredible serve that allows him to get ahead in service games, and he’ll look to continue his impressive run of form.
Querrey had one of the best years of his career last year, winning Acapulco and Los Cabos, and reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon and the quarterfinals of the US Open. Querrey’s serve has also allowed him to have a commendable doubles career, reaching three masters finals and the US Open final in mixed doubles.
Querrey has served a total of 7,357 aces throughout his career, averaging 12.4 per match. The American’s serve has led him to some impressive victories over the years – including knocking out Djokovic in the 2016 Wimbledon Championships.
Querrey’s serve is not as powerful as his fellow servers, but it can still pack a punch, and combined with his goofy personality, Querrey is one of the most likeable big guys on tour.
Nick Kyrgios is one of the most flamboyant personalities on tour, and this makes for an incredibly exciting playstyle. Despite his incredible ability to hit tweeners from almost any position on the court and smack lightning fast forehands down the line, his greatest strength has to be his serve.
Kyrgios’ serve is a thing of beauty; in fact, he’s mastered the art of serving to the point that he can imitate almost any other great player’s serve. Kyrgios tends to go for a flat serve, combining pace with precision to wrongfoot his opponents.
In his short career, Kyrgios has already hit 2,643 aces – an impressive amount when you consider that he’s only played 185 matches on the tour. What separates Kyrgios most from the rest of the big servers is his second serve. Instead of hitting a typical second serve – a high kick serve to his opponent’s backhand – Kyrgios just goes for a second first serve; it is certainly a risky move, but it makes his serve that much harder to break.
Kyrgios is one of the most exciting youngsters on tour, and if he can get his mental game under check, there’s no doubt that he can ride his incredible serve to a Grand Slam trophy.
The South African has had a great run of form in recent years, and he’s found himself in two Grand Slam finals – last year’s US Open and this year’s Wimbledon. Anderson has a huge serve, averaging 12.5 aces per match – the equivalent of three free games on his serve.
Kevin Anderson stands tall at 6’ 8”, and this allows him to serve at ridiculous angles; the higher you are from the net, the more angles you have available. Anderson’s first serve is incredibly difficult to return, and if you do get your racket on it, it’s likely that the South African will already be at the net to close the point.
Anderson’s serve is his primary weapon, and it’s obviously been working for him – elevating him to one of the top players in the world.
Raonic’s form has certainly dropped off since he reached the Wimbledon final in 2016, but his serve remains one of the most powerful weapon on tours. The Canadian has very distinct form before unloading his huge flat serve, and it’s almost impossible to guess which direction he’ll go.
The Canadian has served up 6,523 aces, and he has the third highest serve rating of all time – winning 90.9% of his service games. He holds the 6th fastest serve of all time, a 155 mph bomb in the 2012 SAP Open.
Milos has gone as high as number 3 in the world, and his huge serve is a major part of it. It allows him to control the point from the start, and you’ll rarely see his opponent break him. Raonic also has a decent ground game, allowing him to challenge other opponent’s serves while holding his own.
Federer is not the type of player you’d expect to be on this list. He is only 6’ 1”, a good height for a tennis player but not exactly the physique you’d expect from one of the best servers of all time.
The key to Federer’s serve is precision. The Swiss Maestro very rarely relies on power to execute his serve; a 110 mph serve placed perfectly in the corner is just as effective as a 140 mph bomb into the body. Federer can hit any spot almost on command, and his ability to paint the lines with his serve make it incredibly dangerous.
Federer has served 10,645 aces in his career, the second-most of all time. While he will soon be surpassed by John Isner, this is an incredible feat. Roger’s serve is not nearly as flashy as many of the other big servers, but the stats show that it is just as good.
Federer’s serve has become his weapon of choice in recent years, and while he may not be a full fledged servebot, there’s no denying that the Swiss relies heavily on his serve. It allows him to get out of trouble in tricky situations, and it suits his attacking game perfectly.
Roger is one of the greatest servers of all time; he has learned the importance of precision, and it has allowed him to become the greatest player of all time.
John Isner actually has the highest serve rating of all time according to the ATP’s statistics, and you only have to watch the big-serving American to understand why. Both of Isner’s serves are massive, and they strike fear into the heart of his opponents.
Isner’s first serve can take a variety of forms. He is capable of hitting flat serves and spin serves to almost anywhere on the court. But what makes Isner’s serve so deadly is his incredible second serve. At 6’ 10”, Isner’s kick serve is the best of all time. He puts incredible spin on the ball, and opponents have to be careful or they’ll find the ball sailing high above their heads.
Isner has hit a total of 10,617 aces throughout his entire career, and he’s won 91.6% of service games in that timespan. The American is also the best player ever to rely solely on his serve; unlike Karlovic, Isner has had a relatively illustrious career, and the American is making a name for himself this year.
Ranked 8th in the world, Isner won his first Masters title in Miami, and he followed it up with a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon, losing a brutal match to Kevin Anderson 24-26 in the fifth set.
There’s no doubt Isner’s serve is one of the best on tour. It is impeccable – powerful, precise, and incredibly consistent.
Karlovic is arguably the greatest server in the history of the sport. The 39 year old is still playing on the tour, and while his form has certainly declined, he is still a very good player. Karlovic’s serve is by far his best weapon and probably his only true weapon.
The Croatian has served 12,936 aces throughout the entirety of his career, averaging 19.7 aces per match. Karlovic’s first serve is a thing of nightmares; at 6’ 11”, Karlovic’s serve is among the fastest on tour, and the veteran is great at putting it where he wants. This combination of power and precision make his serve almost impossible to return. His second serve is not as strong as you’d expect, but it’s still incredibly difficult to return, and with such a high first serve percentage, Karlovic doesn’t need to hit many of them.
Dr. Ivo rode his massive serve to as high as 14th in the world, and while his serve may not be as good as it used to be, Karlovic is still no easy opponent.
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