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Top 5 Men's Tennis Players of All Time

Top 5 Men's Tennis Players of All Time

#5 Raphael Nadal - Spain

• Australian Open: 1 (2009)
• Wimbledon:2  (2008, 2010)
• French Open: 10 (2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017)
• U.S. Open: 3 (2010, 2013, 2017)
Total Grand Slam Titles: 16

Outside of Serena's serve on grass, Nadal's lefty forehand on ANY surface is the scariest shot in tennis. Whether he's sprinting to the net to return a drop shot or retreating to return a backhand down the line, when Nadal gets his racquet on the ball, tennis fans have grown to expect him to hit a winner. His fiery in-game emotions match his explosive play. If not for nagging injuries sidelining him in consecutive grand slam tournaments, he could have already matched Federer's grand slam total. But despite his grand slam wins, failures in the least competitive era of professional tennis hurts his legacy.

 

#4 Björn Borg - Sweden

• Australian Open: 0
• Wimbledon: 5 (1976-1980)
• French Open: 6 (1974, 1975, 1978-1981)
• U.S. Open: 0
Total Grand Slam Titles: 11

It's disappointing to have a player reach the top 5, despite never winning a championship on a hard court. Borg was defeated in four U.S. Open finals and one Australian Open final. But this list would be incomplete without Borg. He means to much to the history of tennis. Before Nadal was dominating the clay it was Borg. He was crafty and scrappy and played in some of the most memorable matches of all time. 

 

#3 Pete Sampras - United States

Credit: TIMOTHY CLARY/Getty Images

• Australian Open: 2 (1994, 1997)
• Wimbledon: 7 (1993-1995, 2007-2000)
• French Open: 0
• U.S. Open: 5 (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002)
Total Grand Slam Titles: 14

Sampras' aggressive serve and finesse volleys were a lethal combination. After knocking opponents off balance with his serve, Sampras often ran to the net to volley his way to victory. Like Federer, Sampras played and dominated in tennis' golden era. He frequently bested the likes of Agassi and Boris Becker. 

 

#2 - Rod Laver  - Australia

Credit: Ern McQuillan/National Portrait Gallery

• Australian Open: 3 (1960, 1962, 1969)
• Wimbledon: 4 (1961, 1962, 1968, 1969)
• French Open: 2 (1962, 1969)
• U.S. Open: 2 (1962, 1969)
Total Grand Slam Titles: 11

If Laver were not prohibited from participating throughout a 5-year stretch during his prime, Laver likely would have broken every record in existence. Even Laver's number one ranking did not do him justice, considering his access to grand slam tournaments was restricted for so long. 

 

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#1 Roger Federer - Switzerland
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• Australian Open: 5 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017)
• Wimbledon: 8 (2003-2007, 2009, 2012, 2017)
• French Open: 1 (2009)
• U.S. Open: 5 (2004-2008)
Total Grand Slam Titles: 19

Borg, Sampras, Agassi, and those were the foes Federer faced early in his career. Even at his advanced age, Federer has learned to overcome the youth and power of Roddick, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray, to win major championship after major championship. 

What separates Federer from the pack is his dominance across generations. He has not only been great, but the greatest on every court (except the clay) for nearly two decades. Competition matters, and Federer excelled during the most competitive era in professional tennis. 

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