I grew up playing tennis in the 1970s, which was a tremendous period for the sport of tennis. It was then that tennis truly became more of a mainstream sport than a pastime for the elite, especially here in the United States.
With the likes of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, and others, there were enough personalities to fuel the rivalries that took place on and off the court.
Since that time, many great players have come and gone. Because it is impossible to compare players of different eras in any sport owing to technical advances and greater fitness standards, determining the greatest player ever may be a tough and extremely subjective endeavor.
One thing I think most fans can agree on is that we are now experiencing three of the greatest ever in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
Despite the obstacle, here is my selection of the 10 greatest male tennis players of the Open Era—1968 to the present. I have really put 11 players here with two greats tied for the 10th slot.
10. Ken Rosewall
Date of Birth: November 2, 1934
Sydney is a city in Australia.
Sydney, Australia is where he currently resides.
- In 1957, he became a professional.
- 1980: Retired
- Prize money for a career: $1,602,700
- 133 different job titles
- 4 Australian Open titles, 2 French Open titles, and 2 US Open titles
- 2 US Pros, 5 Wembley Pros, and 8 French Pros make up the 15 Pro Majors.
- In 1980, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Ken Rosewall had a long career that spans both the pre-and post-Open Eras, earning him a spot among the all-time greats of tennis. Rosewall's eight Grand Slam championships, together with his 15 Major Championships, ensure him a place in tennis history.
- Guide to Sports Betting in Washington
- Jean-Michel Basquiat Net Worth: Who Purchased Basquiat’s Skull?
- Winona Ryder Net Worth 2022: What Is Ryder's Relationship Status?
9. John McEnroe
Wiesbaden, West Germany, February 16, 1959
New York City is where he calls home.
- In 1978, he became a professional.
- 1992: Retired
- Prize money for a career: $12,547,797
- 105 different job titles
- Three Wimbledon titles and four US Open titles are among the seven Grand Slam singles titles he has won.
- Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.
McEnroe, John: What are our options for Johnny Mac? To begin with, he is included in our list of all-time greats. There may have been no one better when it came to hard courts, rapid surfaces, and imaginative shot-making.
8. Jimmy Connors
- East St. Louis, Illinois, September 2, 1952
- Santa Barbara, California is where he calls home.
- 1972 was the year he went pro.
- 1996: Retired
- $8,641,040 in lifetime prize money 147 career championships
- 8 Grand Slam Singles Championships 1 Australian Open, 2 Wimbledon, 5 US Open titles
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998.
During the mid-1970s, no one dominated tennis more than Jimmy Connors. Connors had a stunning 99-4 record in 1974, winning all three Grand Slam events he participated in.
Because of his involvement with World Team Tennis, Connors was barred from competing in the 1974 French Open, preventing him from completing a Grand Slam sweep.
Connors had a long and successful tennis career, retiring in 1996 after a peak in the 1970s. With 109 ATP tour championships, Connors still retains the record.
7. Ivan Lendl
- 7 March 1960, Ostrava, Czechoslovakia
- Connecticut's Goshen
- $21,262,417 (career) jobs
- 8 GS Singles 2-Australian, 3-French, 3-US Open
- 2001 Tennis Hall of Fame
The 1980s' best player was a modest Czech with a powerful serve. Lendl's strong groundstrokes, topspin forehand, and conditioning wore out his opponents. He was the world's top-ranked player for four years, a record at the time. Lendl let his game speak for him, unlike many of his vocal colleagues.
6. Bjorn Borg
- 6.06.56 Sodertalje, Stockholm County, Sweden
- $3,655,751 jobs
- 11 GS singles 6-French, 5-Wimbledon
- 1987 Tennis Hall of Fame
Long-haired, blonde Swede with the tremendous ground game: what's not to love? The calm Borg dominated tennis in the late 1970s, playing John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Borg controlled Wimbledon from 1976 through 1980.
5. Pete Sampras
- 12-Aug-1971 Potomac, Maryland
- California's Lake Sherwood
- 64 jobs
- 14 Wimbledon singles 2-Australian, 7-Wimbledon, 5-US Open
- Inducted: 2007
Pete's place in tennis history is hard to determine because he only won three Grand Slams. How can we rank players who are more comfortable on hard courts and grass? Pete retired in 2002 as the finest player ever, however, others contest this.
His 14 Grand Slam championships were a record at the time. Who can forget his legendary fights with Andre Agassi in the 1990s? Pete won his last Grand Slam title in 2002. How can we rank him without a French Open title or final? He's now ranked fifth.
4. Rod Laver
- 8.8.1938 Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
- California's Carlsbad
- $1,565,413 for 200 careers
- 3 Australian, 2 French, 2 US Open, 4 Wimbledon Singles 3 US Pro, 4 Wembley, 1 French,
- 1 Wimbledon
- 1981 Tennis Hall of Fame
I think Rod Laver would have done well against today's players. The “Rockets” album is solid. He was world No. 1 for seven years (1964–1970) and has 200 career championships.
He won the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962 and as a pro in 1969. Who knows how many Grand Slams Laver would have won if he hadn't been banned for five years. Pre-open, Grand Slam competitions were for amateurs exclusively.
When professionals were permitted to play in Grand Slam competitions in 1968, the “open era” in tennis began. Given that Laver was world No. 1 at this time, he presumably would have won more Grand Slams.
3. Rafael Nadal
- Born June 3, 1986, in Majorca, Spain
- Manacor, Majorca, Spain
- 90 jobs
- 21 GS singles 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medalist
- Active participant
Rafa, 35, has won his 21st Grand Slam trophy, surpassing Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Rafael is considered the greatest clay-court player ever, while Bjorn Borg supporters may disagree. With his 13th French Open championship in 2020, it's hard to envision anybody being better on clay.
2. Roger Federer
- Basel, Switzerland, 8 August 1981
- Switzerland's Bottmingen
- 103 jobs
- 20 GS Singles 6-Australian, 1-French, 5-US Open, 8-Wimbledon
- Active participant
Roger Federer was at the top for years. His 20 Grand Slam victories and 310 weeks at number one speak for themselves, and he's still winning at 40. Federer was rated number one for 237 straight weeks, a record that may never be broken.
Even though newer athletes may defeat him now, his 20-year career shows his conditioning and talent.
After winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2017, Roger Federer is the best of all time as of 2018. Since Nadal and Djokovic have won more Grand Slams, a GOAT may not be attainable until all three retire.
His five-set Wimbledon loss to Novak Djokovic proved he can still play. Roger had his chances to win Grand Slam number 21, a missed opportunity that will haunt him, but he's creating a new standard for brilliance at an age when most players have retired.
1. Novak Djokovic
- 86 jobs
- 20 GS Singles 9 Aussie, 6 Wimbledon, 3 US Open, 2 French
- Active participant
At 35 and in his late peak, Djokovic is the finest player in the world and might win more Grand Slams. He trails only Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam championships.
With 372 weeks as number one, it's impossible not to consider Djokovic the greatest ever.