Top 5 Greatest Tennis Players of All Time

There are many extraordinary talents in tennis today. Overall, the level of play has risen steadily in recent times and the competition is higher than ever before. Tennis players are becoming more and more athletic and go to their extreme limits in almost every rally.

Playing at the top of the world is therefore already a special achievement and winning a title is probably the dream of every tennis professional. Some talents could even fulfill this dream several times. For these exceptional players, winning tournaments has almost become routine. This makes them the best tennis players of their time.

So who are the best tennis players of all time? This question is the subject of great debate every time. There are so many players that could be added to this list. That’s why we have concentrated on the top 5 most successful tennis players. Here we present you our ranking of the legends in tennis. Let’s go.

5. Rod Laver

  • Country: Australia
  • Born: August 9, 1938
  • Turned Pro: 1962
  • Retired: 1979
  • Singles Titles: 200
  • Grand Slam Titles: 11
  • Prize Money: $1.5 million

Rod Laver occupies 5th place in our ranking of the best tennis players of all time. The Australian had set a number of records in his career, some of which still exist today.

Already at his career debut in 1962 he was able to win all four Grand Slam tournaments. Since Rod Laver changed from amateur to professional player one year later, he was banned from participating in official tournaments. In the period 1963-1967 he was therefore denied access to the majority of tennis tournaments.

With the beginning of the Open Era in 1968, however, the tide turned in Laver’s favour. He was able to build on the success of 1962 and repeated the calendar slam.

All in all, Rod Lavor won 200 individual titles in his career, including 3x the Australian Open, 2x the French Open, 4x Wimbledon and 2x the US Open. He was also the world No. 1 for seven years from 1964-1970.

4. Pete Sampras

  • Country: USA
  • Born: August 12, 1971
  • Turned Pro: 1988
  • Retired: 2002
  • Singles Titles: 64
  • Grand Slam Titles: 14
  • Prize Money: $43 million

In fourth place is the American Pete Sampras. The man with the nickname “Pistol Pete” began his professional career at the age of 17. Two years later he created a sensation when he triumphed as the youngest player at the US Open in New York. Along the way he defeated John McEnroe and Andre Agassi, among others.

Sampras was especially known for his one-handed backhand and aggressive serve-and-volley style. This unconventional style of play upset many of his opponents.

Several singles titles followed for Sampras, including the Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open and Davis Cup. For example, he won the Wimbledon title an incredible 7 times, a record to date.

In 2002 Sampras completed his career by winning the US Open. In the final he again competed against his fellow countryman Andre Agassi and beat him in four sets. The bottom line was that Sampras won 14 Grand Slam titles and was no. 1 in the world rankings for 286 weeks.

He was also inducted into the “International Tennis Hall of Fame” in 2007.

3. Novak Djokovic

  • Country: Serbia
  • Born: 22 May 1987
  • Turned Pro: 2003
  • Singles Titles: 79
  • Grand Slam Titles: 17
  • Prize Money: $144 million

The third place on our podium is occupied by Novak Djokovic. The superstar from Serbia came to the ATP Tour as a professional player in 2003. In his early days Djokovic played the smaller Challenger tournaments before he ventured into the bigger tournaments and Grand Slams.

In 2005 he participated in his first Grand Slam tournament in Australia, but was eliminated in the first round. Three years later he made his final breakthrough by winning the Australian Open.

2011 became the most successful year in Djokovic’s career so far. He won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments. A special moment for Djokovic was his triumph at Wimbledon. After the match he said that a childhood dream had come true for him. At the same time he took the lead in the world rankings.

The Djoker achieved the feat of 2011 for a second time in 2015. Here, too, he won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. The only title he was missing now was the French Open in Paris. After many attempts he also reached this goal in 2016 and thus accomplished his career Grand Slam.

Apart from Ivan Lendl, Djokovic was the only player to manage to win the Golden Masters, i.e. to win all nine Masters tournaments. His current match record is an incredible 911 wins to 187 defeats. Currently, Djokovic is again the No. 1 in the world and has been so far 283 weeks.

2. Rafael Nadal

  • Country: Spain
  • Born: June 3, 1986
  • Turned Pro: 2001
  • Singles Titles: 85
  • Grand Slam Titles: 19
  • Prize Money: $121 million

Just ahead of Novak Djokovic is the Spaniard Rafael Nadal as the second best tennis player of all time. Nadal started out as a tennis professional in 2001, initially playing several tournaments of the Future Series in his home country. In the following years, the first successes became apparent. The man from Manacor was able to book several final appearances at Challenger tournaments, among others.

In 2004, Nadal managed his first surprise when he defeated Andy Roddick in the Davic Cup final and won the title with his team. From that point on, Nadal’s career took a steep climb.

With his incredible fighting spirit he triumphed four times in a row at the French Open from 2005 to 2008. Nadal also won the title at Wimbledon and the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. He also crowned himself the world’s best player this year. With victories at the 2009 Australian Open and the 2010 US Open he completed his career gold slam.

Nadal’s trademark is his powerful forehand, which he plays with extreme topspin. It is currently one of the best forehands on the Tour and is much feared by his opponents.

In general, Rafael Nadal is regarded as a clay specialist. He is by far the absolute record holder at Roland-Garros and many other clay court tournaments. Altogether he held the trophy in his hand 12 times at the French Open. His dominance is also reflected in the numbers. Nadal’s win-loss record on clay is 318:37. To date he has been at the top of the world rankings for 209 weeks.

1. Roger Federer

  • Country: Switzerland
  • Born: August 8, 1981
  • Turned Pro: 1998
  • Singles Titles: 103
  • Grand Slam Titles: 20
  • Prize Money: $130 million

Now let’s get to the best tennis player of all time. He is probably the most famous player in the world. We’re talking about Roger Federer.

The Swiss became an active tennis player on the professional tour in 1998. Federer began playing his first ATP tournaments at the age of 17. He received a wildcard from the organizers, otherwise he would not have been eligible to participate. At the end of the season he moved up to the list of the top 100 players.

Federer finally achieved his first tournament success in 2001. Together with Martina Hingis, he won the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Federer gained further attention when he defeated the 7-time and long unbeaten champion Pete Sampras in the round of 16 of Wimbledon. This match was regarded as one of the key moments in his tennis career.

Two years later, Federer realised his dream of the Grand Slam by winning the title at the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. Shortly afterwards, he won his second major tournament with the Australian Open. Federer thus became the new number 1 in tennis. In the same year, he won his third Grand Slam in Ney York.

Like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer had to settle for three of the four Grand Slam titles for a long time. The competition from Rafael Nadal was simply too strong at the French Open. In Paris, Federer had to admit defeat to Nadal every time.

But in 2009 the unexpected happened. In the round of sixteen, the Swede Robin Söderling beat Nadal, who was a huge favourite. This cleared the way for Federer. He also took advantage of this opportunity and won the long-awaited French Open title.

Over the next few years, Federer celebrated numerous other victories at both Grand Slams and Masters 1000 tournaments. The bottom line is that he has 103 individual titles to his credit to date. This figure includes 20 Grand Slam titles, making Federer the current record holder. Of these, eight titles are from the Wimbledon grass court tournament alone. The “Maestro” has also set a record in this respect.

To date, Federer’s weeks on the tennis throne add up to 310, which no other player has managed. In general, he is the only player who has shown such a consistently high level on the Tour over 20 years. This is why Roger Federer has clearly earned the title of best tennis player of all time.