With his fifth ace on Friday in his Wimbledon Third round game vs Jannik sinner, John Isner broke the world record for aces on the ATP Tour. The 6-foot-10 American now stands alone with 13,729 untouchable serves and counts, passes Ivo Karlovic‘s previous leading mark of 13,728. Records began in 1991 with ATP Match Stats, part of the Infosys ATP Scores & Stats Center.
Isner needed just two service games to break the record on Friday Wimbledon‘s No. 2 Court and fired the record ace at 1-1, 15/30.
“It’s actually really cool. I’m really proud of that,” Isner said ahead of his third-round game, looking ahead to breaking the record. “I will be the all-time leader. I’ll keep playing, keep increasing my total…I don’t know if [the record] will break. I could be up there for a long time.”
The American also leads the 2022 ace race with 629 in the season that begins Friday. The 37-year-old has finished first on the ATP Tour in seven seasons and surpassed the 1,000 ace mark seven times, including a career-high 1,260 in 2015. Isner first accomplished both feats in 2010 after turning pro in 2007 a distinguished career at the University of Georgia.
As Isner neared the ace record, Andy Roddick helped settle a debate on Twitter about which of the two has the better serve: “Isner’s serve is the best ever,” he wrote, echoing the sentiment of longtime Georgia head coach Manny Diaz. “I’d trade my old one in for his without thinking twice.”
Behind his booming serve, Isner has won 92 percent of his service games, including 79 percent of first serve points. He also saved 71 percent of the breakpoints. With an intimidating game built on that outstanding strength, Isner has won 16 tour-level titles and hit a career-high in 2018 with No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings.
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ATPTour.com asked some of his fellow hitters what makes the American’s serve so special. Reilly Opelka, Milos Raonic and Sam Querrey all pointed out that Isner’s technique and mechanics – more than his towering size – were key to his success.
Opelka: “Obviously he has size, but technically he has perfect movement. He is by far the best server ever. Even now I think John has the majority of his aces later on in the tour. as Ivo [Karlovic] played first, the courts were faster and the boys didn’t come back either. People weren’t that big. For me there is no question that John is the best server. The last six years the courts were slower and then he played his best tennis. Against Novak and Delpo and Cilic. Those big boys returning well. Having the number and the record in that era says it all.
“He has different gear. Looking at his movement on a 30/0 point, the intensity is less. You see it when you come back against him because you’re so fixated on going back and finding something. At 30/0 it will come off seven or eight mph slower, he won’t bend his knees as much. But it’s still a natural movement. At a major point, it’s coming nine or 10 miles an hour faster.”
Cilic: “Considering John, he has one of the best techniques on the tour despite being a large size which helps on serves. It’s not easy to do. He’s a big guy. I know myself that it is not easy to reconcile everything. The serve is probably the hardest shot we have in tennis. It’s extremely technical and kudos to him for keeping his serve level and game high for so long to play long in tournaments and get such great results. It’s incredible to have a guy like that on the tour with Karlovic and other incredible servers.”
Querrey: “When it comes to John Isner‘s serve, I think 95 percent of the players would say it’s the best serve ever. And it’s not just because he’s tall. His mechanics are great and he does a great job with placement. He can push it, hit it flat, and hit a kick serve. I think the most impressive part is that he’s late in the games. I feel like he hits a lot of first serves. I don’t know if there’s a stat of 5/5 or something in tiebreaks, but it has to be that high. He deserves the record. Not only is he an incredible server, he’s also an incredible player. He’s been in the top 20 for 10 or 11 years. He’s not just a server, but having that record is cool.”