Rafael Nadal has just won his 12th Grand Slam title, making him one of only four players (alongside Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Roy Emerson) to taste victory at a Tennis Major so many times.
Andre Agassi, United States – The only man to get a career golden slam, Agassi, despite being one of the greatest ever, will always be remembered as second to Pete Sampras, despite having a longer and his ability to win in the Roland Garros, making him one of only six players to achieve a career grand slam.
Agassi won eight grand slam titles, the first being in Wimbledon, 1992, his only win in London. He won four Australian Opens (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003), once in Paris (1999) and twice in New York (1995, 1999).
Ivan Lendl, Czechoslovakia/United States – The man who pretty much invented “Power Tennis” ruled on most courts during the second half of the 1980’s, topping the ATP rankings for most of the time between 1984-1990.
Lendl won his first grand slam title in Paris, where he has won the French Open three times (1984, 1986-1987). He won the Australian Open twice (1989-199) and has three US Open trophies (1985-1987). He made the Wimbledon final twice, but never won on the London grass, probably hurting his legacy and consideration when coming to “best ever” debates.
Jimmy Connors, United States – The man who was at the top of the ATP rankings for 160 consecutive weeks (1974-1977), second only to Roger Federer, is one of five players (Wilander, Agassi, Federer and Nadal are the others) to win a grand slam title on all three type of courts. He never won the French Open, but he did win the US Open during the brief period it was played on clay (1975-1977).
Connors won his first Slam in Australia, 1974, his only trophy from Down Under. He won at Wimbledon twice (1974, 1982) and five times at the US Open (1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983). He never got passed the semi’s in the Roland Garros.
Ken Rosewall, Australia – The man who possessed what is considered to be the best backhand in the history of tennis won Grand Slam titles in both the open era and in the pre-open era. He was a pro between 1957-1968, when it was forbidden for anyone but amateurs to participate in the Grand Slam tournaments.
Rosewall won his first slam in 1953, one of his four wins in the Australian Open (1955, 1971, 1972). He won the French twice (1953, 1968) and twice at the US Open (1956, 1970). He made the Wimbledon final four times, losing to four different players (Connors, Newcombe, Hoad, Drobny).
Fred Perry, United Kingdom – Still, 74 years since his final grand slam title, Perry is the last British male player to win a grand slam title, with Andy Murray being the current carrier of the British hopes and the deliverer of disappointments.
Perry won eight grand slam titles in a period of three years. 1933 – US Open. 1934 – Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. 1935 – French Open and Wimbledon. 1936 – Wimbledon and US Open.
10 Wins – Bill Tilden, United States
Probably the first tennis “giant”, Tilden played as an amateur for 18 years (1912-1930), winning 138 titles out of 192 tournaments he took part of, winning 93.6% of his matches (The highest open era record belongs to Bjorn Borg, 82.4%).
Tilden won 10 titles, all of them in Wimbledon and the US Open. He won three Wimbledon’s (1920, 1921, 1930) and seven US Open titles (1920-1925, 1930).
11 Wins – Novak Djokovic, Serbia, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver
Novak Djokovic won his first grand slam title in 2008 (Australia) but had to wait for 2011 until his next won. In 2011 he won three titles and then again in 2015, each time missing out on the Roland Garros. Overall, he’s won six times in Australia, three at Wimbledon and twice at the US Open.
Bjorn Borg, Sweden – As shown earlier, Borg, despite a strong challenge from Nadal, is currently holding the best winning percentage in the history of the Open era among men with 82.7%. Nadal has 82.4%, better than Federer and his 80.2%. Borg has also a fantastic 90% record in grand slam matches.
He won five Wimbledon titles, all back to back, sharing the five consecutive wins record with Roger Federer. He also won six times at the French Open, four of those wins coming back to back, no longer a recor. He never got passed the third round in Australia and made the US Open final four times, losing twice to Connors and twice to McEnroe.
Rod Laver, Australia – Greatest ever? Hard to tell, with time blurring the perspective, but Laver’s achievements rank with the best of them, and maybe even beat them – Laver won slams in the amateur era, and also later, during the open era, missing some years after going pro. He has two calendar year grand slams, 1962 as an amateur and 1969, as a pro. Along with Roy Emerson (coming up), they are the only male players to win each grand slam more than once.
Laver won three Australian Open titles (1960, 1962, 1969), two French Open titles (1962, 1969), four Wimbledon titles (1961-1962, 1968-1969) and two US Open titles (1962, 1969). He also brought Roger Federer to tears when presenting him with the trophy after the 2006 Australian Open Finals.
Roy Emerson, Australia
Another legendary Aussie, who pretty much enjoyed Laver turning pro during the pre-open years to dominate the Grand Slam field. He was the first male player to win each grand slam title more than once.
Six Australian Open titles (1961, 1963-1967), two French Open titles (1963, 1967), Wimbledon twice (1964-1965) and the US Open twice (1961, 1964).
14 Wins – Rafael Nadal, Spain
Right now the greatest clay court player of all time and on his way to being the greatest ever overall – Rafael Nadal has won the French Open eight times between 2005 and 2013, losing there only once in 2009. He is a two time US Open champion (2010, 2013), two times at Wimbledon (2008, 2010) and once at the Australian Open (2009).
14 Wins, Pete Sampras, United States
Didn’t have Agassi’s charisma, but was simply a better tennis player, so despite the few who think Agassi was better, the 14-8 mark, despite Agassi playing more years, tells the story. They also met five times in a Grand Slam final, with Sampras winning four times, losing only in the 1995 Australian Open. Down to business – for 90’s lovers and kids, Pistol Pete will always be the greatest ever, with his classy serve & volley game and his utter dominance at Wimbledon and the US Open. He’ll also be remembered for his failure at Paris, with the 1996 Semi Final his best finish there.
He won two Australian Open titles (1994, 1997) and a record (shared) seven Wimbledon titles (1993-1995, 1997-2000) and five US Open titles (1990, 1993, 1995-1996, 2002).
First, 17 Wins, Roger Federer, Switzerland
There’s always that sad time with every great player – when we start seeing his demise, him getting older, him starting to fail. In the beginning of 2009 and some parts of 2008 we thought it was the beginning of the end, but than Federer came back, beat Nadal in the Madrid Final, going on to win the 2009 Wimbledon and Roland Garros, beating Sampars’ record and finally getting his career grand slam. Early 2010 – Beating Andy Murray in the Australian Open got us thinking Federer is here for a long time. But six months later, I guess the party is nearing its end for Federer, failing to make the Semi Finals of both the Roland Garros and Wimbledon after 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi final appearances. No need to shed a tear, this is the best player ever, unless Nadal proves us wrong.
Four Australian Open titles (2004, 2006-2007, 2010), One, very memorable, French Open title (2009), Seven (tied for first all time), including five consecutive, Wimbledon titles (2003-2007, 2009, 2012) and Five US Open titles, consecutive (2004-2008). He also holds the two top spots in Grand Slam Finals appearances, with 10 (2005-2007) and 8 (2008-2010).