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Top 10 Greatest Men's Tennis Players of All Time

Updated on September 12, 2017
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Bill has had a lifelong passion for the game of tennis from his days as a competitive youth player to now following the world's top players.

International Tennis Hall of Fame: Newport, RI

The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum
The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum | Source

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 a greatest player ever can be a difficult and very subjective task.

Despite the challenge, here is my list of the 10 greatest male tennis players of all-time.

10. Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi | Source
  • Born: April 29, 1970
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Turned pro: 1986
  • Retired: 2006
  • Career prize money: $31,152,975
  • 60 career titles
  • 8 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 Australian, 1 French, 2 US Open, 1 Wimbledon
  • 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

John McEnroe
John McEnroe | Source
  • Born: February 16, 1959
    Wiesbaden, West Germany
  • Resides: New York City
  • Turned pro: 1978
  • Retired: 1992
  • Career prize money: $12,547,797
  • 71 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

Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors | Source
  • Born: September 2, 1952
    East St. Louis, Illinois
  • Resides: Santa Barbara, CA
  • Turned pro: 1972
  • Retired: 1996
  • Career prize money: $8,641,040
  • 109 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

Ivan Lendl
Ivan Lendl | Source
  • Born: March 7, 1960
    Ostrava, Czechoslovakia
  • Resides: Goshen, Connecticut
  • Turned pro: 1978
  • Retired: 1994
  • Career prize money: $21,262,417
  • 94 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

Bjorn Borg
Bjorn Borg | Source
  • Born: June 6, 1956
    Sodertalje, Stockholm County, Sweden
  • Resides: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Turned pro: 1973
  • Retired: 1983
  • Career prize money: $3,655,751
  • 64 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. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic | Source
  • Born: May 22, 1987
    Belgrade, Serbia
  • Resides: Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • Turned pro: 2003
  • Career prize money: $106,188,878
  • 66 career titles
  • 12 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 6 Australian, 3 Wimbledon, 2 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 29 years of age and in the prime of his career, Djokovic has the potential to win many more Grand Slam titles. By the time his career is finished, he could very well find himself among the top few players of all-time. But, in the highly competitive world of tennis, he could also succumb to injury and miss out on some of his best years, so the jury is still out on his 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 five all-time. With his 2016 French Open title Djokovic become the eight man to secure a career Grand Slam. His stunning loss at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey ended his Grand Slam winning streak at four and 2017 did not start well for Novak with his stunning second round loss at the Australian Open. He needs to bounce back in a big way going forward in 2017 to convince his fans that his time at the top has not come to en end.

With twleve Grand Slam titles now secured, including the 2016 Australian Open and French Open, and at just 29 years of age, Novak deserves to be elevated to the number five position. The likeable Djokovic certainly has the potential to rise further.

4. Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras | Source
  • Born: August 12, 1971
    Potomac, Maryland
  • 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 behind Laver at the number four spot.

3. Rod Laver

Rod Laver
Rod Laver | Source
  • 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
  • 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.

2. Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal | Source
  • Born: June 3, 1986
    Manacor, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
  • Resides: Manacor, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
  • Turned pro: 2001
  • Career prize money: $89,989,532
  • 74 career titles
  • 16 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 10 French, 3 US Open, 2 Wimbledon
  • 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 31 years of age, the fiery Spaniard, known as Rafa and “The King of Clay,” already has 16 Grand Slam titles and certainly has the potential to catch 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 10th French Open title (2017) certainly makes it difficult to imagine anyone being better on clay.

Rafa has clearly put the wrist injury problems of 2016 behind him and is on a roll and sharp as ever. Now healthy, his epic final against Roger Federer at the 2017 Australian Open and his completely dominating performances in winning the 2017 French Open and US Open make it very clear that Rafa is the best player in the world at the moment. 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 and as such we have elevated his all-time ranking.

1. Roger Federer

Roger Federer
Roger Federer | Source
  • Born: August 8, 1981
    Basel, Switzerland
  • Resides: Wollerau, Switzerland and Dubai, UAE
  • Turned pro: 1998
  • Career prize money: $108,250,560
  • 93 career titles
  • 19 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 5 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 record 19 Grand Slam titles speak for themselves, and even at the age of 35, he is still winning and competing at the highest levels. His 302 weeks ranked as number one in the world is an open-era record. 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 Roger, his consistently high level of play over his almost 19-year career is a testament to his conditioning and ability. His epic 2017 Australian Open victory over Rafael Nadel and his dominating performance at the 2017 Wimbledon Championship prove without a doubt that Roger Federer is indeed the greatest of all-time.

Who do you think is the greatest men's tennis player of all-time?

See results

© 2013 Bill De Giulio

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    • profile image

      PandaBears 18 hours ago

      The only debate now, who is #1 and #2....Both Nadal and Federer have a case for #1 but Roger does have the edge in "overall numbers" and on all surfaces. Nadal has the h2h but lacks indoor numbers especially the year end championship. For now IMO, Fed is #1 and Rafa #2...Rafa needs that year end championship at least once.

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      vojislav milovanović 32 hours ago

      Djoković is Serbian heroy

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      Tiger 3 days ago

      It should be obvious who is the Goat! The player who wins heavily over another in their prime! The one who wins most vs each other in majors! The one who played against the tougher period of players!

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      sanj puth 3 days ago

      2018 aus open will settle all the fuming over goat debate because rafa is gonna win it.

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      Lul 4 days ago

      The head to head vs one particular guy stats does not determine how good u are as a tennis player.

      Federer has the most records of the history:

      Grand Slams, Grand Slam finals, Grand Slam semifinals.

      Consecutive weeks as Nº 1, (237) , Weeks as nº 1 (302).

      6 Master Series Finals Titles.

      And the most important: His playstyle.

      The most orthodox player in the history, grab a tennis book, see how u should serve, how u should backhand and then see Roger in a slow motion.

      And his TALENT, as Mark said 2 days ago, he can hit any shot.

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      Mvin 5 days ago

      You are right Jc. These federer clowns doesnt know rafa dominates roger overall one on one. They are very close in hardcourts and grass total domination on clay... He should dominate Rafa convincingly on hardcourts, grass and clay to be called GOAT... but unfortunately he hasnt... so Rafa is GOAT

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      Mark 7 days ago

      Federer has been in more Grand Slam semi-finals than any other player has been in quarter-finals. He has been in almost as many finals and Nadal has Quarter-Finals. He holds the number 1 and 2 spots in terms of consecutive grand-slam appearances with 10 and 8. He has won more matches at the US Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon than Nadal has won at the French. He has won the second most number of matches at the French (only 15 or so behind Rafa). Meanwhile, Nadal has won slightly over half of the matches at the other slams as Federer.

      Just think about these numbers and consistency/dominance. Also, Rafa plays a very impressive game, but he pushes himself physically perhaps too much. This increases the chance of injury, but helps you win matches.

      Nadal is probably the better athlete, and definitely the best Clay court player (his match against Coria at the French is one of my favorite matches of all time), but I dont think we can call him the greatest tennis player based on stats alone. He still has time, though, but he will need to dominate the sport to a certain degree over the next few years. We will see.

      In terms of raw talent, subjectivity will always rule, but my vote is for Feds. He can hit any shot, and has a grace about the way he plays.

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      mabrito67 10 days ago

      Dear Bill De Giulio.

      Upload the ranking information please! Nadal won his 3th US Open and 16th Grand Slam overall :).

    • profile image

      rene zamora 11 days ago

      you have to be blind or plain stupid if any one thinks that rafa nadal is not the greatest of all time.he has the lead in head to head matches,i will take john McEnroe who says rafa is the greatest-plus all of the americans would be in front if they had played,1rafa nadal 2pete Sampras 3.john McEnroe 4.jimmy conners 5.andre Agassi 6borg-7 lendel 8.novak 9.laver 10.federer, just made it to 10

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      Sid 2 weeks ago

      Nadal is by far the greatest of all time. Federer can never be called greatest with such a low record against Nadal.

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      sumit 2 weeks ago

      Sustaining the injuries is an essential for a player..So Federer is one and only GOAT

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      YOU 2 weeks ago

      actually this is how it should be

      1.Federer

      2.Nadal

      3.Djokovic

      4.Laver

      5.Borg

      6.Sampras

      7.Lendl

      8.McEnroe

      9.Agassi

      10.Becker

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      Larry Coulthurst 2 weeks ago

      Where are the names of Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Jack Kramer and Pancho Gonzales?

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      Uday 2 weeks ago

      Roger Fedrer the best of all time.

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      mabrito67 3 weeks ago

      @Huh? Nadal has won a Masters 1000 on indoor hard courts: Madrid Open 2005. He also won another ATP tournament on indoor clay. Nadal is the only player along with Wilander who has won at least 2 Grand Slam titles on any asurface (grass, clay or hard). Federer only has 1 of 19 Grand Slams on clay. It means only 5% of Federer's Grand Slam titles are on clay. Nadal doesn't have such a low percentage on any Grand Slam surface.

      @Mimi Sampras only has 14 Grand Slams. Nadal has 15. Nadal has won all Grand Slams on all surfaces (hard, clay or grass). Therefore he is more complete than Sampras. Sampras was bad on clay. Sampras never won the French Open, he didn't even arrive to the final of the French Open in his entire career.

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      C-A Bauer 4 weeks ago

      What about Stefan Edberg ?

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      Heather ward 4 weeks ago

      I don't disagree with the top 3 but Andy Murray should be in the top 10. Somebody suggested Pat Cash! Murray's way better than he was. He won 11 out of 12 of the matches the year Britain won the Davis Cup, 2 singles gold medals at the Olympics and 42 weeks at number one.

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      vitaly 5 weeks ago

      roger federer 19 slams the greatest of all time

      been number 1 for weeks then anybody in history

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      Tennis fan 5 weeks ago

      It's obvious Rod Laver would have surpassed Roger Federer with the most grand slams but Roger is the greatest of all time.

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      nicela 5 weeks ago

      @Joel de silva, you are obviously a raffa fan.....it's correct that roger lost way more games....but federer is overall better in games than raffa ;-) i don't think we are gonna discus about this

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      Huh? 6 weeks ago

      Obviously Federer is the GOAT but I'd put Laver as #2 and Nadal as #3. When are people going to admit that Nadal is essentially a clay courter who occasionally wins on other surfaces? One look at his 73 career titles - says it all 53 titles on clay (37 are from just 4 tournments), 20 on other surfaces. His career record in hard court finals? 16 wins, 24 losses. Grass? He can barely stand on the stuff the last 6 years. Indoors? Has he ever won an indoor hard court Masters 1000 event? I don't think so. Plus, he's never won the ATP Tour Finals and has only been in 2 finals. On clay - he's been Superman. Anything NOT CLAY is his kryptonite.

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      Rhianne Gear 6 weeks ago

      Partly agree with list. Top 3 is 100% correct. I'd have Borg 4, Djokovic 5, Sampras 6, Lendl 7, Murray 8, Agassi 9, Becker 10.

      Factors depend on competitiveness of era. 90's weaker era than now.

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      usopentennis2017 7 weeks ago

      Good Post!! Roger Federer has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles. Roger Federer is a great character. visit tennis players http://www.usopen2017livestream.com

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      Paul H Davis, Jr 8 weeks ago

      From the time Roger Federer began his dominance, I have always been an avid supporter as well due to his outstanding character on the courts as well as off. I remain behind him for as long as he represents men's tennis in the most admirable method I have ever witnessed in any sport. He is truly an inspiration to all who play the game.

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      Joel de silva 8 weeks ago

      How could roger be better than Rafa an in there 37 meeting Rafa won 24.federer turn pro in 1998 Rafa in 2001 that's 3 more years making it 12 grand slam with no nadal an about 15 months on injuries.Food 4 taught

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      simon yen 8 weeks ago

      why isn't Roy Emerson in the top 10 who has won 12 grand slam titles?

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      Mimi 8 weeks ago

      Where is Bjorn Borg here????? And I'm sorry but when we talk about dominancy in tennis you have to put Sampras at the number 2 spot, he's been dominated tennis for like 6 years in a row, Nadal never dit that, he has 5 Master Nadal 0. If you erase the clay titles that Rafa has, I don't think he would be in your top 10. My top 3 is definitely: Federer,Sampras and then Laver

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      ishika 8 weeks ago

      why isn't Andy Murray in the top ten?

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      Sanjay HUBBALLI(India-Pune) 2 months ago

      Roger Federer MAN WITH GREAT CHARECTER.

      You are going great, example is 2017 Wimbledon Result!!!

      Keep on playing till you reach 50 years.

      Believe me you can do it.

      Good luck!!!!

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      starman445 2 months ago

      "WHAT IFS" don't cut it.....Actual stats, facts, numbers, and big wins are what we can objectively analyze. Yes, Rod Laver MAY HAVE won more slam titles if he were allowed to play the slams as a professional. Yes Borg may MAY HAVE won more slams if he hadn't retired retired at 26...Those are strong educated guesses but not absolutes. All we can do is be honest evaluating the comparative numbers of what each great player ACTUALLY accomplished during their respective careers.....The author did just that.

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      starman445 2 months ago

      This is an excellent list from top to bottom, unbiased and very fair based on performance....Good Job!

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      Jack 2 months ago

      I think Roy Emerson deserves a spot on this list.

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      Richard 2 months ago

      In an era of ever increasing talent Federer and Nadal are TOTAL dominance

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      Rohan Gupta 2 months ago

      @Mabrito67

      lets not forget the other Hard Court Major...The US Open. You just said that Djokovic won more Australian Opens than Federer, but Federer won more US and Australian Opens combined than any other player. While I agree that Federer may not dominate a specific surface, his longevity and number of Grand Slams won is significantly better than any of his competition. Tennis isn't about one match. It's a whole journey in a tournament. And Federer has clearly had a better major performance than Nadal. So Nadal may be the king of clay, Federer is now the undisputed king of grass thanks to his wimbledon win, and also has won more hard court majors than any other player, making him the best hard court player as well. Let's face it: FEDS THE GOAT

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      Mitz 2 months ago

      FEDERER easily. Yes Nadal has won their head to head but until he spends 5 years ranked #1 and wins more slams, Nadal cant be considered the GOAT. At nearly 36, Federer is still winning slams and playing the best tennis of his career. Nadal is a great athlete but he has to be second in my books. Wimbledon 2017 just proves my argument. Not to mention Federer has won 4 or 5 of his last meetings with Rafa, so the head to head is swinging slowly in Roger's favour

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      niki 2 months ago

      How is this even a discussion? Laver by a mile.

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      John Elliott 2 months ago

      Roger Federer is the greatest player of all time,no one can comes

      close to his ability to place shots his opponent can't touch.

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      piru 2 months ago

      Pete Sampras is the best tennis player ever because he danced when he was playing. had an artistic style and looked like he's flying while runing cathching his ball

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      Evert ten Napel 2 months ago

      Missing Richard Krajicek, Pete Sampras VS Richard Krajicek head2head 6-4 so Richard was a better player then Pete Sampras. My list

      1 Roger Federer

      2 John McEnroe

      3 Stefan Edberg

      4 Boris Becker

      5 Novak Djokovic

      6 Richard Krajicek

      7 Andre Agassi

      8 Fabrice Santoro

      9 Pat Cash

      10 Goran Ivanišević

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      Mahboob 2 months ago

      Surprising to see people doubting Federer's superiority here. Most of them missing the point is he is 5 years older than Nadal & 7 of Novak - at their prime, Roger was a different also. His record in French is relatively poor only because of cutting the path with the by far best ever Clay Court player. Without Rafa, Roger would have won at least 6 more French.

      His W/L ratio in Grand Slam is relatively poor because of long career of almost 2 decades. Overall, his consistency in every type of Court is unparalleled. Apart from age gap, another reason for his poor head to head with Rafa is that most tournaments these days are played on Clay & there is no doubt that Rafa is by far the best clay court player against anyone. If these 2 existed may be 50 years back, this head to head would have been even more skewed to Roger.

      All 3 are outstanding all round players, but Roger is the all round player & great to watch.

      My top 4 will be, in order

      Roger

      Rafa

      Novak

      Lever

      For 5th spot, Borg, Sampras, Lendel has to fight it out, because they don't hold a career grand slam.

      PS: Game has changed lot since Lever era, therefore it's unfair to compare players of different era. Personally, I don't think any player from early 70s or before would have survived modern power tennis, but he is true legend of the game.

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      Ven 2 months ago

      @Michael Hogan Please don't offer an excuse of Borg having a shorter career. He is great no doubt but Federer and Nadal are greater and their Grand Slam titles back this up.

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      Michael Hogan 2 months ago

      Borg had a shorter career than most and would defeat all on this list with losses here and there to Federer or Nadal or whomever but he should be listed as number one. His win/entered ratio is greater and he was second many, many times.

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      ur face 2 months ago

      where on earth is andy murray

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      mabrito67 2 months ago

      @William "Federer is the GOAT of Hard Courts and Grass Courts" Did you ever hear of Djokovic and Sampras? Djokovic has more Australian Open than Federer. And Sampras has exactly the same number of Wimbledon titles than Federer: 7. Finals are not so relevant as titles. Federer needs to win his 8th Wimbledon to be considered the undisputable "King of Grass". Also, Federer doesn't even dominate any Grand Slam like Rafa.

      Record Winning percentage by Grand Slam:

      A. Open: Andre Agassi 90.57 %

      French Open: Nadal 97.53%

      Wimbledon: Borg 92.73%

      US Open: Sampras 88.75%

      Federer doesn't dominate any surface as Nadal does, he doesn't even stand alone in titles on any Grand Slam.

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      mabrito67 2 months ago

      Nadal is the only player in history along with Wilander who has won at least 2 Grand Slam titles on 3 different surfaces (grass, hard and clay). Federer only has won 5% of his Grand Slams on clay. Nadal doesn't have such a low percentage on any Grand Slam surface.

      Nadal has defeated Federer on hard courts and grass on Grand Slams such as Australian Open and Wimbledon. Federer never won any single French Open match against Rafa in his whole life. Federer leads Nadal in the head to head only by 10-9 on hard surfaces and 2-1 on grass for a total of 12-10 outside clay. That 12-10 is very close. Nadal even leads Federer 8-5 in outdoor hard courts, a particular version of hard courts. On the other hand, Nadal leads Federer 13-2 on clay, that's not close, that's domination. Nadal is better on hard courts and grass than Federer on clay. Ergo Nadal is the most complete player ever. Federer is the GOAT because of his 18 Grand Slams, not for being the most complete. Federer only has 1 of his 18 Grand Slams on clay. Federer would need at least another French Open to be so complete as Nadal.

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      Kevon 2 months ago

      How can people say nadal is the goat he is top 3 probably but from 2012 to 2017 when he was aged 26 to 31 he had not made it past the fourth round

      2012 he lost to Rosol 2R ranked 103

      2013 he lost to Darcis 1R ranked 135

      2014 he lost to Kyrgois 4R ranked 144

      2015 he lost to Brown 2R ranked 114

      this was through nadals prime all outside the top 100 in rankings

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      2 months ago

      If u take out French open grand slams for rafa he would have 5 grand slams

      If u take out wimbledon for federer he would have 11 grand slams

      If u took out aus open for djokovic he would only have 6 grand slams federer is the goat over all surfaces

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      William 2 months ago

      Federer is the GOAT of Hard Courts and Grass Courts

      Nadal is the GOAT of Clay Courts

      Sampras only made 1 French Open Semi no way is he the GOAT

      Laver did the Year Grand Slam twice

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      harry 2 months ago

      once again the poll just goes to show people have only have a very short memory. dont bother voting for anyone with ridiculously good stats. i dont see why john mcenroe is even in there, I suppose people remember him well because he whinged so much on court.

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      poti 2 months ago

      it is goood

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      dus 2 months ago

      Fedal is the best.. they both are goats.. rafa have golden slam roger does not.. rafa has more DC. 10thFO is ridiculous record.. it is unfair to say roger is better.. he is´t (23 x 14)..

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      Jc 3 months ago

      Anyone who says Roger over nadal is lying to themselves the man is 23 and 14 against Roger how stupid do you sound saying Roger is better lol. Clowns

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      Lunga Biyela 3 months ago

      Pete Sampras is the greatest tennis player that ever lived. This is not debate.

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      larry 3 months ago

      How can be Federer the best of all time? His face to face record against Nadal is 14-23. It does not even look look close!

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      Rafa 3 months ago

      Rafa the king of tennis

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      mabrito67 3 months ago

      I agree with this new ranking with Nadal as #2, and Djokovic, Laver and Sampras still in the top 5. It seems like most people have a very similar opinion:

      http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/greatest-me...

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      Abhishek 3 months ago

      Federer wasn't the greatest in his era itself! The head to head record against Nadal says it all.

      It has to be Nadal first and then Federer.

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      Commonsense 3 months ago

      Time to edit this! If you are having any hesitation moving RAFA up to 2nd greatest of all time...just speak the following sentence:

      Nadal won the French Open 10 times.

      Federer is #1...Nadal is #2 as of today. As far as the rest of the top ten...they are waaaaay behind these two. As they truly are in a league of their own.

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      sanjeev mundkur 3 months ago

      Roger Federer is by far the best player of all time,followed very closely by rod laver.

      roger because of his ability to play an all court game i.e he can serve & volley as well as trade long rallies from the baseline.

      Rod Laver for his two grand slams which he won in 1962 & 1969 resp in each of those years

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      James Kirby 3 months ago

      Federer is way better than nadal. He is the greatest of all time

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      Dhanushka - Sri Lanka 3 months ago

      Considering injuries hampered Rafa's place in the history ; below is the accurate list -

      1. Nadal

      2. Federrer

      3. Rod Laver

      4 Borg

      5 Novak

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      ASIM KALE 3 months ago

      Bjorn Borg stopped playing tennis of his age 26. I am sure he could of win another 10 grand slam if he would of play another 5 years.

      That is the reason he is the greatest player ...

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      mabrito67 3 months ago

      Wogbait, I agree that Rosewall could be added here. But Pro Slams are not on the same level as Grand Slams. Rosewall was also playing in a weaker era with less professional players. Rosewall is only 5' 7", I doubt with that small complexion he could have won something in modern tennis. On the other hand, players like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic wold be dominant in Rowesall's era.

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      Federer 3 months ago

      Federer the greatest

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      Wogbait 3 months ago

      Haha hilarious not having Ken Rosewall on the list with 8 GS, 4 Wimbledon Finals loses included, 15 Pro Slams (equivalent to GS), 9 Doubles Slams (double slam) & 38 GS Finals appearances (record). 133 titles. 3 DC wins. Maybe do some more research but then again it's just an opinion. cheers

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      Elian 4 months ago

      Terrible selection. Pete Sampras better than Nadal? This is joke. Sampras had less littles than Nadal and never won the french. You should consider and update on this listing.

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      Suszie 4 months ago

      Roger Federer is 1000000000000 better than any tennis playert in the world and there is nothing to stop that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      Tomas 4 months ago

      The real and most fair list would be:

      1. Nadal

      2. Nole

      3. Federer

      4. Laver

      5. Sampras

      You should consider that Rafa and Nole are dominant in the toughest era ever. Federer did most of his success in period where there were no competition, playing matches with roddick, hewitt, ljubičić, nalbandian, safin - all these guys together have 3 grand slams.

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      MAJEED 4 months ago

      Whom ever authored this is very silly.

      How can you put Pete Sampres a head of

      Nadal ,Rod laver, Novak Djocavic?.

      These guys all have one all surface and have made the final of French many times.

      Wher Sampres was not so great on the clay surface. I would put Nadal as Second, Rod 3rd, Novak fourth and Pete 5 th.

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      Felipe 4 months ago

      Imagine these greats, at their peak, playing 3 tournaments in RR format (clay, hard, grass). Who would win?

      1. Borg

      2. Federer

      3. Nadal

      4. Laver

      5. Djokovic

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      max 4 months ago

      I am a very proud Nole's fan. I am a bit disappointed of his current form,but not angry. Having better H2H vs Roger,Nadal and Andy - three greatest players to ever pick up a racket (Andy in return ), plus something which may never be achieved or in a half century ( 4 slams in a row though not a calendar slam ) makes it all staggering facts for Novak and places him among the very top echalon of all times !

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      Robert Lincoln 4 months ago

      Laver`s record, especially being absent from Grand Slams for 5 years, cannot be argued against.

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      Sam 4 months ago

      Novak is better than Nadal, why he has then way less Grand slams? and way less Grand Slam finals?

      Why is Sampras considered better than Nadal? Because he is American? Because having the same number of Gran Slams, he has way less total number of title and Rafa has in front of him during his whole carear Roger to play (Best player of all times), without Roger existing, Rafa could have like 25 Grand Slams.

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      Mike 5 months ago

      How can Novak be at no 5 he should at no 3 at the moment, because he is way more better than nadal and sampras, i don't know what the future holds but he should be among the top 3 at the moment

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      Steve 5 months ago

      Rod laver stands the test of time. Borg! is the Master of Clay with all due respect to Nadal. McEnroe, Connors, and Lendl as well as Agassi, Were present when the sport of tennis be came a nationalized celebrated individual sports accomplishment. No Team Just 1 on 1. The comes Pete...

      With that said Roger I will call the Dodger has stood the test of time. He currently should be listed as the best of all time.

      He will pull the cat out of the hat magic trick at least 2 more time just because he loves the game.

      lets remember that tennis is not at team sport! All of these great players have earned the right to be recognized as they fight to win as individuals.

      the game of tennis

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      Commonsense 5 months ago

      Not having Fed 1, Rafa 2, Djoker 3 shows too much of ignoring facts/data. Rafa and Djoker will be vindicated by the time they retire. Mark my words. At this point, since the Big3 are still winning titles it's almost premature to view this list as if it really matters.

      Sampras: uggg...#2???? Oh no. He was a wimp during last 3-4 years or so...cherry picking tournys...only really trying hard at majors! Ugg.

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      Delsym 5 months ago

      How anyone put Sampras as #2??? He was inept on clay - never even made it to French Open finals, often losing in early round matches. He would #6 in my book behind Djokavic, Borg, Laver, Nadal, and Fed

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      ????????? 5 months ago

      the best is roger federer

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      DR 5 months ago

      You don't mention Jack Kramer or Poncho Gonzales.

      Money and Slams not enough to judge as times change.

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      Deja 5 months ago

      Even if I was not biased I could simply not deny the FedX of Tennis.. Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee... Move like a cat making it look sooooo..easy.

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      Anonymous 5 months ago

      Why does it matter the way they are listed as long as all top 10 are on here. That's all that matters people

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      manoj 5 months ago

      roger federer

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      Dave 6 months ago

      Borg retired at 26, and never played in the Australian Open, as well as retired the year after he won the French. How many more of those would have he had won if he continued to play? Especially in a tournament that he had won the 5 previous years.

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      Michael 6 months ago

      Nadal is as of now, has not achieved to be called better than Sampras... just for the simple reason, he has only been ranked No.1 for only 141 weeks, no world tour final titles.. whereas Sampras has been No.1 for 286 weeks (more than twice the time of Nadal), won 5 Year-end championships, been year end No.1 for 6 times.

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      David 6 months ago

      This post is totally subjective and probably biased. Rafa Nadal should be second. He has the same number of Grand Slams as Sampras, but he has two olimpic gold medals.

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      Kabir Khan 6 months ago

      This is the most disgusting rating I've ever seen. FEDERER IS THE MOST OVER RATED PLAYER OF ALL TIME.

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      Matson 6 months ago

      Borg was awesome

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      Darin Glanville 6 months ago

      agree with all except for Djokovic.

      he has yet to earn the place you have given him

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      Yash 6 months ago

      In what universe is Sampras ranked above Rafa? Rafa matches him in # of slams, but also has won all of them, over Federer and Djokovic of all people, plus more Masters 1000 wins and better h2h against his opponents. How can you say Rafa needs to diversify slams when Sampras only won on fast courts?

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      Tennis Fan 7 months ago

      Even though tennis ratings tend to be biased toward modern players, it is hard to keep Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic out of the top 5 all-time. Sampras, the consensus #1 player before Federer came along, also must be in the top 5--I would say at #2 or #3.

      Arguments can be had regarding the other places, however. I think Don Budge, Pancho Gonzales, and Bill Tilden deserve consideration for top 10 status (in that order.) Laver was also great, but I think he was overrated based on his double grand slams. The first was amateur and he would have been pasted by the pro players in the early 60's (as he was when he turned pro.) Players who saw the old-time players said that Laver was unbeatable for a couple of years (e.g., ~1968-1970), but wasn't the best of the old-time players. I think Jack Kramer thought Don Budge was the best. Unfortunately, Budge's shoulder got hurt in World War II training and he was never the same. Even after the injury, though, he could still beat great players on the pro tour.

      I think its true that those players were not in the same shape as today's players, but I think you have to judge them on their talent and drive. Ask yourself if you dropped them into today's world how long it would take them to establish themselves at the top.

      One reason I think today's players are overrated in terms of their versatility is the fact that Wimbledon is not the same grass court that it was in yesteryear. Also, the rackets make it easier to defeat a serve-and-volley player because you can get things back easier. I don't think today's players would be able to beat Sampras on 90's grass with 90's-era rackets. I think a player like Nadal would not have won at Wimbledon against a player like Sampras.

      All of the top 5 players have weaknesses. Djokovic needs to rack up more slams to be considered greater than others in the top 5. Nadal's versatility is a bit overrated I think because of the slower grass and today's technology favoring players like him, and also because he has less majors than Fed. Federer's weakness is his poor head-to-head record against Nadal, even if you factor out the fact that he would faced Nadal on clay more often than on other surfaces since Nadal did not always advance to the later rounds on hardcourt/grass surfaces. It's not clear that Federer is the #1 player of his era. Sampras never won the French or was very competitive on clay.

      Ultimately, my top 5 would be similar to yours, except Nadal would be #3 and Laver would be #5 or lower.

      #1 Federer

      #2 Sampras

      #3 Nadal

      #4 Djokovic

      #5 Bjorn Borg

      #6 Don Budge

      #7 Pancho Gonzales

      #8 Rod Laver

      #9 Ivan Lendl

      #10 Jimmy Connors

      #11 Jon McEnroe

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      Alex 7 months ago

      Sorry Bill but I do not agree with you based on what you have said about Nadal needing to win more GS on other surfaces for you to have him moved up. To me he is already better than Sampras. People tend to believe the FO is less significant than the other slams and therefore not giving Nadal his credit. Let's look at his weakest performing slam AO. He's won it once but been to 3 finals. The 2 finals where he had lost he was the favorite to win and compare that to Sampras weakest surface FO best performance SF once. Not only did he never won it he's never made past the SF! Besides Nadals 9 FO he had 2 Wim 2 USO 1 AO and an Olympic gold on hardcourt. Thats 2 grass and 4 hardcourts. He is clearly the more all round and adaptable player with similar career success. I'll give Nadal the edge

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 7 months ago from Massachusetts

      I have Nadal at number 4? The reason being 9 of his Grand Slam titles have come at the French Open. In my opinion he needs a few more titles on other surfaces, perhaps then I will consider moving him up.

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      Alex 7 months ago

      I do not understand why you have placed Sampras in at no.2 and Nadal at no.6. I am not a Nadal fan but I find it hard to comprehend how Nadal can fall 4 rankings lower than Sampras when in fact he has the same amount of grand slams (winning on every surface) has a gold medal, more master 1000 won, holds well against his greatest rivals head to head and still being an active player. The only things he may not fair well with Sampras are end of the year finals won and weeks at no.1 and that's because the he's playing in the same generation as the goat and Djokovic.

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      Gyalten Tashi 7 months ago

      Roger federer is the all time greatest tennis plyer in history

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      charliking 7 months ago

      Rafa the 6th!!! Are you kidding?? How can he be the 6th if we has a record against the 1st of 12-23 (+11) IN FAVOR? He is the second in number of GS being 5 years younger than Roger and only tied with Pete Sampras who have retired! There you lost all credibility...

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      Salameh 7 months ago

      How could u put rafa in 6 !!?

      Rafa has more tittle than novak ni gr and the same with sampras ,, he is still 30 years old and has chance to win maybe 16 or 17 gs tittle , rafa deserve to be in the top 3 !

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      John 7 months ago

      Rafa 6th????are you kidding me??

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      Ram 7 months ago

      Roger The Greatest ever to play the sport

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      Miyaji 7 months ago

      Very nice article, congrata!

      It's funny that everyone who disagrees with Federer being The GOAT always use his matches against Nadal as a definitive proof...

      Well, Nadal has a negative retrospect against Davydenko and won almost only on clay... who is better?

      The Toro Miúra is the best player of all time on clay (but I dont know who would win a RG final against Borg or Kuerten)

      Roger Federer is without a doubt The best of all time!

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      Pierre 7 months ago

      We need to distinguish between the "best" and the "most successful" players. Federer is without a doubt the "best" player of the modern era. His grace, fluidity, power and precision is simply unmatched. It's a joy to watch him play. Rafa and Novak are much better "athletes" and this helped them get where they are today. I think Rafa's ranking is correct. First, he has a very defensive game (he's a human backboard) and second, he relies too much on his physical strength. Roger and Novak can win even though they are not 100% fit, Rafa can't.