Greatest Tennis Players of all time "GOATs"
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Greatest Tennis Players of all time GOAT:
NOTE1: This is really the greatest tennis players of all time, the top guys on the list are contenders for GOAT IMO.
NOTE2: This is just my ranking based on research and comments from many other knowledgeable tennis historians. Will consider and appreciate any comments for changes or additions to these evolving lists.
NOTE3: This listing is based on majors which can be considered differently depending on era. One breakdowon has Gonzales with 24, Rosewall with 24, Laver with 19, Federer with 20. Another has Rosewall with 20, Laver with 19, Federer with 20, and Gonzales with 15, Tilden, and Sampras with 15. Nadal with 19 and Djokovic 16 may reach the Federer count of 20. Federer may still win another and was soo close losing 5 set Wimbledon to Djokovic in 2019.
- GOAT ranking by major championship wins (pre-open wins are subjective)
- 1 - Rosewall 24
- 2 - Laver 19
- 3 - Federer 20
- 4 - Nadal 19
- 5 - Djokovic 16
- 6 - Gonzales 15
- 7 - Sampras 14
- 8 - Tilden 14
- 9 - Borg 11
- 10 - McEnroe 7
- Laver - Only player to win 2 grand slams with 180+ overall titles.
1st 1962 Grand Slam in a depleted amateur field, 2nd in 1969 in a field packed with great players, the only 'true' Grand Slam in history.
Rod Laver actually has the equivalent of 3 grand slams since he won every significat pro event in 1967. If it had been an open tennis year, I feel that Laver would have won the Grand Slam plus all the major titles outside of the Grand Slam as well. (Equivalent to today to winning the Grand Slam and all of the Super 9 events).
He turned pro in 1963. Was Number#1 from 1964 to 1969, 5 straight years. He never played well at a Slam anymore after 1969, but was arguably still the best player around in 1970-1971, as he won plenty of big tournaments, was the prize money leader by far, and regularly trounced the slam winners, Newcombe, Rosewall, Ashe, in other tournaments.
Was at his best on grass and indoor, but showed he could be an all-court player by winning the French Pro agains Newcombe in 1968, RG against Rosewall in 1969, and Rome in 1971 against Kodes (who would win RG later). Won around 20 'True Grand Slam', around 40 big 'Super 9-like' tournaments (by my count), and at least 180 events over all !!!!
- Rosewall - Played and won past 40 years of age with approx. 23 major titles (amateur and pro) 4 Slams
Youngest ever to win the Australian or French. Almost won Grand Slam in 1955 except for loss to Trabert and Ken stopped a Hoad Grand Slam in 1956 Did not win Wimbledon (but made two finals there in the 1950s) 6 doubles titles in Slams. Helped Australia win 3 Davis Cups. Won the Davis Cup, the Australian and Roland Garros when he was 19! He turned pro in 1957 and quickly showed he was second only to Gonzales. In 1960, with Pancho semi-retired, he became the Number#1. 1962 and 1963 were extremely dominant, "Grand Slam-like" years. Became #2 to Laver from 1964 on. Had a great come-back during Open tennis, beating Laver in RG 1968, winning the US in 1970 and 2 more Australian Open. Reached Wimbledon and Forest Hills finals in 1974, aged 40! Probably won around 120 tournaments. Will be forever the best player never to have won Wimbledon. He's the best all-court player of all-time, being able to beat all-time greats such as Hoad or Laver on wood or grass, and being the clear-cut Number#1 on clay throughout the 60s.
- Gonzales - Longevity and titles make Pancho a strong GOAT choice. Eight straight years as world pro champ.
Great amateur years in '48-'49, wining back-to-back Forest Hills, plus many big tournaments (PSW Los Angeles, US Indoors, Newport,...). One of the main pros right from his debut year in 1950, winning Wembley and and the US Pro indoors. Arguably the Number#1 in 1952 when Kramer semi-retired (though Sedgman came up very strong too). Maybe the best again in 1953, but we'll never know since Kramer didn't allow him to compete in his tour. A clear Number#1 from 1954 to 1959, six straight years. He retired several times in the 60s, but incredibly had each time amazing come-backs, winning the US Pro Indoors in 1964 over Laver, the BBC2 Wembley event over Rosewall and Laver in 1966, the Las Vegas Open in 1969, and the PSW Los Angeles in 1969 and 1971!!! In terms of will-power, probably the greatest ever. Only drawback: his main achievements were on very fast surfaces, and he never did as well outside of the US than inside.
- Federer - Dominated 2000's very much like Sampras in the 1990s, and unlike Sampras won the French in 2009 and then Wimbledon 2009 to break open tennis slam championship record. (*Nadal could not defend 2008 championship). Rafael Nadal is the main reason why Roger can not be the Open GOAT since he has a 12 vs 22 win/loss record against Nadal.
- Nadal - As of June 2019, Nadal has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles, a record 26 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and the amazing "La Decimina" 10 French Open Slams. Best ever and never to be broken in the opinion of any sane tennis historian. Proved to the best player in the world in 2009 and dominated everyone including Federer. In 2010 won 3 of 4 slam championships and held onto #1 for complete year. If Rafa ties the open record of 16 slam titles achieved by Federer then rise above Roger in this GOAT ranking based on the winning head to head. Nadal is the king of clay with 10 FO titles and only one loss in this decade of dominance. In 2011, Rafa was only able to defend his FO title, a red-hot Djokovic won the other 3 major championships and Federer was shutdout for the 2nd straight year, although he did win the year end final.
- Sampras - Failure to win the French Open limit Pete's GOAT considerations. Pete's outstanding record at Wimbledon is tops against all GOAT contenders and is only equaled by Lawn Tennis Great Willie Renshaw's who won under the Challenge Round era. Both Tilden and Gonzales were ranked No. 1 longer than Pete and Kramer was number 1 approx. the same duration.
14 Grand Slam titles, 5 Masters. A Renshaw-tying 7 Wimbledon. 6 straight years as #1.
- Djokovic - Novak is rising fast in the GOAT rankings. He has completed against two of the all-time greats, Federer and Nadal winning a dozen (16) slam championships including seven (7) AO titles, five (5) Wimbledon, three (3) USO title, and one (1) French Open. Novaks 2016 FO completed a career slam. The 2016 FO also was a non-calender year grand slam and increases his total to an active 12 total. As of 2019 Novak has 16 slam wins and looks adding more for the 2020 decade.
- Budge - Only other player to win the grand slam. Don maybe the GOAT if you consider he was the only player to achieved the incredible feat of winning the Wimbledon triple (singles, doubles, mixed) in back-to-back years.
Don had major bad luck (bad injuries, and WW2). First Grand Slammer, but in quite a depleted field for this time (he would never have won the French, on his weakest surface, had former champs Perry and Von Cramm been around). Totally dominated the pros in 1939 and 1940. Was injured in '41, went on to dominate again in '42 but in a very small pro tour because of the war. Probably the best player in the world in 1937-1940 and 1942, and could have been the best ever if he hadn't had his best years during WW2.
- Tilden - Longevity and titles make Bill a strong GOAT choice, top player dominated for 6 years almost without losing. Bill dominated the 1920's and was still a factor till almost 1940.
Bills amazing 10 amateur Slams with 6 Davis Cup: 1920-1925 winning streak was finally broke in 1926 losing a match.
- Vines - Did not win a slam like Budge but pretty dominate over the same era and even Budge himself considered Vines the true champion of the 1930s decade
- Kramer - Number one and dominated for half a decade against some of the best pre-open players ever
- Perry - One of only 4 players to win all 4 slam finals and also won double titles for each slam. Fred won eight slam singles titles and was also a table tennis and golf champion.
- McEnroe - Dominated 1980..1985 in both singles and doubles and Davis Cup which is rare for open players Considering total ATP titles, McEnroe eclipses many ranked above. MCenroe 77 (plus 71 doubles titles) Fed has 63, Sampras has 64, Nadal - 42, Lendl 94, Connors 109, Laver 199, Agassi on 60
- Borg - Short career and failures at the US Open drop Bjorn considerations even though his slam accomplishments and winning percentage over 82% were probably tops for years played
The best clay-courter ever (maybe tied with Rosewall). Won 6 RG, losing to only 1 player in all his career. After passing in 1977, came back in 1978, and destroyed the whole field, losing only 32 games and 0 sets, embarassing defending champ Vilas in the final. He was able to adapt his game to grass, and won 5 straight Wimbledon, including 3 RG-Wim doubles. Lost 4 US finals. Was N°1 for 3 or 4 years. He retired at 26. Some more years on the tour and a US victory, and he could be THE G.o.a.t..
- Hoad - Short career and consistency failures dropped Lew but was almost the 3rd grand slam winner if not for Rosewalls comeback win in the US Open final 4 Slams Won 3 Slams in one year Never won the U.S. 6 doubles titles in Slams Helped Australia win 3 Davis Cups Defeated Trabert in a classic Cup match in 1953 Often tipped as the best ever on his best day
- Cochet - Lacoste and Cochet were Tilden's toughest rivals, and they would be more-or-less tied at No. 2 for the 1920s.
- Lacoste - See Cochet above.
- Connors - Number one and only player to win US Open on grass, clay and hard courts. Longevity and titles get Jimmy added to this list.
- Lendl - Number one and dominated 1985..1990 against some of the best open players ever
- Agassi - Career slam and number one ranking in the open era get Andre added to the list
Criteria for Greatest Tennis Players of all time GOAT:
- List considers world champions and championships rather than just open slam titles
- Players who have no weaknesses are favored thus greatly helps to have championships on all surfaces or major tournaments where top players played
- The competition; number of mutiple number #1 and championship players that the player faced in career
- Greater longevity and durations of dominance is favored over shorter careers and shorter periods of dominance
- Consider dominance over several years with adjustments for quality of opposition and tournament. (More DOT than ELO Ratings).
- Below are GOAT the considerations stated by "SgtJohn" from the TW boards. I feel these are excellent issues to be considered.
- criteria for a statistical analysis MUST be fair for all players through the history of modern tennis: 1877-2013.
- the direct consequence of above is that only 2 factors can be taken into account: Majors won, and Year-End rankings.
- - Dominance during peak years (this needs to refined further)
- - H2H record against contemporaries. We don't have complete draws and match records for the amateurs before the early 70s, so that's impossible to take into account, unfortunately.
- - number of tournaments won (including pro match series) This is unfair to pre WW2 players on the one hand (travel made it difficult to play a complete season in Europe the US and elsewhere), and to pro players on the other hand (between 1947 and 1960 there were really few tournaments, the nadir took place in 1954-1956, so Gonzales for one is really hurt by this particular figure)
- - number of matches won/lost in a career. Even for guys like Lendl or Connors we don't know this number very accurately, so it's reliable only for post-1990 tennis history.
- - percentages of match play career and best year. Same issue as above.
- - number of Masters, Super Nine events and their equivalents (say 9-10 most important events pro year). I worked hard on this for a while but finally think it's unfair and favoured a fractional majors system
- - some extra points for different surfaces, especially grass and clay (for versatility). This hurts the players who lived in an era when there was almost no diversity (late 60s pros). Plus it seems like a recent concept, I feel that winning on different surfaces has been considered a great feat only for 20 years or so...
- 2 Basic Criteria that needs to be considered
- 1 - Majors tally. I have my own list and methodology that has been discussed at length here, but it's not the be-all end-all and everyone can have a go.
- 2 - Rankings. There are some really hard to rank years, but it still seems possible to write a top 10 for every year with the available information.
- NOTE: figures about longevity or best 5-years period can of course be deduced from the 2 basic ones listed above.
Greatest Tennis Players by Decade:
John Hartley, 1879
1880s W. Renshaw / Sears___ Bingley Hillyard
1890s R. Doherty (really NO dominant player) / Josha Pim / Wrenn Dod / Atkinson
1900s H.L. "Laurie" Doherty / Larned___ Douglass Chambers
1910s Brookes / Wilding (tie) ___ Douglass Chambers / Mallory
Bill Tilden - 7 US and 3 Wimbledon titles
Don Budge - 1938 Grand Slam and winner of record 6 consecutive GS's
Note that Budge himself considered Vines the true champion of this decade.
Ellsworth Vines, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1937 & Fred Perry, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937
Jack Kramer - The best professional for most of the decade. Riggs was a tough 2nd and if not for the war, Budge probably would have dominated as even stated by Jack Kramer
Bobby Riggs, 1941, 1943-1945, 1946, 1947
Pancho Gonzales - 7 or 8 years as World No.1 (7 straight US Pro & 4 Wembly Pro)
Competed against many alltime greats including Kramer, Segura, Sedgman, Laver, Rosewall, and Hoad.
Best amateur of the 50s is debatable between Sedgman, Trabert and Hoad. Sedge had great Davis Cup (DC) victories against the US teams, won two clear Forest Hills titles 51/52, the last without losing a set i think. In 52 he won DC, Wim and US, in Wim all 3 titles (singles, doubles, mixed).
Trabert was great at French (RG) and US, won RG 54/55, the last American before Chang. After his loss to Rosewall in sf Australia, he won the last 3 of the Grand Slam. Then he turned pro, losing a bitter hth series clearly to Gonzales, however on indoor wood and carpet, not on hard and clay, where he had grown up. Had to deal with Hoad and Rosewall.Won DC 54 in Sydney among the biggest crowds ever.
Hoad wasn't that successful until 56, had his best matches at DC, at the majors, he lost some tight and some clear big matches to Patty and Drobny. Had his best year in 56, winning big in all surfaces. Did the Paris-Rome-Hamburg clay triple, which was emulated only by Laver. Dominated Rosewall, but lost the very last match of the Grand Slam, under heavy wind at Forest Hills to Rosewall in four sets. In 57 he played inconsistenly, but had his best performace in his demolition of Cooper at Wimbledon.
Pancho Gonzales, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959
Rod Laver - World No.1 1964-70. Double Grand Slam 1962(am) & 1969(open era), and Pro Grand Slam in 1967 (US Pro, French Pro, Wimbledon Pro, Wembly Pro) Rosewall a formidable No. 2 for this decade
Jimmy Connors & Bjorn Borg (tie) (Connors: 5 straight years as YE No.1 and consecutive weeks as No.1 record holder) (Borg: 5 straight Wimbledon's and 6 French Open's. 1978-80 French/Wimbledon double) The 1970s go to Borg over Connors based on Bjorns winning percentage and greater number of slams
John McEnroe & Ivan Lendl (tie) (McEnroe: World No.1 1980-84) (Lendl: World No.1 1985-88 & 8 straight US open finals) I prefer Mac based on his allcourt play and dominance in doubles
Pete Sampras - 6 straight years as YE World No.1 & Grand Slam record holder in singles. Record 7 Wimbledon's
Roger Federer - 18 Slams Championships. 5 straight Wimbledon's. World No.1 for record 173 straight weeks.
Roger has the 2000s already locked up but the king of clay is Rafael Nadal and Rafa and the best player from 2008 on is Nadal. Many had already starting claiming Federer as the new GOAT but 2008 started putting an end to talk as Federer has a losing record against Nadal, his main rival during his career. As of 3/20/2009 with Nadal injured an unable to defend Wimbledon title and play at full strenght at the French, Federer was able to surpass the Sampras 13 slam championship record .
Djokovic - Novak may very well be the GOAT by 2010. As of 6/2016 Novak has a dozen (12) slam championships including six (6) AO titles, three (3) Wimbledon, two (2) USO title, and one (1) French Open. Novaks 2016 FO completed a career slam. The 2016 FO also was a non-calender year grand slam and increases his total to an active 12 total. 2019 has now passed and Novak has 16 total.
Three (3) Greatest Tennis Players by Decade:
Note: This is preliminary list compiled by Carlo Giovanni Colussi as posted on the TW boards 4/2009 and Carlo stated that "my list could change a little in future years when I will have collected more results and have made numerous new analysis. Sorry for not listing women but I'm not competent at all"
1. Hartley, 2. James Dwight, 3. Hadow
- 1880's men
1. W.C. Renshaw 2. J.E. Renshaw 3. Lawford
- 1890's men
1. Joshua Pim, 2. R.F. Doherty, 3. Wilfred Baddeley (4. M.D. Whitman)
- 1900s men
1. H.L. Doherty, 2. W.A. Larned, 3. R.F. Doherty (4. Brookes who had a top career which started in the mid-1900's and ended in the mid-1910s)
- 1910s men
1. Wilding, 2. Johnston, 3. R.N. Williams (?)
- 1920s men
1. Tilden, 2. Cochet or Lacoste (4. Johnston)
- 1930s men
1. Vines, 2. Perry, 3. Budge or Nusslein (5. possibly Tilden) (Budge was the greatest of the three if we judge their entire careers but in the 30's Budge was "absent" until 1934 included)
- 1940s men
1. Riggs, 2. Budge or Kramer (there is no doubt that Budge and Kramer were better than Riggs but if we select only the years from 1940 to 1949, Riggs was the best in particular because Budge injured in 1943 and Kramer was not a very great in the first half of the 40's)
- 1950s men
1. Gonzales, 2. Segura, 3.Kramer
- 1960s men
1. Laver, 2. Rosewall, ... 3. Gonzales (4. Gimeno)
- 1970s men
1. Borg, 2. Connors, ... 3. Nastase
- 1980s men
1. Lendl, 2. McEnroe, 3. Wilander
- 1990s men
1. Sampras, 2. Courier or Agassi
- 2000s men
1. Federer, 2. Nadal, 3. Hewitt
- 2010s men
1. Nadal, 2. Djokovic , 3. Murray
60's : Gonzales was possibly the best in 1960, was #2 in 1961 at 90% (or #1 at 10%), #3 in 1964 (and could have finished at #1 or 2 had he played the South African pro tour) and from 1965 to 1967 in the pro ranks didn't play much and in particular didn't enter most of the majors but on one tournament could beat everyone and if we compare him with the best amateurs in 1967 he beat Stolle something like 5-2 in direct meetings, Stolle being close to the amateur #1 spot in 1966 (Emerson, Roche, Stolle and Santana were all very close that year) with his wins in the Davis Cup, the US amateur and the German amateur. In 1968 or 1969 he was still able to win events equivalent to the Super 9 or Masters 1000 (Pacific Southwest and Howard Hugues Open in 69). Gonzales was better than Gimeno in 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969 (Gimeno was better in 1962-1963 because Gonzales only played 1 match in 2 years and was better than Pancho in 1966-1967 only because he played throughout those years while Gonzales only played half of the time but in direct meetings Gorgo continued to dominate Andres).
When Gimeno played the same circuit than Emerson, Gimeno was slightly better than the Aussie, be it in 1960 (until July) or in 1968 and 1969 so we can guess (but I recognize it isn't a proof at all) the Spaniard was better than Emmo between late 1960 to 1967. We can also guess that in 1966-1967 Emerson and Stolle were close. In 1967 Gimeno had always better results in the pro ranks than Stolle (except in the South African tour in September) and in direct meetings Gimeno beat Stolle that year 8 matches won to 2. In fact in 1967 Gimeno was very close to Rosewall and Stolle was less good than Laver-Rosewall-Gimeno and even Ralston in the pro ranks. So it is very likely that in 1967 Gimeno was superior to Emerson assuming that Stolle and Emerson were close that year (I recognize a great hypothesis). Gimeno was never the #1 in any given year in the 60's but he greatly rivalled the best pros (for instance in 5 years (1963-1967) Gimeno won 22 tournaments where he beat either Laver or Rosewall and in particular 7 tournaments where he beat both giants. I don't think Emmo would have been able to do that). When Gimeno and Emerson played again the same circuit in 1968 both had equivalent results but Gimeno led 6-2 in head-to-head that year. In conclusion I don't even see at all Emerson in the Top4 of the sixties. I think that in his very best years Emerson was at best the #4 in the world. Emerson certainly not : in his best years he was never in the Top3.
Last remark about the 60's : From 1960 (French Pro) to 1971 (Australian Open) among the 31 majors (here I take into account the 3 Pro Slam tournaments, Wembley-French Pro-US Pro, from 1960 to 1967 and the true Slam events from 1968 to 1971 (I slightly get beyond the pure 60's) where either Rosewall or Laver entered (so it includes majors where both players entered) 29 of them were won by those 2 giants of the game. Astonishing: Rosewall won 16 such majors in that period and Laver won "only" 13... Only Ashe (US Open 1968 ) and Newcombe (Wimbledon 1970) could break that gigantic series!
The advantage of this list is that we have always the same events (at least from 1960 to 1967) but sometimes one of these events hadn't always very strong fields.
If I pick up in my own list (which is of course subjective and therefore debatable) of the 4 greatest events of each year of the 60s (see other relataed posts on TW board) :
Rosewall won 17 or 18 of them, Laver 17, Gonzales 4, Ashe 1 and Hoad 0 or 1. It is probable that I underrate a little bit the amateur players's feats but I don't think too much.
Of course we can't judge players only on their results in majors because many other criteria (proposed by members of that forum such as urban, jeffrey, and others) shall be used (number of years No. 1 (but some years the #1 is unclear), dominance during peak years, head-to-head records against contemporaries, number of tournaments won (including pro match series), number (and percentage) of matches won/lost (consistency), number of Masters, Super Nine events and their equivalents, consistencsome extra points for different surfaces, especially grass and clay (for versatility), quality of opposition (the most difficult criterion to rate), etc...).
In the 70's there is no doubt about Borg the best and Connors his second. The 3rd place is very debatable.
Newcombe would be an obvious choice had he been consistent but if you clearly see his record there are huge "gaps".
In 70, 71 and 73 he won each year the greatest event by far of those years (Wimby 70, 71 and Forest 73) but in each of these years his record outside those events was weak and in my mind he was never the #1 of any of these calendar years. In 1971 he could have been the best but he failed miserably in the US Open (he lost to Kodes who himself in his turn lost to Smith) and because he injured in the doubles of that event he missed nearly all the end of the season. I think that in 70 and 71 Laver was probably the best and in 73 Nastase was without any doubt the best. Let's continue with Newk : in 74 he was perhaps the #2 (very good WCT record), in 1972 he was possibly #6 and in 1975 he was close to the Top10 (except his win from Connors in the Australian he almost did nothing because of injury and mental burnout). So if we consider the entire decade Newk was far from being a top player all along (he was almost absent in the second half of that decade).
I think that Nastase as #3 in the 70's is not a bad choice though Nastase had no consistency at all but however I think he was better than Newcombe. Nastase won 4 or 5 majors (that is equivalent of the modern Slam tourneys) if I consider my own subjective list (US Open 72, Garros 73, Masters 73 and Masters 75 (I don't know if the Italian 73 was one of the majors). It is comparable to Newk's stats (Wimby 70, Wimby 71, US Open 73, WCT 74).
Nastase was globally better ranked than Newk in the whole decade. Nastase was in the Top10, 7 years in a row : from 1970 to 1976. In 1977 he was close to the Top10 (and #9 at the ATP ranking) and in 1978 in the Top20 so Nasty had better years than Newk in the 70's.
For instance in 1973 Nastase lost as many matches as Newcombe (around 16 matches each) but won twice as many matches as Newk (around 114 for Nasty while Newk only won about 57 matches), that year Nastase won 17 tournaments while Newk only won 4 (or 5 or 6 I don't remember).
In 1972 Nastase was #2 but had many successes, 12 tournaments wins including the US Open (the greatest event of the year), the Masters where he beat at last his nemesis of the year (Smith). Newk had never such "full" years. Newk's best year in terms of consistency was 1974 when he won 10 tournaments and was perhaps the #2 behind Jimbo.
In the 70's only, Nastase won 75 tournaments (including 56 "ATP statistics" tournaments) whereas Newk won "only" 32 tournaments (in their whole career Nastase won 87 tourneys and Newcombe 70).
In terms of versatility Nastase won majors on every surface (US Open on grass, French on clay, Masters on indoor court, and also on outdoor hard court (though they weren't majors until Flushing in 78 )) while Newk never won a major on clay (his best win on that surface was the Italian in ... 1969 so outside the 70's).
In head-to-head meetings Nastase led Newcombe something like 5-0 in the 70's (Newcombe's only win from Nasty was in October 1969 at Las Vegas in the 1st round so once again out of the 70's).
In terms of potential on grass, the very best Newk was clearly superior to the best Nasty : Newk was the best grasscourter of the first half of the 70's whereas Nasty was a bit lucky to win Forest Hills because he didn't meet either Smith (beaten by Ashe), Newcombe (defeated by Stolle), Laver (injured), Rosewall (then Nastase's true nemesis) and he sort of distracted Ashe in the 4th set in the final. But on slow surfaces Nastase was clearly better than Newk because Nastase had a very better all-around game than Newk.
I forget other criterias but in my mind there is no doubt that if we consider only the 70's Nastase was ahead of Newcombe (and Smith who was as Newk pretty absent from 1975 to 1979). But there is no doubt that in the 60's Newk was clearly better than Nasty.
In the 80s Wilander was clearly the #3. Many think that Becker or Edberg should deserve that place but they just forget that around half of Becker's and Edberg's feats were realized in the 90's. If we just consider the 80's Wilander was superior to Boom-Boom and Stefan : in particular Wilander had a great record before 1985 while Becker's and Edberg's was virtually nil in the first half of the 80's.
About the 90's I can't really decide between Courier and Agassi. Both had many downs. Agassi wasn't good at all in 1993, 1997 and Courier in the late 90's. Agassi won on every surface (Courier failed at Wimby in 1993) but Agassi was never a #1 except in 1999 and even in that year it was by default because had Sampras not injured at Indianapolis, Pete would have probably won the US Open and therefore would have been once again #1.
Courier, he, was clearly #1 in 1992 and not by default at all and in 1991 he was perhaps the #1 (for the moment in my opinion Edberg was the best in 91 but I wouldn't swear) and in head-to-head, Courier led Agassi 6-3 in ATP events of the 90's (1-2 in the 80's). So I'm not sure that Agassi was ahead Courier in the only 90's (but in the 2000's Agassi's record is not far from his 90's record while Courier's 2000's record is virtually nil).
In the 2000's apparently almost everyone seems to think that the Federer-Nadal-Hewitt is the winning trio in that order.
- Male Singles Number One #1 Player (by year since 1877)
- 1877 : Gore
- 1878 : Hadow
- 1879 : Hartley
- 1880 : Hartley
- 1881 : W. Renshaw
- 1882 : W. Renshaw
- 1883 : W. Renshaw
- 1884 : W. Renshaw
- 1885 : W. Renshaw
- 1886 : W. Renshaw
- 1887 : W. Renshaw/Lawford
- 1888 : E. Renshaw
- 1889 : W. Renshaw/Hamilton
- 1890 : Hamilton/Pim
- 1891 : Lewis/Baddeley/Pim
- 1892 : E. Renshaw/Baddeley
- 1893 : Pim
- 1894 : Pim
- 1895 : Pim
- 1896 : Baddeley
- 1897 : R.F. Doherty
- 1898 : R.F. Doherty
- 1899 : R.F. Doherty
- 1900 : R.F. Doherty
- 1901 : Larned
- 1902 : H.L. Doherty
- 1903 : H.L. Doherty
- 1904 : H.L. Doherty
- 1905 : H.L. Doherty
- 1906 : H.L. Doherty
- 1907 : Brookes
- 1908 : Larned
- 1909 : Larned
- 1910 : Larned
- 1911 : Wilding
- 1912 : Wilding
- 1913 : Wilding
- 1914 : McLoughlin
- 1915 : Johnston
- 1916 : Williams
- 1917 : Murray
- 1918 : Murray
- 1919 : Patterson/Johnston
- 1920 : Tilden
- 1921 : Tilden
- 1922 : Tilden/Johnston
- 1923 : Tilden
- 1924 : Tilden
- 1925 : Tilden
- 1926 : Lacoste
- 1927 : Lacoste
- 1928 : Cochet
- 1929 : Cochet
- 1930 : Cochet
- 1931 : Tilden(7)/Vines
- 1932 : Vines
- 1933 : Crawford
- 1934 : Perry
- 1935 : Perry/Vines
- 1936 : Perry/Vines
- 1937 : Perry/Vines(5)/Budge
- 1938 : Budge
- 1939 : Budge
- 1940 : Budge
- 1941 : Perry/Riggs/Kovacs
- 1942 : Budge(5)
- 1943 : Riggs/Kovacs
- 1944 : Kovacs/Riggs
- 1945 : Riggs
- 1946 : Riggs
- 1947 : Riggs(6)/Kramer
- 1948 : Kramer
- 1949 : Kramer
- 1950 : Kramer/Segura
- 1951 : Kramer
- 1952 : Gonzales/Sedgman
- 1953 : Kramer(6)/Segura(2)
- 1954 : Gonzales
- 1955 : Gonzales
- 1956 : Gonzales
- 1957 : Gonzales
- 1958 : Gonzales/Sedgman(2)
- 1959 : Gonzales/Hoad
- 1960 : Gonzales(8)
- 1961 : Rosewall
- 1962 : Rosewall
- 1963 : Rosewall(3)
- 1964 : Laver
- 1965 : Laver
- 1966 : Laver
- 1967 : Laver
- 1968 : Laver
- 1969 : Laver
- 1970 : Laver(7)
- 1971 : Newcombe
- 1972 : Smith
- 1973 : Nastase
- 1974 : Connors
- 1975 : Ashe
- 1976 : Connors
- 1977 : Borg/Vilas
- 1978 : Borg
- 1979 : Borg
- 1980 : Borg(4)
- 1981 : McEnroe
- 1982 : Connors(3)
- 1983 : McEnroe/Wilander
- 1984 : McEnroe(3)
- 1985 : Lendl
- 1986 : Lendl
- 1987 : Lendl
- 1988 : Wilander
- 1989 : Becker/Lendl
- 1990 : Edberg/Lendl(5)
- 1991 : Edberg(2)
- 1992 : Courier
- 1993 : Sampras
- 1994 : Sampras
- 1995 : Sampras
- 1996 : Sampras
- 1997 : Sampras
- 1998 : Sampras(6)
- 1999 : Agassi
- 2000 : Kuerten
- 2001 : Hewitt
- 2002 : Hewitt(2)
- 2003 : Roddick
- 2004 : Federer
- 2005 : Federer
- 2006 : Federer
- 2007 : Federer
- 2008 : Nadal
- 2009 : Federer(5)
- 2010 : Nadal
- 2011 : Djokovic
- 2012 : Djokovic
- 2013 : Nadal(3)
- 2014 : Djokovic
- 2015 : Djokovic (4)
- 2016 : Djokovic (2)
- 2017 : Federer (2) Nadal (2)
- 2018 : Djokovic
- 2019: Nadal(2) Djokovic (2)
- Male tennis players No. 1 since 1913 (See notes below list)
- 8 years Pancho Gonzales, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960
- 7 years Bill Tilden, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1931
- 7 years Rod Laver, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970
- 6 years Jack Kramer, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953
- 6 years Ken Rosewall, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1970
- 6 years Pete Sampras, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
- 5 years Roger Federer, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004
- 5 years Fred Perry, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1941
- 5 years Don Budge, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942
- 4 years Novak Djokovic 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011
- 4 years Ellsworth Vines, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1937
- 4 years Bjorn Borg, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980
- 4 years Roger Federer, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
- 3 years Rafa Nadal 2013, 2010, 2008
- 3 years Henri Cochet, 1928, 1929, 1930
- 3 years Bobby Riggs, 1941, 1946, 1947
- 3 years Jimmy Connors, 1974, 1976, 1982
- 3 years John McEnroe, 1981, 1983, 1984
- 3 years Ivan Lendl, 1985, 1986, 1987
Above rankins based on below wikipedia webpage:
Below are some of the comments from "chaognosis" TW poster who was one of the contributing authors.
The Number 1 rankings above is ontroversial ... though it is a good attempt at correcting the obviously false all-amateur 'number one' rankings you find in books like Bud Collins's Total Tennis. The problem, of course, is how to weight amateur success and pro dominance in the pre-open years. The original author of that article I know to be a big fan of Pancho Gonzales, and he has written many of the tennis articles so that they are 'pro-Gonzales' in one way or another. I myself am less inclined to give the pros a free pass over all the amateurs from 1948-1967. For example, Hoad's lackluster pro debut in late 1957 does not PROVE that he was 'under the best pros' in his great year 1956 ... it rather shows that he was not well suited to the pro format, though he did improve in 1958 and '59. Also, I find it very hard to compare Emerson's great amateur years in the mid-60s with Rosewall/Laver as pros; much like comparing amateur Perry and pro Vines in in the mid-30s.
In my own view, Cochet should retain number one status in 1931 over Tilden (this would be controversial). Perry should be the undisputed number one for 1934-36, and Budge for 1937-38, leaving Vines only 1932. Kramer I believe was better than Riggs already in 1946 and remained at number one into the early '50s. I give Hoad 1956, but the rest of the mid-to-late '50s go to Gonzales. Rosewall has 1961, '63, possibly '64, while Laver gets his Grand Slam year (1962) and the late '60s. I put Newcombe second to Laver in 1967, and I give him full number one status in 1970 and '71, and possibly even '73 (though I could be biased as I much prefer him over Nastase).
For the open years, the article makes many of the right calls. Ashe was the true number one for 1975. I give Vilas 1977, but Borg certainly gets 1978-80. McEnroe gets 1981, '83-84, while Connors was number one in 1982 for his Wimbledon/US wins. Lendl gets 1985-87, then Wilander gets 1988 and Becker gets 1989. Edberg has his two years (1990-91), followed by Courier (1992), then six straight years for Sampras ... though Agassi is a close number two in 1995. Agassi gets 1999, Kuerten gets 2000 (narrowly over Safin), Hewitt has two years (2001-02). I actually give Federer 2003 over Roddick, on the basis of Wimbledon and the form he reached at year's end, winning the Master's Cup. That is a close call though. And of course, Federer at number one for 2004-present.
Below are some of the comments from "urban" TW poster who was another contributing author.
The Wikipedia article was originally, as Chaognosis said, made by editor, who favored Gonzales quite a bit, was revised by a French contributor, who dug deep into the researches of McCauley, Sutter and others.Alongside some other guys, I did some contributions on the discussion side, which went into the article. Yes, it is sometimes controversial, but on the other hand, the ATP webside stats, on which most journalists and so called experts rely, are highly incomplete or simply wrong. You only have to look on the ITF webside and the many events in the early open era, which are completely ignored by the ATP, to see that. The problem for pre open era is, that it is speculation, to rank the pros against the amateurs, because they played different circuits. As Chaognosis points out, who knows, what Hoad would have done in his great year 1956, with all the pros in the field. So its more a compilation of the professional Nr. 1 over the years. Also, in the early 70s, its difficult to reconstruct solid rankings, because there was no computer ranking, and many majors were played by depleted fields. For instance for 1970, on modern ranking calculations, on the basis of the gradual points system of majors, Super Nine Events, and smaller events, Laver would have been Nr. 1 with ca. 1100 points, with Rosewall second with 950 points, and Newcombe, the Wimbledon winner, a distant third. I agree with some observations by Chaognosis, but i would rank Nastase over Newcombe in 1973, due to his more consistent record. The ATP computer rankings, with its often intransparent arithmetics, didn't tell always the true story: Connors certainly wasn't Nr. 1 in 75, or 77, or 78, but he was real Nr.1 in 1982, when the computer had Mac first.
Misc statistics and records of many great players
Austrailian Singles Champion 1960,62,69
Austrailian Doubles Champion 1959-61,69
Wimbledon Singles Champion 1961,62,68,69
Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1971
US Open Singles Champion 1962, 69
US Open Doubles Champion 1960, 70, 73
French Open Singles Champion 1962, 69
French Open Doubles Champion 1961
1967 is worth listing since Rods achievements of winning all the major events equivalent to a Grand Slam
U.S. Professional Indoor Championships, New York City
Madison Square Garden Professional Championships, New York City
World Professional Championships, Oklahoma City
U.S. Professional Championships, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Wimbledon World Professional Championships
French Professional Championships, Paris
London Indoor Professional Championships, Wembley Arena, London
Laver won a total of 19 titles in 1967
This achievement may have been the most dominating year of tennis ever
GRAND SLAM RECORD
Wimbledon Singles 1920-21, 30
U.S. Singles 1920-25, 29
Singles finalist 1918, 19, 27, 29
Doubles 1918, 21-23, 27
Doubles finalist 1919, 26
Mixed 1913-14, 22-23
Mixed finalist 1916, 17, 19, 21, 24
French Singles finalist 1927, 30
Newport '1919 (just after WW1, there were very few european tournaments, so my fourth slam apart from Forest Hills, Wimbledon and Davis Cup had to be American. As the US champ's had just moved from Newport, the tournament there had still very much prestige...). Paris World Championships on clay 1921 His 10 amateur Slams 6 Davis Cup: 1920-1925 (in 1926 he lost one match for the first time, and thus doesn't qualify as a 'winner' of the Cup. Johnston deserves that honor as he managed to beat Lacoste.) That's 18 titles. It doesn't include any pro title, as Tilden was prominent in a time when the pro tour was not at the same level as the amateur slams...
U.S. Singles 1948-49
French Doubles 1949
Wimbledon Doubles 1949
Forest Hills 48, 49
US Pro Indoors 50, 52, 64
Wembley 50, 51, 52, 56
Berlin World Pro 52
US Pro 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61 (the '58 US Pro was too depleted, and there were too much other big tournaments that year, so it didn't make it on my list)
US Pro Hard Courts 54, 55
New York MSG Pro 54
Scarborough Pro 55
Forest Hills Tourn. of Champions 56, 57, 58
Los Angeles Masters Pro Round Robin 57
Geneva Gold Trophy 61
Australian Singles 1938
French Singles 1938
Doubles finalist 1938
Wimbledon Singles 1937-38
Mixed finalist 1936
U.S. Singles 1937-38
Singles finalist 1936
Doubles 1936, 1938
Doubles finalist 1935, 37
Mixed finalist 1936
Australian Singles 1938
French Singles 1938
Doubles finalist 1938
Wimbledon Singles 1937-38
Mixed finalist 1936
U.S. Singles 1937-38
Singles finalist 1936
Doubles 1936, 1938
Doubles finalist 1935, 37
Mixed finalist 1936
GRAND SLAM RECORD
Australian Singles 1953, 55, 71-72
Singles finalist 1956
Doubles 1953, 56, 72
Doubles finalist 1955, 69
French Singles 1953, 68
Singles finalist 1969
Doubles 1953, 68
Doubles finalist 1954
Wimbledon Singles finalist 1954,56, 70, 74
Doubles 1953, 56
Doubles finalist 1955, 68, 70
Mixed finalist 1954
U.S. Singles 1956, 70
Singles finalist 1955, 74
Doubles 1956, 69
Doubles finalist 1954, 73
Mixed finalist 1954
Davis Cup '55 (in 1955 there were very few pro events...I currently count US Pro, US Pro Hard Courts, and Scarborough Pro as 'pro majors' (though the last two are debatable, I admit. The fourth major is then the biggest amateur major, that usually was, before the Open era, the Davis Cup)
Wembley '57, '60, '61, '62 '63 '65
French Pro '58, '60, '61, '62 '63 '64 '65 '66
US Pro '63 '65
Los Angeles Pro (not sure if it was a Masters Pro Round Robin or not though?) '60, Geneva Gold Trophy '62, Rome Italian Pro '63
French Open '68, US Open '70, Australian Open '71, Dallas WCT Finals '72
Wimbledon Singles Champion 1947
Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1946-47
US Open Singles Champion 1946-47
US Open Singles Finalist 1943
US Open Doubles Champion 1940-41,43 & 47
US Open Mixed Champion 1941
US Open Mixed Finalist 1940
Pete Sampras holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles: 14
Singles Champion - 1994, 1997
Singles Finalist - 1995
Singles Semifinalist - 1993, 2000
Win-loss record at the Australian Open: 45-9
Singles Semifinalist - 1996
Singles Quarterfinalist - 1993, 1994
Win-loss record at Roland Garros: 24-13
Singles Champion - 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
Singles Semifinalist - 1992
Singles Quarterfinalist - 1996
Win-loss record at Wimbledon: 63-7
Singles Champion - 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002
Singles Finalist - 1992, 2000, 2001
Singles Semifinalist - 1998
Singles Quarterfinalist - 1991
Win-loss record at the US Open: 71-9
Australian Singles 1934
Singles finalist 1935
Doubles finalist 1935
Wimbledon Singles 1934-36
Doubles finalist 1932
Mixed 1935, 36
U.S. Singles 1933, 34, 36
French Singles 1935
Singles finalist 1936
Mixed finalist 1933
Australian Singles 1956
Singles finalist 1955
Doubles 1953, 56-57
Doubles finalist 1955
French Singles 1956
Doubles finalist 1954,56
Wimbledon Singles 1956-57
Doubles 1953, 55-56
Doubles finalist 1957
U.S. Singles finalist 1965
Doubles finalist 1954
Mixed finalist 1952, 56
- More stats for these GOAT contenders will be added as available ...
Discussion of the GOAT picks from GOAT candidates and great tennis writers and authors
Allison Danzig-1. Tilden 2. Cochet 3.Budge 4. Lacoste 5. Kramer 6. Perry 7. Johnston 8. Laver 9. Vines 10. Gonzalez and Emerson
Harry Hopman-1. Tilden 2. Budge 3. Perry 4. Laver 5. Cochet 6. Lacoste 7. Johnston 8. HL Doherty 9. Vines 10. Gonzalez and Emerson
Lance Tingay 1. Tilden 2. Budge 3. Laver 4. Gonzalez 5. Hoad 6. Perry 7. Cochet 8. Wilding 9. HL Doherty 10. W. Renshaw.
Bud Collins picked (from my memory) Laver, Sampras, Borg, Gonzalez and Tilden I believe a few years ago.
Tony Trabert picked Laver as number one but I think Jack Kramer was up there also.
Vic Braden picks Jack Kramer as the best he had ever seen.
Arthur Ashe in the early 1980's picked Borg as best he had seen but also wrote Gonzalez and Laver were there with Borg.
Jack Kramer picked Budge, Vines as the two best with Budge as the day in and day out best but also in tier 1 was Tilden, Perry, Riggs and Gonzalez.
In the second echelon was Laver, Hoad, Rosewall, von Cramm, Schroeder, Crawford, Segura, Sedgman, Trabert, Newcombe, Ashe and Smith. He also wrote Nuskse but I think he means Nastase. He ends with Borg and Connors who since they were active were able to move to the first group.
Ellsworth Vines in his book picked the best after WW II and that was 1. Budge 2. Kramer 3. Gonzalez 4. Laver 5. Segura 6. Riggs 7. Rosewall 8. Hoad 9. Sedgman 10. Trabert. He didn't pick Borg and Connors yet since they were still active I believe.
Vines picked Tilden, Borg, Laver, Budge and Kramer in an interview a few years later in the mid 1980's. I was surprised he forgot about Gonzalez who he picked over Laver in his book but perhaps it was just a slip.
Don Budge picked Kramer, Gonzalez and Laver with Kramer number one.
Gene Mako picked Tilden, Vines, Perry, Budge, Kramer, Hoad, Borg and McEnroe
Bob Falkenburg picked Tilden, Budge, Vines, Kramer and Laver
Nastase picked Borg
Perry picked Tilden before WWII and Laver after WWII. I think he picked Tilden overall.
Paul Metzler picked Kramer
Gene Scott picked Laver
Laver picked Hoad or Rosewall as his toughest opponent depending on the interview.
Tony Trabert picked Laver
John Newcombe picked Laver
Mark Cox picked McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Laver and Rosewall
Agassi used to pick Sampras as the best he played but recently he picked Federer
Nadal picks Federer
Peter Bodo picks Laver
Ken Rosewall in an interview in the 1950's I believe picked Pancho Gonzalez as number one but he also said Lew Hoad was better when Hoad was on his game. Later you can tell he believed Laver was the best.
Bobby Riggs picked 1. Kramer 2. Budge 3. Vines 4. Tilden 5. Gonzalez 6. Perry 7. Laver 8. Segura 9. Sedgman 10. Rosewall but he also thought that he was better than Rosewall which would make Rosewall at number 11 and Riggs number 10.
Amateur vs Professional issues
The amateur-pro rankings are difficult and speculative, and can change from period to period. We had often discussion on this board about the status of Emerson, and i tried always to hold a middle ground here. In his prime, in the mid 60s, he would probably have won some majors, regardless the pro competition, especially given his fitness in the context of the big draws. Sedgman in 1952 was maybe co Nr.1 overall, in 1953 as a pro, he had a positive record vs. Gonzales, and lost a tight head to head tour on canvas vs. Kramer, who didn't play much in 52.Trabert in 55 had Rosewall and Hoad in the field, not Gonzales, Sedgman and Segura. Hoad played great tennis in 56, and Laver in 1962 would have to fear Rosewall and to a lesser degree Gimeno the most over the long term. Hoad would be still dangerous, but probably not on a day to day basis and under big draw conditions. Gonzales didn't play in 62. I would rank amateurs Emerson and Santana quite on par with Gimeno, so the six best players for 62 would be Rosewall or/and Laver, Emerson, Gimeno, Hoad and Santana. The problem would be under the conditions of big tournaments with 128 draws - as i said above - the ranking of Hoad. All these rankings are speculative and open to discussion.
The most prominent amateur events from the late 40s and early 50s as majors, but none after that. It's a cruel sitution for us tennis fans, because we are accustomed to consider Sedgman's, Trabert's, Hoad's, Laver's accomplishments in such prestigious venues as Wimbledon as historical exploits, but sadly a realistic look at the draws can't let us call these events majors. The very best amateurs (Sedgman in '52, Hoad in '56, Trabert in '55, Laver in '62) were probably already top 5 in a pro-am combined ranking, but their foes in the amateur Slams were too much below them to be called actual competition. Of course you know this, but the Open Era record of Emerson, 12-times Slam titlist, speaks volumes....
- Famous Great Player Tennis Rackets
HL and RF Doherty Brothers Tennis Rackets
Pancho Gonzales Tennis Rackets
Don Budge and Ellworth Vines Tennis Rackets
Bill Tilden Tennis Rackets
Rod Laver Tennis Rackets
Ken Rosewall Tennis Rackets
Lew Hoad Tennis Racket and book
John Newcombe Tennis Rackets
Jack Kramer Tennis Rackets
Jimmy Connors Tennis Rackets
John McEnroe Tennis Rackets
Pete Sampras Tennis Rackets
Arthur Ashe Tennis Rackets
Andre Agassi Tennis Rackets
Many Famous Player Tennis Rackets
Search WoodTennis.com ...
Much of this information is not recorded well and somewhat unclear in many tennis history books. Alot also comes from knowledgable tennis historians and discussions on discussion boards like the TW website. Some of the alias authors include urban, SgtJohn, and chaognosis. Other sources include Arthur Wallis Myers of London's The Daily Telegraph, P.A. Vaile, Ray Bowers, Bud Collins, Joe McCauley, Judith Elian, Lance Tingay, Tennis (US magazine), Tennis Magazine (France), ITF (International Tennis Federation), ATP Awards
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