Tennis is an extraordinary sport that provides unique and memorable shows. The best performers of the sport have contributed to this, which have attracted countless fans to the tennis courts.
To create a ranking of GOATs – “Greatest Of All Time” – we use the numbers of each player as the main parameter. But we also put in perspective the historical context of their victories, as the great champions are measured by their rivals and by the circumstances.
The 1970s were a great period for the sport of tennis and it was during this decade that tennis really became more of a regular sport, and not just for the privileged, especially in the United States.
With names like Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, and others, there were many personalities to fuel the rivalries that took place on and off the court.
Since that time great players have come and gone. Although it is difficult to compare players from different seasons in any sport, due to technological changes and superior fitness standards, selecting the greatest player can be a difficult and very subjective task.
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Meet the best tennis players of all time (from the most recent to the oldest) and understand why this sport is so passionate and popular.
Top 10 Greatest Tennis Players Of All Time 2021
#1. Roger Federer
It is almost unanimous: for most tennis fans, Roger Federer is the best tennis player in history. He is the biggest Grand Slams winner, with 20 titles, tied with Rafael Nadal; and has the record for weeks as the 1st in the world, with 310. His longevity in the sport is also impressive.
Federer remains among the Top 10 in the ranking. If the numbers weren’t enough, the way Federer won them is also a relevant factor. He is a highly aggressive player (unlike Nadal and Djokovic, who depend a lot on defense), with plastically beautiful blows, such as his volleys and his backhand of one hand.
Justice is done, the numbers of Nadal and Djokovic are very close to his currently. But then we entered a subjective tension: Federer is an athlete who has transcended the sport, becoming a symbol of elegance around the world.
An example of this? Today, despite being behind Nadal and Djokovic in the ATP ranking, he was the highest-paid athlete of all sports in 2021, ahead of names like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James.
There is a real possibility that Nadal and Djokovic will surpass Federer’s numbers in the coming years. But Federer’s significance for tennis is similar to that of Senna for Formula 1, Muhammad Ali for boxing and Michael Jordan for basketball. That will be difficult for someone to take from him one day.
#2. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is a Spanish tennis player who was born in Manacor, in 1986. He comes from a family of sportsmen and from an early age he excelled in tennis. Their dedication and dedication are remarkable factors.
His race and strength are evidenced in each point he disputes, with clay tournaments being his favorites. He has won 14 Grand Slam (9 at Roland Garros, 1 at the Australian Open, 2 at Wimbledon and 2 at the US Open).
Rafael Nadal is the greatest player in the history of clay. And by a large margin. Never has an athlete been as dominant on a single surface as he is: there are 100 wins and 2 losses in 16 editions of Roland Garros, with 98% success. Surreal.
Despite being a clay specialist, Nadal managed to win two titles on the Wimbledon grass, four on the cement of the US Open and one on the synthetic courts of the Australian Open, reaching 20 achievements in all, a record he shares with Federer.
His record is positive against the Swiss: 24 wins and 16 losses. In a comparison with Djokovic and Federer, the Spaniard has another advantage: only he reached the so-called “Golden Slam”, which includes winning the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australia, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) plus the medal of gold at the Olympics in singles.
#3. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has dominated the circuit for the past few seasons – and remains one of the greatest tennis players of all time. His collection of Grand Slams already has 17 titles, second only to Federer and Nadal, with 20 each. But head-to-head, he wins over both: 27 × 23 versus Federer and 29 × 27 versus Nadal.
He is also the record holder for ATP Masters 1000 titles, which on the circuit is second only to the Grand Slams in terms of importance: there are 36 trophies, one ahead of Nadal.
Finally, it is worth noting that he is the runner-up in weeks as number one in the world and that he managed to win the four Grand Slams (Australia, Rolando Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) in a row, something that neither Federer nor Nadal managed.
#4. Pete Sampras
Before the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic generation emerged, the big argument between the greatest tennis player in history was between Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg. The American had next to him the record of Grand Slams, with 14 titles, that ended up being taken by Federer and Nadal.
But their arrival did not diminish Sampras’ size in tennis. Sampras stayed 286 weeks as number one in the world, a record broken only by Federer later.
Most dominant tennis player of the 90s, he won Wimbledon seven times, the most prestigious tournament on the circuit. A title in Roland Garros was missing from his resume.
With his aggressive game of serve and volley, Sampras never managed to go further than in the semifinal of the slow French clay. And you know that story that great champions are measured by their rivals?
He has faced 34 times in his career – often in the finals – with fellow countryman Andre Agassi, another tennis giant, who has eight Grand Slams.
#5. Bjorn Borg
Borg was born in 1956 in Sweden and currently resides in the same country. This player became a professional in 1973 and retired in 1983, he retired early in his prime. The accumulated equity in his total career is US $ 3,655,751, with 64 titles won, and 11 Grand Slam Simple titles, 3 French and 5 Wimbledon.
Borg was the first player of the modern era to win more than 10 majors, being included in the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Bjorn Borg is a phenomenon despite having fewer Grand Slam titles than Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Sampras, all of his 11 achievements were made before he clocked 25.
#6. Ivan Lendl
This tennis player of Czech origin was born in Ostrava, in 1960, in the midst of a family very close to tennis, as his mother became the world’s No. 2 women’s top. Because he was unable to participate in certain tournaments, Lendl acquired American nationality.
Overall, he was very consistent and won 8 Grand Slam tournaments (3 at Roland Garros, 2 at the Australian Open and 3 at the US Open).
#7. Mats Wilander
Mats Wilander was born in Vaxjo, Sweden, in 1964, and his passion for tennis came when his father took him to see the Davis Cup. His main characteristics were coldness and patient play at the bottom of the courts.
He won 7 Grand Slam tournaments 8 (3 at the Australian Open, 3 at the US Open and 1 at Roland Garros).
#8. John Mc Enroe
John Mc Enroe was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1959, but soon emigrated to the USA, acquiring that nationality. Due to his small athletic build, he ended up taking up tennis, becoming one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Despite his emotional temperament, he ended up winning some important titles, namely 7 Grand Slam (3 at Wimbledon and 4 at the US Open).
#9. Jimmy Connors
He was born in Illinois, USA, in 1952 and was considered by many to be the best tennis player ever. He was trained by his mother – a professional tennis teacher – during the early years of his career and then moved to California, where he graduated as a high-competition tennis player.
He was a left-handed player, with a very aggressive background game, whose strokes had little topspin.
Jimmy was No. 1 worldwide between 1974 and 1978, and won 8 Grand Slam tournaments (2 at Wimbledon, 5 at the US Open and Australia Open).
#10. Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi was born in 1970 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and currently resides in the same city. This player turned professional in 1986 and retired in 2006.
The cumulative prize in his career totals US $ 31,152,975, with 60 titles. There are 8 Grand Slam Singles titles from Agassi, 4 Australians, 1 French, 2 US Open and 1 Wimbledon, and was introduced at the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011.
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