Johansson ranks highly amongst tennis serving stars

Former Swedish tennis star Joachim Johansson has revealed how his formidable serve helped him compete with the world’s top players.

Johansson famously smashed 51 aces past Andre Agassi in the fourth round of the 2005 Australian Open, despite struggling with cramp throughout the match.

He took the opening set in a tie-break, but Agassi subsequently reeled off the next three sets to book his place in the quarter-finals.

Johansson’s tally set a record for the most aces served in one match in a Grand Slam, although Ivo Karlovic equalled it at Wimbledon later that year.

The Croatian then broke the record outright, hitting 55 aces against Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the 2009 French Open.

In a recent interview with Betway, Johannson recalled how his barrage of aces allowed him to stay in the game against Agassi.

“I played Andre Agassi in the Australian Open in 2005 when I was 23 years old,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I played the match before – I won 13-11 in the fifth set and I cramped in the last set for 24 games.

“Right before the match against Andre, we played at one o’clock and it was like 35 degrees.

“I cramped up when I was stretching about five minutes before we were walking on, so I had to rely on my serve a lot.

“He only did five unforced errors in the whole match, but I did 51 aces.”

While Johansson ultimately came up short against Agassi, his efforts highlighted how a strong serve can help players stay in matches.

The 39-year-old is in good company when it comes to serving, with the sport’s history littered with players who have fired down aces. We look at some of the best exponents of serving in tennis.

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Ivo Karlovic

Australian Open 2024 –

The aforementioned Karlovic is unquestionably one of the most brutal servers of all time, with his near seven-foot height enabling him to serve with unique trajectory.

He has smashed more than 13,700 aces during his career, averaging around 20 per match at speeds of above 140 miles per hour.

Karlovic held the official ATP Tour record for the fastest serve at 156mph, although this was later surpassed by United States star John Isner.

The former world number 14 won eight titles during his career, but never progressed beyond the quarter-finals in a Grand Slam.

John Isner

Isner broke through the 13,000 mark for career aces in Cincinnati in August 2024 and still harbours hopes of eventually overhauling Karlovic’s tally.

The US player currently holds the official record for the fastest tennis serve of 157.2mph which he hit in the 2016 Davis Cup.

Isner’s extremely pacy serve has helped him win 16 career singles titles and another six in doubles tournaments.
However, his run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2018 is the furthest he has progressed in a Grand Slam event.

Andy Roddick

Roddick is one of the best examples of a player who relied heavily on a powerful serve to achieve success during his career.

‘A-Rod’ held the record for the fastest serve in the world at 155mph for a number of years, and was famed for being one of the most consistent servers in tennis.

Comfortable playing on all surfaces, Roddick’s finest moment came when he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero to win the 2003 US Open in straight sets.

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He also reached the final at Wimbledon three times, losing on each occasion to Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer.

Goran Ivanisevic

Ivanisevic’s unique serving style caused other players plenty of problems, helping him rack up 22 titles during his illustrious career.

The left-hander often struck the ball on the rise when hitting his serve, giving opponents virtually no time to predict where it would be aimed.

His biggest career achievement came in 2001, when he became the only man to win the singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard entry.

Widely rated as one of the best ever exponents of the serve and volley style of play, the Croatian also won nine doubles titles as a professional.

Pete Sampras

Sampras used his serve to great effect during his career, winning 64 titles on his way to earning more than $43 million in prize money.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion’s accurate first serve often proved too hot for his opponents to handle, while his second serve was also not too shabby.

In some respects, Sampras helped to change the way tennis is played, forcing other players to focus more on their serving technique.

The former world number one enjoyed a long-standing rivalry with Agassi, which many fans believe was a truly golden era for the sport.

Roger Federer

While Federer is not necessarily noted for the speed of his serve, his ridiculous levels of accuracy have helped him become an aces machine.

Federer’s ability to disguise the placement of his serve is second to none, helping to compensate for the slight reduction in pace.

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With 103 career titles including 20 Grand Slams on his CV, Federer is often described as the greatest player in the history of tennis.

His sportsmanship has made him hugely popular with tennis fans, setting him apart from the surliness of many of his modern day rivals.

Roscoe Tanner

Many ‘best of’ features forget that sport existed before the past couple of decades, but we will not make that mistake here.

Roscoe Tanner is unquestionably worth his place amongst the greatest servers to grace the game, particularly when considering the equipment he had to use.

The left-hander’s serve was clocked at 153 mph at Palm Springs during a final against Raul Ramirez in 1978, highlighting the devastating power he possessed.

Tanner bagged 16 titles during his career including the 1977 Australian Open. He was also a finalist at Wimbledon two years later.