The ‘Serve’ also formally called ‘service’ is the most fundamental aspect of tennis. The shot starts a point of the game and sets the rally in motion. A powerful service is the most important arrow in the quiver of successful tennis players.
Mastering it becomes a considerable advantage and it is often used as an offensive weapon. From Roger Federer, who holds the record for most aces in a Grand Slam final to Serena Williams, all legends of the game have relied on the serve that is aggressive and difficult to read, reaching very high speed. The shot also gives an edge in the key moments of the match.
Players with a fast serve are expected to win most of their service games as it provides the ability to break an opponent’s serve playing a crucial role in a match. The average speed of a ‘first serve’ in tennis is usually around the 190-200 km/h or 120 mph mark in men’s professional tennis and around the 170-180 km/h or 105 mph mark in women’s professional tennis.
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Unleashing the Power: The Record-Breaking Fastest Tennis Serves in History
The list includes the fastest serves recognized by the ATP.
10. Dmitry Tursonov, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Reilly Opelka – 237.0 km/h (147.3 mph)
The 10th fastest serve is tied between the three players. Tursonov hit his fastest serve in the 2006 Davis Cup. While the Frenchman Tsonga recorded his serve in the 2014 Rogers Cup. Opelka’s fastest serve came in the 2022 Sydney Classics.
9. Juan Martin Del Potro – 240.0 km/h (149.1 mph)
The Argentine 2009 US Open champion possessed one of the fastest serves in the tour. The former World No. 3 was known to be an offensive baseliner with a very powerful serve and a deep, flat, topspin groundstroke. In the 2017 Stockholm Open, his service reached the fastest speed of 240.0 km/h.
8. Taylor Dent – 241.0 km/h (149.8 mph)
Dent had a solid slice backhand and enjoyed charging at the net at every opportunity. Though he could not achieve much success in terms of titles but recorded the 8th-fastest serve in Round 1 of the French Open 2010.
7. Oscar Otte – 243.0 km/h (151.0 mph)
The German professional tennis player has been ranked as high as 36th in his career. In the 2021 US Open Fourth Round, he hit a serve reaching 243.0 km/h.
6. Marius Copil – 244.0 km/h (151.6 mph)
A member of the Romanian Davis Cup team, Copil was ranked 56th by the ATP in January 2019. In the 2016 European Open, Copil recorded one of the fastest serves ever when in the quarterfinals he hit the serve reaching 244.0 km/h.
5. Feliciano Lopez – 244.6 km/h (152.0 mph)
Lopez has been an active player in both singles and doubles. The 41-year-old achieved his career-high singles ranking of world No. 12 in March 2015 and doubles ranking of world No. 9 in November 2016. In the 2014 Ageon Championship first round, Lopez struck his fastest serve of 244.6km/h.
4. Andy Roddick – 249.4 km/h (155.0 mph)
Former American World No. 1 and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick’s serve was known for its absolute power. His serve in the 2004 Davis Cup semifinal attaining a speed of 249.4 km/h was the fastest one ever for many years.
3. Milos Raonic – 249.9 km/h (155.3 mph)
The highest-ranked Canadian player in history, Raonic ascended to the 3rd spot on the ATP rankings in November 2016. He also remains the first Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open semifinals, the French Open quarterfinals, and the Wimbledon final. In the 2012 SAP Open semifinals, Raonic smashed a 249.4 km/h serve.
2. Ivo Karlovic – 251.0 km/h (156.0 mph)
The former Croatian professional tennis player, Karlovic was the joint tallest-ranked tennis player in history, along with Reilly Opelka. He had some success in doubles. Karlov held the record for the fastest serve recorded in professional tennis, measured at 251 km/h (156 mph) before being surpassed later. His fastest serve came in the 2011 Davis Cup first round.
1. John Isner – 253.0 km/h (157.2 mph)
The fastest officially recorded serve was hit by the American professional John Isner in the 2016 Davis Cup first round. he hit a serve 253 km/h overcoming the previous records. Isner has been ranked as high as world No. 8 in singles and No. 14 in doubles by the ATP.
Other than these serves on the list there are others too but unrecognized due to lack of uniformity in some tournaments’ radar guns (including the availability or lack thereof).
The serve speed of 263 km/h (163.4 mph) was recorded by Australian Sam Groth at an ATP Challenger event in Busan, South Korea in May 2012 but it does not come under ATP’s official records.
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