Ivo Karlovic (*1979 / CRO) belongs to the most dominant servers/servicemen in the history of tennis and his more than 11,500 aces served throughout his professional career (as of December 2016) on the tour are a record hardly to be matched. At the height of 211 cm (6’11”) and weight of 104 kg (230 lb), Ivo with the shoe size of 17 brings surely quite unique parameters to the plate as he is the tallest player to ever enter the top 100 of the ATP ranking. But besides the above mentioned impressive parameters of his body, Ivo’s dominant service is based also on a quite perfect mastering of the main biomechanical aspects of a great service. These can be well spotted on the slow motion video from Ivo’s practice just before the start of the 2016 US.Open as shown below:
Ivo starts with a calm wide base and focuses very well at his toss, which is quite unique with the palm facing into the court. It is surely more difficult to master this way of tossing the ball, but once mastered, this way of tossing appears to be more stable. Because of his long limbs leading to limited explosiveness, Ivo operates quite shortened backswing, but nonetheless, he lines the racket well in the cocking position from which he is using an almost excellent leg drive to propel the serving arm (or better his right upper limb) with the racket up against the ball, all under a perfect eye control of the tossed ball. The next key moment is Ivo’s focus at a very well-controlled and perfectly targeted pronation with high elbow position during which he, knowing the necessary trick known to just rather very small group the best servers, spends almost the entire available energy (= follow through 1). The next part of the follow through (= follow through 2), where his racket is going into the middle/slightly left and in Ivo’s case stays in the front of his body, is just a relaxation. Ivo who uses the essential parameters of the “Tennis 3.o Code” is “serving” as another excellent example that great servers don’t lead the racket with one dynamic motion all the way to the opposite leg as this is being suggested in the majority of the worldwide available tennis instruction/literature. Some details are shown in the photos (from the same practice) below.
Ivo Karlovic (*79 / CRO) – 1st service – 1 of 3 – beginning of the toss (note the palm facing down) and backswing, eyes are looking up to the place of the intended impact area already – 2016 US.Open – NYC
More videos/photos (also going years back) and any further detailed information are available upon request at drmgb11(at)gmail.com.
Copyright video/photos (August 2016) & text (December 2016) by Dr. Martin G. Baroch