Is it in the air or the water? Is it because there is more sun or less sun? Hot or cold weather? Is it the wine or the vodka?
No one knows the real answer to why some countries are better for tennis than others, but that is why the sport is so entertaining.
Every year, countrymen and countrywomen compete against others to demonstrate to the tennis world which country has the most talent.
For the men, the Davis Cup is the ultimate prize. For the women, it is the FedCup.
Winners of those tournaments may be considered to be the countries that produce premier tennis players, but there are measures other than the Davis Cup and the FedCup.
Some players don’t even play for their national team for a variety of reasons, including taking time to rest before tournaments or being injured.
This list of the Top 10 tennis countries combines everything and lets you know what countries today have the best crop of tennis players.
Honorable mentions: Croatia, Belgium
No Davis Cup or FedCup Championships
It is very hard to put Switzerland on the list because Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka are the only players that are good.
Both players are getting old, and their games are steadily decreasing.
With no young talent and no women in the Top 100, in a year or two, Switzerland will be off this list.
Runner-up in the Davis Cup twice in last 10 years (’06, ’08), no FedCup wins.
Gisela Dulko is the only Argentine woman in the Top 100 (52), but on the men’s side it is a different story.
In recent years, top Argentine tennis players like David Nalbandian and Juan Martin Del Potro have made a big splash.
Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco have also made an impact.
Chela has had an impressive career, making it to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Open and the French Open.
Argentina has a lot to look forward to.
Del Potro could soon find himself holding another grand slam championship, with many more on the way.
No Davis Cup wins last 10 years, one FedCup win in the last 10 years (2002).
The women’s Slovakian team is loaded with talent, and some would argue a few people from Slovakia had a lot of wasted talent.
Daniela Hantuchova comes straight to mind in terms of huge disappointments.
One day she looks unstoppable, but in the next round she could lose to any opponent on tour.
She is one of the most inconsistent players to play the game.
Some other Slovakian women’s tennis players on tour are Dominika Cibulkova and Jarmila Gajdosova.
The only male Slovakian in the Top 100 is Karol Beck.
No Davis Cup wins in the last 10 years, three FedCup wins (’10, ’09, ’06).
With impressive FedCup wins the last two years, the Italians make this list purely on that fact.
They don’t have too much talent, but they are always somehow finding a way to eke out the victory.
Francesca Schiavone is Italy’s poster girl and was a late bloomer.
Other than Schiavone, there aren’t too many good players.
On the men’s side, Fabio Fognini is Italy’s best player—ranked 34 in the world.
He made it to the quarterfinals at the French, but that will probably be the furthest he will ever reach in a grand slam.
One FedCup win (‘00) and one Davis Cup win (’07) in the last 10 years.
The only reason why the U.S. is not lower on the list is that the country lacks talent, even though it has been able to eke out some Davis Cup and FedCup wins.
The U.S. has no up-and-coming players.
Okay, maybe Christina McHale for the women’s side, but she hasn’t had any quality wins this year except against Daniela Hantuchova.
At 19 years old, McHale is still very young, but too many times in women’s tennis we have seen a woman with a lot of potential throw it away (i.e.Dinara Safina).
I am not ready to anoint Ryan Harrison the next great one either.
The Americans tend to over hype some of their athletes who usually turn out to be busts. John Isner, Donald Young and Sam Querrey all were crowned the best before they even started playing in the pros.
Let’s wait for Harrison and McHale to get far in grand slams.
Until then, the United States is at No. 6.
No Davis or FedCup wins during the last decade.
Unlike the United States and some of the other countries on the list, Germany has a bright future in tennis, especially from the women.
Andrea Petkovic is sure to make an impact. She is only 23 and ranked No. 11 in the world.
She can play with the best in tennis, already beating Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki this year.
Another player likely to win a grand slam is Sabine Lisicki.
At 21, she is younger than Petkovic, and she made it to a grand slam semifinal despite her youth.
On the men’s side, Florian Mayer’s 22 ranking is the highest amongst the Germans.
Mayer has had a consistent career but is getting old.
The German men have a lot of players in the Top 100, which is good because it shows how much talent the country is producing, even if the German players aren’t in the Top 30.
Eventually, they will get there.
One Davis Cup Championship (’10), no FedCup championships in the last 10 years.
It should not have come as much of a surprise when Serbia won its first Davis Cup last year.
The three best players on the team were Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsaravic and Viktor Troicki.
Djokovic is one of the best—if not the best—player on tour right now, and Viktor Troicki is one of the most underrated players.
I am not ready to count the Serbian women out.
A few years ago, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic were supposed to be Serbia’s saviors.
Inconsistency has gotten the best of them, but they are still very young and have time to improve their game.
One Davis Cup Championship ('01), two runner-ups ('10, '02), no FedCup Championships.
The French men have all the talent in the world but can’t produce.
I’m tired of talking about the potential they have because it stretches forever.
However, none of the players, besides maybe Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (and even he is pushing it), has produced.
Michael Llodra isn’t too bad either.
If the French men actually lived up to their billing, they would be No. 1 or No. 2 on the list.
On the opposite spectrum, Marion Bartoli is probably the least talented player in the women’s Top 25.
She did the best with what she was given and, in turn, became the No. 9 player on tour.
Two Davis Cup Championships (’02, ’06), one runner-up (’07), four FedCup championships (’08, ’07, ’05, ’04).
Wow, those Russian women can play.
Almost every other player in the women's Top 100 is from Russia. It’s ridiculous.
The only thing missing from the Russians is that one dominant player.
For the women, it could be Sharapova, but who is it for the men?
The careers of Mikhail Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko are slowly coming to a close, so the Russians need new talent.
There is no doubt they will get it, but when?
Four Davis Cup Championships (’09, ’08, ’04, ’00), one runner-up (’03), no FedCups.
Spain’s male players are equivalent to Russia’s women’s team.
They are pretty much unstoppable.
Even when Nadal didn’t play against the United States this year, Spain still won.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point.
Although Spain has an overload of male talent, it is hard to find a single strong Spanish woman player.
Maria Jose Martinez has the best ranking among the Spanish women at 38.
For now, Spain is slightly—and I mean by the narrowest margin—ahead of Russia.
If Russia had a consistent winner—male or female—the country would rank number one.
Maybe a newcomer will break on the scene, but Spain is supreme.