Throughout the history of tennis, having a powerful serve has been a huge advantage for players. Bill Tilden’s powerhouse serve saw him win 10 major titles in the 1920s, and Stan Smith’s strong serves helped him reach the top of the rankings and win two Grand Slam crowns in the 1970s. Over the last few decades, a big serve has become an increasingly important part of a player’s arsenal.
However, the arrival of bigger racquets constructed of graphite rather than wood in the 1980s signaled a true turning point. In the 1990s, this helped athletes like Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic establish themselves, and as technology advances, serves are becoming faster.
The astounding 263.4 km/h (163.7 mph) tennis serve speed record was set in 2012 by Sam Groth. Sadly for Sam Groth, the ATP does not officially acknowledge that record because it was set at a Challenger event and because radar guns are not uniformly available or calibrated at that level of competition. The fact that ATP-approved gear was utilized on that day and other data collected appeared to be within a typical range gives Groth some solace. Let’s have a look at the fastest serves recorded in Tennis.
Top 10 fastest serves recorded in Tennis
John Isner – 157.2 mph (253 km/h)
Isner also beat Groth during the tie as the USA produced an upset, but they then lost to Croatia in the next round. The American was also involved in the longest tennis match of all time, so is something of a serial record-breaker. Aside from his record-breaking serve during the Davis Cup, John Isner also beat Groth in their tie, helping the USA produce an upset against Australia. However, their success was short-lived, as they eventually lost to Croatia in the next round.
John Isner has accepted the fact that his greatest asset is his serve, which he believes sets him apart from other players. He views it as a key factor in his success and has a lot of confidence in it. He has stated: “I believe in my serve more than anything. If I’m in a tough spot on the court and I’m able to ace my way out of trouble, then I know I’ve got a good chance of winning the point.”
Isner’s participation in the longest tennis match of all time further cements his status as a serial record-breaker. Additionally, John Isner holds the record for the most aces in a single match, with 113 aces during his 2010 Wimbledon match against Nicolas Mahut.
Ivo Karlovic – 156.0 mph (251 km/h)
One of the tallest players in the history of men’s tennis, Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, holds the record for the second-fastest serve delivery in a sanctioned match. A serve of 156 mph (251 kph) was delivered by Karlovic while representing Croatia in the Davis Cup match in Zagreb during Croatia’s doubles match versus Germany.
It was the fastest delivery of that time on the men’s tour, Since Andy Roddick’s serve against Vladimir Volchkov in 2004—also while competing in the Davis Cup—which traveled at 155 mph (249.4 kph). The Croat won several more awards for serving, as his height of 6 feet 10 inches allows him to serve at a distinctive trajectory. Since fellow countryman Goran Ivanisevic served 1,477 aces in 1996, he concluded the year with an astounding 1,318 in 2007.
Andy Roddick – 155.0 mph (249.4 km/h)
Andy Roddick rounds out the top three, having achieved his fastest serve during the team tournament, so there must be something about the Davis Cup and gigantic serves. The fact that the American was mostly a serve-and-volley player enabled him to win the US Open in 2003 and advance to three Wimbledon finals.
In the tournament’s semi-final match, Roddick had a speed of 249.4 km/h (155.0 mph) as the USA defeated Belarus. Nevertheless, in the championship match, Spain defeated the Americans as a youthful Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Roddick in four sets. The fastest serve ever timed at Wimbledon was made by Roddick that year, and it stood until 2010. The American Taylor Dent set the current Wimbledon record for the fastest serve in 2010 with a speed of 238.2 km/h (148 mph).
Milos Raonic – 155.0 mph (249.4 km/h)
Technically speaking, Canada’s Milos Raonic is equal to Andy Roddick’s 249.4 km/h (155.0 mph) because he beat Ryan Harrison at the 2012 SAP Open at the same speed. Raonic eventually defeated Denis Istomin in the tournament’s championship match in straight sets. Roddick will be placed ahead of him on the list, even though his best performance was eight years ago.
Ryan Harrison – 152.0 mph (244.6 km/h)
American Harrison set a speed record of 244.6 km/h (152.0 mph) at the 2013 Masters 1000 Western & Southern Open. Harrison, who entered as a wildcard, gave it his best shot against David Ferrer but ultimately lost to the Spaniard in three sets. Feliciano Lopez of Spain made a serve at Queen’s Club the following year that was recorded at the same speed, but he was unable to crack our top five since the Western & Southern Open is a bigger competition because the 2014 Aegon Championships was an ATP World Tour 250 series event.
Feliciano Lopez – 152.0 mph (244.6 km/h)
Tennis player Feliciano Lopez from Spain managed to achieve a career-high ranking of 12 in 2015. Feliciano Lopez has been a part of the scene for a very long time, and many people appear to have forgotten what a fantastic server he was back in the day. At the Aegon Championships in 2014, he delivered one of the fastest serves ever. In the first-round match, the Spaniard smacked the ball to serve at 244.6 km/h (152 mph) speed.
Marius Copil – 151.6 mph (244 km/h)
Marius Copil is putting on some of his best performances, even though he has never cracked the top 50 in the world rankings. Due to his exceptional skill, he ended 2018 as the 57th-best player in the world. He still has a chance to make it big and have a prosperous career.
But he has always relied most on his serve, which has given him an exceptional track record. In the 2016 European Open quarterfinals, the Romanian flawlessly placed the ball and recorded a speed of 244 km/h (151.6 mph).
Hubert Hurkacz – 151.0 mph (243 km/h)
The No. 11 player in the world is a 6’5″ monster with a very powerful swing. His smashing serves have been his x-factor in his career so far, and at 26 years old, he might already be at his peak. He had a few victories at Grand Slam competitions but nothing major. However, he delivered his fastest serve ever at the 2016 Davis Cup. Despite his team’s humiliating defeat in the tournament, Hurkacz offered his colleagues something to cheer about. When the Polish player served, he let the ball fly and noticed that the speedometer showed 243 km/h.
Taylor Dent – 149.8 mph (241.1 km/h)
There was a time when Andy Roddick and Taylor Dent were regarded as the game’s two most difficult servers. Dent reached the fourth round of a couple of Grand Slams while not having quite as many accomplishments as Roddick. Taylor Dent is the only player in our Top 10 who has proven his versatility on Clay. Despite a career marked by illnesses, he managed to reach a career-high ranking of No. 21.
The American startled the crowd with a 240 km/h (149.1 mph) serve during the first round of the 2010 French Open. He has ranked among the top ten fastest serves in tennis history thanks to this serve, which went on to become the fastest in the tournament’s history.
Juan Martin del Potro – 149.1 mph (240km/h)
Unsurprisingly, Juan Martin del Potro, commonly known as “The Tower of Tandil,” appears on the list. The US Open winner is undoubtedly the best Argentinean player of his generation.
Out of all the players who are in the top 10, no one else hit it in the deciding match that they won. Del Potro defeated Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets to win the Stockholm Open in 2017. (6-4, 6-2). He didn’t forget to serve at 149.1 mph during the process. However, his entire effort earned him a spot in our list of the Top 10 fastest serves in tennis history, moving him up to position 10.