The Most Dominant Players on Every Surface in Tennis History

Jeff Cohn@jeff_cohnCorrespondent IIIAugust 16, 2013

The Most Dominant Players on Every Surface in Tennis History

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    Many players have come and gone in the sport of tennis, but it seems some legends' records will never be beaten.

    And with the sport being unique, in that there are several court surfaces, it makes the game even more challenging and difficult to shine.

    Throughout tennis history, some winning streaks and dominant performances have defined a particular age or generation.

    On the ATP World Tour website, you can check the FedEx Reliability Zone to see players' winning percentages and indices on different surfaces over their entire careers.

    Players such as Ivan Lendl, Rod Laver and Guillermo Vilas appear near the top of the index for so many surfaces but are not definitively the greatest, or most dominant, compared to a couple other players. Still, they and their achievements deserve recognition.

    This list comprises the most dominant players on every surface and is largely based on the FedEx Reliability Zone.

Pete Sampras: Wimbledon Grass

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    "Pistol" Pete Sampras certainly endured a few tough, unexpected losses at Wimbledon over the years.

    But, prior to Roger Federer's run to the 2012 title at the All-England Club, he was clearly the most dominant player on Wimbledon grass.

    Fast courts were definitely Sampras' friends, as his quick style of play and phenomenal serve-and-volley were dependent on them.

    He also did not have the best fitness regime, so he tried to get the points over as quickly as possible.

    His seven Wimbledon titles make up half of his all-time major count, and they are representative of his status as an American icon.

Novak Djokovic: Hard Court

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    Novak Djokovic is an incredibly fast athlete with success on all courts.

    Each member of the "Big Four" today is an all-round player, but Djokovic is especially good on the hard courts.

    The slower the hard court the better, as he has won a multitude of ATP1000 titles in varying geographic locations and many Australian Open championships.

    His ability to move and slide on the hard courts makes him a threat, and his groundstrokes have a certain bite on this surface that allows him to neutralize his opponents.

    Nole is able to crack the ball better in the hard-court tournaments, and his career win-loss record in them is staggering.

Rafael Nadal: Clay

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    Rafael Nadal has achieved more on clay than I may be able to list in this slide (no pun intended).

    Having only lost in one Roland Garros tournament and being the all-time Masters Series title holder, largely due to his clay dominance, are just a couple of things that stand out for the Spaniard.

    His game is entirely suited for the surface—his heavy forehand breaks down fellow-baseliners and his retrieval skills make the court seem small for competitors.

    Nadal is not the only player that will be remembered for being dominant on clay (see the next slide), but he is certainly the greatest ever player on that surface.

Bjorn Borg: Clay

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    Bjorn Borg was similar to Nadal—he was quick, knew how to get out of tough situations and did not miss balls.

    Borg was incredibly frustrating to play against, as he naturally knew where to move and at what times.

    Though he did not have outright weapons, per se, he could break anybody down and won so many matches on clay by being clever and skillful.

    Borg has been present at many of Nadal's French Open successes and is surely thankful that they did not compete during the same time period.

Roger Federer: Hard/Grass

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    Roger Federer's hard-court and grass-court career records stand by the top of the indices.

    The Swiss is one of the all-time great attacking players and can do virtually anything on the court.

    He does not even need to break his opponents down. One shot is all it takes sometimes to end the point with a winner on the fast surfaces.

    Federer has accumulated more than 10 Slams on the quick courts and is clearly more dominant on this surface. In fact, he has also done considerably better in the hard-court Masters Series tournaments than the clay ones.

    The way he plays and attacks is similar to Sampras at Wimbledon and Andre Agassi at the U.S. Open (though he has won just as many, if not more, titles than they respectively did).

John McEnroe: Indoor/Carpet

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    John McEnroe is the all-time king of carpet courts. Not just that, but he was also an immaculate athlete on the indoor courts.

    The carpet surface was just the right blend for him to attack on his own serve-and-volley as well as return serve and defend.

    And with his sometimes funky-looking strokes (that could be error-prone at times), it makes sense that the indoor environments suited him better throughout his career.

    Johnny Mac was an icon for American tennis and had the reputation as a "bad boy," but his successful career will be remembered for many decades to come.

Jimmy Connors: Hard Court

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    Jimmy Connors was, in a way, the Federer of his time.

    He was an incredible attacking player, beat people with his status and attitude, won many hard-court matches and continued to play well into his older years.

    The American was all business on the court, and it showed in his determination and results.

    He started coaching Maria Sharapova (though she quickly fired him) and previously worked with Andy Roddick to try to incorporate his aggressive mentality and style into the games of those top stars.

    But his coaching ability may not prove to be so great simply because the way he took to the hard courts and attacked in matches is not entirely teachable.


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