I have had a lifelong passion for the game of tennis from my days as a competitive youth player to now following the world's top players.
International Tennis Hall of Fame: Newport, RI
I grew up playing tennis in the 1970s, which was a great time for the sport of tennis. It was then that tennis really became more of a mainstream sport than a sport for the privileged, especially here in the United States. With the likes of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, and others, there were plenty of 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 difficult to compare players of different eras in any sport due to technology changes and higher fitness standards, selecting the greatest player ever can be a difficult and very subjective task.
One thing I think most fans can agree on is that we are currently witnessing 3 of the greatest ever in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
Despite the challenge, here is my list of the ten greatest male tennis players of the Open Era - 1968 to present. I have actually included eleven players here with two greats tied for the tenth position.
10. Ken Rosewall
- Born: November 2, 1934
- Resides: Sydney, Australia
- Turned pro: 1957
- Retired: 1980
- Career prize money: $1,602,700
- 133 career titles
- 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 2 French, 2 US Open
- 15 Pro Majors: 2 US Pro, 5 Wembley Pro, 8 French Pro
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1980
With a long career that included both the pre and post Open Era, Ken Rosewall certainly deserves a place among the all-time greats of tennis. His eight Grand Slam titles combined with 15 Major Championships undoubtedly qualifies Rosewall a place in tennis immortality. With a career that started in the early 1950s and ended with his retirement in 1980, the quick and agile Aussie was renowned for his backhand and crisp and accurate volleying. His last Grand Slam title came at the 1972 Australian Open at the age of 37, still a record for the oldest Grand Slam winner.
I watched Ken Rosewall play during the latter part of his career and at the time probably did not realize the greatness I was watching. To compete at his age with the next generation of tennis greats speaks volumes to his conditioning and mental toughness. I am placing him in the tenth position along with Andre Agassi as I feel that both players are worthy of a top ten.
10. Andre Agassi
- Born: April 29, 1970
Las Vegas, Nevada
- Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Turned pro: 1986
- Retired: 2006
- Career prize money: $31,152,975
- 61 career titles
- 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 1 French, 2 US Open, 1 Wimbledon
- Olympic Gold Medalist 1996
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2011
Who can forget the young, brash, long-haired Andre Agassi when he first arrived on the tennis scene in the late 1980s? I have to admit that at first I was put off by his seemingly "rock star" looks and attitude. But something happened along the way, and by the time he finished his 20-year career, I was not only a fan but I had also come to respect him as a great player and spokesman for the game. With those killer ground strokes and returns of serve, no top-10 list would be complete without Andre Agassi.
Off the court, Agassi has proven to be a champion as well. There may be no athlete out there who does more for their community than Agassi and his wife, tennis legend Steffi Graf.
9. John McEnroe
- Born: February 16, 1959
Wiesbaden, West Germany
- Resides: New York City
- Turned pro: 1978
- Retired: 1992
- Career prize money: $12,547,797
- 105 career titles
- 7 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 Wimbledon, 4 US Open
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1999
John McEnroe: What do we do about Johnny Mac? Well, for starters we include him on our list of all-time greats. When it came to hard courts, fast surfaces, and creative shot-making, there may have been no one better.
His fiery attitude and occasional bad-boy behavior made tennis fans either hate him or love him. Underneath was a highly competitive athlete who hated to lose and sometimes let his emotions get the best of him.
Who can forget his epic battles with rival Jimmy Connors and his five-set loss to Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final, one of the greatest matches in Wimbledon history?
8. Jimmy Connors
- Born: September 2, 1952
East St. Louis, Illinois
- Resides: Santa Barbara, CA
- Turned pro: 1972
- Retired: 1996
- Career prize money: $8,641,040
- 147 career titles
- 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 2 Wimbledon, 5 US Open
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1998
No one dominated tennis more during the mid-1970s than Jimmy Connors. In 1974 alone, Connors had a staggering 99-4 record and won the three Grand Slam tournaments that he entered. Connors was banned from playing in the French Open in 1974 due to his association with World Team Tennis, and this prevented him from a possible Grand Slam sweep. Despite peaking in the 1970s, Connors had a long and impressive tennis career, retiring in 1996. Connors still holds the record for ATP tour titles with 109.
7. Ivan Lendl
- Born: March 7, 1960
- Resides: Goshen, Connecticut
- Turned pro: 1978
- Retired: 1994
- Career prize money: $21,262,417
- 144 career titles
- 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 Australian, 3 French, 3 US Open
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2001
The quiet and stoic Czech with the big serve was the most dominant player of the 1980s. Lendl wore down his opponents with his powerful ground strokes, topspin forehand, and incredible level of conditioning. He was the world’s top-ranked player for four years, and held the number one ranking in the world for 270 weeks, a record in that day. In contrast to many of his more outspoken peers, Lendl was known for letting his game do his talking.
6. Bjorn Borg
- Born: June 6, 1956
Sodertalje, Stockholm County, Sweden
- Resides: Stockholm, Sweden
- Turned pro: 1973
- Retired: 1983
- Career prize money: $3,655,751
- 101 career titles
- 11 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 6 French, 5 Wimbledon
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1987
What was not to love about the long-haired, blonde Swede with the killer ground game? With ice water in his veins, the quiet Borg dominated tennis in the late 1970s and had some memorable matches with the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Borg dominated Wimbledon, winning the title five consecutive years from 1976 to 1980.
Despite his relatively brief career (he retired in 1983 at the age of 26), Borg won 11 Grand Slam titles, all at Wimbledon and the French Open. Borg was the first player of the modern era to win more than 10 majors. In my book Bjorn Borg could have been a top five all-time had he continued to play and not retired while seemingly in the prime of his career.
5. Pete Sampras
Born: August 12, 1971
- Resides: Lake Sherwood, California
- Turned pro: 1988
- Retired 2002
- Career prize money: $43,280,489
- 64 career titles
- 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 Australian, 7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 2007
Pete's place in tennis history is difficult to judge as he only won three of the four Grand Slam events over the course of his career. Clearly more comfortable on hard courts and grass how do we decide one's place when they dominate on one surface and struggle on another. When Pete retired in 2002, he was considered to be the best player of all-time although some would dispute this. He was number one in the world rankings for six consecutive years and his 14 Grand Slam titles was a record at the time. Who can forget his epic battles with Andre Agassi that made the 1990s a great decade for tennis? Pete went out on top when he won the 2002 US Open, his last Grand Slam tournament. But, without a French Open title, or even a final, how do we decide where he belongs in the list of best ever. For now I think he comes in at the number five spot.
4. Rod Laver
- Born: August 8, 1938
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
- Resides: Carlsbad, California
- Turned pro: 1962
- Retired 1979
- Career prize money: $1,565,413
- 200 career titles
- 11 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 Australian, 2 French, 2 US Open, 4 Wimbledon
- 9 Pro Slam Singles Titles: 3 US Pro, 4 Wembley Pro, 1 French Pro, 1 Wimbledon Pro
- Inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame: 1981
It’s difficult to assess how Rod Laver would have fared against the players of today, but I suspect the redheaded Aussie would have done just fine. It’s hard to argue with the “Rockets” record. He was ranked number one in the world for seven straight years (1964 – 1970) and has more career titles (200) than anyone in the history of the game.
He is the only player to have twice won the Grand Slam, doing it once as an amateur in 1962 and again as a pro in 1969. If Laver was not excluded from the Grand Slam tournaments during a five-year period in the mid-1960s, who knows how many he would have won. During this time period, the pre-open era, the Grand Slam tournaments were for amateurs only. The “open era” in tennis did not begin until 1968, when professionals were finally allowed to compete in the Grand Slam events. Given that Laver was ranked number one in the world during this five-year period, it’s likely he would have won many more Grand Slam titles.
3. Novak Djokovic
- Born: May 22, 1987
- Resides: Monte Carlo, Monaco
- Turned pro: 2003
- Career prize money: $143,159,599
- 81 career titles
- 17 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 8 Australian, 5 Wimbledon, 3 US Open, 1 French Open
- Current active player
Placing Novak Djokovic on this list was an easy decision, but where to place him was not. At 33 years of age and in the late prime years of his career, Djokovic is clearly the best player in the world at the moment and has the potential to win many more Grand Slam titles. With 17 Grand Slam titles already under his belt, he certainly has the potential to surpass Nadal’s and Federer’s total of 20. But, in the highly competitive world of tennis, he could also succumb to injury and miss out on some of his best remaining years, so the jury is still out on his ultimate place in tennis history.
Based on his body of work to date, he has certainly made the case that he is deserving of a top three all-time. With his 2016 French Open title, Djokovic became the eight-man to secure a career Grand Slam. His dominating performance at the 2020 Australian Open and his epic 5-set win against Roger Federer at the 2019 Wimbledon Championship makes it clear that Djokovic is the best player in the world at the moment. But, is his body of work to date, and his status as the current number 1 enough to grant him greatest of all-time status? Time will tell, but for now we place Djokovic at number 3 all-time.
2. Rafael Nadal
- Born: June 3, 1986
Manacor, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
- Resides: Manacor, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
- Turned pro: 2001
- Career prize money: $121,044,734
- 86 career titles
- 20 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 13 French, 4 US Open, 2 Wimbledon
- 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist - Beijing Summer Olympics
- Current active player
Were it not for the recurring tendinitis in his knees, and wrist injuries, Rafael Nadal may well have a few more Grand Slam titles to his already impressive resume. At 34 years of age, the fiery Spaniard, known as Rafa and “The King of Clay,” already has 20 Grand Slam titles and certainly has the potential to pass Roger Federer. Rafael is regarded as the greatest clay-court player of all-time, although fans of Bjorn Borg may dispute this claim. His record 13th French Open title in 2020, in dominating fashion, certainly makes it difficult to imagine anyone being better on clay.
While it is difficult to draw comparisons of players from different generations I think Nadal has proven that he deserves to be considered among the best to ever grace the courts. His 2020 French Open title gives Rafa 20 Grand Slams Championships and ties him with Roger Federer for most Grand Slams of all time. This will only heighten the debate as to who is the true GOAT.
1. Roger Federer
- Born: August 8, 1981
- Resides: Bottmingen, Switzerland
- Turned pro: 1998
- Career prize money: $129,946,683
- 103 career titles
- 20 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 6 Australian, 1 French, 5 US Open, 8 Wimbledon
- Current active player
It’s hard not to select Roger Federer as the greatest of all time. His 20 Grand Slam titles and 310 weeks ranked number one speak for themselves, and even at the age of 39, he is still winning and competing at the highest levels. From 2004 to 2008, Federer went 237 consecutive weeks being ranked number one in the world, a record that may never be surpassed. Even though younger players are now finding a way to beat him, his consistently high level of play over his twenty-year career is a testament to his conditioning and ability.
Winning the 2018 Australian Open after his outstanding 2017 season that saw him win Wimbledon and the Australian Open prove without a doubt that Roger Federer is indeed the greatest of all-time. Barring injury, Roger will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for who knows how long? His dramatic 5-set loss to Novak Djokovic at the 2019 Wimbledon Championship proves that even at almost 38 years of age that he can still compete with anyone. Roger certainly had his chances to secure Grand Slam number 21, a loss that will haunt him with limited opportunities remaining, but he is setting a new level for excellence at an age when most players have long since retired.
After 6 years and almost 125,000 votes it’s time to refresh our list of players and the votes.
Thank you to everyone for voting over the last 6 years (2013 - 2018). We are closing this poll in lieu of the newly expanded list of players.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do you comment on the fact that Djokovic has a better score H2H vs. Nadal and vs. Federer? And Fed has a negative score vs. two of his greatest opponents? Few grand slams to Djokovic and few more wins vs. Fed and Nadal (so the score can be even better), and for me, he is the goat with no doubt.
Answer: The head to head between the three players is very close. You have to take into consideration the playing surface and also their age. Federer is the oldest by almost five years, so obviously you would expect Nadal and Djokovic to have an advantage, especially at this point in their careers. Likewise, Nadal excels on clay so he would have a distinct advantage when playing on this surface.
Question: Why don’t you take into account that almost half of the Federer grand slams were in the first years, before Nadal, Djokovic, etc?
Answer: I did take that into account, just like I took into account that most of Nadal’s Grand Slam titles have come on clay, and Djokovic has not won a Grand Slam title since 2016. If you take their entire body of work into account, I think most ratings will have Federer as the greatest of all-time.
Question: If Federer is the greatest men's tennis player, why was he never able to beat Nadal on the clay?
Answer: Clay is just one surface, if you take that out of the picture the advantage goes to Federer. Consider also that Nadal is five years younger than Federer.
Question: Who is the best men's tennis player on clay?
Answer: I think without a doubt that Rafael Nadal is the best player to ever play on clay. Certainly his 11 French Open titles should be enough to make this perfectly clear.
Question: What do you think about the 1000 masters series complete by Novak? is this achievement worth the upgrade on the list?
Answer: Following completion of the U.S. Open, I plan on updating both the men’s and women’s top 10. Completing the Masters 1000 Slam is quite a feat, and Novak certainly seems to be back in top form.
Question: After Novak's win at Wimbledon 2018, do you think he deserves to be at number three?
Answer: Novak is certainly making a case to be considered among the top three all-time players. What makes moving up for him difficult is that Rod Laver, who many people have never seen play, was really a great player and one of the few from that era that I think would give today's greats a run for their money. For the time being, I will leave Novak in the number five position and wait to see how he fares at the US Open. Certainly, a win at the 2018 US Open could convince me to at least to move him into the number four slot.
Question: If Nadal has beaten Federer more than the reverse, how can you justify Federer as the best player? One on one results must be the deciding factor if most other criteria are close.
Answer: For starters Nadal is four years younger than Federer so age does play a role. Also, although Nadal leads in head-to-head matches 23-15, 13 of those wins came on clay where Nadal is very much at home and is the best on that surface. If you take clay court matches out of the mix, Federer has the advantage of 13-10 in head-to-head matches.
I think it’s clear that the top two players of all-time are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. At the moment I see Roger as the greatest of all-time. As both players are still competing for things could certainly change, but for that to happen, I think Nadal needs to prove his head-to-head dominance on hard/fast surfaces.
Question: Do you think Djokovic will be Number 2 of The Greatest if he tied with Nadal in the grand slam title?
Answer: If Djokovic stays healthy and continues to play the way he is capable of playing I think he will exceed Nadal's GS titles and will eventually find himself as Number 2 all-time.
Question: If Rafa and Federer end up retiring with the same number of Grand Slam Championships, who would be considered the GOAT?
Answer: I think the edge would go to Roger Federer. I say this because as good as Rafa is, most of his Grand Slam titles came on the clay of Roland Garros. This certainly does not mean that his game is one-dimensional because it’s not, but I think this is where the edge goes to Federer.
Looking at their head to head matches Rafa holds a 23-15 edge, but 13 of those victories came on clay. Federer holds the advantage on hard courts and grass.
How fortunate for us that we get to see two of the greatest players of all-time play. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Question: Who do you believe is the GOAT?
Answer: As of this moment I believe that title belongs to Roger Federer.
Question: Why is not Mats Wilander on the list?
Answer: Seven Grand Slam titles but he never made it past the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. Mats was a great player, but I don’t think he belongs in the top 10 all-time. I think he falls somewhere in the top 15 or so. His career faded way too early for me to consider him top 10.
Question: Why is Andy Murray not on the list of greatest male tennis players?
Answer: Andy Murray is just 3-8 in Grand Slam finals and has a losing record head-to-head against Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal. Granted he has two Olympic Gold Medals, but his results, while good, do not place him in my top ten all-time.
Question: Why is Ken Rosewall not on this list?
Answer: I have actually been considering including Rosewall in this top 10 list recently. I only saw him play at the end of his career, but after reviewing his record, I do think it would be appropriate to include him. Look for an updated list in the next few weeks that will include Ken Rosewall.
Question: Why isn't Borris Becker on the list of greatest men's tennis players?
Answer: I think Boris Becker is a top 15 player based on his career. He had six Grand Slam titles and three semi-final appearances in the French Open, which was certainly not his preferred surface.
Question: Is Federer facing difficulties with younger tennis players such as Anderson?
Answer: At Wimbledon 2018 Roger Federer let a two set lead over Kevin Anderson get away from him and wound up losing in five sets in the quarter-finals. Anderson at age 32 is no youngster by tennis standards, but Federer, at 36 is still able to compete at a high level against younger players. Eventually age will take it’s toll as it does for all players.
Question: How would you rate Lleyton Hewitt? Any chance in the top 20 or 25 tennis players of all time?
Answer: I wouldn’t say Lleyton Hewitt is top 20. Top 25, perhaps. Top 30, most definitely. I loved watching Hewitt play. He achieved some great results at a young age at a time when the level of competition was quite high.
Question: Don't you feel Boris Becker deserves to be in the top three of male tennis players?
Answer: No, I do not feel that Boris Becker should be in the top three all-time. I think Becker, who certainly was a great player is more of a top 15 player all-time.
Question: Why are Grand Slams given such importance when determining the greatest men's tennis players of all time? Grand Slam success, given its five-set nature, demonstrates how good your physical conditioning is, not how good a tennis player you are.
Answer: I suppose it's because Grand Slams are the events that draw all of the top players, which makes them the most competitive tournaments. I do think that the five-set match is a fair determination of who is better in a head to head match, and certainly, a player's level of physical conditioning is an important part of how good a player they are. If you take the player's physical conditioning out of the equation then what do they play? Best of three sets? How about just a single set and the winner moves on? Physical conditioning is just one part of the equation along with all of the other things that make a player great; speed, agility, mental toughness, shot selection, strategy, etc.
Question: Why isn’t Andy Murray on this list of greatest tennis players?
Answer: Andy Murray has some work to do before he can be considered in the top 10 all-time.
Question: Why is Boris Becker not in the list of the top 10 greatest men's tennis players?
Answer: Boris Becker was a great tennis player. He had a great career, but with just 6 Grand Slam titles, 49 ATP titles, and only 12 weeks ranked number 1 in the world, I think he is more a top-15 all-time player than a top-10.
Question: Do you feel the fact that playing surfaces are more similar than they used to be (e.g., grass is slower) makes it easier to rack up more slams, and if so, does this lead to overrating of modern players?
Answer: I think the best players will rise to the top no matter the surface. Certainly some players excel on specific surfaces such as Nadal on clay and Federer on faster surfaces, but these players can compete on any surface. I do think that Federer and Nadal are the cream of the crop, although it is difficult to compare players of different generations and playing styles. I think Roger and Rafael are racking up more slams because they are playing longer and are able to maintain a high level of play despite aging.
Question: Roger or Rafa will probably go down as the greatest male tennis players of all time. However, don't you believe the competition was much more fierce in the Aggasi/Sampras era?
Answer: I believe that there have been three great competitive era’s in men’s tennis over the last fifty years or so. Certainly the current generation of players including Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic along with perhaps Murray and Wawrinka at times would be one.
The 1990s was an exceptional era that included the likes of Sampras, Aggasi, Becker, Courier, Edberg, and Chang. Certainly a formidable collection of greats.
And perhaps my favorite era, at least to watch, would be Connors, McEnroe, and Borg along with a few years later Wilander and then Lendl although he was really mid to late 1980s.
Tough call. The 1990s really was a great time for tennis. As the years go by sometimes we tend to overlook or forget just how good the level of competition was. I think the number of players capable of winning a Grand Slam title was probably never better than the 1990s. Today it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be one of the current big three.
Question: How many Grand Slam titles do you think Rafael Nadal will end up with?
Answer: I think ultimately both Nadal and Djokovic will surpass Federer's 20 Grand Slams. How many depends on how long they play and how healthy they stay. With Nadal's dominance at the French Open, I can see him winning multiple more titles there. If he plays long enough he could approach 25 Grand Slam titles although that might be a reach.
Question: I would like to know how many people are employed around a single tennis player. I have read somewhere that top players have over 60 people on their team? If this is true, then, can we compare era in tennis? (considering that in 1950 it was much more difficult to maintain a high level of fitness).
Answer: I think it is virtually impossible to compare players of different era’s. The size of each player’s team will depend on how highly they are ranked and how much they earn. Lower ranked players simply cannot pay for a large entourage and therefore may have a team of just a few. The highest ranked players who earn the most can afford to have multiple coaches, fitness experts, cooks, etc. A team of 60 sounds high to me, but certainly, the top players are surrounded by a large contingent.
Obviously, the technology of tennis racquets and the fitness level of players today is much more advanced than it was 50 years ago. This certainly is a big reason why it is so difficult to compare players of different generations.
Question: Don't you think there are some older players we don't talk much about like Arthur Ashe or even older, Rene Lacoste?
Answer: Absolutely. I was a big Arthur Ashe fan during his career, and I think he is definitely not talked about as much as he should be. Rene Lacoste goes way back, but he has an impressive resume, and who hasn’t owned one of his trademark crocodile shirts at some point. There were a lot of great players who have come and gone, many who definitely deserve to be remembered and talked about.
Question: At the top three positions for men's tennis players, what do you think the list will look like in five years?
Answer: Five years from now I think the top three will still be Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, but I think the order will be different from what we have today. Presumably, Federer will be retired by then, possibly also Nadal, but we will have to wait and see. Should be some great tennis in the years ahead.
Question: Why did tennis player Pete Sampras retire early?
Answer: Pete Sampras officially retired on August 25, 2003 at the age of 32, although his last match was at the 2002 US Open, which he won. Some players are capable of playing well into their thirties and despite still playing at a high level he had slowed a bit and decided to call it a career. Good for him for ending his career on a high note with a Grand Slam title.
Question: Shouldn't Poncho Gonzalez be included in a list of the ten greatest men's tennis players of all time?
Answer: I debated whether to include Rosewall or Gonzalez in the top ten and certainly, a case can be made to include both. Head to head Gonzalez had the advantage, but he was older and more experienced when Rosewall first started making a name for himself. Both had long careers, well over 100 titles, and were ranked number 1 in the world for many years. Perhaps at some point, I will re-evaluate?
Question: Did Roger Federer burn-out from playing tennis?
Answer: No, Roger Federer is just being more selective with the tournaments that he enters. He has decided to skip the 2018 French Open to prepare for Wimbledon. It’s actually very smart of Roger in the late stages of his career to play fewer tournaments to help prepare for the majors that he wants to win.
Question: Where does Lew Hoad rank among the best tennis players of all-time?
Answer: Len Hoad had a great tennis career. Were it not for the back problems that plagued him during a good part of his playing days he could have produced even better results. That said, he did win 4 Grand Slams as an amateur player in addition to the 1959 Pro Tournament of Champions. I would place Lew Hoad in the 15 to 20 range all-time.
Question: Do you believe Alexander Zverev will be on this list by the end of his career?
Answer: It’s certainly possible. He’s young and has already reached number three in the world. He has shown that he is capable of beating anyone including Federer and Djokovic. We’ll see how he fares over the next few years but certainly, his best days are ahead of him.
Question: What do you think, if Novak gets the same number of Grand Slams as Federer, should we consider him the best of all time?
Answer: When their careers are over I think Novak will have the most Grand Slams and will be considered the great of all-time. Just my opinion and speculation, but I think that's how it will end up when their playing days are over.
Question: Why is Boris Becker not on the list?
Answer: Boris Becker was a great tennis player, just not top 10. With 6 Grand Slam titles, 49 career titles, and a number 1 ranking for only twelve weeks it's hard to place him in the top 10. Top 15, most definitely.
Question: Probably not in the top 10 but I'd be interested to know where you would place Guillermo Vilas? It was before my time, but it sounds like he could match it with Connors and the like.
Answer: Vilas was a great player. I had the pleasure of watching him play many times and he could certainly compete with anyone. I would probably place him in the top 20, maybe even top 15.
Question: Why didn't you consider Boris Becker?
Answer: He was considered, he just didn’t make the top 10. Top 15, most definitely.
Question: Why is John Newcombe not on your list?
Answer: I think John Newcombe is very close to the top 10 of all time. Certainly, he is in the top 12 or 13 at worst, and some might even include him in the top 10. Seven Grand Slam singles titles plus an amazing seventeen Grand Slam doubles titles are pretty impressive.
Question: Why is Marcelo Ríos missing from the list of top 10 greatest men's tennis players of all time?
Answer: Marcelo Rios was a very good player, just nowhere near the top 10 all-time. He was briefly ranked number 1 in the world in 1998, but he failed to win a Grand Slam championship and has only 18 career titles to his resume. His best Grand Slam result was reaching the finals of the 1998 Australian Open, which he lost to Petr Korda in straight sets.
Question: How good was John McEnroe at tennis?
Answer: John McEnroe was a great tennis player. He won seven Grand Slam titles and was the number 1 ranked player in the world for 170 weeks during his career. I was fortunate to have been able to watch McEnroe during his entire career, and he had some memorable matches against the other greats of his era including Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, and Ivan Lendl. I think McEnroe’s career is certainly worthy of a top ten all-time ranking.
Question: Why is your top 10 missing Pancho Gonzalez on the list? He was #1 in the world for 8 years.
Answer: Open era only.
Question: How many Grand Slam singles titles has Roger Federer won?
Answer: Roger Federer has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles as of the end of 2019. He has won 8 Wimbledon Championships, 6 Australian Open titles, 5 US Open titles, and 1 French Open Championship.
© 2013 Bill De Giulio
Nostradamus on September 23, 2020:
Nebojsa also makes a great point, that as there is no clear GOAT between the current of era of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, where it’s easier to make a comparison as they played in the same era, you can only go by who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles of those three, once they have all stopped playing. Honestly, there doesn’t even need to be a title of GOAT for whoever ends up with the most GS titles. I’m sure that should it eventuate in the years to come, both Nadal and Djokovic fans will simply be happy to have their favourite player have the title of Greatest Male Grand Slam Singles Player Of All Time, or what may be commonly known as GMGSSPOAT or simply MMGSST, Most Men’s Grand Slam Singles Titles, or no title at all, as long as their favourite player has won the most GS singles titles.
Unfortunately, from now on, if injuries or any other outside factors prevent one of these 3 players from holding the MMGSST in the future, it will be too bad, whoever you have a soft spot for out of those 3 players, because as a rule, Grand Slam singles statistics don’t lie and is generally what separates the best from the rest. It is the greatest test of all, with best of 5 set matches. It is the Tennis player’s equivalent of The Championship Game, Grand Final, World Cup, World Championships, Olympics (but not Tennis, instead other sports at the Olympics) or Test Match, to name some of the other major sports finals from around the world.
May the best of those 3 players end up with the most Grand Slam singles titles. I am sure those 3 players will agree to it. The best professional tennis players take the Grand Slam singles titles the most seriously. As far as the Tour or Year End finals are concerned, it’s round robin and there are many withdrawals prior to or during the tournament, as it’s the end of the year. The Master Series Events are compulsory for the top players and although they like to win, many of them would rather play less of them, as it’s a very long season, especially pre the Coronavirus pandemic. The Davis Cup hasn’t had that many top players playing consistently each year and it’s now best of 3 sets. Year end number 1 or a great number of weeks at number 1 is nice for the top players, but they would happily trade it for an extra Grand Slam singles title. Of course, the other tournaments just prior to the Grand Slam tournaments are mainly just practice or preparation for the top players, should they choose to play them. It’s still nice to win those tournaments but it’s not important to them if they don’t as it’s just practice. Many of these top players even choose to skip these tournaments prior to the Grand Slam tournaments as they prefer to rest or simply practice with their coach or practice partners. The exception is during this pandemic, where there’s been less tournaments to play in during the year.
With the exception of the Coronavirus, most top players build their tennis career around playing the Grand Slam tournaments and anything else they may achieve is simply a bonus, not the main priority for them.
As far as Rod Laver is concerned, he can be named the GPOEOAT, Greatest Pre Open Era Of All Time!
Anyway, let’s see who will finish the greatest number of GS singles titles out of the big 3 once all of them are no longer professional tennis players and who can then be rightfully named the MMGSST, Most Men’s Grand Slam Singles Titles!
Don on September 23, 2020:
The overlooked selection criteria for GOAT, if we are only comparing the tennis careers of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, needs to be taken into account, as the great Rod Laver was in a completely different era as far as racquets, professionalism, technology, coaches and entourages were concerned:
1) Nadal and Djokovic have both won their Grand Slam singles titles in a far shorter time frame than Federer, that is 20 less Grand Slam tournaments for Nadal and 18 less Grand Slam tournaments for Djokovic.
2) Both Nadal and Djokovic started their professional tennis careers against each other, Murray and Federer, all at their peak whereas Federer started his tennis career 5 years beforehand without playing against Nadal, Djokovic and Murray at their peak in that period.
Reasons the above 2 points were mentioned:
1) More fairness required for the GOAT rankings.
2) Both Nadal and Djokovic have in reality suffered far more injuries both during and prior to Grand Slam tournaments than Federer, yet both Nadal and Djokovic have still achieved tremendous success in Grand Slam tournaments compared to Federer, in spite of this issue.
If the above points are not addressed, then you can only go by the number of Grand Slam singles titles won by each player after they have all stopped competing in Grand Slam singles tournaments because unfortunately injuries are part of the game and Federer has been the least injury prone of the 3 for their careers. Poor Murray of late and Del Potro for most of his tennis career can attest to this misfortune.
Nebojsa on September 21, 2020:
Djokovic fan here.
When you start GOAT debate... you should consider a lot of things. When you compare players from different eras, then you cant say GS titles alone are enough to make someone GOAT. But when you have three players around same time (Big three) then grand slam titles are good indicator who is better player.
In my opinion all three players failed to capture substantial GS title lead. So neither of big three can claim they were best even current era. Noone of them is Michael Jordan of tenis (undisputed GOAT).
For purpose of this conversation, lets say Big three are three best players of all time.
Federer: most titles, fan favorite
Nadal: 2nd most titles, outstanding h2h vs Federer
Djokovic: most dominant at his peak while having toughest comeptition than Federer in 2006, He loves to eat grass (lol)
If Federer loses GS title lead, he's out of conversation. THE END
Nadal/Djoko is harder.
If Nadal finish with 2+ more GS over Djokovic, I would give Nadal GOAT claim (and more titles than Federer).
If Djokovic manage to catch up with Federer (20 titles) and Nadal wont have 2+ titles over him... Djokovic wins, because he is more versatile.
On the other hand, Rod Laver might actually be real GOAT here.
HHfan on September 21, 2020:
Nobody have to agree with my opinion. Even Ivan Lendl. I just present my opinion which is a bit different to GS dogma. If you want you can laugh at my ideas.
I only showed as an example 1 year at No 1 = 4 GS. I typed that it is not real because underestimates Nadal.
I belive 1 year at No 1 = approx. 2 GS. In that proportion ATP rank gives 1/3 of all points and it is twice weaker than GS statistics. ATP rank aggregates points from GS winners, GS second places, GS semis, GS QF, Masters 1000, TOP 8 etc. In practice it is almost impossible to stay at No 1 without any current GS title.
Proportion 1Y=2GS gives approx. 4% advantage of Djokovic against Nadal today - very symilar to sophisticated statistics published on the internet.
My simplified statistics is also suitable for anticipation of the future. Of course future is unnown, but I can try to draw some conclusion. My simplified statistics show that in my opinion:
1) Nole is better than Nadal and both will end up with very similar No of GS single titles but NOLE will keep minimum 100 weeks better record at No 1. Difference in GS between them could be a matter of luck or injury. No of weeks couldn't.
2) Nole will surpass 310 weeks at No 1 easily
3) Nadal could be able to finish his career with the most No of GS titles but his two GS titles advantage against Nole will shrink (this point it's an optimistic scenario for Nadal)
4) Nole have to increase his GS record to compete with other two players effectively but his universal tennis technique would give him more opportunitys than Nadal would have.
I will send here my simplified statistics after each GS tournament with comments. You don't have to reply.
Navi Ldnel on September 20, 2020:
For me, the only statistic that will matter in the end who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles out of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic after all 3 players have retired.
RNfan on September 20, 2020:
Write any load of nonsense you want, hhfan. All I have been saying is I want Nadal to end up winning more Grand Slam titles than Federer. That will make the happiest person in the world.
Peter on September 20, 2020:
Most tennis fans will remember and will remember in the years to come who won the most Grand Slam singles titles, not who finished the year end number 1, not who won the Master Series Events, not who won the Davis Cup, and so on.
Mohn JcEnroe on September 20, 2020:
HHfan, you cannot be serious! 52 weeks at number 1 does not equate to 4 Grand Slam titles. The question is who will end up winning the equal or greatest number of Grand Slam singles titles in the shortest timeframe.
RNfan on September 20, 2020:
Complete nonsense HHfan. Really, that is the most laughable, ridiculous and most absurd suggestion I have ever heard in my life when you typed 52 weeks at number 1 equates to 4 Grand Slam singles titles.
If you are number 1 for a whole year and don’t win a Grand Slam singles title in that time, the REALITY is you have NOT won a Grand Slam singles title in that time. In my mind, that equates to no Grand Slam singles titles!
Really, you are living in a fantasy world. Mickey Donev and Ivan Lendl make MUCH more sense than you! Back to the Tennis History lecture theatre for you. It’s not rocket science. Winning an equal number of the most Grand Slam singles titles in a shorter time frame is the best statistic. Congratulations Mickey Donev.
Both you and Ivan Lendl make the most sense and the best suggestions. I only care about the Grand Slam singles ladder, rather than the so called, still don’t believe in it, GOAT rankings.
RNfan on September 20, 2020:
Mickey Donev makes a brilliant point, which I have been dwelling on for years, is about winning the Grand Slam singles titles in a shorter time frame. The fact that Nadal has won only 1 less Grand Slam singles title than Federer in 20 less Grand Slam singles tournaments is a magnificent achievement by Nadal. Well said, Mickey. That particular statistic says a lot.
RNfan on September 20, 2020:
Hhfan, your statistical data are purely based on assumption. They are unproven in a Tennis environment. Honestly, if you feel that strongly about it, why don’t you email it to your local newspaper, to the attention of their sports department, and see what their reaction is to it?
It’s fine for me to ignore other tournaments, if I wish. I’m not interested in your criteria for GOAT or your opinion of who is leading the race. It’s all fantasy. There is no such thing as a GOAT. You cannot compare different eras, no matter what statistical data you wish to use. I strongly believe you can only go by who ends up with the most Grand Slam singles titles after all 3 have retired. I shall keep repeating that over and over again.
Ivan Lendl and I only want to deal with the reality of facts of who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles. Ivan Lendl’s opinion means much more to me or than yours or anyone else. It would not matter to me if you or anyone else in this article were in reality, the best experts in statistical analysis in the world.
I’m not asking you to change your mind and it should be likewise. Everyone in this article is entitled to their own opinion.
I still have and shall only care about who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles AFTER all 3 of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have retired.
RNfan on September 20, 2020:
Regardless of what you write and I understand this is an article about fantasy GOAT rankings, I still only care about who will end up with the reality of the most Grand Slam singles titles, after all 3 of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have retired.
It would not matter to me if you or anyone else were the lecturer trying to explain your theory to me in different ways for a whole semester or more. Ivan Lendl and I are only interested in who ends with the most Grand Slam singles titles. I am not saying you or your anyone else are wrong, I am simply saying I want to see who wins the most Grand Slam singles titles. Believe me, should Nadal end up with the most Grand Slam singles titles, on 21, if Federer is still on 20 and Djokovic is yet to reach 21, and it stays that way, when all 3 have retired, I’ll simply be happy that he’s won the most Grand Slam Singles titles. GOAT is not even in my vocabulary.
HHfan on September 20, 2020:
For all who cares of GS titles only:
Let's try to imagine that we compare two players:
player A - won two GS titles, lost first matches in other two
player B - won 1 GS title, lost in finals in other 3 GS
When you take under consideration GS titles only - player A wins. When you take mix of GS & ATP rank - player B is a bit better because he/she stayed at No 1 for a 1 year. It is not a rank of GS wins, but kind of Greatest Player Ever.
Sophisticated statistics (possible to find on internet) show that Nole could have 4% advantage and they both have 10-14% to gain before they are equal to today's RF records. For me GS statistics is oversimplified.
HHfan on September 20, 2020:
To RNfan: There are 8 players with 8 or more GS singles titles in Open Era: Federer 20, Nadal 19, Djokovic 17, Sampras 14, Borg 11, Connors 8, Lendl 8, Agassi 8.
There are 8 players with 104 or more weeks at No 1: Federer 310, Sampras 286, Djokovic 285, Lendl 270, Connors 268, Nadal 209, McEnroe 170, Borg 109. The 9th is Agassi with 101 weeks.
What is a conclusion of that?:
From the statistical point of view 1 year (52 weeks) at No 1 is a very similar achevement to 4 Grand Slams !!! 1GS title = 13 weeks !!! Of course from the attention of the crowd or commercial matters perspective GS titles are much much more important than ATP rank. Also players care much more about GS.
If 1 year = 4 GS we have:
RF 20GS + 6 years = 20+24=44points
Nole 17GS + 5,5 years = 17+22=39points
Nadal 19GS + 4 years = 19+16=35points
Commercial reasons make GS rank much more important than ATP rank. That's why I think 1 year = 4 GS is not a real proportion of those ranks. (Nadal is underestimated here)
If 1 year = 1 GS we have (ATP rank is 4 times weaker than GS's):
RF 20GS + 6 years (26points?)
Nadal 19GS + 4 years (23points?)
Nole 17GS + 5,5 years (22,5points?)
Probably 1 year = 1 GS is really close to reality (Nadal = Nole).
Let's try 1 year = 2 GS (ATP rank is twice weaker than GS's)
RF 20GS + 6 years = 20+12=32points
Nole 17GS + 5,5 years = 17+11=28points
Nadal 19GS + 4 years = 19+8=27points
(it is also close to reality but here Nole is a bit better than Nadal)
What is the conclusion from numbers above?
1) RF is a GOAT at the moment, his advantage is bigger than GS statistics against Nadal,
2) Nole and Nadal are pretty on the same level now
3) adding ATP rank gives us much complex view and ATP rank should contribute 20%-33% (1Y=1GS or 1Y=2GS) points in the GOAT race
4) probably the realistic proportion is 1 year = sth between 1 to 2 GS
5) one injury could decide competition between Nadal and Nole and prevent them from surpassing RF
6) both Nadal and Nole need at least 3 GS to surpass RF (or equal at ATP No 1)
7) strong improvements of younger players could destroy Nadal and Nole plans to surpass RF
8) Nole's secret weapon is his ability to stay at ATP No 1 relatively easy because of his universal technique
9) both Nadal and Nole have no much time - seasons 2021 and 2022 would be probably decisive
10) if one of them have an injury and the second is healthy, the healthy one could suprass RF's record of GS easily,
11) Nole is younger than Nadal and seems to be healthier - RF proved that it is possible to win GS in the old thirties specially on fast surfaces - clay is slower and young players with great fitness (Thiem?) could decrease Nadal's chances in last years of his career. That's why I think Nole has a slightly more chances specially if he develop his attack game near the net like "late" RF did.
RNfan on September 19, 2020:
Once again, I DON’T CARE about other tournaments. I DON’T CARE about GOAT rankings. I ONLY CARE about who wins the most Grand Slam singles tournaments. IT IS MY AND IVAN LENDL’S OPINION ONLY. What’s part of the last sentence don’t you understand
Mickey Donev on September 19, 2020:
This is just the ranking of most Grand Slam wins, it is not the GOAT ranking. There are lot of parameters that were not taken into consideration. GS equals 2000 points, Masters 1000, Tour Finals is 1500 etc. You can't just ignore the other big tournaments. Another factor is the success rate. If one player wins 5 GS in 20 years of pro career and another wins the same number of GS in 10 years then my question is, who is better? Certainly the one who wins them in shorter period of time.
RNfan on September 19, 2020:
HHfan, even if everyone, including me, were to agree with everything you have typed regarding your GOAT criteria, it’s just mine and Ivan Lendl’s opinion only that I know of, all we, that is Ivan Lendl and I, honestly care about is who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles, after all 3 of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have retired.
RNfan on September 19, 2020:
Guess what, hhfan, I could not care less about ANYTHING you write. I only care about who will end up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles.
RNfan on September 19, 2020:
People seem to take delight in the fact that Nadal has won most of his Grand Slam singles titles on clay. I think hhfan’s formula is a load of nonsense, totally irrelevant to Tennis. Show that to any person in the sports media, and you’ll be laughed at. Stick to your thesis on statistical analysis only. Nadal has still won 7 Grand Slam singles titles away from clay. Most tennis players would be overjoyed to win 7 Grand Slam singles titles in their career, like the great John McEnroe did winning 3 Wimbledon and 4 US Opens. As previously mentioned, not wanting to sound like a broken record, to me I simply could not care about GOAT. I only care who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles! To me, I would not have cared if Nadal gets to 21 Grand Slam singles with 21 Grand Slam singles titles all on clay. Likewise, if any player gets there with mainly all grass and hardcourt Grand Slam singles titles. I don’t care whatsoever if hhfan thinks he’s right. I will be celebrating anyway if Nadal is lucky enough to get to 21 Grand Slam singles titles before Federer and Djokovic. Nadal’s legacy is sealed.
HHfan on September 17, 2020:
To John: "... but Nadal should not be penalised because 2 out of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments are played on hardcourt."
If we divide the No of GS on hard courts by 2 then Nadal is GOAT, but it is only the intelectual game. Tennis GS are played mostly on hard courts and we have to discuss about facts not about theory.
Rafael "The King of Clay" Nadal suffers from lack of clay tournaments. This is the main reason why he has 209 weeks at No 1 comparing to "about 300" of the RF and Nole.
Most people here say that No of GS singles titles counts most when we talk about GOAT. Some of them say that GOAT doesn't count at all because No of GS singles titles only counts. I agree that No of GS is the most important (from the tennis point of view) factor but staying at No 1 for additional 2 years is a great achivement and should be seriously take under consideration when we talk about GOAT. Today we have:
RF 20GS + 6 years (26points?)
Rafa 19GS + 4 years (23points?)
Nole 17GS + 5,5 years (22,5points?)
No of weeks at No 1 rank shows us from the statistical point of view that Rafa is able to win a lot of GS, but mainly on clay and it makes hard for him to have "TOTAL DOMINATION" as a No 1 for long period of time. ATP rank preferes players who have achivements on all surfaces and are able to obtain a lot of ATP points at a short period of time (high density in the certain time).
Sorry for my English. I don't play tennis but my master thesis was from statistics analysis of pharmaceutical data. Maybe this statistical approach makes me think that distance between RF/Rafa/Nole is more like 26/23/22,5 than 20/19/17. Pure GS numbers suggest that Rafa is close to RF, but in my opinion he needs at least 22GS to surpass RF. Speculation only: Nole theoretically with 18GS+6YEARS would for me be better than Rafa with 19GS+4YEARS. This is my personal opinion and maybe from tennis point of view is stupid but I analize data and it is more difficult to stay at No 1 for 2 years than to win 1 GS.
Gavin on September 15, 2020:
Tyrone is 100% correct about his comment about media outlets in his country regarding the most important statistic. Yesterday, I read in my local newspaper and I quote that "Had Djokovic won the US Open he would have moved to 18 Grand Slam titles, one behind Nadal and two behind Roger Federer in the battle for all-time greatness".
John on September 14, 2020:
Gonzalo, you make a good point but personalities or character should not come into it. If Djokovic ends up with the most Grand Slam singles titles after all 3 have retired, to me he will be the best, but not until he has done it. Likewise Nadal. Likewise Federer. Djokovic has certainly played the best level of tennis out of the 3 from 2011 onwards.
Yes, Federer and Djokovic have won more hardcourt and grass Grand Slam titles than Nadal, but Nadal should not be penalised because 2 out of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments are played on hardcourt.
Also, Nadal has still managed to win 4 Grand Slam singles titles at the US Open, as well as 1 Australian Open on hardcourt. Injuries during one Australian Open Final against Stan Wawrinka and one Australian Open Semi Final against David Ferrer cost him 2 more Australian Open titles on hardcourt. He has still currently won 2 Grand Slam singles titles on grass, his worst surface, at Wimbledon, 1 of which was a win in the final against Federer, whereas Federer and Nadal have currently only won 1 on their worst surface, clay.
I also think that Nadal’s current 12 French Opens on clay overrides Federer’s current 8 Wimbledon titles on grass.
To me, Nadal’s overall record on all surfaces compares very favourably with Djokovic and Nadal. Nadal’s 12 Grand Slam titles on clay currently is in front of both Djokovic and Federer’s combined 11 Grand Slam singles each on hardcourt, from 2 Grand Slam tournaments in the US Open and Australian Open for Djokovic and Federer.
I can’t wait to see who will end up with the most Grand Slam singles titles after all 3 have retired.
Gonzalo, don’t worry about character. Pete Sampras wasn’t universally liked but he had the most Grand Slam singles titles when he retired. Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe weren’t universally liked, but I was a massive fan of John McEnroe’s game, regardless of his behaviour.
I’m not saying at all that I am a Djokovic fan but I have been very impressed with the number of Grand Slam singles titles he has already won and that goes for everyone who has achieved many Grand Slam singles titles.
Let the race for the most Grand Slam singles titles begin and continue!
Tennis Analyst on September 13, 2020:
Congratulations Dominic Thiem on winning the US Open. It reminded of the Federer v Nadal match ups where Zverev was the Federer with the all court game and Thiem was the Nadal with the great ground strokes and amazing fighting spirit. Tennis was also the winner.
Harry on September 12, 2020:
There is no such thing as a GOAT. You cannot compare different eras. Anyone who says otherwise is talking complete nonsense!
Tyrone on September 12, 2020:
Good luck if you think GOAT is the most important statistic to you. Other than this article, I have never heard or known of any media outlet mentioning GOAT for any statistics. I have been following tennis for a very long time and tennis commentators in my country always mention Grand Slam singles statistics as their main statistic. Good try but you will NEVER change my mind. Ivan Lendl is RIGHT. Grand Slam singles titles will be the deciding factor of the GOAT after all 3 players have retired. Guess what, Ivan Lendl was Number 1 for a long time too. Ivan Lendl is RIGHT. You and your followers are not. I don’t agree with you or anyone else, only Ivan Lendl.
Ben on September 12, 2020:
I am another who is a Del Potro fan but even if he doesn’t win another Grand Slam singles title, he can still tell his grandchildren that he won the US Open. There are far more tennis players who go through their whole Tennis careers without winning a Grand Slam tournament than the ones who do. I think it’s a magnificent achievement just to win one Grand Slam event, let alone more. It is so difficult for an aspiring tennis player just to make the ATP tour, let alone to support themselves financially in their pursuit. The competition from other aspirants from many countries is of the highest possible standard. Therefore, I take my hat off to any player who has won just 1 Grand Slam singles title. You may not be the greatest, but you are still great.
Mr Endl on September 12, 2020:
I don't care, fun, intellectual or otherwise, I still believe that the total number of Grand Slam singles titles is the Number 1 priority to top professional players.
I am not stopping you or anyone else discussing other what I consider to be less important statistics for your criteria for GOAT.
I don't even care about the term GOAT. Just ask Djokovic, Nadal and Federer what's the most important statistic to them and it's Grand Slam singles titles. Even when these 3 players have their Zoom chats together, they have all admitted to wanting to win the most Grand Slam singles titles. Djokovic said that in the media when all 3 of them were in lockdown. Believe me, they are not discussing who is or who will end up being the GOAT, who is number 1, who has won the most ATP tournaments, who has played tennis the longest, etc.
By all means, keep having your fun and your outlet in future comments if you wish but my fun and the Big three's main focus will be who ends up with the most Grand Slam singles titles. I also don't care if I'm the only person with has this opinion.
I shall forever remain solely focused on who ends up winning the most Grand Slam singles titles after all 3 have retired and I will be the 1st person to congratulate whoever that person is. As a Nadal fan, I couldn't care less about the 1 number ranking, who has been number 1 for the most number of weeks, even if Nadal was that person, to be perfectly honest.
If it makes you happy, leave and name whoever you want as your so called current and future GOAT for all the criteria you have mentioned. I won't lose sleep over it since it means so much to Federer fans.
What will make me happy and has always made be happy is if Nadal ends up winning more Grand Slam singles titles than Federer, regardless of who is nominated and ends up keeping the title of the GOAT.
In other words, if Nadal ends winning more Grand Slam singles titles than Federer after both players have retired, if you or anyone else want to call someone else the GOAT using yours and others criteria, I won't hold it against you or anyone else but I will simply most happy if Nadal ends up with the most Grand Slam singles titles.
HHfan on September 12, 2020:
With whole respect to Mr Lendl I think that Greatest Of All Time is far more than only Grand Slams statistics. Maybe from his point of view GOAT is not worth to argue about, because GS statistics is much more important to him. But here we discuss about GOAT which is a kind of intellectual game for fun. We take under consideration GS, weeks at No 1, Olimpics medals, statistical points, and Masters. We take some special factors for example Rod Laver's absence for 6 years in GS and early retirement od Borg.
Martin on September 11, 2020:
Diego, I share your pain with Juan Martin Del Potro. Keep the faith because at times, Tennis can be a funny game. When you least expect it, good things can happen. I say that because where there’s life, there’s hope, in the sense that Juan Martin is yet to retire.
Of course, Juan Martin Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 when it was least expected. Likewise other upsets or unexpected events included Cilic winning the US Open in 2014, Federer winning 3 majors from the age of 35 to 36 while Djokovic was injured and now either Zverev or Thiem will win the 2020 US Open due to Djokovic’s default and Nadal not playing in the US Open this year. Of course, both Nadal and Djokovic have overcome serious injuries in the past to still go on to win more Grand Slam singles titles.
Although 21 Grand Slam singles titles is way out of range for Del Potro now, he could yet win his 2nd Grand Slam singles title, should his body hold up. He is currently recovering from the knee surgery he had earlier this year.
It was only 2 years ago he was ranked than 3 in the world and made the semi finals of the French Open 2 years ago. He had contemplated retirement but has decided to go on. He has come back from wrist injuries before but this knee injury will be the big test. He certainly still has the ability to win another major.
Although he’ll be 32 in the next few weeks, he’s younger than Murray, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
If anyone can, Del Po can.
Diego on September 10, 2020:
Tennis Analyst, I agree with you and often think to myself how many Grand Slam singles titles Juan Martin Del Potro would have won, had constant wrist and other injuries not curtailed the majority of his tennis career. It's a real shame that history will show him only winning 1 Grand Slam singles title. You really need a lot of good fortune to overcome injuries. His injuries started not long after he beat Roger Federer in the US Open singles final of 2008, aged 20 at the time. He really looked like being the next big thing and an injury free Del Potro definitely had the ability to win at least 21 Grand Slam singles titles in the same era as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
Gonzalo on September 10, 2020:
I have done a very extensive research on tennis players recently to carefully examine each of the top players. After examining all of the top players in the last 10 years, I must accept that Novak Djokovic is by far the best tennis player: His atheism and tennis game is superior than the rest of the top players and this by far. The only questionable situation is on clay surface: Definitely Rafael has proven to be a better player than Novak but not 100%. With the fact that Novak is much better than Rafael on hard courts and grass courts, Novak makes his point. What happens is that Novak character is not that of a person with charisma so he is usually not likable.
Another Frank on September 09, 2020:
I could not care less who is the GOAT, I only care who will end up with the most Grand Slam singles titles after Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all retired. It is the statistic that matters the most to me. I do not care what anyone else says. If I were a professional tennis player as good as those 3 players, the only evidence I need is Grand Slam singles titles won. To me, everything else regarding those 3 players is far less relevant. I don’t care if anyone writes a 50 page thesis trying to change my mind, but if Nadal ends up on 21 Grand Slam singles titles to Federer’s 20, Nadal will be the best. Ivan Lendl, I agree only with you.
Tennis Analyst on September 09, 2020:
Prime examples of players long past their retirement and not remembered for how long they may have been number 1 for or how many lesser tournaments they won are Rod Laver in the mens’ and Monica Seles in the womens’ GOAT, as people unfortunately remember them for their lack of total Grand Slam singles titles won, compared to other great tennis players. Rod Laver, who won the calendar Grand Slam twice and missed 6 years at his peak between 1962 and 1968 having been banned from playing Grand Slam tournaments as he had turned professional and he probably would have ended up with 25 Grand Slam singles titles overall, had he played in Grand Slam tournaments from 1962 to 1968 inclusive. However, people who did not see Rod Laver play, just see that he’s won 11 Grand Slam singles titles overall, which is not fair and he had much better opposition than Roy Emerson, who won more Grand Slam singles titles. At least in fairness, Roy Emerson, who cashed in on winning Grand Slam singles titles in Rod Laver’s absence, was not named in the Greatest Of All Time List. Laver was the greatest player of the pre 1970s Open era.
Likewise, Monica Seles could easily have ended up with more Grand Slam singles titles than Graf, had Seles not been stabbed. It’s not fair that Seles only ends up with 9 Grand Slam singles titles, when she had won 8 by the age of 19. Yet Graf will be remembered as a better player because she cashed in with Seles’ misfortune, winning 22 Grand Slam singles titles.
The point I’m trying to make is that in the modern day era, if one of or both of Nadal or Djokovic are able to eclipse Federer’s current record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, they deserve to because Federer has had a mainly dream run with injuries in Grand Slam tournaments and both Nadal and Djokovic would have achieved this incredibly important milestone it in a shorter time frame than Federer. I can assure people that in 5 to 10 years time and beyond, the tennis history buffs will be looking at the individual Grand Slam singles titles won by each of those 3 players. Who knows, it’s highly unlikely, but in the next 20 years or thereafter, some player may end up breaking up the Grand Slam singles titles record of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Twenty years ago, not many would have thought that the record of Sampras’ Grand Slam singles titles would be broken.
Tennis Analyst on September 09, 2020:
Don’t forget that Rafa would have had at least 22 to 23 Grand Slam singles titles by now, if not for injuries prior to and during Grand Slam tournaments. As a massive Rafa fan, I just want him to end up with more Grand Slam titles than Federer, because he deserves it in a 5 year less Grand Slam career than Federer.
To be quite honest, although I agree completely with Ivan Lendl’s criteria for the Greatest Of All Time, I definitely won’t be losing any sleep as to who people think will be eventually be the GOAT or who they think is the current GOAT, with the current GOAT being a ridiculous assertion while all 3 players are still playing. I would rather listen to, read the opinion and agree with Ivan Lendl than agree with the majority of completely biased and popularity based Federer fans.
Believe me, the top tennis players only really care who wins the most Grand Slam singles titles. For example, in the womens’ I was a massive fan of Caroline Wozniacki, who won many WTA tournaments and was number 1 for nearly 2 years. However, in the end, she had only 1 Grand Slam singles title to show for it. Serena Williams could not care less how many WTA tournaments she has won or how long she was Number 1. She just wants to pass Margaret Court on Grand Slam singles titles. Don’t forget that Margaret Court won her 24 Grand Slam singles titles from 1960 to 1973, whereas Serena on 23 Grand Slam singles titles, won her 1st Grand Slam singles title at the US Open in 1999 and has taken 8 years longer than Margaret Court to try to get to 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
Djokovic is a bit more goal oriented because he mentioned that he also wants to break the record for number of weeks at number 1 but his main priority is to win the most Grand Slam singles titles.
To me, like Ivan Lendl, I don’t care how long a player is Number 1 in the world for, how many ATP tournaments they have won or how long they’ve been playing professional tennis for. Just show me their Grand Slam singles results and how many Grand Slam singles titles they have won. There are no prizes or trophies for the GOAT but there are trophies for Grand Slam titles. Both Nadal and Djokovic will be doing everything in their power to end up with 21 Grand Slam singles titles, assuming Federer doesn’t win another Grand Slam singles title before he retires. So, I have now come to the conclusion that Federer fans can write all they want about Federer being the GOAT if it gives them a buzz, because I strongly believe that Grand Slam singles titles are what matters the most to professional players.
HHfan on September 09, 2020:
IMHO Weeks at ATP No 1 is one of the biggest advantages of Federer against Nadal. 310/209. It's a gap. Nadal would need at least 22-23 GS titles to claim that he's better than RF. At the same time Nole probably surpass RF's 310 weeks, but disqualification at US Open could cost him much more than only 1 GS title - a place in history.
HHfan on September 05, 2020:
IMHO the No of GS titles is overestimated against No of weeks at ATP No 1. Example: Rafa Nadal has 10% more GS than Nole and at the same time Nole has 33% more weeks as a world No 1 than Rafa. In almost all GOAT rankings Rafa is above Nole mainly because of focusing on Great Slams.
Richard on September 01, 2020:
As the one and only Ivan Lendl said, he’s not at all interested in the polls and who people vote for as the Greatest of All Time, he’s only interested in the Grand Slam singles results and who will eventually end up with the most Grand Slam singles titles. Only then will that player be known as the Greatest of All Time. Mr Lendl, you are spot on and completely correct with your assessment.
Frank on August 31, 2020:
The tennis GOAT Mr. Federer may retire soon, but his legacy is sealed.
Frank on August 30, 2020:
Bliss, Grand Slam singles titles are what players are remembered for long after they have retired. Grand Slam singles titles is the most important thing to the top players. It’s their Grand Final.
Barry on August 29, 2020:
Bliss, every astute tennis person knows that Grand Slam singles titles is the real measure of the greatest men's player of all time. Your logic is pathetic! Nadal and Djokovic are still playing the game. Only the total number of Grand Slam singles titles will decide who is the GOAT, after all 3 have retired. Nothing you or any other Federer fan will say will convince Nadal and Djokovic fans otherwise! Even if you and every other Federer fan continually keeps writing that he is the GOAT a zillion times, I and other Nadal and Djokovic fans will continually laugh out loud at those comments because we strongly disagree.
Jimmy on August 29, 2020:
Bliss, Nadal all the way. His Grand Slam singles strike rate is much better than Federer. Grand Slam singles titles are what counts the most. Every top player knows that. Why do you think Djokovic is putting his health at risk when other top players are withdrawing from the Coronavirus. So he can win the US Open.
HHfan on August 29, 2020:
ATP decision not to delete rank points from 2019 US Open and Cincinnati supports both Nadal and Federer against players involved in those tournaments like Djokovic and many others. I know that show must attract the crowd, but this decision has also some disadvantages: 1) makes much more difficult to defend No 1 for Nole, 2) increases RF's rank above many young players who play all the time during 2020 season. Ad 1: I hope Nole will be able to stay at No 1 till late 2021, when those points disappear. Ad 2: seed in 2021 would prefare strongly RF for first half of the 2021 season.
How Good is Rafael Nadal on August 29, 2020:
Rafa 12 French Open titles. Roger only 1 French Open. Rafa is head and shoulders above Federer.
Nostradamus on August 29, 2020:
Nadal is a better player than Federer and will go down in history as a better player than Federer.
Manuel on August 29, 2020:
Vamos Rafa! Rafa is the best.
Expert on August 29, 2020:
Both Rafa and Novak will end up with more Grand Slam titles than Federer.
Bliss’s Uncle on August 29, 2020:
Rafa is the greatest. He is pure bliss.
RAFA on August 29, 2020:
Bliss, he’s not. Nadal is the GOAT for sure! Yes he is!
Bliss on August 28, 2020:
Federer is tennis GOAT for sure. 335 tennis records compared to 164 for 2nd place Nadal. Huge gap between Federer and the field. Bigger than the majority of sports like Wayne Gretzky in Hockey.
Ashley on August 28, 2020:
Ian, I read that interview with Ivan Lendl too. Lendl also mentioned in that interview that it won’t be a popularity contest to decide who is the greatest player of all time, but the number of Grand Slam singles titles won by each player after all of them have retired.
He admitted that Federer is currently leading the race but said it won’t be decided until they have all stopped competing in Grand Slam tournaments.
It should also be noted what the current strike rates are of all these 3 players in winning their Grand Slam singles titles:
Federer has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles from 79 Grand Slam tournaments played.
Nadal has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles from 59 Grand Slam tournaments played.
Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles from 60 Grand Slam tournaments played.
As you can see, Federer has played in many more Grand Slam tournaments than both Nadal and Djokovic, and of course, after the current US Open and French Open, which will both be played shortly, these figures will be updated from the ladder, should there be any significant change.
Ian on August 28, 2020:
I believe that Ivan Lendl actually said it the best when he mentioned in an interview in May this year that Rod Laver is currently the best of the pre men’s Open era but he also said that until all 3 of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have retired, whoever ends up with the most Grand Slam singles titles is the greatest player of all time. I completely agree with Ivan Lendl.
Tom on August 27, 2020:
Rao Srinivas, you forgot to mention the quality of opposition Federer had in the first 5 years of his career, compared to the quality of opposition Nadal and Djokovic had when they started their careers, which was far tougher. Nadal is a very professional tennis player.
Harry on August 27, 2020:
Rao Srinivas, don’t denigrate the superb career of Rod Laver. He won the calendar Grand Slam twice. That is a career to be envied. There is every doubt that Roger Federer is the greatest of all time. Nadal and Djokovic have achieved more than Federer did in a 5 year less time period. They, along with Rod Laver are the greatest of all time, not Federer.
John on August 24, 2020:
Tyran, you seem to take delight in mentioning what Federer did when he was younger. I would argue that Federer would not have won as many Grand Slam singles titles as he did, had both Djokovic and Nadal started their careers at the same time. Yet you didn’t mention the 3 Grand Slam singles titles the “aging” Federer won from age 35 onwards. I’m sure you’re happy to claim that. Don’t forget that Nadal and Djokovic haven’t even reached the age of 35 as yet. I just find that what Nadal and Djokovic have been able to achieve over their whole careers is far more impressive to me than Federer. By the way, Djokovic won his 1st Grand Slam singles title at age 20, whereas Federer was nearly 23 when he won his 1st Grand Slam singles title. Djokovic then won his 2nd Grand Slam singles aged 23 in the Australian Open in 2011, still younger than Federer was when Federer won his 1st Grand Slam singles title. Djokovic then continued to have great success in 2011, winning more Grand Slam titles. Grass is only one surface. Djokovic has performed well on all surfaces, as has Nadal.
Jeff on August 24, 2020:
I also disagree with Tyran. What Nadal and Djokovic have achieved in winning Grand Slam singles titles in a 5 year shorter time frame than Federer puts both Nadal and Djokovic above Federer. It’s common knowledge that Federer had it easier as far as the quality of opposition was concerned before Nadal and Djokovic arrived. I say Rod Laver is the greatest player of all time for having won the calendar Grand Slam twice.
HHfan on August 11, 2020:
To Tyran: Djokovic suffered from gluten and other food alergies. He changed the diet in 2010 and started to dominate till today.
Tyran Mathurin on July 29, 2020:
I think this is a fair article. Federer and Nadal deserve to be in the top two positions, in my opinion. And I feel in order for Dokovic to have ranked higher, he needed to do more during the 1st half of his rivalry against Federer and Nadal (2006-2010). During that periord of time referenced, Djokovic only managed to win just 1 GS title, of the first 20. Nadal, who is just 1 year younger than he, won 8. In fact, Nadal recorded more GS than Djokovic did on all 3 surfaces, by 2010. Djokovic should've at least held an edge over Nadal, on his best surface (HC). But he didn't. Djokovic also never faced a young Federer on grass (Fed's best surface). Most of Djokovic's bigger or greater achievements took place against an aging Federer, who had already reached 30 years old, by 2011. And also during the time Nadal was experiencing greater struggles with injuries. Nadal experienced more challenges with injuries, post 2011, than prior to that year. He missed more GS tournaments during 2012-2016, than he did from 2006-2011. To me, those factors made Djokovic's path towards his greater success was easier than that of Federer and Nadal.
kunny on July 29, 2020:
i think rafael nadal is the best or djokovic if pick 1 i pick nadel
Bob h on July 21, 2020:
Did I miss something or did Bill Tilden win 12 grand slams: FO 2; W 3; UO 7 between 1920-1930?
Also, as far as most influential in the sport, MAC and Borg have to be on top (OK - Conners won UO on 3 different surfaces). Other than Federer nobody plays the FULL game in modern times as it should be played!
There will be another. That’s just the nature of tennis!
RAO SRINIVAS on July 04, 2020:
There is no doubt that Roger Federer is the Greatest of all Time. The testimony to this is that at 38 years of age he is still in top 3, and his rivals Rafael & Novak are in top 3 of the greatest of all time, which none of the rivals of Rod Laver or any other player had.
Gonzalo on June 12, 2020:
No doubt at all: The best tennis player ever is Rod Laver. I have been doing research watching his numerous games and he was a superb gifted tennis player. Also, he always showed a charming beautiful personality proper of a true professional sport man; he presented himself in the field as a humble sport man.
Tennis Hall of Fame on June 11, 2020:
The selection committee of The Tennis Hall of Fame hereby declare Rod Laver to be the Greatest Male Tennis Player of all Time! We believe that Rod Laver’s achievement of winning the The Grand Slam Twice, four calendar Grand Slam titles in the one year will never be equalled, let alone overtaken.
We have also taken into account the 24 Grand Slam tournaments that Rod Laver was forced to miss, playing as a professional player from 1963 to 1968. We are of the belief that Rod Laver would have won around 15 to 19 out of those 24 Grand Slam tournaments on offer, which would have made his total Grand Slam titles rise from 11 to around 26 to 30.
Those were the peak years of Rod Laver’s tennis career that he missed as a professional not being allowed to compete in Grand Slam tournaments.
It was truly amazing that in 1969, Rod Laver eventually returned to playing Grand Slam tournaments, having been permitted to do so, and still won The Grand Slam, 4 Grand Slam titles in the calendar year, having done exactly the same in winning The Grand Slam in 1962, 4 Grand Slam titles in the calendar year.
As he was banned from playing as a professional in Grand Slam tournaments from 1963 to 1968, in effect, Rod Laver won 8 Grand Slam tournaments in a row.
Congratulations Rod Laver on being named The Greatest Male Tennis Player of All Time and may the Stadium named after him, The Rod Laver Arena, continue to go from strength to strength.
Tennis Expert on June 10, 2020:
Rod Laver is the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time. The only man to have won the Calendar Grand Slam Twice. Laver missed his peak years of not being allowed to play as a professional between 1963 to 1968. If he had been allowed to play, Rod Laver would have won at least 25 Grand Slam singles titles. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have not won even 1 calendar Grand Slam, 4 Grand Slam singles titles in the one year.
Tennis Referee on June 10, 2020:
Gonzalo, your complaints have been shown to officials within the ATP and no action will be taken. The Tennis Code of Conduct committee believes there is absolutely no case to answer for both Nadal and Djokovic.
The committee believes that individuals like yourself are entitled to their opinion like anyone else but Federer has been asked his opinion and more importantly, he accepts the behaviour of both Nadal and Djokovic.
He is not at all distracted by their past or present behaviour and in fact has told the hierarchy at the ATP and The International Tennis Federation that he gets along very well with Nadal and Djokovic and the three of them have been catching up on Zoom. He holds both Nadal and Djokovic as true professionals, who behave professionally. Federer’s word matters the most.
Mr Djokovic has complained about the crowd behaviour towards him in matches against Federer, which he claims is unfair advantage to Federer. The ITF take this matter very seriously and will consider evicting unruly spectators against Djokovic in the future. The Security Guards at future tennis matches between the pair will be more vigilant.
Wayne on June 10, 2020:
Absolutely adore the GOAT Nadal.
Tennis Umpire on June 10, 2020:
Gonzalo, no matter you say you and how you write it, your are a very bad sport. Federer is not the greatest. I have no problem whatsoever with Nadal and Djokovic’s behaviour. Your appeal has been dismissed.
Game set and match to Nadal and Djokovic.
Gonzalo on June 10, 2020:
Dear Tennis Umpire,
Nadal, repeatedly has harassed the opponent by requesting additional time before serving. This action is unlawful because the players once ready can serve whenever they want unless there is an emergency. Again, I repeat, Nadal does this over and over; this is cheating and seriously upsetting for the opponent.
Now, Novak also *used* to distract the whole game by showing extreme tiredness and in this way taking his time to "recover". Since a few years ago I have not observed this behavior. This behavior denotes his lack of professional conduct. Novak also used to have other aggressive actions such as breaking apart his shirt, etc.
I do know that these two players, Novak and Rafael, probably, are among the very best 5 tennis player ever. Nevertheless they have shown unlawful, distracting, upsetting behavior that should not have been permitted. Since we are talking about men, I do not mention other tennis players that have even behaved much worst.
At the contrary, Roger has shown a superb professional conduct and also an enviable tennis game; no doubt, Roger is a superb professional tennis player. The same occurs with Laver; you can even argue that Laver probably is the best tennis player ever but that is quite a long discussion and I am not ready to justify it because I don't know enough and requires a detailed research.
Mr. Tennis Umpire, have in mind that I have been a true tennis lover and I have had the privilege of watching many ATP games, mostly involving the top tennis players: Roger, Novak, Rafael, Andy, Juan Martin, etc.
And of course, my preferred tennis player used to be Rafael, but no more, he has been seriously abusive. And of course, I do accept that you could be proven that Novak has shown, about in 2011, probably the best tennis game ever. But quantitative success is not all. Not to me anyway.
Tennis Umpire on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, you don't seem to understand the issues of what constitutes cheating. Both Nadal and Djokovic are quite within their rights to take the full twenty seconds between serves. If they take longer, they are given a warning by the umpire. It's not at all cheating. They have been doing that for their whole careers, regardless of whether they play the best players in the world or qualifiers who they beat easily. It's only to settle themselves properly. There's no point rushing. It's just that other players are quicker to serve. It has absolutely nothing to do with cheating. For a player it's far more annoying to have the crowd barracking for an opponent like Federer and the crowd getting under your skin than it is for an opponent to take the full 20 seconds to serve.
Jeremy on June 09, 2020:
What shouldn’t be allowed Gonzalo is the excessive one sided cheering for all of Federer’s matches. It’s just not fair! Hopefully, matches without crowds or very limited crowds will help his opponents.
Larry on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, your hatred of Nadal and Djokovic is clear. It wouldn’t matter to you if Nadal and Djokovic had won 30 Grand Slam singles titles each. You can hate them. I just admire players who do their job well, winning their Grand Slam singles titles in a shorter time frame than Federer. Nadal and Djokovic will keep letting their racquets do the talking by winning more Grand Slam singles titles overall than Federer. Both Nadal and Djokovic are ACHIEVERS only.
Gary on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, you are just trying to make ridiculous excuses for Federer losing to Nadal and Djokovic in Grand Slam tournaments. It is not the reason Federer loses to them. Federer has lost the biggest matches in Grand Slam tournaments to Nadal and Djokovic in the past, because Nadal and Djokovic have played better than Federer.
Realist on June 09, 2020:
Face the facts Gonzalo. Not only has Federer had a 5 year head and 20 Grand Slam tournaments head start start over Nadal and Djokovic to win Grand Slam titles, Federer’s first 5 years in Grand Slam tournaments were not against Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. When Nadal, Djokovic and Murray started their careers, they had to play each other at their peak, as well as Federer. Nadal and Djokovic have had far more tougher competition than Federer throughout their careers and Nadal and Djokovic have thrived. What they have achieved over a tougher and shorter Grand Slam tournament career is far more impressive than Federer.
Tennis Observer on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, Federer always has the crowd cheering much more for him. It’s an unfair advantage. It’s cheating. Yet, Federer still loses the majority of the big matches to Djokovic and Nadal for most of his career. Cheats never prosper.
Pancho on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, Federer is a CHEAT. He serves too quickly when the other players aren’t ready. He makes an excuse to go off the court when he is losing 5 set matches to break his opponents’ rhythm. Federer is a CHEAT. He made an audible obscenity to a female umpire during the Australian Open and got a warning. Federer is a bad person.
Ken on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, Nadal is a delightful, humble man. I am a massive Nadal fan and take offence to your pathetic and untrue observations. Nadal is only one Grand Slam title behind Federer, and has played in less than 20 Grand Slam tournaments than Federer and has had to miss many more Grand Slam tournaments than Federer. He has a better head to head record against Federer in Grand Slam tournaments and overall. Nadal is a true champion and the greatest tennis player of all time. Congratulations Rafa on a brilliant and remarkable tennis career!
Tom on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, they’re not cheating! Get that through your head! Nadal and Djokovic are the greatest tennis players of all time!
Gonzalo on June 09, 2020:
Dominic, why not? Does professional conduct count? Cheating should not be allowed. And yes, there are other famous tennis players that have behaved really bad on court. So Dominic, the professional conduct should participate in the evaluation of a player.
Dominic on June 09, 2020:
Gonzalo, your argument has absolutely no relevance whatsoever as to who is the greatest male tennis player of all time. Stick to the point and stop criticising other players.
Mohn JcEnroe on June 08, 2020:
Gonzalo, You Cannot Be Serious! Your disgraceful, disgusting and completely inaccurate accusations of cheating is utter nonsense! Nadal and Djokovic are much better players than Federer! Nadal and Djokovic are the greatest tennis players of all time and Federer is not. Look up the head to head records and who has won their Grand Slam titles in a shorter time frame.
Bob on June 08, 2020:
Gonzalo, you’re a very bad sport. Nadal and Djokovic have won their Grand Slam titles in a much quicker timeframe than Federer. Both Nadal and Djokovic have better head to head to records against Federer in both Grand Slam tournaments and overall.
Tennis Analyst on June 08, 2020:
Nadal is the greatest tennis player of all time because he won his 19 Grand Slam singles titles in a 5 year shorter timeframe than Federer’s 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
Warren on June 08, 2020:
Gonzalo, your logic is absolutely ridiculous. Nadal is the greatest tennis player of all time.
HHfan on May 31, 2020:
To Stats guy: I compared top 10 on both list and I would like to write:
1) according to statistics Rod Laver is No 13 which does not take under consideration that he was not able to take part in GSlams for 6 years. Rod Laver is probably the only player who can claim that he is GOAT except RF, Rafa and Nole.
2) Bjorn Borg retired very early - it was his decision, not injury. I think he deserves No 6 or maybe No 5 today. Bjorn is the second tennis player who can be in Top 5 easily if he played longer. Could surpass players 4-7 from stats list.
3) Bill De Giulio's list will be probably soon updated and Nole will be No 2.
So generally speaking Bill's list is in my opinion much closer to reality than pure statistics. Difference between Rafa and Nole is 2-3% today so it is very difficult to say who is better.
Gonzalo on May 18, 2020:
We must reason objectively based on facts; only on facts and not on subjective feelings. We have seen Nadal and Djokovic being cheaters; that is a fact, the records are right there. Both, Nadal and Djokovic have purposely upset the opponent in several ways. This behavior has never EVER seen from Roger Federer. Roger has always played with the outmost professional conduct. These are facts we cannot deny; these are facts. Of course, Rod has always been a model when it comes to professional values.
Terry on May 17, 2020:
Eric, you forgot to mention Nadal has 19 majors in 5 less years and 20 less Grand Slam tournaments than Federer. Fred, you forgot to mention that Nadal has 12 French Opens, the hardest Grand Slam title for any top player in history to win. Wimbledon is not the biggest prize. It’s only 1 Grand Slam tournament and has the same and equal importance as a Grand Slam title as the French Open, Australian Open and US Open. Nadal is GOAT for sure. He has even beaten Federer in a Wimbledon Final and won 2 Wimbledon titles, his worst surface. That is awesome.
Federer who was brought up on clay has only won 1 French Open.
Nadal has also won 4 US Opens and an Australian Open on hardcourt. Awesome. Nadal is the GOAT.
Trevor on May 17, 2020:
Rod Laver is the GOAT.
Brett on May 17, 2020:
Nadal is the GOAT.
Frank on May 17, 2020:
Nadal is the GOAT for sure. 19 majors, 5 less years than Federer, only 1 major less, winning head to head record against Federer in Grand Slam tournaments and winning overall record against Federer. Nadal is the best.
Fred on May 17, 2020:
Federer is GOAT for sure. 8 Wimbledon’s tennis’s biggest prize. Awesome.
Realist on May 17, 2020:
In the end, it won’t matter what anybody says about who is the greatest male or female tennis player of all time. There are no awards given out for it. You simply cannot compare different eras of tennis. The main awards that are given out are for Grand Slam title trophies. When all these great players have retired, the history books will show who has won the most Grand Slam singles titles, as well as Grand Slam titles overall. What any one says will be irrelevant compared to the actual proof, the history.
Mohn JcEnroe on May 17, 2020:
To all the Federer fans, You Cannot Be Serious! Both Nadal and Djokovic are greater tennis players than Roger Federer. Both Nadal and Djokovic have better Grand Slam records when playing head to head against Roger Federer and both Nadal and Djokovic have almost caught Roger Federer on Grand Slam singles titles won, having both started their Grand Slam tournament career 5 years after Federer. Federer may be the most popular and the best game to watch but Nadal and Djokovic have claims to be the GOAT, not Federer.
Scott on May 17, 2020:
Gonzalo, your logic is ridiculous! We are talking about the greatest tennis player of all time. How can Federer be the greatest player of all time when he has only won 1 more Grand Slam singles title than Nadal and played 5 years longer as a professional than Nadal and played in 20 more Grand Slam tournaments than Nadal? Nadal has won his Grand Slam singles titles at a much quicker rate than Federer. I therefore declare Nadal to be the greatest male tennis player of all time.
The Referee on May 17, 2020:
Federer is only number 1 on polls because he is the most popular. He is not the greatest. Nadal, Djokovic and Laver are the greatest tennis players of all time.
Cameron on May 17, 2020:
Nadal is not a cheater. He is the greatest tennis player of all time. Federer is not the best. It has taken him 5 years longer than Nadal and Djokovic to win his Grand Slam titles. Federer is overrated. Nadal is the best, followed by Djokovic, then and Laver.
Gonzalo on May 17, 2020:
I used to be for Rafael Nadal. But after further analysis, I have noticed that he is a cheater: He frequently distracts the opponent by telling him that he is not ready. That is not acceptable at all because Rafael must get ready within a few seconds. I am sure that Rafael has this behavior to upset the opponent so he does it purposely; that is with no doubt a corrupt behavior. I am now highly pro Roger Federer because this player has always showed a full professional conduct, probably better than most. Even Novak Djokovic also has shown unprofessional conduct by appearing extremely tired and therefore distracting purposely the opponent. So the GOAT is between Roger Federer and Rod Laver; Rod has shown incredible professional conduct on the field.
Faith on May 17, 2020:
PeRFect list. The GOAT Federer is #1 on every website and poll!
Michael on May 17, 2020:
1. Rod Laver
2. Rafael Nadal
3. Novak Djokovic
4. Roger Federer
Jerry on May 17, 2020:
Rod Laver is the GOAT. Rod Laver was absolutely brilliant in winning the Grand Slam twice in 1962 and 1969. This was an absolutely phenomenal achievement to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same calendar year in those 2 years of 1962 and 1969. Rod Laver would have won the most Grand Slam titles of all time had professionals been allowed to play in Grand Slam tournaments from 1963 to 1968. Rod Laver is the greatest male tennis player of all time. The big 3 in Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have never won the Grand Slam, 4 Grand Slam titles in the 1 calendar year. Well done Rocket Rod Laver!
Tennis Observer on May 17, 2020:
Federer is not the GOAT. He has a losing head to head record to Nadal and Djokovic. Nadal is the GOAT. Then Djokovic will be the GOAT. Federer is not as good as Nadal and Djokovic.
Fred on May 16, 2020:
Federer is king of tennis and GOAT.
Rafa is king of clay and bull.
ND is joker.