Saturday, March 27, 2010

Top Men's Tennis Player of the Open Era

The intention of this is to look at the top men's tennis players of all-time. One can make a great case for more than one player as the greatest of all-time.

The oldest player here is Jimmy Connors. It’s awfully hard to compare tennis players going back to the time of Laver and Emerson and Budge and all those guys.

Grand Slams are important. However, back in the 70s and 80s, the French and Australian Opens were not as important as Wimbledon and the US Open.

Winning is very important but there is a lot to be said for coming in second, too.

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Rafael Nadal
Points for:
-Has six grand slam titles and two runner-ups
-Nadal is one of only two male tennis players to own three grand slam titles on three different surfaces at the same time

Points against:
-His resume needs work as he only has the six titles
-Has yet to win a reach the finals at the US Open
-Nadal has injury struggles that may prevent him from more wins

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Boris Becker
Points for:
-Becker has six Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Played in a record seven Wimbledon finals
-Incredible on grass and hard courts
-In 1985, he became the first unseeded player to win a Wimbledon title at 17 years old
-One of the first players to win points with a powerful service game

Points against:
-He never won a single clay court tournament but did make the semis at the French Open three times

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Stefan Edberg
Points for:
-Edberg has six Grand Slam titles and five runner-ups
-Played in a record 5 Australian Open finals
-Spectacular grass and hard court player

Points against:
-He lost in his only French Open Final to Michael Chang
-Did not dominate the game consistently

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John McEnroe
Points for:
-McEnroe has seven Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Head to head, he had the edge on Jimmy Connors (31-20) and was even with Bjorn Borg (7-7)
-May go down as the greatest doubles player ever

Points against:
-He had a very short but brilliant peak but doesn't have the stats to match some of the others
-He never won a Grand Slam on clay but did reach the finals where he blew a two set and a break lead against Lendl
-Might have more titles but he rarely played in the Australian Open

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Mats Wilander
Points for:
-Wilander has seven Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Has won at least two Grand Slams on grass, clay, and hard courts
-The most versatile of clay court players
-He won three Grand Slams in 1988

Points against:
-He never won at Wimbledon
-Banned for three months after testing positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open

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Andre Agassi
Points for:
-Agassi has eight Grand Slam titles and seven runner-ups
-The only player ever to win the Career Golden Slam (Wimbledon, US Open,
Australian Open, French Open, and Olympics)

Points against:
-Only won the French and Wimbeldon once each
-Agassi seemed to disappear for times in the late '90s

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Ivan Lendl
Points for:
-Lendl has eight Grand Slam titles and 11 runner-ups
-He has the second most Grand Slam singles finals (19) in tennis history
-Lendl has eight consecutive US Open singles finals
-In another era, Lendl may have racked up more titles

Points against:
-Lendl never won at Wimbledon and lost in straight sets as runner-up twice
-Played in an era of great players at the top of their game like John McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Stefan Edberg

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Jimmy Connors
Points for:
-Connors has eight Grand Slam titles and seven runner-ups
-He won the U.S. Open a record five times on three different surfaces
-Jimmy Connors won more tournaments than any player in mens tennis history
-He has 1,241 singles victories which is the most all-time
-Except for one week, he was the No. 1-ranked player from July 1974 to July 1979

Points against:
-He never reached a French Open final
-He won on clay at the U.S Open in 1976 but it was a different clay surface than Paris

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Pete Sampras
Points for:
-Sampras has a second best 14 Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Dominated at Wimbledon with a record seven wins and a 63-7 record for his career at Wimbledon
-Holds a record eight consecutive wins in Grand Slam finals
-Sampras was ranked No. 1 by the ATP for a record 286 weeks
-Regarded as the greatest grass court player of all-time

Points against:
-He never won a French Open and never reached the final of a French Open
-Besides Andre Agassi, Sampras didn't play against any of the greats, at least not while they were anywhere near their primes
-The least versatile of the tennis greats

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Bjorn Borg
Points for:
-Borg has 11 Grand Slam titles and five runner-ups
-He was great on all three surfaces—he did not ever win a U.S. Open but he reached four finals
-Won the Wimbledon Open era record of five straight titles
-He is the only player of the Open Era to have won Wimbledon and the French Open in the same season more than once and he did it three straight times
-His all-time leading win percentage in Grand Slams is 41 percent

Points against:
-He never won the U.S. Open
-Borg retired at 25
-Coulda Woulda Shoulda...if Borg had chosen to play in the Australian Open more often and not retired so young, he might have as many titles as Federer

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Roger Federer
Points for:
-Has 16 grand slam titles and six runner-ups
-One of only two players in tennis’ Open Era who have won the career grand slam
-Consistency-He has an even spread of wins across the 4 Grand Slam tournaments (4-1-5-6)
-Averaged more than one grand slam title per year
-One of only three men with at least five titles at two Grand Slams

Points against:
-He’s been consistently dominated on clay by one of his contemporaries (Nadal)
-The competition is not as good as what other greats faced...men's tennis in America has been practically non-existent during his entire run

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