The golden era of men’s tennis has left many fans asking who among Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic should be classified as the best male tennis player of all time. So dominant is the trio that between them, they hold a total of 63 singles grand slam titles.
Every ‘greatest tennis player of all time’ list will likely have Roger, Rafa, and/or Djokovic. Who is the best male tennis player of all time? Here’s our top 10 ranking.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the best male tennis players of all time.
10 Best Tennis Players of All Time
10. John McEnroe
Some professional players hit the headlines more because of their personalities; one such athlete is McEnroe. He is considered to be one of the most controversial tennis players.
His on-court outbursts and theatrics earned him numerous penalties and disqualifications. Although many believe he could have won more titles if he’d gained control of his temper, he still managed to sneak into our list of the best male tennis players of all time.
McEnroe has seven single titles, including Wimbledon (1981, 1983, 1984) and the US Open (1979, 1980, 1981, 1984).
He also played the doubles and became a champion 9 times. McEnroe retired in 2006 and is still involved in the game as a television analyst.
9. Andre Agassi
From beating Goran Ivanisevic in the 1992 Wimbledon final to winning the career golden slam, Andre Agassi wrote his name into tennis history and is undoubtedly one of the best male tennis players.
He won eight singles titles on all four surfaces – 4 Australian Opens, 1 French Open, 1 Wimbledon, and 2 US Open titles.
He also won an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 to complete a career golden slam.
8. Ivan Lendl
The Czech international produced consistent results. Between 1981 and 1991, Lendl won at least a slam every year. No wonder he is one of the best male tennis players.
He completed his career with 8 grand slams – 2 Australian Opens, 3 French Opens, and 2 US Opens.
Having played alongside players like Jimmy Conors and John McEnroe, his stay at the top of the world rankings for 270 weeks earned him a guaranteed place among the best male tennis players of all time.
7. Jimmy Connors
Jimmy is one of the best male American tennis players who ever picked up a racquet.
In 1974, he came close to a career grand slam but was banned from participating in the French Open after signing to play for the World Team Tennis.
Connors claimed the number-one ranking spot for 160 weeks, a feat overshadowed by Swiss great Roger Federer.
The American retired in 1996 with 8 grand slams (1 Australian Open, 2 Wimbledon titles, and 5 US Opens).
6. Bjorn Borg
From being part of the game’s best five-set matches against John McEnroe in the Wimbledon final in 1980, Bjorn Borg is undoubtedly one of the best male tennis players of all time.
His rivalry with McEnroe ranks highly among some of the best tennis rivalries.
In the end, the Swedish star ended his career with more slams (11) than the American. He won six French Opens and five Wimbledon titles.
5. Rod Laver
The most significant achievement of Rod Laver’s career is winning a career calendar slam twice, in 1962 and 1969.
He’s won all four grand slams at least two times, making him one of the best male tennis players of all time.
Overall, he won 11 grand slam singles titles – 3 Australian Opens, 2 French Opens, 4 Wimbledons, and 2 US Open titles.
For all his achievements, the center court at Melbourne Park was renamed the Rod Laver arena in his honor.
4. Pete Sampras
With 14 grand slam titles to his name, Pete Sampras is one of the best male tennis players to have taken the court.
One reason he’s one of the best is his big serve, which is why he was lethal on grass and hard courts. Of his 14 grand slams, he won 12 on these two surfaces, 7 at Wimbledon and 5 at the US Open.
His record seemed unsurmountable, but even if you are a casual tennis fan, you will know of the crazy standards that the ‘big three’ below have set.
3. Roger Federer
He is undoubtedly the best male Swiss tennis player of all time but comes in third on our all-time list. Federer has underlined his dominance on grass by winning a record 8 titles at Wimbledon.
His movement and ball-hitting technique make him a spectacle on the court.
The hardcourt is his next-best surface, having won a total of 11 slams, 6 Australian Opens, and 5 US Opens.
Even though we expect Roger to be great at everything, the clay court has proved to be a complex surface for him. As unbelievable as it sounds, the Swiss international has only won one French Open title.
In total, Federer has 20 singles titles to his name, which is why he is one of the best male tennis players of all time.
When he surpassed Pete Sampras’ record in 2009, many thought he’d sealed the all-time status, but injuries and stiff competition from Nadal and Djokovic have made this an ongoing conversation.
At 42 years, he is the oldest of the three, which might make it more difficult, but never bet against the Swiss great.
2. Rafael Nadal
We have run out of superlatives to describe the Spanish international.
With 14 French Open singles titles, Rafa is undoubtedly the best male clay court player of all time. His grand slam total of 22 also makes him one of the best male tennis players of all time.
Despite his dominance on clay, Rafa has also proven his adaptability on the hard and grass courts. He’s clinched two Australian Opens, two Wimbledon titles, and four US Open titles.
Not to forget, he is only the second men’s player, after Andre Agassi, to win the golden slam.
He achieved this in 2008 after he won all four majors and the Olympic gold medal in Beijing.
Like Federer, injuries have slowed Nadal down, most recently at the Wimbledon championship, where he had to retire in the semi-final round.
At 36 years, many would argue that he still has lots to give to the sport, but injuries might force him to put an end to a glittering career.
1. Novak Djokovic
The Serb is the best male tennis player ever. After his 2022 Wimbledon Championship win against Nick Kyrgios, he surpassed Roger Federer’s grand slam tally and now sits second on the all-time grand slam wins.
He is a hardcourt specialist, having never lost an Australian Open final. He’s won a record nine titles and was denied a chance to extend his record in 2022 after he was deported from Australia for not taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Djokovic has won six Wimbledon titles, 3 US Opens, and two French Opens.
In 2021, he came very close to winning a calendar slam before his US Open defeat to Daniil Medvedev stopped the Serb, who had an impeccable year.
Djoker Nole, one of his many nicknames, is the youngest of the three, and with one slam behind Nadal, he has the chance to finish his career with the most grand slams.