South American tennis players are historically known for being clay court specialists, due to the dominance of this surface among the tennis courts available on the continent. As it is usually said, South Americans “grow up” on clay.
Learning to play on clay courts contributes a lot to the foundation of young players’ games. As the surface propitiates a slower game, players are required to develop solid ground strokes that enable them to sustain longer rallies and to use more strategy to both construct and finish points—which have been the characteristics of South American tennis throughout history.
With Argentina leading the way, some remarkable professionals have written their names in the history books of the sport. The following list represents an opinion up to this date.
Note that there are players that are still active, and therefore could move either up or down as their careers come to an end.
Any analysis that takes into consideration players from different eras can be tricky. It was no different with this one, as there are players who competed only before the Open Era of tennis and there are players who came and have been around after its inception in 1968.
The challenge was to evaluate the players' careers and how they balanced among Grand Slam results, highest position achieved in the rankings, total number of titles won and Davis Cup performances. Intangibles were also part of the analysis, and they were on account of this author's heart and understanding of the game.
With that in mind, let’s take a sneak peak at the top 25 South American players of all time!