In the 1970s, I grew up playing tennis, a tremendous decade for the sport. During that time, tennis became more of a mainstream activity than a sport for the wealthy, particularly in the United States. With names like Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, and others, there were enough personalities to fuel the rivalry on and off the court. Since then, many great players have come and gone. Because technological developments and higher fitness standards make it difficult to compare players from different eras in any sport, choosing the greatest player can be difficult and subjective.
Ken Rosewall’s career spanned both the pre-and post-Open Eras, giving him a place among tennis’ all-time greats. Rosewall’s eight Grand Slam titles and his 15 Major titles guarantee him a place in tennis history. During his career, which began in the early 1950s and ended in 1980, the quick and agile Australian was known for his backhand and crisp and accurate volleying. He won his final Grand Slam title at the 1972 Australian Open at 37, breaking the record for the oldest Grand Slam winner.
John McEnroe: What choices do we have for Johnny Mac? First and foremost, he is on our list of all-time greats. There may have been no one better when it came to hard courts, fast surfaces, and creative shot-making.
Because of his fiery demeanor and occasional bad-boy behavior, tennis fans disliked or embraced him. Underneath was a tremendously competitive athlete who despised losing, and he occasionally allowed his emotions to get the best of him.
No one dominated tennis more than Jimmy Connors in the mid-1970s. In 1974, Connors achieved an incredible 99-4 record, winning all three Grand Slam tournaments he entered. Connors was forbidden from participation in the 1974 French Open due to his membership with World Team Tennis, preventing him from completing a Grand Slam sweep. Following a peak in the 1970s, Connors retired in 1996 after a long and successful tennis career. Connors still holds the record for most ATP tour titles with 109.
The quiet, stoic Czech with the tremendous serve was the most dominant player in the 1980s. Lendl wore out his opponents with his powerful groundstrokes, topspin forehand, and excellent level of conditioning. He was the world’s number one player for four years, and he held the position for 270 weeks, which was a record at the time. Unlike many of his more outgoing peers, Lendl preferred to let his game speak for itself.
What wasn’t to like about the blonde Swede with the devastating ground game? With icy water coursing through his veins, Borg dominated tennis in the late 1970s, and he had memorable battles with John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Borg dominated Wimbledon from 1976 through 1980, winning the tournament five times.
Pete’s tennis legacy is difficult to gauge because he only won three of the four Grand Slam titles during his career. How can we tell where someone belongs if they are dominant on one level but struggling on another? While some may disagree, Pete was universally recognized as the best player until he retired in 2002. For six years in a straight, he was world number one, and his 14 Grand Slam titles were a record. Who can forget his epic battles with Andre Agassi, which contributed to the tennis decade of the 1990s becoming one of the best? Pete finished his career on a high note by winning the US Open, his final Grand Slam event, in 2002. But how can we assess where he ranks among the best without a French Open championship or even a last? I believe he will be ranked sixth for the time being.
It’s tough to predict how Rod Laver would have fared against today’s players, but I believe he would have played well. It’s hard to argue with the album “Rockets.” For seven years (1964– 1970), he was the world’s number one, and he has the most career titles (200) of anyone in the game’s history.
At 35 years old, Rafa Nadal, sometimes known as “The King of Clay,” has won his 21st Grand Slam title, defeating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, his closest rivals. Rafael is largely considered the greatest clay-court player of all time, while Bjorn Borg supporters may disagree. In 2020, he will win a record 13th French Open championship dominantly, making it difficult to envisage anybody being better on clay.
For many years, naming Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player was a simple task. His 20 Grand Slam victories and 310 weeks as the world’s number one speak for themselves, and he is still winning and competing at the highest levels at the age of 40. From 2004 through 2008, Federer was rated number one globally for 237 weeks in a row, a record that may never be broken. Even if newer players are now finding ways to beat him, his 20-year career-long high level of play is a testimonial to his conditioning and talent.
Djokovic is the top player in the world right now, at 34 years old and in the prime of his career, and he has the potential to win more Grand Slam titles. With 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt, he is second only to Rafael Nadal, who has 21. With a record 361 weeks as the world’s number one, it’s difficult not to consider Djokovic the greatest.