Tennis is one of the most popular sports nowadays, and there is no shortage of incredibly skilled and talented players all over the world. If you’re interested in finding out more about the top 20 greatest men’s tennis players of all time, you’re in the right place! Our list will guide you through some of the best tennis players, as well as some of their most notable wins and accomplishments.
1. Novak Djokovic
When it comes to the greatest tennis players of all time, Novak Djokovic is at the top of the list for a good reason. His accomplishments and the mark he has left on the tennis world will be remembered for a long time.
Djokovic is a Serbian tennis player who is ranked World No. 1 by ATP as of 2022. He was born in 1987 in Belgrade, Serbia, and turned professional in 2003. When he was 20 years old, Djokovic managed to disrupt Federer and Nadal’s streak of eleven consecutive majors to win his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2008. He’s been ranked World No. 1 for a record 362 weeks, and in 2016, he became the 8th male player to win a career Grand Slam. With 20 Grand Slam titles and 86 ATP singles titles, Djokovic is a force to be reckoned with in the tennis world.
He is the one and only male player to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam, as well as the first one in the Open Era to achieve a double career Grand Slam. He completed the career Golden Masters on the ATP Tour twice and is the only player to do so. At the beginning of 2021, Djokovic managed to win at the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon, which only goes to prove how talented and skilled of a player he is, and why he deserves the number 1 spot on our list of the greatest players.
2. Roger Federer
The next one on our list has to be the player who has as many Grand Slam titles as Djokovic, who has proven his tennis skills time and time again over the past two decades and continues to do so—Roger Federer.
Federer is a Swiss tennis player born in 1981 who turned pro in 1998. He was ranked World No. 1 for 310 weeks, which includes a record 237 consecutive weeks. Often referred to as the Big Three, Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal are the most well-known names in the world of tennis.
Federer has a total of 103 ATP singles titles, which include 20 Grand Slam titles, eight men’s singles Wimbledon titles, as well as a record six year-end championships. The first major singles title that he has won was at the age of 21 (at Wimbledon in 2003). The following year, he won three of the four major singles titles and the ATP finals, which he accomplished again in 2006 and 2007. At the French Open in 2009, Federer completed the career Grand Slam as well. The versatility and effortlessness of his playing style made him very popular among tennis fans, and he remains one of the best-known and adored tennis players to date.
3. Rafael Nadal
As we already mentioned when we talked about the so-called “Big Three”, Rafael Nadal is known as one of the best tennis players out there alongside Djokovic and Federer. He is, arguably, the best player to step on a clay court, considering his 13 French Open wins.
Nadal is a Spanish tennis player born in 1986 who turned professional in 2001. He was one of the most accomplished teenagers in the history of the ATP Tour who reached World No. 2 and won 16 titles before turning 20 years old, which includes his first French Open and six Masters events. In 2008, he became World No. 1 for the first time when he managed to beat Federer, one of his biggest rivals to date, in a well-known Wimbledon final. That same year, he won an Olympic gold medal in singles in Beijing as well.
Nadal became the youngest man in the Open Era to achieve the career Grand Slam in 2010 when he defeated Djokovic in the US Open final. He was also the first male player to win three Majors on three surfaces, including grass surface, clay surface, and hard surfaces. What’s interesting is that Nadal is the only left-handed player of the “Big Three” in men’s singles.
4. Pete Sampras
We’ll continue our list of the top 20 greatest tennis players with another well-known name in tennis—Pete Sampras. During the 90s, Pete Sampras was the player who dominated the tennis world. He was born in 1971 in California, and he turned professional in 1998. When Sampras retired in 2002, he was considered the best tennis player of all time by many people.
During his career, Sampras managed to collect a total of 14 Grand Slam titles. With seven Wimbledon, five US Open, and two Australian Open titles, he was certainly a force to be reckoned with in his days. You might notice that we didn’t mention French Open among the previously-listed titles, and for a good reason. Sampras never managed to win a French Open title. Although some people try to argue that not being able to win the French Open title means he’s not one of the greatest of all time, others point to the fact that, in total, he managed to win 64 singles titles, which makes him one of the best players out there.
Sampras reached World No. 1 for the first time in 1993, which was a position he held for 286 weeks. Due to his powerful and precise serve, people gave him a nickname—”Pistol Pete”. Although he retired in 2002, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
5. Björn Borg
One of the best-known Swedish tennis players, Björn Borg, wowed the crowd as the youngest player ever to win a Grand Slam title. He accomplished this when he was only 17 years old, once he won the 1974 French Open, and it will likely never be forgotten.
Borg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1956. He turned professional in 1973 and is known as the first man in the Open Era to win eleven Grand Slam singles titles. Although he won 6 titles at the French Open and 5 consecutively at Wimbledon, he never managed to win the US Open, even though he made 4 final appearances.
Borg was the first male player to claim five Wimbledon titles in the Open Era and the only Swedish tennis player who won more than 10 Grand Slams. Some of Borg’s most memorable matches were the ones where he competed against John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. His career was relatively short, but that doesn’t mean he did not manage to leave his mark and make a name for himself that will be remembered for a long time. Many people claim that Borg showcased incredible talent and skills on the court and believe he would be the greatest player of all time had he continued playing for another decade or so.
6. Rod Laver
Rod Laver is an Australian tennis player who was ranked World No. 1 for seven years straight. He’s one of the tennis players who made records on multiple occasions. For example, Laver was the only player who won all the Grand Slams twice in the same calendar year and his 198 singles titles hold the record for the most in tennis history. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start from the beginning.
Laver was born in Australia in 1938. He turned professional in 1963 and heavily dominated the tennis world in the 60s and 70s. People referred to him as the best tennis player of all time during his era. He was banned from playing Grand Slam tournaments for five years prior to the beginning of the Open Era, but he still holds 11 Grand Slam singles titles to his name. Laver is also the first and one of two players to be both the winner and the runner up at all 4 grand slams (the second being Federer). He managed to win 8 Pro Slam titles, which include the “pro Grand Slam” in 1967. Laver retired in 1979, but he will forever be remembered as one of the best male tennis players of all time.
7. Andre Agassi
We’ll continue with Andre Agassi—an Olympic gold medalist and one of the best-known names in tennis history. Agassi is an American tennis player born in 1970. He turned pro in 1986 and is an eight-time major champion.
Agassi, along with four other men, managed to achieve the career Grand Slam in the Open Era, and was the first one to achieve the career Golden Slam. He is also the one and only male player to achieve a career Super Slam. Some of his greatest achievements include winning all four singles majors on three different surfaces (grass, clay, and hard surface), and being the most recent American player to win the French Open and the Australian Open. The first time Agassi became World No. 1 was in 1995, but that didn’t last long. He had a troublesome period due to some personal issues in the 90s, which made him sink to No. 141 in 1997. Many people thought that would be the end of his career, but he proved them wrong by making a comeback in 1999 and having a very successful and victorious four-year run.
During his career that lasted for twenty years, Agassi got the nickname “The Punisher”. He had to retire in 2006 due to some health-related issues. Agassi married a fellow tennis player, Steffi Graf, in 2001.
8. John McEnroe
Our list wouldn’t be complete without the American tennis legend best known for his volley artistry and the controversy that followed him—John McEnroe. McEnroe was born in New York in 1959, and he turned professional in 1978. People best remember him for his “bad boy behavior” on the court and his rivalry against Björn Borg and Jimmy Connors.
McEnroe managed to attain the World No. 1 ranking in singles and doubles and finish his career with a total of 77 singles and 78 doubles titles, which is the highest men’s combined total of the Open Era. He claimed seven Grand Slam singles titles (three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open), nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles (four at the US Open and five at Wimbledon), and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title (at the French Open). He is also the only male player to win more than 70 titles in both the men’s singles and the men’s doubles categories.
Due to his confrontational and controversial behavior on the court, people either adored him or hated him. He was a highly competitive player who hated losing, and he wasn’t shy to showcase it on the court. McEnroe retired in 2006, after which he became a working musician.
9. Ivan Lendl
During the late 80s, Ivan Lendl was considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He is nowadays mostly known for being Andy Murray’s, the 3 time Grand Slam champion, coach, but he used to be the most dominant player back in the day.
Lendl was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, in 1960, and he turned pro in 1978. He reached the World No. 1 ranking and held it for 270 weeks. Lendl managed to win eight Grand Slam titles and to be runner-up a record 11 times (same as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic), which makes him the first male tennis player to appear in 19 Grand Slam finals. Some of his notable accomplishments include winning seven year-end championships and appearing in a record eight consecutive US Open finals.
Lendl stays first in history for match wins holding a record of 39-10, having made it to the final an unbelievable nine times, and also winning it five times. Lendl’s 9 consecutive appearances in the final, as well as 3 consecutive tournament wins, are another one of his records. He also pioneered a new playing style which earned him the nicknames ‘Father Of The Modern Game’ and ‘The Father Of The Inside Out Forehand’. He retired in 1994 and became a coach for a lot of players (most notably Andy Murray).
10. Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors is an American tennis player who had one of the longest and most prolific careers. He was born in California in 1952 and turned professional in 1972.
Connors dominated the tennis world in the 70s, which he proved with his outstanding 99-4 record in 1974 alone. He held his World No. 1 ranking for 160 consecutive weeks, which was a record at the time. Three of Connors’ most notable Open Era singles records to this day include 1557 matches played, 1274 match wins, and a total of 109 titles. With 8 major singles titles, 3 year-end championships, and 17 Grand Prix Super Series titles, he definitely deserved a spot in our list of the greatest men’s tennis players of all time.
Connors was the second man in the Open Era to win 3 major titles in a calendar year, but, unfortunately, he was not allowed to participate in the 4th. He managed to win both Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as to be ATP Player of the Year and ITF World Champion. He retired when he was 43 years old after having one of the longest careers at the professional level in tennis history.
11. Boris Becker
The next one on our list is one of the best-known German tennis players—Boris Becker. Becker is a German tennis legend and a former World No. 1 tennis player. He was born in 1967 in West Germany and turned professional in 1964.
Becker had a very successful start to his career considering he was only 17 years old when he won the first of his six Grand Slam singles titles. He continued prospering and winning 3 year-end championships, 13 Masters Series titles, and an Olympic gold medal in doubles. When it comes to his Grand Slam singles titles, we’re looking at three Wimbledon Championships, two Australian Opens, and one US Open.
Becker is the first male player to make an appearance in seven Wimbledon finals, same as Pete Sampras and Novak Djokovic. Since he became famous at such a young age, he often struggled with the spotlight which resulted in a turbulent personal life. After he retired in 1999, he went on to do different things, such as coaching Djokovic for a few years, as well as playing poker and working for a poker company.
12. Stefan Edberg
Stefan Edberg is a Swedish tennis player who was extremely popular during the 90s. Edberg was born in Sweden in 1966, and he turned pro in 1983. As one of only two men in the Open Era who’ve been ranked world No. 1 in both singles and doubles, he is certainly one of the most well-known players out there.
Edberg held his No. 1 spot for 70 weeks, won the Masters Grand Prix, and also was a part of the Swedish Davis Cup-winning team not one but four times. He is the only player to win all four Junior Grand Slams in one calendar year. Edberg also broke the record of most consecutive Grand Slam appearances and managed to win a total of 6 Grand Slam titles, including two at Wimbledon, two at the US Opens, and two at the Australian Open. Although he did not have a powerful serve like some of his opponents, he was one of the finest serve-and-volley players of his era, which helped him win on multiple occasions. He retired in 1996 and started working as a coach for different players. He even coached Federer in 2014, but that partnership ended the following year.
13. Roy Emerson
If you’re wondering who one of the best tennis players before the Open Era was, we’re here to provide you with all the info. Roy Emerson is the tennis player who was the most prominent and who dominated the tennis world before the Open Era. He was born in Australia in 1936. During his career, he managed to win 12 Grand Slam singles titles and 16 Grand Slam doubles titles, for a grand total of 28 Grand Slam titles.
As the only male tennis player to achieve a career Grand Slam (meaning he won titles at all four Grand Slam events) in both singles and doubles, and the first male player to complete a double career Grand Slam in singles, he will definitely be remembered as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Emerson was very talented and skilled, and, in 1961, he was ranked World No. 1 amateur. He was also the first male player to score 12 singles majors, which is a record that he held for 30 years before it was passed in 2000 by Pete Sampras. He decided to remain an amateur player and not turn pro during the pre-Open Era. He retired in 1983.
14. Mats Wilander
A lot of people argue that the most talented player to date has to be Mats Wilander, and for more reasons than one. Wilander is a Swedish tennis player born in 1964 who turned pro in 1981. He was only 17 years of age when he won his first French Open title in 1982, which wowed a lot of people and made him a player to remember.
Wilander managed to win 7 Grand Slam singles titles (3 at the French Open, 3 at the Australian Open, and 1 at the US Open), as well as one Grand Slam men’s doubles title. He never had the luck of winning the singles title at Wimbledon, but he did manage to win the Australian Open on two occasions when it was played on a grass court.
He is one of six men who won Grand Slam singles titles on every court, including grass courts, hard courts, and clay courts. The other 5 players who accomplished this as well are Connors, Agassi, Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic. He also won his 4th Grand Slam singles title when he was only 20 years old, which made him the youngest man in history to have achieved that feat.
15. Andy Murray
Andy Murray is a British tennis player born in Scotland in 1987. Many people claim that Andy Murray is one of the tennis players who were born in the wrong generation. The reason behind this is that Murray is often overshadowed by the so-called Big Three (Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal). Some people argued that the Big Three should be renamed to the Big Four, with Murray included, due to his talent and skills, which came true.
He managed to climb to the top and be World No. 1 for a total of 41 weeks. His most notable accomplishments include winning 3 Grand Slam singles titles (2 at Wimbledon and 1 at the US Open) and reaching 11 major finals. During his career, he’s managed to collect a grand total of 46 ATP singles titles, which includes 14 ATP Masters 1000 events.
Murray’s major breakthrough happened in 2012 when he defeated Djokovic in the US Open. This title made him the first British Grand Slam singles champion since Virginia Wade, and the first male champion since Fred Perry. Although the other three players from the Big Four are very talented and skilled in their own right, there is no arguing that Andy Murray is just as talented and that he deserves the spot he got.
16. John Newcombe
As one of the few people who managed to attain the World No.1 ranking in both singles and doubles, John Newcombe is a very important tennis player on our list. He is an Australian tennis player born in 1944 who turned professional in 1967.
Newcombe’s speed, powerful forehand, and services are what made him as successful and dominant as he was in his day. Newcombe managed to win 7 singles titles and 17 men’s doubles titles (which was a former world record), and he contributed to 5 Davis Cup titles for Australia when it was as significant as majors. When it came to the important matches, Newcombe rarely lost. He proved that by losing only one out of the ten Wimbledon finals he played in his career. He was also ranked in the Top 10 for over ten consecutive years, which made him well-known in the world of tennis. After a very successful and fruitful career, Newcombe retired in 1981 and, in 1986, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
17. Jim Courier
With the impressive 58 weeks at the No.1 spot during the 90s under his belt, Jim Courier is definitely a player to remember. He’s an American tennis player born in 1970 who turned pro in 1988 and dominated the court in the 90s.
Many argue that Courier is one of the best players to ever play on a hard court. Although that might be true, the reason why he isn’t higher on our list is because of his overall game which could have been better. That certainly doesn’t mean that he wasn’t one of the best tennis players of all time, it only means that other players we listed so far managed to grab a few more titles than he did.
Courier won 4 major singles titles, 2 at the French Open and 2 at the Australian Open. He was also the youngest player to reach the singles finals of all four majors when he was 22 years old. Other than the 4 major singles titles, he managed to win 5 Masters titles as well.
Courier retired in 2000 and, since 2005, he’s worked as a tennis commentator and an analyst for Tennis Channel.
18. Guillermo Vilas
The next one on our list is the player who was one of the best during the serve and volley era in the 70s and 80s—Guillermo Vilas. Vilas is an Argentinian tennis player born in 1952. He turned professional in 1969.
Vilas managed to win 4 Grand Slam titles, and he was the first South American to win a Grand Slam title. His most notable accomplishments are his several different world records, which include a 46 match win streak in 1977 and the record for most singles titles won in one single season, with 16 ATP titles during the same season. As the second man to win more than 900 matches in the Open Era and his number of match-wins on clay, Vilas definitely deserved a spot on our list of the greatest tennis players of all time.
19. Stan Wawrinka
Stan Wawrinka is a Swiss tennis player born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1985. He turned pro in 2002.
Wawrinka is often referred to as the player overshadowed by the Big Three, or more precisely, by Roger Federer. Many people believe that Wawrinka would have been even more successful and perhaps even the greatest player of all time had it not been for the Big Three. He managed to win 3 Grand Slam titles, a number that many tennis (and Wawrinka) fans believe would be much higher if he played tennis in a different era.
Be that as it may, Wawrinka is certainly one of the most talented and competitive players on tour, and he is best known for his incredible one-handed backhand that fans all over the world find super entertaining and will remember for a long time.
20. Nick Kyrgios
We’ll conclude our list of the top 20 greatest men’s tennis players of all time with the Australian pro tennis player—Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios was born in 1995 and turned professional in 2013.
So far, he managed to win 6 ATP titles and reach 9 ATP finals, which includes a Masters 1000 final at the Cincinnati Masters in 2017. People best know Kyrgios for his temper on the court and his bold underarm serves.
He won the boys’ singles event at the Australian Open in 2013 and the boys’ doubles events at the French Open in 2012. Kyrgios also managed to reach the quarterfinals of two singles majors. One of his most notable accomplishments is that he is the third player to achieve a victory over each member of the Big Three (Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal) the first time he played against them.