Tennis is a game known for its mixture of finesse and power. Knowing when to slice the ball and when to hammer it across the court is the difference between the amateurs and the professionals. Focusing on the power side, some players concentrate their energy in their serve. They smack the ball as hard as they can over the net in order to disorient their opponent. This list is composed of the 10 fastest serves in the history of tennis. When power meets trajectory, you get serves that will make your head spin.
10. Feliciano Lopez – 150.4 mph
Kicking off this list is a Spanish player who has been playing his best tennis in the latter half of his career. Feliciano Lopez has fought his way to be one of the top 30 players in the world. Since Lopez is left-handed, his style of tennis is a bit harder to handle than others. With three titles under his belt, it’s safe to say Lopez is on the rise. This was evident in 2008, when Lopez participated in a tournament in Toronto. During the tournament, Feliciano hit a serve that clocked in at 150.4 mph. Though the serve was fast and seemingly unhittable, Lopez only managed to win one tournament that year (Dubai). Still, it’s an impressive feat to hit a tennis ball over 150 mph.
8. (Tie) Ryan Harrison – 152 mph
Tennis fans know the name Ryan Harrison. But, for those not familiar with this up-and-comer, Harrison is a 22-year-old American tennis player. Being hailed as one of America’s future tennis stars, Ryan has a lot on his plate. He reached a career-high rank of #43 in 2012, but has since dropped back down past the #100 mark. Though young, Harrison is a strong player, relying on a powerful forehand and serve to win him points. He had an opportunity to show off just how strong he was when, in 2013, Ryan hit a serve clocking in at 152 mph. Western and Southern Open fans were stunned when he hit the 9th fastest serve in the world, and Ryan tried to carry that momentum with him. So far, a Grand Slam title still eludes him. However, with his youth and talent, Harrison will have multiple opportunities to win (and serve even faster).
8. (Tie) Joachim Johansson — 152 mph
Tied with Ryan Harrison for the eighth spot on this list of the fastest tennis serves, Joachim Johansson hit his 152 mph serve nine years earlier. Born in Sweden and nicknamed “Pim-Pim”, Johansson was on a roll in 2004. He qualified for all the Grand Slams that year, and even reached the Semi-Finals of the U.S. Open (losing to the tough Lleyton Hewitt). With a career year forming, Johansson also served up his fastest serve ever. At that year’s Davis Cup, Johansson served a ball at 152 mph. He probably wished his career had the same momentum as that particular serve. Joachim is currently ranked in the 600s.
7. Roscoe Tanner — 153 mph
It may come as a surprise that three of the ten spots on this list belong to Americans. Roscoe Tanner is no exception, an American who peaked in his playing career around the end of the 1970s. At this time, Tanner reached a career-high ranking of #4. It was shortly thereafter that Roscoe smashed a serve with a speed of 153 mph. It occurred in 1978 in the final of the Palm Springs tournament. The serve did its job; because Tanner went on to win the Palm Springs tournament against the all-around tough guy Raul Ramirez. Tanner would go on to play professional tennis until 1985, when he would retire from the sport. He never again reached a serve speed of 153 mph.
6. Andy Roddick — 155 mph
The third American to appear on this list, Roddick is somewhat of a sad story. With a smashing and powerful serve, and a forehand to match, Andy achieved greatness by winning the 2003 U.S. Open. He would never again win a title, and he would constantly get frustrated on the tennis court. However, shortly after his Grand Slam win, Andy slammed a ball with massive power and force. Ironically, it happened at the 2004 Davis Cup (the same tournament where our #8 entrant hit his superb serve). Andy generated the speed from his legs, and exploded on the ball to hit the ball a record high 155 mph. The serve held the record as the fastest until 2011.
5. Milos Raonic — 155.3 mph
A young Canadian player with a wealth of talent, Milos Raonic has been making waves ever since his debut in 2007. While just coming into the mainstream spotlight in the last couple of years, Milos is known for not backing down from opponents and for playing hard for every point. In 2012, while on the rise in the rankings, Raonic unleashed a monster serve at the Rogers Cup. Raonic plowed through a ball that clocked in at 155.3 mph (just 3/10ths of a second faster than Roddick’s serve, which held the record for the fastest serve for the previous eight years). Raonic is still on the rise, and could best this speed in the future.
3. (Tie) Jerzy Janowicz — 156 mph
Polish-born Jerzy Janowicz (much like Ryan Harrison listed above) experienced his breakthrough on the professional tour only a couple of years ago. Rising as high as #14 in the world in 2013, Jerzy’s career is hot and on the rise. During his breakout year on the ATP World Tour in 2012, the young and fiery Pole landed a serve unlike any he had hit before. Playing at the Pekao Sczcecin Open in his home country of Poland, Jerzy whacked a serve at 156 mph against his opponent. Maybe it was the momentum of the year or his never-give-up spirit, but this serve seemed to usher in his outstanding play. With a bright future ahead, he could easily beat this serving speed.
3. (Tie) Ivo Karlovic — 156 mph
Sharing the third spot on this list of the fastest tennis serves in history with up-and-comer Jerzy Janowicz is Croatian-born Ivo Karlovic. Karlovic, unlike Janowicz, is a veteran of the professional tennis tour. With five career titles under his belt, Ivo is a unique tennis player when it comes to the art of serving. Karlovic is registered as having a height of 6’11. Being so tall, Ivo has a unique serving style due to his height. He can slap tennis balls over the net at a sharp angle. Karlovic exemplified this at the 2011 Davis Cup, when he slapped a serve clocking in at 156 mph.
2. Albano Olivetti — 160 mph
Most of the serves on this list have increased in speed by small increments. Albano Olivetti changes this pattern, and trumps Karlovic’s serve speed by 4 mph. Even the most hardcore tennis fan might not know who this French youngster is. Albano entered his first main draw in 2012 and has even upset then ranked #8 Mardy Fish. At the 2012 Internazionali Trofeo Lame Perrel-Faip, Albano took everyone by surprise when he bonked a tennis ball at 160 mph. Expect much from this young player, as he has the skills and talent to become a superstar…and to slam some more tennis balls at very high speeds.
1. Samuel Groth — 163.7 mph
Many veteran tennis players have graced this list. However, as the top 5 indicate, the power of youth is a recurring theme. The number one spot on this list of the fastest tennis serves belongs to none other than another young tennis player. Aussie Samuel Groth is currently ranked #139 in the world, but don’t let the rank fool you. Just because a player’s rank isn’t high, that doesn’t mean they still can’t smack a ball with authority. That’s exactly what Groth did at the 2012 Busan Open Challenger Tennis tournament. Groth cocked back his arm, swung through, and broke the record books. At 163.7 mph, Samuel Groth surprised the entire tennis world. His future is bright and he might break his own record some day.