5 fastest serves ever recorded in men's tennis
Having a good and powerful serve in your repertoire is an added advantage for any professional tennis player. A good server can dictate play and turn any situation to his advantage by delivering aces on command - either out wide or down the "T".
Powerful servers tend to perform better on the faster grass and synthetic courts as opposed to clay, where it is difficult to hit the ball past the opponent on the very first strike. But the serve is still the single most important shot across surfaces and conditions; it is the one weapon that is always under complete control of the player.
The value of a good serve has remained sky-high across all eras. In the earlier days, a good serve set the tone for a smooth serve-and-volley attack; in the modern era, a powerful and accurate serve can set up an easy forehand putaway.
Since the start of the 90s, the emergence of lighter graphite racquets with bigger head sizes has given the players a larger sweetspot to strike with. That is one reason why many of the fastest servers in history are from the last three decades.
The fastest serve ever recorded, however, belongs to a currently active player - John Isner. On that note, we take a look at the five fastest men's serves ever seen in men's tennis history:
5. Feliciano Lopez, 2014 Queen's Club Championships
Feliciano López, a veteran of the ATP Tour, has featured in 445 ATP tournaments (all-time highest) and 73 Grand Slam tournaments (second only to Roger Federer's tally of 79).
Known to possess a powerful serve, the Spaniard delivered a 244.6 (152 mph) bullet in his first-round match at the 2014 Aegon Queen's Club Championships.
4. Milos Raonic, 2012 SAP Open
2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic is the only Canadian to ever be ranked in the ATP top 10. Raonic's game is based on a powerful and fast serve, backed up by solid groundstrokes from the baseline.
Ranking third on the all-time list of players with the highest service games won percentage at 91%, the former World No. 3 recorded one of the fastest serves ever at the 2012 SAP Open. Facing Ryan Harrison in the semi-finals, Raonic came up with a monstrous 249.4 km/h (159 mph) serve, matching the highest speed notched up by Andy Roddick.
3. Andy Roddick, 2004 Davis Cup
Andy Roddick was the mainstay of American men's tennis after the end of the Sampras-Agassi era. Roddick won the 2003 US Open and rose to the top of the ATP rankings a few months later - the last American male to scale the summit of the rankings.
Roddick was a gifted server who consistently landed missiles over 130 mph. He claimed the then record of the fastest men's serve during USA's 2004 Davis Cup tie against Austria, delivering a 249.4 km/h (159 mph) ace.
The record would stand till 2011.
2. Ivo Karlovic, 2011 Davis Cup
Standing at a gigantic 6 feet 11 inches, Croatia's Ivo Karlovic is the joint tallest ATP professional in history, along with Reilly Opelka. With a career-total of 13,633 aces till date, Karlovic stands first in the all-time aces chart.
At a 2011 Davis Cup doubles match against Germany, Karlovic delivered a cannonball of a serve, clocking a speed of 251 km/h (156 mph). That made the Croat the first player to officially break the 250 km/h barrier.
1. John Isner, 2016 Davis Cup
Much like Ivo karlovic, American John Isner has one of the most lethal serves that tennis has ever seen. Isner ranks second in the all-time aces list with 12,467 aces till date.
The very mention of Isner's name reminds fans of the epic clash that he had against Nicolas Mahut in the 2010 edition of the Wimbledon Championships. On that day, Isner created a record which will likely stand the test of time as he delivered a jaw-dropping figure of 113 aces in a single match.
The former World No. 8 blasted a thunderbolt of a serve in the 2016 Davis Cup tie against Australia, officially recording the fastest ever serve at 253 km/h (157.2 mph).
It is to be noted that Albano Olivetti's 257.7 km/h (160 mph) serve at a 2012 Challenger Tournament and Sam Groth's 263 km/h (163.4 mph) serve at the 2012 Busan Open were technically faster than Isner's. These speeds are, however, not officially recognized by the ATP as they were recorded in Challenger tournaments.