Ranking the Most Clutch Players in Tennis History

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Ranking the Most Clutch Players in Tennis History
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory in front of British fans pleading for a home-country champion demonstrated his ability to perform in a pressure situation. But does that place him among the most clutch players in tennis history?

Being a clutch performer means playing at the highest level in the biggest matches when the pressure is greatest.

In rankings the 16 most clutch players we relied heavily on a player's success in Grand Slam events, particularly in five-setters (three-setters for women) in the semifinals and finals. Comebacks in big matches were also considered.  In some cases, a single match played a significant role in getting a player on the list. In one instance, an unofficial match was a major factor.

Bill Tilden, Suzanne Lenglen or Helen Wills, three players who ruled their era, are not included because they were so dominant for so long in every match that it was impossible to gauge their worthiness in so-called clutch situations. Also, it was too difficult to rate clutch performances of players like Ken Rosewall and Pancho Gonzales who spent most of their careers playing the pro circuit when pros could not play in the Grand Slam events.

As a result, there is a heavy emphasis on players from the Open Era.

By no means is this a ranking of the greatest players.  The player most noticeable by her absence from this list is Martina Navratilova. She is clearly one of the best players in history, in large part because she won so many matches in overwhelming fashion. She was less impressive in tight situations, though. She had just a 6-11 record in Grand Slam tournament finals that went three sets, and lost five times in three sets in Grand Slam semifinals.


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