This week’s Australian Open Leaderboard series returns to groundstroke speeds. Below, are charts showing speed at impact (in mph) for groundstroke forehands (shots landing within 3 meters of the baseline) observed at the 2014 to 2016 AO.
Most male players reach average speeds of 71 to 83 mph on the forehand (Figure 1). Though there weren’t many deep forehand shots observed for American Jack Sock, he did have the highest average speed at 86 mph. Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka are two other players in the above 80 mph club, with big-hitting Davis Cup hopeful Juan Martin Del Potro (who, sadly, only had 2 matches at the 2014 to 2016 AO) is just behind at an average of exactly 80 mph.
Very little separates the speeds of deep forehands for Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Grigor Dimitrov who all come in at 79 mph. World No 1, Andy Murray, was notably further behind at recent AOs coming in at a speed of 75 mph, which still puts his speeds ahead of Aussies Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.
As was observed for backhand speeds in an earlier post, the difference between typical men’s and women’s speeds on groundstrokes isn’t large. Women also are hitting speeds of 70 - 79 mph on their forehand, though fewer of them are hitting speeds of 80 mph or higher frequently. One exception is American Madison Keys who, with an average forehand speed of 81 mph, could definitely compete with the men.
Some other big hitters on the women’s tour include Sam Stosur, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova. Each of these players have a forehand stroke that typically is moving at 75-76 mph. Surprisingly, the Williams sisters are lower down in this list with average speeds of 73 mph, which could be a sign that they are choosy when going for a big shot. For other players, like Aga Radwanska and Roberta Vinci, the slower forehand speeds suggest a more defensive style of play.
Monica Niculescu lands at the bottom of the list with a speed of 53 mph. However, Niculescu only had 1 deep forehand stroke observed. As the only top player who favors a forehand slice, Niculescu chooses surprise over depth and speed.