Unfortunately for Groth the record isn’t formally recognised by the ATP. Speed radar is notoriously inconsistent. For that reason only shots played on main tour events – using standardised equipment – qualify for consideration.
To add insult to injury Groth went on to lose the match 6-4, 6-3 to Uladzimir Ignatik. Which proves perhaps that power isn’t everything.
But it can be a lot of fun. So in this article we’ll take a look at some of the fastest serves ever recorded – officially and unofficially.
We’ll look at –
The Fastest Serves of Some of the Most Popular Players on Tour
As we’ve noted, measuring service speed is an imprecise science.
Even at Grand Slams the radar gun has been known to offer some questionable readings. John Isner’s serve was once recorded at 4,718 km/h. He’s no slouch but still…
For that reason we’ve only included the most easily verifiable records.
With that in mind, let’s proceed…
The Fastest Men’s Serves
The same year that Sam Groth hit his monster serve at Busan, Albano Olivetti was not far behind. He clocked 257.5 km/h or 160 mph in the first round of that year’s Trofeo Faip–Perrel in Bergamo, Italy.
Though he’s never cracked the world’s top 100, the Frenchman takes full advantage of his 6ft 8in frame for a booming first serve. Unfortunately for him, just like Groth, his feat took place at a Challenger event so it’s not an officially recognised ATP record.
The official record for the fastest ever serve goes to big hitting American John Isner. In 2016’s Davis Cup victory over Bernard Tomic he hit a huge ace measuring in at 253 km/h or 157.2 mph. That’s about the same speed as a skydiver falling headfirst from a plane!
It’s no great surprise. At 6’10” Isner’s serve is his biggest weapon. He wins a massive 79% of his first service points utilising his height to generate power and bounce.
While we’re here let’s look at the rest of the top ten fastest male tennis serves of all time. Worth noting that each player is listed just once, with only their quickest serve taken into account.
|1||Sam Groth||Australia||263.0 km/h (163.4 mph)||2012 Busan Open Challenger Tennis|
|2||Albano Olivetti||France||257.5 km/h (160.0 mph)||2012 Internazionali Trofeo Lame Perrel–Faip|
|3||John Isner||United States||253.0 km/h (157.2 mph)||2016 Davis Cup|
|4||Ivo Karlović||Croatia||251.0 km/h (156.0 mph)||2011 Davis Cup|
|4||Jerzy Janowicz||Poland||251.0 km/h (156.0 mph)||2012 Pekao Szczecin Open|
|6||Andy Roddick||United States||249.4 km/h (155.0 mph)||2004 Davis Cup|
|6||Milos Raonic||Canada||249.4 km/h (155.0 mph)||2012 SAP Open|
|8||Joachim Johansson||Sweden||244.6 km/h (152.0 mph)||2004 Davis Cup|
|8||Feliciano López||Spain||244.6 km/h (152.0 mph)||2014 Aegon Championships|
|10||Marius Copil||Romania||244.0 km/h (151.6 mph)||2016 European Open|
The Fastest Women’s Serves
The fastest serve ever recorded by a female player was hit by Spain’s Georgina García Pérez. She clocked 220 km/h or 136.7 mph in the 2nd round of qualifying at the 2018 Hungarian Ladies Open.
Hurricane Georgi topped out at 124 in the world rankings back in 2018. But her serve was one of the fiercest in the game – making full use of her 6′ 2″ frame.
For reference, 220 km/h is faster than any serve Rafa Nadal has ever recorded (more on which below).
Only just behind García Pérez we find Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. She hit a serve of 214 km/h or 133 mph in her 2018 group stage game against Caroline Garcia in the WTA Elite trophy.
But as with the men’s tour the WTA doesn’t recognise either of these as an official record. Only serves hit at a main draw level of a WTA event qualify.
So the official WTA record for fastest female tennis serve goes to Sabine Lisicki of Germany. At the 2014 Stanford Classic she thumped down a serve at 210.8 km/h or 131 mph!
Lisicki went on to lose the match to fellow big hitter Ana Ivanovic but she could see the upside:
Here’s the full top ten list of fastest female serves of all time:
|1||Georgina Garcia Pérez||Spain||220.0 km/h (136.7 mph)||2018 Hungarian Ladies Open|
|2||Aryna Sabalenka||Belarus||214.0 km/h (133.0 mph)||2018 WTA Elite Trophy|
|3||Sabine Lisicki||Germany||210.8 km/h (131.0 mph)||2014 Stanford Classic|
|4||Brenda Schultz-McCarthy||Netherlands||209.2 km/h (130.0 mph)||2006 Cincinnati Masters (qualifiers)|
|5||Venus Williams||United States||207.6 km/h (129.0 mph)||2007 US Open|
|6||Serena Williams||United States||207.0 km/h (128.6 mph)||2013 Australian Open|
|6||Ivana Jorović||Serbia||207.0 km/h (128.6 mph)||2017 Fed Cup|
|8||Julia Görges||Germany||203.0 km/h (126.1 mph)||2012 French Open|
|8||Caroline Garcia||France||203.0 km/h (126.1 mph)||2016 Fed Cup|
|10||Brenda Schultz-McCarthy||Netherlands||202.7 km/h (126.0 mph)||2007 Indian Wells Masters|
Fastest Serves of Some of the Most Popular Players on Tour
As we’ve seen, a big serve is no guarantee of success and some of the biggest names on tour don’t even factor in our top ten.
While power is an effective weapon, it’s nothing without placement, spin and above all consistency.
With that in mind, let’s look at the fastest serves of some of the other biggest names in tennis.
Federer’s fastest official serve came in the final of the 2010 Gerry Weber Open. Serving against Lleyton Hewitt he hit 230.1 km/h or 143 mph, tying him for 53rd fastest in the men’s game.
It’s definitely respectable, although Federer’s forte was never his power. The strength of his service game came from his placement, consistency and disguise.
Fed could hit the corners with ease. But his ball toss and stance were identical every time. So his serve was extremely difficult to read.
Despite only having medium pace this allowed him to win an average of 77.4% of his first serve points. And his career seemed to pan out okay 😉
Novak Djokovic’s fastest serve came at the Madrid Masters in 2009, clocking in at 219 km/h or 136 mph.
More renowned for his ground strokes than his service game, the Serb’s serve has nonetheless evolved into a decent weapon. At the time of writing his First Service Points Won percentage is at an impressive 76%.
Nadal hit his fastest ever serve at the Rome Open in 2022 against John Isner measuring in at 230 km/h or 142 mph.
Like Federer his average speed is relatively low, especially considering his physical strength. Unusually though that pace has increased throughout his career.
As a left hander he also has a big advantage when serving from the advantage side of the court. He’s able to swing the ball out wide to his opponent’s backhand making it hard to return.
The Aussie’s fastest ever serve came in his second round Wimbledon match against Rafa Nadal in 2019. What makes it the most extraordinary serve on our list? It was a SECOND serve.
Already a set down to the Spaniard and having hit his first serve long, a frustrated Kyrgios sent down an absolute thunderbolt. It caught Nadal napping and won him the point.
Later in the same service game he caught Nadal out AGAIN, this time with a cheeky underarm effort.
Not that Nadal let it bother him too much, coming away with a four set victory.
In his first round win over Kevin Kim at the SAP Open in 2017, Murray sent down his fastest ever serve of 233.4 km/h or 145 mph.
It’s a decent top speed for the Scot who has struggled with his serve down the years, relying more on his relentless baseline game and deadly returns.
Osaka’s fastest serve was recorded in her third round defeat against Madison Keys at the US Open in 2016, a 201.2 km/h or 125 mph rocket.
Osaka is known for her big hitting, especially on her forehand. These days though she’s stated that she rarely executes at full strength, preferring to concentrate on accuracy.
Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena’s former coach, described her serve as the greatest of all time and the statistics back that up.
Serena’s fastest serve came at the 2013 Aussie Open in her second round win over Garbine Muguruza, clocking in at 203 km/h or 128.6 mph.
Speaking about it afterwards Serena said “It’s my fastest that went in. I’ve hit some 150s but of course, they’re like to the sky.”
The fastest serve of Sharapova’s career came at the Aegon Classic in 2010 when she slammed one down at 121 mph or 195 km/h.
This came shortly after shoulder surgery forced a change of stance for the Russian. Clearly the new approach didn’t do her too much harm.
Rising star Gauff hit her fastest serve so far at the 2022 US Open notching 128 mph or 206 km/h.
At break point down in her second round match against Elena-Gabriela Ruse she slammed down a whopper, going on to take the game and the match.
Still, she took the news in her stride…
It was the second fastest serve ever recorded in the women’s draw at Flushing Meadows. And at just 18 years old don’t be surprised if there’s faster to come.
Not So Fast…
Hope you enjoyed our round up of some of the fastest serves of all time. But before you go, why not check out our guide to the fastest court surfaces. And if you’re looking to add some oomph to your own service game take a look at our easy to follow guide on How To Serve.