Whatever sport you’re talking about, choosing the best players of all time is always going to be a contentious debate.
When it comes to the best tennis players of all time, the problem is it’s particularly hard to compare players across different eras.
Technology has moved on to such a great extent that the modern game of tennis looks little like it used to, but it is still possible to try and come up with a list of the greatest of all time.
Of course, in recent times, we’ve been especially privileged because we’ve got to whiteness the brilliance of many greats who are unquestionably some of the best to ever play the game, but who would make TheTennisBros.com’s list of the best tennis players of all time?
We hear Roger Federer talked about as the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) so often that you might think it was easy to put the great Swiss at the top of this list.
However, it was only by the slenderest of margins that Federer earned his place in our list.
So, what was it that earned Federer the number one spot?
Yes, for all his Grand Slam titles, his elegance, and his sheer brilliance, it’s actually his adaptability that we believe makes Federer the best tennis player of all time.
When the Fed came onto the scene, tennis was a completely different game to what it is now.
The strokes were completely different, the movements around the court were completely different, and Federer came and blew it all to smithereens.
Years later, when in response to Federer’s brilliance, guys like Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray pushed the game on even further, Federer was still able to adapt and keep pace.
Even today, when he’s pushing his 40s he’s still able to do this, and aside from his 20 Grand Slam titles, that’s why we’ve chosen the Fed as our best tennis player of all time.
When it comes to the debate over who is the greatest tennis player of all time, Novak Djokovic isn’t a popular opinion.
Perhaps it’s because Roger and Rafa seem to be so universally loved that Djokovic can sometimes be seen as the other guy.
However, Djokovic’s stats are simply unbelievable. In my opinion if you put a prime Djokovic up against prime anyone else on this list he wins at least 7 out of 10 times.
Whether you think that makes him the best tennis player of all time is for you to decide.
When you throw everything in though, we’ve gone with Federer, even if Djokovic might break his record tally of Grand Slams.
This was another difficult decision, but we just couldn’t bear to break the three rivals up.
It seems harsh putting Nadal at three given his incredible record, but here he is – it just goes to show the level of competition there is.
Nonetheless, the Spaniard will have to make do with the number one left-hander on the list, even if that’s another debatable one (numbers 4, 9, and 10 in the list are also lefties).
While Nadal might be best known for clay, he has been wonderfully adaptable, and like Federer and Djokovic has won the career Grand Slam – winning all four majors at one point or another.
Nadal’s incredible shot making is something we will all miss when he eventually retires, and it earns him a spot at number three on our list of the best tennis players of all time.
We may have gone with three modern greats for our top three positions, but we couldn’t look past a legend for the fourth spot.
Australian, Rod Laver was the king of tennis in the 60s, winning the Grand Slam (all four major titles in one year) twice.
Since Laver achieved his second Grand Slam in 1969, no male player has repeated the feat, and this just goes to show the brilliance of the man.
Laver was unlucky to get caught up in the middle of the whole armateur/ professional debate, but he nonetheless had an incredible career.
You might think all this would put him at number one on the list, but for us, the increased level of professionalism and competitiveness in the game today just swung things towards the new big three.
Before Roger Federer came along, “Pistol” Pete Sampras’ Grand Slam record looked like it would be almost impossible to beat.
With 14 Grand Slam titles, and 7 at Wimbledon, Sampras cemented himself as one of the greats, even if Federer has now taken that number on to 20.
Armed with what surely must be one of the greatest serves of all time, the American was a master of the big points, securing an incredible career.
He walked out at the top after beating long-time rival Andre Agassi in the final of the 2002 US Open.
If there was anyone who could claim to have played with the beauty and style of Roger Federer, then it’s Bjorn Borg.
Despite retiring at the age of 26, the Swede won an impressive 11 Grand Slam titles, which surely could have been so many more had he continued for longer.
Perhaps most famous for his iconic rivalry with John McEnroe, Borg was a pioneer of the baseline game, and like so many people on this list had a real influence on how the game is played today.
One of the most noticeable features in Borg’s stats was his ability to play on all surfaces, winning 6 French Open’s and 5 Wimbledon’s.
Very, very few people have been able to achieve this, and this is why Bjorn Borg surely features as one of the best tennis players of all time.
While Borg might have been known for the beauty of his style of play, most people wouldn’t say the same about Lendl.
However, it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you perform on the court, and that’s certainly something Ivan Lendl knew how to do.
Czech, Lendl took tennis by storm in the 80’s with his big serve, topspin groundstrokes, and superior fitness.
This earned him 8 Grand Slam singles titles and a record stint at the top of the world rankings.
Of course, he has gone on to do great things as a coach as well, most notably with a man who almost made this list, Andy Murray.
This is where things begin to get really hard because you start to think about the great players who aren’t going to make your list.
However, Andre Agassi isn’t one of them, and he thoroughly deserves his place as one of the best tennis players.
We found it was very close between spots 8,9, and 10 on this list, but we’ve gone with Agassi at 8 because he managed to do the career Grand Slam.
It’s easy to underestimate how hard it is to win on such different surfaces as clay and grass, and it’s something few players have achieved.
Husband to Steffi Graf, a shoo-in for one of the top spots in the best female tennis players of all time, Agassi comes in at number 8 on the tennisbros.com’s list.
Connors’ career spanned an incredible 24 years and saw him win 147 career titles including 8 Grand Slam titles.
If we were ranking this list on tournament victories alone, then Connors would be above even the great Federer.
The American was an all action player who had some incredible rivalries throughout his time, and he’s rightfully known as one of the best tennis players there’s been.
You couldn’t make this list and leave bad boy John McEnroe off it.
With 105 titles and 7 Grand Slam triumphs, McEnroe’s stats were extremely impressive as he thrived in one of tennis’ greatest eras.
His larger than life personality has also done huge amounts to boost the profile of tennis over the years, and he’s now a beloved TV commentator.
The man who ended Borg’s run at Wimbledon, and was part of the greatest tiebreak in tennis history (perhaps), John McEnroe rounds out our list of the best tennis players of all time.
Who Misses Out?
The question of who are the best tennis players of all time is obviously very subjective, and there are some players who certainly have a strong claim to make the top ten.
There have been some fabulous players from eras gone by who didn’t quite make the list including Ken Rosewall, Henri Cochet, and Rene Lacoste, and equally some modern players such as Andy Murray who if they didn’t play in the era they do would have won bucket load of Grand Slams.
We’re pretty happy with our picks though.
The question is, do you agree?
Let us know in the comments below!