Greatest Hard Court Players in the History of Tennis

JA AllenSenior Writer IAugust 10, 2012

Greatest Hard Court Players in the History of Tennis

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    Considering the long history of tennis as a sport, hard-court surfaces are a fairly recent phenomenon. Before the Open Era, most professional tennis matches were played on grass with some tournaments held on European clay courts, usually prior to the start of the French Open.

    In 1978, the US Open began playing exclusively on DecoTurf, and the Australian Open converted to hard courts in 1988.

    Ultimately, synthetic surfaces are much easier to build and maintain than grass or clay courts.

    The clay court season lasts from April through early June before the grass season takes over, played from early June through mid July.

    Currently, hard-court tennis consumes the majority of the season. It starts after the Wimbledon grass-court tournament concludes and lasts nearly eight months until the clay season begins again in April.

    Some of the retired players on this list did not have the opportunity to play as much on artificial surfaces as those still playing today. For example, pros like Bjorn Borg left the game in 1981 just as artificial surfaces were gaining popularity.

    The ATP statistics used to compile this list are available at the ATP website. The categories selected were the ten most meaningful ATP records that tracked results accumulated by players on hard courts.

    The top 14 players who were included were ranked against each other in each of these selected categories with points awarded from 1 to 14, depending on where the player's ranking fell.

    To date, these are the best hard court tennis players in the history of the sport.

14. Andy Murray: Scotland (Active)

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    Andy Murray + 29 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Andy Murray, currently ranked No. 4, has long been acknowledged as great player on hard courts. Although he has yet to win a major at the US Open or at the Australian Open, many feel that will happen in the next year.

    Murray has the game to win on modern artificial surfaces. He has made three major finals on hard courts—two in Melbourne and one at Flushing Meadows. Expect the Scot's numbers in this listing to improve dramatically in the next few years.

    1. Ranked No. 13: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Has never won the US Open, reaching one final; has never won the Australian Open, reaching two finals—all on hard courts. In all zero hard court major titles, three finals.

    2. Ranked No. 14: Won 45 hard-court matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 12: Hard court major winning percentage at 76.27 (45-14)

    4. Ranked No. 13: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 75.86 (22.7)

    5. Ranked No. 11: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  76.67 (23-7)

    6. Ranked No. 11: ATP hard-court titles  at 19.

    7. Ranked No. 13: Total match wins on hard courts 245.

    8. Ranked No. 9: Total hard-court winning percentage  77.78 (245-70).

    9. Ranked No. 10: Won zero year-end championships, on indoor/outdoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 58.33 (7-5)

13. Michael Chang: United States (Retired)

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    Michael Chang + 31 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Michael Chang played tennis in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is remembered primarily for being the youngest man ever to win the French Open in 1989 when he was just 17. Most recall Chang's upset of the world No. 1 Ivan Lendl at that tournament in the fourth round.

    But Chang also played well on all surfaces, including hard courts where he reached the finals of both the US Open and the Australian Open, although he never won either.

    Chang's speed and endurance on court were legendary. He left behind some impressive numbers, some of which are recorded here.

    1. Ranked No. 13: Grand Slam Titles on hard courts. Never won the US Open, reaching one final; never won the Australian Open, reaching one final—all on hard courts. In all zero hard court major titles, two finals.

    2. Ranked No. 12: Won 64 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 14: Hard-court major winning percentage at 65.98 (64-27)

    4. Ranked No. 14: Winning percentage at US Open at 71.67 (43-17)

    5. Ranked No. 12: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  67.74 (21-10)

    6. Ranked No. 9 : ATP hard court titles at 21.

    7. Ranked No. 6: Total match wins on hard courts 408.

    8. Ranked No. 14: Total hard-court winning percentage  70.5 (408-71).

    9.Ranked No. 10: Won zero year-end championships, on indoor hard courts, participated seven times.

12. Lleyton Hewitt: Australia (Active)

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    Lleyton Hewitt + 38 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Lleyton Hewitt rose quickly through the ranks when the Aussie first came on tour. He reigned over men's tennis from 2000-02, winning both Wimbledon and the US Open during those years. He also reached the No. 1 ranking at age 20.

    Throughout his career, what stands out about the play of Hewitt is his tenacity. The man never gives up. Even though surgery after surgery has slowed him down, Hewitt keeps coming back, regardless of the surface. 

    His play on hard courts is noteworthy and he comes in at the No. 12 spot for his efforts.  Remember, Hewitt is still playing and adding to these totals.

    1. Ranked No. 11: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the U.S. Open once, reaching two finals. Never won the Australian Open, but reached one final—all on hard courts. In all one hard-court major title, two finals.

    2. Ranked No. 8: Won 71 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 13: Hard-court major winning percentage at 73.2 (71-26)

    4. Ranked No. 9: Winning percentage at US Open at 80.39 (41-10)

    5. Ranked No. 13: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  65.22 (30-16)

    6. Ranked No. 11: ATP hard-court titles  at 19.

    7. Ranked No. 9: Total match wins on hard courts 335.

    8. Ranked No. 13: Total hard-court winning percentage  72.83 (335-125).

    9. Ranked No. 10: Won zero year-end championships, on indoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 72.22 (13-5)

11. Boris Becker: Germany (Retired)

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     Boris Becker + 49 Hard Court Ranking Points

    People associate Boris Becker with Wimbledon and grass courts, where the German enjoyed huge success.

    But Becker also did well on hard courts, winning the US Open once and the Australian Open twice. It proved to be a more difficult surface to dive onto, as he often tried on grass. Regardless of the surface, Becker always went full out to win the next point.

    He turned pro as a teenager in 1984 and retired officially in 1999, adding plenty of wins to his record-setting career. The following list isolates his results on various hard courts around the world.

    1. Ranked No. 7: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open once, reaching one final; plus won the Australian Open twice, reaching two finals—all on hard courts. In all three hard-court major titles, three finals.

    2. Ranked No. 13 : Won 60 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 9: Hard-court major winning percentage at 81.40 (70-16)

    4. Ranked No. 10: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 78.72 (37-10)

    5. Ranked No. 6: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  79.31 (23-6)

    6. Ranked No. 13: ATP hard-court titles 16.

    7. Ranked No. 14: Total match wins on hard courts 219.

    8. Ranked No. 10: Total hard-court winning percentage 77.39 (219-64).

    9. Ranked No. 4: Won three year-end championships, eight finals, on hard courts with a winning percentage of 73.47 (36-13).

10. Andy Roddick: United States (Active)

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    Andy Roddick + 50 Hard Court Ranking Points

    When Andy Roddick won the US Open for the first time in 2003, he was supposed to become the next Pete Sampras. That proved to be some mighty big shoes to fill.

    Even though Roddick never climbed as high for as long as Sampras, the American with the big serve has managed to spend most of his tennis life in the men's top 10. Only recently did injuries and absences from the tennis court cause his ranking to drop.

    Nonetheless, Roddick has made the top ten in this list of hard-court greats because of his stellar play throughout his career on that surface.

    Still active, Roddick can add to these totals.

    1. Ranked No. 11: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the U.S. Open one time, reaching two finals. Never won the Australian Open, reached no finals—all on hard courts. In all, one hard-court major title, two finals.

    2. Ranked No. 6: Won 78 hard court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 11: Hard-court major winning percentage at 78.0 (78-22)

    4. Ranked No. 11: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 78.43 (40-11)

    5. Ranked No. 10: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  77.55 (38-11)

    6. Ranked No. 9: ATP hard-court titles  at 21 .

    7. Ranked No. 5: Total match wins on hard courts 422.

    8. Ranked No. 12: Total hard-court winning percentage 75.76 (422-135).

    9. Ranked No. 10: Won zero year-end championships, on indoor/outdoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 42.11 (8-11)

9. Rafael Nadal: Spain (Active)

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    Rafael Nadal + 52 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Most of Rafael Nadal's accolades come from his play on clay. Hard courts are his least favorite surface because of the stress and strain that playing on artificial surfaces has on his knees.

    Nonetheless, Nadal has won a major title at each of the hard court venues and has proven that he can, indeed, play on this surface. 

    Still active, Nadal has many years ahead to improve his ranking in this category, assuming his knees continue to find a way to endure.

    1. Ranked No. 9: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open one time, reaching two finals; plus won the Australian Open one time, reaching two finals—all on hard courts. In all two hard-court major titles, four finals.

    2. Ranked No. 9: Won 69 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 8: Hard-court major winning percentage at 82.14 (69-15)

    4. Ranked No. 7: Winning percentage at US Open at 80.95 (34-8)

    5. Ranked No. 4: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  83.3 (35-7)

    6. Ranked No. 14: ATP hard-court titles at 11.

    7. Ranked No. 11: Total match wins on hard courts 277.

    8. Ranked No. 11: Total hard-court winning percentage 76.52 (277-85).

    9. Ranked No. 10: Won zero year-end championships, on indoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 47.37 (9-10).

8. Stefan Edberg: Sweden (Retired)

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    Stefan Edberg + 64 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Stefan Edberg played professional tennis for 13 years, from 1983 through 1996. He was an excellent serve-and-volley player on grass and hard courts. Edberg won the US Open in back-to-back years in 1991 and 1992.

    Edberg was one of the last great Swedes to play the game following in the footsteps of Bjorn Borg while a contemporary of Mats Wilander. 

    Edberg had considerable success on hard courts because of his serve, his great foot-speed and his ability to volley. 

    1. Ranked No. 9: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the U.S. Open two times, reaching two finals; plus won the Australian Open twice, but never on hard courts—reached three finals. In all two hard-court major titles, five finals.

    2. Ranked No. 5: Won 84 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 10: Hard-court major winning percentage at 80.77 (84-20)

    4. Ranked No. 12: Winning percentage at US Open at 78.18 (43-12)

    5. Ranked No. 7: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  82.0 (41-9)

    6. Ranked No. 6: ATP hard-court titles  at 23.

    7. Ranked No. 8: Total match wins on hard courts 387.

    8. Ranked No. 8: Total hard-court winning percentage 78.82 (387-104).

    9. Ranked No. 6: Won one year-end championships, played on indoor carpet and indoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 56.25 (18-14)

7. John McEnroe: United States (Retired)

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    John McEnroe + 77 Hard Court Ranking Points

    In 1979, John McEnroe won his first major tournament at the US Open at just 20 years old. McEnroe would go to win the tournament three more times in his career with his last win coming in 1984—the greatest year of Johnny Mac's career.

    McEnroe grew to love the synthetic surfaces almost as much as Wimbledon grass, but nothing quite surpassed playing on the hard courts in front of his fellow New Yorkers at the U.S. Open.

    1. Ranked No. 5: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open four times, reaching five finals. Zero Australian Open titles. In all four hard-court major titles, five finals.

    2. Ranked No. 7: Won 73 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 8: Hard-court major winning percentage at 83.91 (73-14)

    4. Ranked No. 4: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 84.93  (62.11)

    5. Ranked No. 9: Winning percentage at Australian Open at 78.26 (18.5)

    6. Ranked No. 7: ATP hard-court titles  at 22.

    7. Ranked No. 10: Total match wins on hard courts 292

    8. Ranked No. 4: Total hard-court winning percentage 81.11 (292-68).

    9. Ranked No. 4: Won three year-end championships on indoor carpets with a winning percentage of 63.33 (19-11).

6. Jimmy Connors: United States (Retired)

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    Jimmy Connors + 82 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Jimmy Connors played professional tennis almost 25 years. During that time he amassed numerous ATP records, including many on hard courts.

    Connors won the US Open five times on three different surfaces—the last three on hard courts. At 39, Connors once again reached the semifinals at Flushing Meadows in 1991, stirring the New York crowds into a frenzy. 

    Connors loved stirring the pot, especially in New York City.

    1. Ranked No. 7: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the U.S. Open five times, three times on hard courts, reaching three hard-court finals. Never won the Australian Open on hard courts. In all three hard-court major titles, three finals.

    2. Ranked No. 10: Won 67 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 3: Hard-court major winning percentage at 85.90 (67-11)

    4. Ranked No. 3: Winning percentage at US Open at 85.90 (67-11)

    5. Ranked No. 14: Winning percentage at Australian Open (never played on hard courts)

    6. Ranked No. 3: ATP hard-court titles at 44.

    7. Ranked No. 3: Total match wins on hard courts 488.

    8. Ranked No. 2: Total hard-court winning percentage 83.13 (488-99).

    9. Ranked No. 8: Won one year-end championships on indoor carpet with a winning percentage of 51.43 (18-17).

5. Novak Djokovic: Serbia (Active)

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    Novak Djokovic + 84 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Enjoying one of the best seasons in recent years, Novak Djokovic broke many records in 2011, including those won during a hard-court winning streak. No doubt but that the world No. 2 plays extremely well on hard courts, including the Australian Open and the U.S. Open.

    Djokovic will be seeking to defend his title won last summer in Flushing Meadows. The Serb will have plenty of opposition as the U.S. hard-court season is well underway.

    Djokovic, of course, is very young and has plenty of time to add to the totals that are reported here.

    1. Ranked No. 5: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open one time, reaching three finals; plus won the Australian Open three times, reaching three finals—all on hard courts. In all, four hard-court major titles, six finals.

    2. Ranked No. 11: Won 65 hard-court matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 4: Hard-court major winning percentage at 85.63 (65-11)

    4. Ranked No. 6: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 84.62 (33-6)

    5. Ranked No. 3: Winning percentage at Australian Open at 86.49 (32-5)

    6. Ranked No. 7: ATP hard-court titles at 22.

    7. Ranked No.12: Total match wins on hard courts 267.

    8. Ranked No. 6: Total hard-court winning percentage 79.94 (267-67).

    9. Ranked No. 9: Won one year-end championship, on indoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 50.00 (9-9).

    10. Ranked No. 3: Winning streaks on hard courts: 35 (2010-2011)

4. Ivan Lendl: Czechoslovakia/United States (Retired)

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    Ivan Lendl + 94 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Ivan Lendl was the No. 1 player during the mid to late 1980s. He is credited with being the father of the modern baseline game which eventually quelled the impact of serve-and-volley play on all court surfaces.

    He won the Australian Open twice on hard courts as well as winning the US Open three times. But more than that, Lendl made eight consecutive finals at Flushing Meadows from 1982-1989. Lendl knew how to win on hard courts. His wins on the surface are considerable.
     
    1. Ranked No. 4: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open three times, reaching eight finals; plus won the Australian Open two times, reaching three finals—all on hard courts. In all won five hard-court major titles, 11 finals.

    2. Ranked No. 4: Won 105 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 5: Hard-court major winning percentage at 85.37 (105-18)

    4. Ranked No. 5: Winning percentage at US Open at 84.88 (73.13)

    5. Ranked No. 6: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  82.05 (32.7)

    6. Ranked No. 5: ATP hard-court titles at 31.

    7. Ranked No. 7: Total match wins on hard courts 394.

    8. Ranked No. 3: Total hard-court winning percentage 82.60 (394-83).

    9. Ranked No. 2: Won five year-end championships, on indoor carpets with a winning percentage of 79.59 (39-10).

3. Andre Agassi: United States (Retired)

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    Andre Agassi + 99 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Andre Agassi is another tennis great who played the game a long time, finally retiring from tennis at age 36. He ended his career at the US Open where he remained a favorite of New York crowds for two decades.

    Agassi's successes on hard courts around the world are evident as you survey the totals he amassed throughout his career.

    His return of serve as well as his ability to hit the ball early served him well on the synthetic surfaces.

    1. Ranked No. 3: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open two times, reaching six finals; plus won the Australian Open four times, reaching four finals—all on hard courts. In all six hard court major titles, 10 finals.

    2. Ranked No. 1: Won 127 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 6: Hard-court major winning percentage at 84.11(127-24)

    4. Ranked No. 8: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 80.61 (79-19).

    5. Ranked No. 1: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  90.56 (48-5)

    6. Ranked No. 2: ATP hard-court titles at 46.

    7. Ranked No. 1: Total match wins on hard courts 598.

    8. Ranked No. 7: Total hard-court winning percentage 79.00 (598-159).

    9. Ranked No. 7: Won one year-end championships, on hard courts with a winning percentage of 55.00 (22-20)

2. Pete Sampras: United States (Retired)

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    Pete Sampras + 129 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Pete Sampras enjoyed a long and distinguished career from winning his first US Open in 1990 to winning his last in 2002. In between, playing on hard courts was something the American did extremely well, owning several ATP records for his efforts.

    On hard courts, Pistol Pete's big serve did most of the talking, often rendering his opponent powerless on the other side of the net. Add to that his quick movement to the net, and it was easy to see why Sampras had such great success on hard courts.

    1. Ranked No. 2: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the US Open five times, reaching eight finals; plus won the Australian Open two times, reaching three finals—all on hard courts. In all seven hard court major titles, 11 finals.

    2. Ranked No. 3: Won 116 hard-court matches at grand slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 2: Hard-court major winning percentage at 86.57 (116-18)

    4. Ranked No. 2: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 88.75 (71.9)

    5. Ranked No. 4: Winning percentage at Australian Open at  83.3 (45-9)

    6. Ranked No. 4: ATP hard-court titles at 36.

    7. Ranked No. 4: Total match wins on hard courts 427.

    8. Ranked No. 5: Total hard-court winning percentage 80.41 (427-104).

    9. Ranked No. 2: Won five year-end championships on indoor carpets and indoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 71.4 (35-14).

    10. Ranked No. 4: Winning streaks on hard courts, 34 (1994)

    11. Ranked No. 4: Winning streaks on hard courts, 34 (from 1996-1997)

1. Roger Federer: Switzerland (Active)

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    Roger Federer +150 Hard Court Ranking Points

    Current world No. 1 Roger Federer owns many ATP records, having played on tour since 1998. One of the surfaces that brought the Swiss numerous titles plus all around success was the artificial hard court where Federer's movement and his ability to anticipate make him difficult to beat. 

    In the following categories, Federer generally ranked first or second. No one really comes close to equaling the Swiss's prowess on hard courts.

    Fans are hoping for another triumph since Federer has not won a major on hard courts since the Australian Open in 2010. He has not won the US Open since 2008. Federer is due.

    Still active, Federer will continue to add to his totals.

    1. Ranked No. 1: Grand Slam titles on hard courts. Won the U.S. Open five times consecutively, reaching 6 finals; and won the Australian Open four times, reaching five finals—all on hard courts. In all 10 hard court major titles, 12 finals.

    2. Ranked No. 2: Won 124 hard-court matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

    3. Ranked No. 1: Hard-court major winning percentage at 88.57 (124-16)

    4. Ranked No. 1: Winning percentage at U.S. Open at 89.71 (61-7)

    5. Ranked No. 2: Winning percentage at Australian Open at 87.50 (63-9)

    6. Ranked No. 1: ATP hard-court titles at 51.

    7. Ranked No. 2: Total match wins on hard courts 515.

    8. Ranked No. 1: Total hard-court winning percentage 83.20 (515-104).

    9. Ranked No. 1: Won six year-end championships, on indoor and outdoor hard courts with a winning percentage of 84.78 (39-7).

    10. Ranked No. 1: Winning streaks on hard courts from 2005-2006 - 56.

    11. Ranked No. 2: Winning streaks on hard court from 2006-2007 - 36.