Many believe Sampras was the greatest server period, but then there are people who point to Ivanisevic and his high ace counts.
Some believe Krajicek had the best down the T serve. Bollietieri said he'd take Boris Becker's serve for clutch under pressure.
Then there's Edberg's kick serve and Mac's slice, great second serves for sure. Sampras once said Phillipoussis's second serve was the best.
Lendl's and Borg's were pretty solid and kept the fortress intact.
There's the current crop, Federer, Roddick, Karlovic, Raonic, Ljubicic and Isner.
Who do you think is the best and why?
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Nice list, I also remember Roscoe Tanner's serve, amazing for the time...Big Bill Tilden supposedly had one of the best ever. If I had to choose one it would be Sampras and possibly Becker they both had cannons and accuracy as well as clutch serving.
Yes, Roscoe Tanner was Vic Braden's favorite server. I went to Vic Braden's academy for five days and learned all about his serve. Very simple and to the point without any wasted motion. Braden would always point out that Tanner had a near straight line from racquet through right arm, hip, leg and foot. Pancho Gonzales even said Tanner had "perfect linkages" in his serve.
I did see Tilden's serve somewhere on Youtube. Very interesting motion.
Pancho Gonsalez who beat every #1 ranked player during his time, and would have won many Grand Slams had he not turned pro, was thought to be able to serve at close to 150 MPH, with a wood racket.
They did a thing with Film and estimated his serve at 150, because radar did not exist.
I wouldn't doubt Gonzales could do that. I saw a British Pathe archive of his win over Hoad at Wembley and it looked very fast and smooth.
cool link gonzalez had a 'modern' serve
The extremely interesting thing about Gonzales' serve is that his toss and windup allows him to be fully behind the ball on a long toss, long windup but in a compact manner. I tried it myself and found I could get both a lot of power and a lot of topspin.
I give a hitting session to a former National Parks and Recs doubles champion in the 1960s. His serve motion is alot like Gonzales' technically. At 75 years of age, he definitely still can kick the serve. He told me a story of being watched by Gonzales' during a tournament and actually meeting him.
Tim, here's another cool video
Yes, I spotted this video last night. I could see he had several variations in his toss and windup, but the general idea is the same. Get back behind the ball with a straight arm oval windup and spend more time going up. I like the unified feeling of the arms together, since Gonzales is going horizontally rather than dropping the right arm in opposition to the toss arm (Sampras).
The timing for me is better and I don't have to worry about getting the right arm up on time and into the racquet drop behind my back with the high elbow.
Hal, I like it! I have a Pancho Tennis Instruction book, and it has some great images on the serve. The rest of it is too old school, but that serve is awesome.
I have Pancho Gonzales' book called "Tennis at Forty", which has the frame by frame sequence of his serve. His strokes look very straight back in it.
I would say Lendl. rarely ever double faulted