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25 Greatest Tennis Players of All Time

Trying to figure out the 25 greatest tennis players of all time can seem like a daunting task for a lot of people out there.

The game has changed so much throughout the years, making it virtually impossible to make direct comparisons. However, this list is based more on how players fared against the competition, as well as their overall play.

25. Lleyton Hewitt

SurfaceWins %
Hard70.2%
Clay 63.2%
Grass 75.9%
  • Grand Slams Won: 2

Just making it into the top 25 is Lleyton Hewitt. The Australian reached #1 at a very young age, and his overall career success started younger than most players in general. By the time he was 21 years old, he already had a U.S. Open and Wimbledon title to his name.

Unfortunately, that would be the only two career Grand Slams for him. He’s another casualty of the Roger Federer era, constantly going up against him and other greats during any deep runs in tournaments.

24. Andy Roddick

SurfaceWins %
Hard75.5%
Clay 63.6%
Grass 79.6%
  • Grand Slams Won: 1

Winning only one Grand Slam title might not be impressive to the average person, but Andy Roddick had the challenge of coming up through the ranks at the same time as Roger Federer.

If not for Federer, he likely would have won a few more trophies along the way. He reached #1 in the world and dominated during the U.S. Open run, but he was a mainstay in the top 10 for quite a while as well.

23. Thomas Muster

SurfaceWins %
Hard63.6%
Clay 77%
Grass N/A
  • Grand Slams Won: 1

Before there was the King of Clay in Rafael Nadal, Thomas Muster held the distinction in the 1990s. He won the 1995 French Open, but he dominated in plenty of tournaments on clay courts as well.

Forty of his 44 career tournament wins all came on dirt. Not a lot of people talk about him currently, but he was as tough a player as any in his prime.

22. Gustavo Kuerten

SurfaceWins %
Hard62.3%
Clay 69.9%
Grass N/A
  • Grand Slams Won: 3

There’s no doubt that Gustavo Kuerten deserves mention on this list, but he is a specialist for the most part. He had some mild success on other surfaces, but clay courts are where he made his name.

He took home a total of three French Open titles, and became an icon in Brazil for his consistent play.

21. Ille Nastase

SurfaceWins %
Hard66.1%
Clay 79%
Grass 72.4%
  • Grand Slams Won: 2

His two Grand Slam titles in singles only tell part of the story, as he was able to pick up five more in some form of doubles.

He might not be the most complete player of his era, but he was a matchup nightmare for all the greats when he squared off against them.

20. Stan Wawrinka

SurfaceWins %
Hard63.8%
Clay 66.4%
Grass 50%
  • Grand Slams Won: 3

For as much as people talk about the Big Three or Big Four of this current era, Stan Wawrinka deserves mentioning as well. He’s a winner of three Grand Slam titles, and has shown that he can beat the best of the best when it matters most.

A bit of a late bloomer, Wimbledon has been his only weak Grand Slam of his career. He’s only reached the quarterfinals twice, and has never been beyond that. However, winning a Grand Slam in 2014, 2015, and 2016 put him in the top 25.

19. Jim Courier

SurfaceWins %
Hard70.6%
Clay 68.5%
Grass 62.2%
  • Grand Slams Won: 4

There are tennis fans who sometimes forget just how dominant Jim Courier was during his prime. He made a huge statement winning a pair of titles at the French Open and Australian Open for his career.

Not having the same amount of success at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open probably contributes to him not getting some of the recognition he rightly deserves.

18. Arthur Ashe

SurfaceWins %
Hard75.8%
Clay 70.6%
Grass 78.6%
  • Grand Slams Won: 3

Three Grand Slam titles and 33 career titles only tell part of the story of Arthur Ashe. He became the first African-American to win a Grand Slam title on the men’s side, and his activism off of the court makes him a legend.

Now decades after his passing, he still remains one of the biggest faces for the fight against AIDS.

17. John Newcombe

SurfaceWins %
Hard73%
Clay 71.1%
Grass 78.5%
  • Grand Slams Won: 7

The Australian finished his career with five Grand Slams, but is often overlooked by some of the greater players from his country.

He’s another guy who had an outstanding doubles career, but his singles alone made him a Hall of Famer.

16. Guillermo Vilas

SurfaceWins %
Hard69.9%
Clay 79.7%
Grass 70.2%
  • Grand Slams Won: 4

Playing from the baseline at a time when many were not, the left-hander found a way to play against the best in the world and win consistently.

He became the first player from South America to ever win a Grand Slam event on the men’s side. He finished his career with four Grand Slams, but he might most be remembered for his 16 ATP tour championships in one season in 1977.

15. Stefan Edberg

SurfaceWins %
Hard78.6%
Clay 68.3%
Grass 78.6%
  • Grand Slams Won: 6

As the game started to evolve, Stephen Edberg still heavily relied on the serve and volley. He used his size and athleticism to get to the net, and that helped him win six Grand Slams.

He was also a great doubles player, holding the #1 ranking in the world in singles and doubles at one point in his career.

14. Boris Becker

SurfaceWins %
Hard77.4%
Clay 66.3%
Grass 82.3%
  • Grand Slams Won: 6

When Boris Becker was on grass or indoor carpet courts, it was nearly impossible to beat him. The winner of three Wimbledon championships, he finished his career with six Grand Slams overall.

He didn’t have as long of a prime and some of the others on this list, but he could beat anyone in a single match.

13. Mats Wilander

SurfaceWins %
Hard72.6%
Clay 76.7%
Grass 74.6%
  • Grand Slams Won: 7

Winning Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces can be a huge challenge. There’s only a handful of players who have done that, and Mats Wilander is one of them.

Even though he never won Wimbledon, he did win the Australian Open when it was on the grass. He was a strong all-around player who could dominate in doubles as well.

12. Ken Rosewell

SurfaceWins %
Hard72.6%
Clay 78.8%
Grass 78.8%
  • Grand Slams Won: 8

Like Rod Laver, Ken Rosewell came along when the Open Era was just beginning. He has six Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, with an additional six before. His dominance at an older age shows just what he was possible of if he came along a little bit later.

It’s hard to imagine that Rosewall would dominate in today’s game standing only 5‘7“ tall and under 150 pounds, but he made it work during his prime.

11. Andy Murray

SurfaceWins %
Hard76.8%
Clay 69.5%
Grass 82.7%
  • Grand Slams Won: 3

In his prime, Andy Murray was every bit as good as any of the Big Three tennis players. Unfortunately, he had a relatively short prime, as injuries cut his career short compared to the others.

He still walked away from the sport with three Grand Slam titles, and recently made a comeback to continue playing the game he loves.

He made history winning his second Grand Slam title in 2013, as he broke the long cold streak for British tennis players at Wimbledon. He would then win another Wimbledon title in 2016.

Much like Lendl, he sometimes gets overlooked for just how many finals he made without winning the title. As a perfect example, he’s made five finals at the Australian Open, but never hoisted the final trophy.

10. Ivan Lendl

SurfaceWins %
Hard82.6%
Clay 81%
Grass 75%
  • Grand Slams Won: 8

Getting to Grand Slams finals was never an issue for Ivan Lendl. However, out of all the finals he reached, he only won eight Grand Slams.

Losing 11 drops him a bit, but he was still a complete player nobody wanted to face in his prime.

9. Jimmy Connors

SurfaceWins %
Hard83.1%
Clay 76.8%
Grass 83%
  • Grand Slams Won: 8

The longevity of Jimmy Connors career has boosted him a bit, but it’s hard to put him any higher than this. He finished his career with eight Grand Slams and 109 titles, and he helped shape the modern game with his style of play.

He liked to play from the baseline and go for big shots, even when most of tennis was still serving and volleying. A great doubles player on top of singles, he’s one of the most well-rounded players of his era.

8. John McEnroe

SurfaceWins %
Hard81.6%
Clay 72.1%
Grass 85.8%
  • Grand Slams Won: 7

For a guy who is so well known for his outbursts on and off the court, some forget just how good he was. The left-hander from the United States finished his career with seven Grand Slams, and he became an icon in the sport fairly early on.

During the tennis boom, nobody was bigger, and he had rivalries with Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, and Ivan Lendl at some point.

7. Andre Agassi

SurfaceWins %
Hard78.9%
Clay 72.7%
Grass 73.5%
  • Grand Slams Won: 8

The beauty of Andre Agassi‘s game allowed him to excel on all different surfaces. He is one of the few players to achieve the career Golden Slam, meaning that he won all four Grand Slams and Olympic gold.

Despite that success, he found the majority of his dominance on hard courts. This is where he could get a good look at every single return, and dictate points even as the returner.

6. Björn Borg

SurfaceWins %
Hard76.3%
Clay 86.1%
Grass 81.8%
  • Grand Slams Won: 11

In his short career, Bjorn Borg was able to accomplish a lot. He finished with 11 Grand Slams, and was the first to dominate the French Open and Wimbledon in the Open Era.

He was the greatest clay-court player of all time until Rafael Nadal hit the scene, but it was his all-around game that caught attention from the very beginning.

When he first burst on the scene in the 1970s, that playing style was very much ahead of his time.

5. Rod Laver

SurfaceWins %
Hard82.6%
Clay 75.6%
Grass 84.8%
  • Grand Slams Won: 11

Perhaps this is a bit low for some, but it’s very hard to compare eras that are so far apart. Laver had the distinction of the greatest tennis player of all time at one point, but the way tennis changed from a playing and business perspective hurt him.

He only won five Grand Slams, but that’s because he was playing right during the start of the Open Era. The left-hander could spin the ball anywhere, and had put-away volleys that were unseen at the time.

The greatest Australian men’s tennis player ever now has an arena named after him in Melbourne.

4. Pete Sampras

SurfaceWins %
Hard80.6%
Clay 62.5%
Grass 83.5%
  • Grand Slams Won: 14

Just a couple of decades ago, many labeled Pete Sampras as the greatest tennis player of all time. A lot has changed in the sport, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve at least a little bit of consideration near the top.

He finished with 14 Grand Slams and 64 career titles, and he was nearly impossible to beat on grass courts and very fast hard courts.

One of the greatest servers of all time, there’s no telling what he could be able to do with modern technology to improve his game even more. Pistol Pete never had clay-court success, which is what will ultimately keep him out of the top spot.

3. Rafael Nadal

SurfaceWins %
Hard77.8%
Clay 91.5%
Grass 78%
  • Grand Slams Won: 22

The King of Clay is thought of by some as the greatest tennis player of all time. He is certainly the best player ever on clay court, as his 14 French Open titles are likely never to be touched.

He’s shown that he can play on other services as well, picking up a Grand Slam at the other three a total of eight times.

Off of clay, his main rivals are superior. That’s why some people will put him third. It’s just a matter of what is weighed most importantly in tennis. His determination keeps him in any match.

2. Roger Federer

SurfaceWins %
Hard83.5%
Clay 76.1%
Grass 86.9%
  • Grand Slams Won: 20

It’s perfectly fine to say that Roger Federer is the best tennis player of all time. He’s very close, and having 20 Grand Slams to his name will keep his name in the discussion for quite a while.

This question a few years ago was Federer and Federer only, but now he has company.

There are really no holes in Federer‘s game, other than having just one French Open title. The big reason why that’s the case is that Rafael Nadal won them all during his prime.

He’s been as consistent as any player in tennis history, and even as he approaches 40 years old, he still is a Grand Slam threat.

1. Novak Djokovic

SurfaceWins %
Hard84.3%
Clay 80.5%
Grass 85%
  • Grand Slams Won: 20

Many would say that this is the year Novak Djokovic finally took over as the greatest tennis player of all time. Some might think this pick is a bit controversial, but it’s hard to argue with the statistics.

Djokovic is younger than the players #2 and #3 players on the list, and the most likely to add Grand Slams to his résumé. He also has the most variety of Grand Slam titles, winning at least two at every major championship.

Djokovic also leads in Masters titles, and has the greatest finals win percentage. He spent the most weeks at number one in the world, and has finished as the year-end #1 seven times. For all those reasons, this is a justifiable choice.