Top 10 Greatest Men's Tennis Players of All Time

Updated on November 18, 2018
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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 the greatest player ever can be a difficult and very subjective task.

Despite the challenge, here is my list of the ten greatest male tennis players of all-time. I have actually included eleven players here with two greats tied for the tenth position.

10. Ken Rosewall

Ken Rosewall
Ken Rosewall | Source
  • Born: November 2, 1934
    Sydney, Australia
  • 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

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
  • 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

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
  • 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

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
  • 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

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
  • 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

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
  • 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

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 at the number five spot.

4. 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
  • 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

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic | Source
  • Born: May 22, 1987
    Belgrade, Serbia
  • Resides: Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • Turned pro: 2003
  • Career prize money: $119,110,890
  • 71 career titles
  • 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 6 Australian, 4 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 31 years of age and in the late prime years 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, plus he certainly has a lot of tennis ahead of him.

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 become the eight man to secure a career Grand Slam. 2017 was not a good year for Djokovic and the start to the 2018 season proved difficult as he continued to recover from an elbow injury and struggled to find his form. Wimbledon 2018 proved to be the turning point as he defeated Rafael Nadal in a thrilling five-set match in the semi-finals and cruised home in the finals to take the title. His dominating performance in the 2018 US Open makes it clear that Djokovic is the best player in the world at the moment. If he stays healthy there is no reason why Djokovic cannot continue this run into 2019.

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: $100,564,598
  • 79 career titles
  • 17 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 Australian, 11 French, 3 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 32 years of age, the fiery Spaniard, known as Rafa and “The King of Clay,” already has 17 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 11th French Open title in 2018 certainly makes it difficult to imagine anyone being better on clay.

Entering the 2018 season, Rafa’s hip injury continued to plague him and was clearly a factor in his quarterfinal fifth set retirement to Marin Cilic. He rebounded nicely to win his record 11th French Open, a surface he clearly is at home on. 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 to number two.

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: $116,974,122
  • 98 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 record 20 Grand Slam titles speak for themselves, and even at the age of 36, he is still winning and competing at the highest levels. His 310 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 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 at the age of 36, 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? However, his stunning five-set loss to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon 2018, and his round of 16 loss at the 2018 US Open has proven that nothing lasts forever and begs the question, has age finally caught up to Roger Federer?

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

See results

Questions & Answers

  • Why don’t you take into account that almost half of the Federer grand slams were in the first years, before Nadal, Djokovic, etc?

    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.

  • Who is the best men's tennis player on clay?

    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.

  • What do you think about the 1000 masters series complete by Novak? is this achievement worth the upgrade on the list?

    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.

  • After Novak's win at Wimbledon 2018, do you think he deserves to be at number three?

    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.

  • 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.

    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.

© 2013 Bill De Giulio

Comments

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    • profile image

      Todd Saed 

      3 days ago

      Pancho Gonzalez, Ellworth Vines, and Don BUdge were the greatest players, Pancho number one, BUd Collins and Jack Kramer say this, with TIlden, and Laver a close second, then McEnroe, Pancho counting longevity, best on a given day, serving, et al, eight world pro championships in a row, beat Laver, when age 41 made semis at Wimbledon, none have matched his serve speed, accuracy, and percentage combines, best forehand, lobbed, speed, pole axed overheads

    • profile image

      DHE 

      2 weeks ago

      They are all great but the list is too weighted to modern times. It would be like if you asked kids who was the greatest female performer in music history and they said Lady Gaga. Hard to compare eras.

    • profile image

      Fekadu 

      3 weeks ago

      For me player who can be won 2x every GS and 1000 masters is a GOAT. And player will win all the GS the same year.

    • profile image

      NICLAS 

      3 weeks ago

      Djokovic would have won more than 1 Roland Garos. He has the game for the clay... If he wasnt in Nadal era who is with no doubt the best clay player ever, he would have won 3 or more by now.

    • profile image

      Dreni 

      4 weeks ago

      Haha all crying because federer is number one instead of their favourite

    • profile image

      Roy Schaetzel 

      4 weeks ago

      Your basis for ranking is ridiculous. You fail to take into account that Federer and Djokovic won most of their GS's on hard courts and grass. Why do people assume that hard courts should be the basis of the judgement. You note that Sampras did not do well on clay, but you fail to note that Federer and Djokovic only won one GS on clay and that only when Nadal was not around. You suffer from the same ranking disease that most tennis people do - you judge without basis that clay court dominance should not really count.

    • profile image

      Duka 

      8 weeks ago

      Why you are always mentioning that Nadal and Novak has advantage compare to Federer in head to head because of years? Federer played against them when they were teenagers and he was in his prime. Than he was supposed to make advantage (and he did with Novak). Before 2011. Roger has 13:6. Now it is, as you said opposite story. I think that it come to balance and Novak and Rafa proved that they are better

    • profile image

      poop 

      2 months ago

      Look at the poll it isn't even close, you should really just argue for number 2.

      Who on earth thinks that playing the role of "brick wall" deserves a vote anyways?

    • profile image

      JayTipps 

      2 months ago

      Hasn't Federer + Nadal won both won 3 grand slam events in the last 2 years and djokovic won only 2 Sunil ? . NO "advantage over the last couple of years" not on this planet as I see. That's one less than Federer and Nadal over a "couple of years" .Couple is two.

    • profile image

      JayTipps 

      2 months ago

      Nadal " OF ALL TIME" . Djokovic could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Has a shot if he keeps winning bit still a lot to do to be "BEST OF ALL TIME"

    • profile image

      Sunil 

      2 months ago

      over the last couple of years it is clearly evident that Djoko has a clear advantage over Rafa and Roger and his performance stays same at all counts, i.e., grass, clay or hard court

    • profile image

      Robespierre 

      2 months ago

      I do not know who is the greatest, I only know that Djokovic with top game is the best.

    • profile image

      JayTipps 

      2 months ago

      Continued. Nadal is a clay court player won 11 of his grand slam titles on clay only 6 on other surfaces. On the other hand Federer is a grass/hard court player. There are 4 grand slam titles to be won every year 1 hard 1 clay 2 grass. If there were 2 hard 2 clay 2 grass would that mean both Nadal and Federer would have won twice the amount of clay and hard court titles. If so Federer would be on 26 not 20. However Nadal would be on 31 not 17. Also in 3 year less time. Nadal is overall the best tennis player to grace a tennis court (but not on grass).

    • profile image

      JayTipps 

      2 months ago

      I personally think Nadal is the bast ever tennis player at this point in time. Why? .Although Federer has won more Grand Slam singles titles 20 vs Nadal's 17 there is more to it. Firstly Nadal turned pro 2001 as opposed to Federer who turned pro 1998 so has entered 76 gran slam tournaments Nadal has entered only 54 thats 22 less but only 3 gran slam titles behind . This show up as a 87.28% win rate at grand sman events as opposed to Federer who stands at 86.3% win. rate.Head to head stand at 24 vs 15 to Nadal big difference eh. To be continued.

    • profile image

      Alians 

      2 months ago

      all of you have internet! so, statistics aside for now look who sent Fed and Rafa to retirement, two widely considered the best ever!!be objectiv..serv, return, base line game, beckend, passing, defence, stamina, fairplay, surface is not matter...most complete ever!!! this is d Sparta!!! now just a little stats

      fed 2004-2009 24gs 20 finals 14 wins (philipusis, gonzales, bagdatis, soderling, 34 yo Agassi, Safin, Roddick 4x, Hewitt, ...11 gs against them)

      Nadal in the meantime(ferrer, soderling,puerta, berdych,anderson, thiem 0 gs )

      ???? 2011-2016 24 gs 18 finals 11 wins (Fed 4x, Nadal 7x, Murray 7x...) what???what we talking about??

    • profile image

      a;flsjdk 

      3 months ago

      get absolutely outvoted kids. stop trying to nitpick everything.

    • profile image

      Ratko 

      3 months ago

      Have you changed the list? Novak Djokovic Serbian terminator.

    • profile image

      AlexisPnevmatikos 

      3 months ago

      No one ever talks about Ivan Lendl. He played in perhaps the most difficult era with the likes of McEnroe and Borg (and even Connors) and then Wilander, Becker, and Edberg as Sampras coming in. Lendl won 8 slams, played in 8 straight US Open finals, and although he lost his 2 Wimbledon finals appearances, imagine his Wimbledon record on today’s slower grass. Federer came in during a time-of-transition (as Sampras, whom I think was always overrated by the way, was on his way out) and Nadal/ Djokovic were not yet around. Federer and Nadal (who has had no consistent competition at the French over his decade+ of dominance) would be hard-pressed to crack 10 GS if they would have played in the 80s. This, in my opinion, leaves Djokovic (and his all-around game) as perhaps the best (or second best) and the one would have been right in the mix of best players of the 80s.

      So while Lendl doesn’t have the flamboyance of many of the players on this Top 10 list and was never the media-darling like some of the other players, I have no doubt that he should be top 3 in terms of GOAT. So the question begs: Why isn’t Lendl higher on your list?

      My Top 6:

      1. Laver

      2. Djokovic

      3. Lendl

      4. Borg (greatest combination of grass and clay talent; 11 GS in 10 short years)

      5. Nadal

      6. Federer (his French title deserves an *)

    • profile image

      john lynch 

      3 months ago

      my top 3 list is 1.nadal.2.djokovic.3.federer(lance 2).

    • profile image

      William Rothwell 

      3 months ago

      Why on earth is tim henman not in the top 3?????? Im dissatisfied

    • profile image

      Gene 

      3 months ago

      I grew up watching 70's and 80's tennis a lot. Taking the rackets, strings and the hi tech gear of the 21st century out of the equation, if all these players were the same age, I doubt anyone could ever come close to the speed & ability of John McEnroe.

      Also, as a side note, I think Nastase and Becker should also be in your list.

    • profile image

      Tennis fan 

      3 months ago

      Placing Novak at 5 is malicious... The guy won it all. He won all GS and Masters 1000, and he is the first in history to have done it. He is also the first man holding all four GS at the same time on 3 different surfaces(and all that while the two from the list were there). The first two from the list are trembling when they see him on the courth... He beat both of them on their favourite surfaces. He is better tha Fed on Wimbledon 2-1(2 matches won in the final) which is his home courth, He won against Nadal 7 consecutive matches(two times)... He beat them so much that the world hates him... Cuz they were very popular when he came on the scene. In my opinion 1.Novak 2. Rafa 3. Roger... With all respekt, but others from history were not on that level of tennis...

    • profile image

      Anoma Hettige 

      3 months ago

      What exactly do these "all time greatest" top ten types of lists prove? In my opinion absolutely nothing. There are too many variables to group all of these players into one bunch. Each of the player's mentioned and so many others who aren't mentioned deserve to be remembered for that moment in time when they were the greatest - and why can't we leave it at that?

    • profile image

      Igor 

      4 months ago

      Its like There are only Slams for this guy. Djokovic: complete package in all courts. 13 slams. 29 masters. Sampras: 14 slams. Inexistant on clay. 14 slams. 11 masters. And the Guy places him ahead of djokovic. No logic!

    • profile image

      lesliehowardgargan@gmail.com 

      4 months ago

      Surely there's a place for Pancho Gonzales?

    • profile image

      Sardar meena 

      4 months ago

      Nadal is greatest ever......

      When Nadal entered the real tennis games played. Age and peak of player form it's easy to say that Nadal dominance remained in each head to head encounter. He can play great tennis on any surface and he is complete alrounder player in every stroke.

    • profile image

      Joe Dwek 

      4 months ago

      Nadal is undoubtedly the best player ever. If it hadn't been for his continuous mishap he would have definitely surpassed Federer. Federer took advantage of Nadal mishaps to obtain more grand slams. But the record shows head to head Nadal has beaten him eight times more. Federer never won the Olympics, never won the Davis Cup.

    • profile image

      Crash Bandicoot 

      4 months ago

      Why is 10. two times?

    • profile image

      nebojsa 

      4 months ago

      Placing Novak at number 5 while he was playing during Nadal/Federer era... Not just that, he won 13 GS titles while those 2 were active. Rethink your list.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a wonderful list and comparison, Bill. Although, there are a number of other wonderful players I think you have selected the best ten. I also feel at the time of writing Roger Federer has to be regarded as the best, despite Djokovic defeating Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-final and Federer being knocked out by Kevin Anderson. Djokovic could possibly go on to eclipse Federer in time but injuries could play a part..

      Rod Laver is the one hardest to line up and is arguably the best player of all time considering his record, however his short stature 5'7" may have made it difficult to compete effectively with some of the much taller and huge serving players today.

    • profile image

      #lucyintheskies 

      5 months ago

      no one has played prettier tennis ever than Federer has...especially when he was younger, it is like watching ballet-tennis...

    • profile image

      Time Will Tell 

      5 months ago

      I think the argument for "GOAT" is highly subjective and difficult to quantify. That being said, I'm not sure who I would currently put as the best ever—although, I would lean more towards Nadal.

      Federer has 20 grand slam titles and the most weeks at 1st, but Federer began to accumulate these accomplishments with relatively easy competition (Safin, Roddick, Coria, Nalbadian, etc.). Federer had already won 4 Grand Slam titles and began accumulating his 1st place weeks (2004 - 2008) before Nadal was 18 years old. Once Nadal came in to the picture, the "Federer dominance" quickly changed.

      Nadal, on the other hand, entered the world of professional tennis during Federer's prime. Just look at the level of competition he has faced. From the onset, he has faced Federer at his best, only to keep competing with him while Djokovic went on to hit his prime as well. Nadal, and Djokovic as well, have faced the toughest level of competition that any tennis player has ever seen. Both have always had 2 elite level, top-10 players of all time standing between them and the Grand Slam titles. Federer had an easy start.

    • profile image

      Backhanded Compliment 

      5 months ago

      Pancho Gonzalez was one heck of a player.

      At least top 5.

    • profile image

      Tennis player 

      5 months ago

      I asked this question above and it was answered, but I still think that the homogenization of playing surfaces today make it easier for modern players to accumulate slams. In other words, grass is not as fast as it used to be and (I believe but am not sure) the clay is not as slow.

      I think Nadal would have had a tougher time winning Wimbledon on a 90s Wimbledon surface, for instance.

      Consequently, I think the modern players are overrated a bit compared to the greats of yesteryear. When I asked this question, the author essentially responded that the best players rise to the top no matter the surface. However, I think lowering the differences between playing surfaces undoubtedly helps the modern player.

      Therefore, I don't think you should automatically put modern players with greater than 10 slams in the top 5 all-time.

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      GOATORSHEEP 

      5 months ago

      Laver could be considered the best ever, honestly.. but it is admittedly speculative that he would have won many more slams.(though not very...he missed 20 potential slam opportunities all while he was world number 1 and still won 11 total slams.)

      That said, Federer is the best ever and Rafa is not better.

      ...

      Rafa could become better by the end of his career but he isn't right now. H2H is really not a very relevant argument unless you have nearly identical achievements and your matches account for all scenarios.

      for example, a player that is 8-0 against Fed, but with 0 weeks at #1 and 0 slams would not be considered better than Federer.

      Nor would a player that is 8-0 against him, with half as many weeks at #1 and half as many slams...

      Nor would a player that is 8-0 against him with 13 slams and only 200 weeks at no. 1.

      It goes on and on until you eventually get Rafael Nadal. Rafa has 8 more wins than Fed (23-15), but 3 less slams, and ONLY 177 weeks at no. 1.

      Until he has at least equal slams and even ALMOST as many equal weeks at no. 1, then H2H is practically irrelevant.

      I hate when people use the H2H argument to say that Rafa is better. Not only has he had a significant advantage (15 of 38 matched have been on clay), but he is 13-2 on clay and 10-13 on every other surface vs fed,) The only thing that H2H displays is that Rafa is significantly better than Federer on clay, but we already knew that... You don't get the name "King of Clay" for nothing.

      I don't see any of the people arguing for Rafa because of H2H arguing that Novak is better than Nadal, but the H2H argument would make Novak the greatest ever as he has a winning record against both Federer AND Nadal.

      Why don't you argue for him then? He even has 45 more weeks at no. 1 than Nadal!!! It's because he has only 11 slams. You see, H2H is totally unfair and unnecessary unless you are using it as a tiebreak condition. As it stands, the career achievements between Rafa and Federer are not a tie.

      wait until Rafa equals Fed's slams and has at least 90-95% of Fed's weeks at no. 1.

      Even then, remember that Nadal has been fortunate to play 15 of their 38 matches on his best surface, while Roger has only been able to play 3 of their matches on his best surface.

      Doing a little statistics shows you that if their matches had been played evenly across all surfaces, that their H2H would project to be

      Rafa 20.89 wins

      Rog 17.08 wins.

      Doing Statistics so that Roger would get to play 15 of the 38 on his best surface projects the H2H as

      Rafa 16.6 wins

      Rog 21.4 wins

      then you guys would be saying that it's not fair because Federer is better on grass and he played 15 matches on grass.

      It's a stupid argument. No one should use H2H unless every other indicator is basically tied... Otherwise say that Novak is the GOAT... at least you'd be consistent. Or would it be Andy Roddick whos 5-4 against Novak? Or what about Kyrgios who's 2-0 against him?

      Stop it.

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      T Hernandez 

      5 months ago

      Federer is certainly one of the greats and has the best overall record, but if, like in boxing, you have a 15:23 record against an opponent then your opponent is better than you.

      NADAL has beaten him 23 times while Federer has one only won 15. Logic dictates that NADAL is better and therefore the best ever.

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      James 

      5 months ago

      Fred Perry

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      TheGame 

      5 months ago

      Nadal is the GOAT. Beat peak Fed at Wimbledon and AO finals but Fed never managed to even take Nadal to 5 sets at the French in 5 meetings

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      @You 

      6 months ago

      These are BRITISH tennis players

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      Siddharth 

      6 months ago

      Greatest player at Australian is #novak greatest tennis player and my favorite #rafa@ at French open and legend of tennis #fedrer@ at Wimbledon and usopen champion yet .................

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      chekwube 

      6 months ago

      Roger Federer is the best his gram slam awards speaks volume.

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      Roger 

      6 months ago

      I seen Jimmy Connors in his days

      To win 109 titles with three letters I think he should be no 7 not ivan lendl the cry baby.

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      Marta Steinbeck 

      7 months ago

      Why is Rob Laver ranked #3 at all. He should be lower. Borg should be above him. Yes he won the gram slams twice but writers failed to say that 3 of those GS were played on grass and only Roland Garros was played on dirt. Imagine Nadal playing 3 GS on clay court or Fed playing or HC. Also Sampras should be lower too since he couldnt play on clay at all. He was a one trick pony with a fast serve.

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      Prashanta Bardhan 

      8 months ago

      Roger Federer is not only the greatest Tennis player ever, he is the greatest athlete of all time too.

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      Welc Golder 

      8 months ago

      Pete Sampras should be 3 instead of Rod Laver

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      James 

      8 months ago

      Roger federer is the best, it proven!

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      Paul Green 

      8 months ago

      I think Pancho Gonzalez was the great est tennis player of all time. He was the best in the world for about 10 years. Unfortunately, the professionals were not able to play in the major championships until he was 40 years old.

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      Peter 

      9 months ago

      We will never know whether Rod Laver or Roger is the greatest. We can't compare. I go for Roger though as his career coincided with other greats. And what most overlook is that Roger was always the oldest on the court when he clashed with the others in the BIG FOUR club.

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      parviz mofidi 

      9 months ago

      Roger Federer is the GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL . how can people doubt this. some of the other players listed are very good. but Federer is the GOAT.

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      Luke 

      9 months ago

      Now 304 weeks at #1 and counting.

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      9 months ago

      Novak Djokovic beat Federer and Nadal a lot soo he is the best ever

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      Mirgik 

      9 months ago

      Who is the greatest tennis player of all time?

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      Warren R. Moulds 

      10 months ago

      See that wood stick in #4's hands? Only a couple of the top 10 listed here could play with that. Today's racquet technology has completely changed how players prepare, play (power vs. finesse) and strategize on ever-changing surfaces. Me thinks Laver would acquit himself better than #4 and be right there with #1.

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      Mileta Cekoci 

      10 months ago

      You have a computed list based on real facts, rather then opinions, here: http://www.ultimatetennisstatistics.com/goatList

      Thought it is limited to Open Era, but has configurable weights so you can play with what you think is important.

      There are list by each of the surfaces as well, and many more.

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      Gottfried 

      10 months ago

      I would argue that if Rafa was not injured he would actually have "less" titles. Reason being, you have to take it both ways. He has been able to achieve extraordinary success due to his willingness to extend himself beyond even what his body would allow him to. Had he not exerted himself as much, he would have less Grand Slams.

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      MB 

      10 months ago

      It’s Roger Rafa then Novak. They all played in the same era where you have to have an all court game to succeed. Any one of the three would have 25+ slams now if the other two didn’t exist. They will be the top 3 on the slams count and they all have career grand slams already.

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      Sar 

      10 months ago

      Undoubtedly Federer is the greatest of all time.

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      Lucienne Rosset 

      10 months ago

      please correct Tederer's CV: not 19, but 20 Grand Slam titles,

      6 Australian!

      Thanks!

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      Gus 

      10 months ago

      Federer and Nadal the best ever.......?

    • profile image

      DDT 

      10 months ago

      Rafael Nadal is without a doubt the greatest player ever!!!!...IF it wasnt for his injuries he would have won more than 20 Slams

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      B MOHAN 

      10 months ago

      20 grand slam titles; 20 years in the top 10; And the longest tenure as world No:1. Has anyone else achieved this? NO! What other yardstick can be used to select the all-time best ?

      ROGER FEDERER

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      Sajid 

      10 months ago

      Without any doubt the Greatest player Tennis Court has ever saw is none other than THE GREAT ROGER FEDERER. He is the best, phenomenal player of the Game.

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      Benny Seni 

      10 months ago

      The best tennis player of all times without a doubt is Alan Dale Lee. The guys has more grand slams than the number of teeth in his mouth. Just check him out.

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      Nihal 

      10 months ago

      andy murray should be here he is the greatest player of all time

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      Keith beaumobt 

      10 months ago

      Why do they always forget. Ken rosewall

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      Neophytos 

      10 months ago

      Djokovic should be above Sampras in my opinion. Easily. He reached a higher level with an obviously better well-rounded game.

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      Beni 

      10 months ago

      Why don't you have in the list Ilie Nastase? He was better than Bjorn Borg (they played in the same period) and even ATP says about Ilie Nastase that he was the most talented tennis player of all time!

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      Pat Rafter 

      10 months ago

      Obviously written by an American. There are a big list of players who should be above half this list, they just happen to not be Americans.

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      G-man 

      10 months ago

      All these tennis players are great, I have no top pick, but I love Rafa for never giving up and grinding through ever tough match. I do not think there is any tennis player who can match his intensity and focus on court.

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      Mehmood 

      10 months ago

      Where is Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg guys, they were also most popular, loved & great players of their time.

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      Censuwine 

      11 months ago

      What about Wilander? He also won on all surfaces - the Australian Open used to be played on grass when he won it. I would take Sampras out and put Wilander in. Beyond the serve and volley kind of game that is possible on the fast surfaces, Sampras was only marginally above average on the slow courts. He couldn't compete in Paris to save his life.

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      tennis fan Norway 

      11 months ago

      Andy Murray should be on that top 10 list. Winning that many big trophies playing in the same era as Roger, Rafa and Novak is an enormous achievement.

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      Ugljesa23 

      11 months ago

      I don't think there is a single greatest player of all time (there is the most successful though), but the trio of Roger, Rafa and Novak is the best, as each of them has achieved what the other two has not. Why? Federer won 19 Grand Slams (the vast majority of them prior to Nadal-Novak maturing) and is record holder in #1 weeks. On the other hand, he had not beaten Nadal in any GS match for 10 years (!), and has not beaten Novak in a GS final since 2007. He holds negative H2Hs vs both his biggest rivals, and it was only in 2017 that he somewhat improved his devastating H2H vs Nadal. He has never beaten Nadal in Roland Garros, never played 5 setter there, never beaten him in Monte Carlo or Rome. Both Federer and Novak not only achieved what Sampras could not even come close to (RG title), but they did it in Nadal's era. Nadal holds a negative H2H vs Novak, with two 0-7 streaks, the last of which included 0-15 sets. An undisputed champion of clay, the best ever who played on that surface. Novak is to be praised as he fought out his way to accompany these two - unbelievable and undisputed champions of their time - only to find his place on equal terms - holding a positive H2H vs both, having beaten both in each GS, including Rafa 3-0 in RG and on any other Master-series clay court. The only of the three to have won the Grand Slam (the holder of the four in the same time), an ATP points record holder (16950), played 17 consecutive finals and a winner of 8/9 Masters (with 5 lost Cincinnati finals). Novak has never beaten Rafa in RG final and overall lost there 6 times to him. Both Roger and Novak hold negative H2H to Rafa in wins/losses in GS finals. Nole and Rafa played record 50 matches, Nole-Federer 45. So, you see - unless you are a casual tennis fan who believes that his idol pees gold - it is not really that one player is truly the best ever. I believe that this trio is something this sport have never seen and will likely never see again - as they have achieved what they did while constantly playing each other. Once any of them retires, this sport won't be the same.

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      Marko 

      11 months ago

      .First time Djokovic defeated Federer in GS when Federer was 27 yo (it was on AO 2008 in semifinal!) No more no less.And again in 2011, AO semifinal, Federer lost to Novak when He was 30 yo.Wimbledon 2011, Federer lost QF to Tsonga.And so on and on...Federer hasn't won US open for 10 years (last time it was in 2008).On Aussie last time was on 2017, after 7 long years.Wimbledon after 5 years in 2017.Novak wasn't there (finished earlier due to health problems).In those years from 2012 to 2017,it was domination of Novak and Nadal.And it's nothing to do with Federer's old years, but to strong competition.

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      Ryder 

      11 months ago

      Well these tennis players are amazing

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      11 months ago

      ? list is not correct in my opinion

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      orisraeli 

      11 months ago

      nadal is the best

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      todd saed 

      11 months ago

      Pancho Gonzalez beat Rod Laver, Don BUdge beat him, Ellsworth VInes and Jack Kramer could also beat anybody, any era, lack of tennis history knowledge here, big time,Pancho the best, Bud COllins said it too

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      Prashant S Akerkar 

      11 months ago

      It was great watching games between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

      Same with Federer and Nadal.

      Thanks & Regards,

      Prashant S Akerkar

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      dave 

      12 months ago

      borg is the greatest having won 11 slams in a year period .had he not retired would have easy eclipsed the others

    • profile image

      Aj 

      12 months ago

      313131 What are you on about? Federer is the best. Period.

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      313131 

      12 months ago

      Roger at this very moments has the numbers and the needed consistency to be the greatest of all time, but I believe that it's not just about titles. There's competition, rivalries, impact on court, attitude etc. For me both Nadal and Djokovic have something more than Federer. What this is, who knows.. Just feel that they are just a little underrated, especially Novak who's been consistent as hell after 2007, but doesn't get that hype. Anyways, just an opinion, don't kill me.

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      Rahul 

      12 months ago

      Roger Federar is the Greatest and best tennis player of all time....but he knows himself not better than Rafael Nadal

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      Markimark 

      12 months ago

      Correction to my comment below: Only 3 times on grass...

    • profile image

      Markimark 

      12 months ago

      Federer should be number 1 by far! A lot of tennis fans argue about the head to head against Nadal which ja in nadals favour (23:15). But you need to look closer on this aspect. They played 15 times against each other on clay (13:2 for Nadal) but only 3 times on clay (2:1 for Fed). That means that they played almost 40% of the matches on Nadals best surface but only 7 % on Federers best surface. Federer is the better player on the other surfaces except clay. If you take all the other stats into consideration (year end number one, weeks number one, titles, consecutive semifinals and finals at slams) there is on doubt that Roger is the GOAT!

    • profile image

      Jairam 

      12 months ago

      Great ratings Roger Federer is surely the best no one can beat him

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      Reese 

      12 months ago

      I hate Roger Federer Novak Djokovic is the best he beat him 3000 times

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      12 months ago

      real list should be:

      1. federer

      2. laver

      3. sampras

      4. djokovic

      5. agassi

    • profile image

      Yo 

      12 months ago

      It looks like Jimmy Connors just lost a game.

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      Jimmer 

      13 months ago

      There's a reason Federer got 69% of the vote and Nadal got 14%

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      saher ibrahim 

      13 months ago

      pete Sampras is the greatest ever to hold a racket

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      hayden north 

      13 months ago

      roger is the best tennis player of all time for now

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      Rogg 

      13 months ago

      Federer has brought the sport to a whole new level. It’s more than tennis. Just by the stats, he owns that GOAT spot. I believe it shouldn’t only be based on numbers, titles, prize money, etc. When you think of tennis you can’t help but think of Federer. It doesn’t matter if someone surpasses Federers slams, titles in the future, what he has done for tennis and raise it to the platform that is at now will always make him the greatest in history.

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      mike 

      13 months ago

      roger federer should be number one

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      Alan 

      13 months ago

      1. Laver

      2. McEnroe

      3. Agassi

      4. Sampras

      5. Federer

      6. Nadal

      (Do we really imagine Nadal dominating the above guys? I don't think so.)

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      Roger Federer biggest fan 

      13 months ago

      Roger Federer is always called Master Federer by me. I worship him day and night. He calls me his biggest fan. So I believe that he should be at the first position in ATP Rankings.

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      Percy 

      14 months ago

      Would suggest that someone no one mentions as an all rounder as being the greatest of all time is Roy Emerson. He had 28 Grand Slam wins although some before the Open era.

      What is not considered is that

      1. He won bot singles AND doubles at many tournaments This means playing 14 matches NOT 7 and in the days of no tie breaks. From the fitness point of view he must have been a great player.

      Many people today opt out of doubles if they make the finals of the singles or do not play the doubles at all.

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      mabrito67 

      14 months ago

      @PandaBears Federer also lacks an important outdoor hard court title: Olympic Gold Medal in singles. To win all GS plus the OG in singles is called Career Gold Slam, there is no such label for the WTF.

      @Pascal Nadal has won at least 2 GS titles on each surface (hard, clay and grass). Federer only won 1 GS on clay. So Nadal has his GS titles more evenly distributed by surface than Federer.

    • profile image

      Berlin 

      14 months ago

      I think Roger just took the game to a whole different dimension.

    • profile image

      Pascal 

      14 months ago

      Ok let's compare it.

      Nadal is better than Fed on Clay

      Fed is better than Nadal on Grass

      Nadal has 10 clay slam

      Fed has 8 grass slam... For this fact Nadal is better than Roger on his profession.

      Now on hard Fed is better than Rafa, because he won more slam. So for now Fed got to be considered the GOAT, but he played 5 years more than RAFA...Rafa can clearly finished his career as the GOAT, He needs to win a couple more slam on Hard to change the mind of everybody. I think he'll do.

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