Greatest Ever: Tennis: The Top 10 Male Players of All Time

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IJune 8, 2008

The third installment of my Greatest Ever series is here! In this series I will look at the greatest talents to grace various sports.

This time I look at tennis, and the top 10 male players of all time. Enjoy!

Whatever your preferred sport, you have to admire the grace and skill of a great tennis players. Some of the rallies leave even the most sceptical viewer breathless, and the great rivalries between the greater players just add to this. There have been many great players on the tennis court, but here I try and condense it down into the top 10.

10. Mats Wilander (SWE) - With seven Grand Slam singles titles to his name, including three in one year, plus a Grand Slam doubles title, Wilander retired in 1996 having cemented his name among the greats. Despite never grabbing the elusive Wimbledon singles title, Wilander won the U.S. Open once, and the Australian and French Open three times each.

Wilander did also taste success at Wimbledon, but in the doubles tournament, grabbing the title alongside Joachim Nystrom.

9. Boris Becker (GER) - Wimbledon's youngest conqueror, Becker was a talented and well-liked player. The only Grand Slam that the Olympic gold medalist failed to win was the French Open. His six Grand Slam titles break down into three Wimbledon singles titles, one U.S. Open title, and two Australian Open titles.

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8. John McEnroe (USA) - "You cannot be serious?" Who will ever forget what is now his catchphrase? The fiery American is remembered as much for his attitude as his tennis ability. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles, three at Wimbledon and four at the U.S. Open.

His failure to win the Australian or French Open prevents him from being further up this list, but his legendary rivalry with Bjorn Borg makes him a worthy No. 8.

7. Jimmy Connors (USA) - The former coach of Andy Roddick, Connors held the world's No. 1 title for 160 consecutive weeks, and for a total of 268 weeks throughout his career. His eight Grand Slams included two Wimbledon titles, five U.S. Open titles, and one Australian Open title. He also won two Grand Slam doubles titles, once at Wimbledon and once at the U.S. Open.

6. Ivan Lendl (USA) - The Czech-born Lendl never managed to win Wimbledon, but his eight Grand Slam singles titles comprised of three U.S. Open titles, two Australian Open titles, and three French Open wins.

He competed in a record 19 Grand Slam singles finals, and reached at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years, a record only equaled by Pete Sampras.

5. Andre Agassi (USA) - Had it not been for Pete Sampras, Agassi would have added to his eight Grand Slam titles. He met him in five finals, only winning one.

Despite this, Agassi managed to complete a feat only four others have managed, winning all four Grand Slam singles titles in his career. He triumphed once at Wimbledon, twice at the U.S. Open, four times in the Australian Open, and once in the French Open. This proved his all-around ability to win on any and every surface.

4. Rod Laver (AUS) - Laver makes this list as he was a great player before and after the "Open Era" of tennis came into play.

This list focuses on the players since the Open era has started—however, Laver is the only player to have ever twice won all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same year. He achieved this magnificent feat once while amateur and once while professional. His 11 Grand Slam singles titles included four Wimbledons, three Australians, and two of both the U.S. and French Opens.

3. Roger Federer (SWI) - Probably the best all-round tennis player of all-time, Federer could easily go on to top this list in years to come. In fact, if it wasn't for the thorn in his side that is Rafael Nadal, he may be at the top now.

He has met Nadal five times in Grand Slam finals so far, with Nadal winning three, all on clay, and preventing Federer from achieving a career Grand Slam. Federer was embarrassed by Nadal on the clay today, and will really have to prove his greatness by beating Nadal on that surface in the future.

He has been at the world's No. 1 spot since February 2, 2004, an ever-growing record. He already has 12 Grand Slam singles titles, and the man with seemingly no weakness looks likely to break Pete Sampras' record. He has won Wimbledon a record-equaling five consecutive times, also winning the U.S. Open four times and the Australian open thrice.

2. Bjorn Borg (SWE) - Borg tops Federer as he was a master of both grass and clay. Despite only winning two of the four Grand Slam singles titles, he did so in such style that he deserves such a high ranking. And had he not retired at just 26, he may have gone on to win those two titles.

Certainly, he came close in the U.S. Open more than once, coming as runner-up four times. His five consecutive Wimbledon titles was equaled by Federer last year, but still remains a phenomenal feat, and his four consecutive French Open titles, equaled by Nadal today, is also a wonderful record.

1. Pete Sampras (USA) - The American holds so many records in men's tennis. His 14 Grand Slam singles titles is the best ever, and consists of a record-equaling seven Wimbledon titles (getting four in a row once), five U.S. Open titles (an open era shared record), and two Australian Opens.

He never conquered on the clay in the French Open, however, which is the only blemish on his illustrious career. His rivalry with Andre Agassi brought out the best in him on a number of occasions. The king of grass courts is the No. 1 money earner of all-time in tennis, and the No. 1 player of all-time as well.

Coming soon—the greatest female tennis players of all-time!

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