Ranking the 10 Most Powerful Servers in Tennis Today
As the modern game of tennis becomes more technologically advanced, players must adapt to more vicious serves.
These serves are the results of strength, height and quick action in the arms of the top athletes.
This list of powerful servers is mainly based on power and the angle at which the ball picks up off the court, but it also considers precision and spot serving.
Sadly, I had to leave a few incredibly powerful servers, including Juan Martin del Potro, Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Samuel Groth and Nicolas Almagro off of the list, though the decision to do so was very tough, indeed.
Here are the top 10 most powerful servers in the game today, ranked in order.
10. Ilija Bozoljac
Ilija Bozoljac is not well-known by any means, and he has only played in important tournaments a handful of times.
His ball toss on the serve is also incredibly shaky, as it flies out of his hand at crooked angles left and right.
However, he has incredible action in his arm and can hit ridiculous angles with any of his ball tosses.
He hits one of the best slider serves on the tour and can crank out top speeds on command.
The clip above shows what happens when he goes up against a legendary player and his serve cannot hold up all that well (though he served and played immaculately in this match).
9. Ernests Gulbis
Ernests Gulbis hits very heavy balls for every stroke of his game.
However, the serve is one of the more noteworthy shots he has in his repertoire.
The Latvian is able to pronate exceptionally well, and though his serve is sometimes rushed, it is only meant to help him produce a big angle in the long run.
He is one of the men who can pack a punch in every shot, and his one-two punch is up there with the world's best.
8. Gilles Muller
Gilles Muller is the only lefty who made this list, but it is his motion and swing that allow him to be a dominant server.
He tosses the ball fairly low and gets right down to serving aces.
His slider is so tricky because of his lefty spin, but this causes opponents to open up the flat serve for him to strike.
Though he has not had that much success over his career, he has always been known as one of the best servers with very tough patterns to read.
7. Tomas Berdych
Tomas Berdych is the all-time king of the one-two punch.
If he isn't serving an ace, he's putting himself in a position to hit a clean winner on the next ball.
His height, ball toss and technique allow him to direct the ball in unique ways off the serve.
The Czech No. 1 has a weaker second serve than he should, but he still holds serve routinely, so it may only matter when assessing his ability to fight off break points.
Berdych is a very powerful and dominant customer to deal with on the court.
6. Roger Federer
Roger Federer hits his serve more slowly than nearly all of the guys on this list, but he is very precise.
His arched back and the fact that he is so casual throughout the whole motion allow him to be explosive and in control of the direction.
Also, his ball toss is in nearly the same spot every single time, which helps him over the course of a lengthy match.
Many times throughout his career, he has served sliders to the forehand that are easily chipped back, but then the Swiss Maestro is set up for the put-away shot.
His serve also bails him out of trouble when the going gets tough.
5. Kevin Anderson
Kevin Anderson is tall and strong, and he has an imposing presence from the baseline.
He has a compact service motion, and it allows for great pronation from both sides.
With Anderson, you can clearly see him putting a heck of a lot of his weight into the serve as he explodes forward into the court's dimensions.
He is able to hit very good flat serves out wide due to his frame and contact point, and he happens to be one of those tricky-to-read servers.
4. Jerzy Janowicz
When it comes to sliding serves on the deuce side of the court, I put Jerzy Janowicz in the No. 1 spot.
However, he goes for too much on his second serve and double faults a considerable amount, so he is ranked on the outside edge of the "Big Four servers."
He whips his arm so quickly and generates an enormous amount of pace on his flat T-serves.
Additionally, he bends much of his gigantic frame after tossing the ball, which makes his explosiveness even more apparent and powerful.
His grunt that comes with the serve can sometimes be daunting, so that gives him another edge on that shot.
3. Milos Raonic
If Milos Raonic had a better second serve, I would rank him as the best server in the world. Unfortunately for him, this is not the case (though most players would not mind having his second serve).
Raonic twists his arm and hand in so much that it almost seems impossible for him to hit his serves 140 mph or higher. This inward turning of the racket, combined with his rapid swing, explain how he is able to pronate and get the ball over the net so well.
The Canadian's serve is very tough to read, and he does not give any clues or indications of where he prefers to serve.
Some players have tried to take his serve on the rise as well as way back in the court. But so far, no way has worked that well on the return other than guessing or hoping he misses the first one.
2. John Isner
John Isner is perhaps the most famous server in the world since Andy Roddick retired.
He is one of the two tallest players on the tour (the tallest is in the spot directly ahead of him on this list), and he makes a considerable amount of first serves in the box.
The American's height advantage and technique have allowed him to play at a very high level without many other weapons.
The angle he gets on the serve is huge for both first and second serves, and there is no particular way to return them that can put a player at any kind of advantage.
1. Ivo Karlovic
Dr. Ivo hits his serve hard...with accuracy...along with extreme angles...and aerodynamic flight through the atmosphere. This is the recipe for a terrific server.
His balls are very tough to pick up off the bounce, and the fact that he serves and volleys a great deal only makes returning the ball in play a tougher challenge.
He and John Isner have become accustomed to playing tiebreaks due to their statures and inabilities to break serve well, but a player definitely wouldn't want to go up against one of them in a tiebreak.
Karlovic has an incredibly high first-serve percentage and often goes for broke on the second, as his technique and height allow him to do so without much trouble.
It will be tough to see a player in the near future serve anything better than what Ivo Karlovic has produced in his serve-oriented career.
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