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‘The greatest player of all time’ debate.

Posted by tennisplanet on March 4, 2007


Until the mid-1950s, Bill Tilden was often considered the greatest player ever. Many observers, however, also felt that either Don Budge or Jack Kramer deserved consideration for the title. In 1938, Budge became the first person to win all four Grand Slam singles titles during the same calendar year. Kramer dominated the late 1940s and early 1950s.

By the latter half of the 1950s and 1960s, many had added Pancho Gonzales to the list of contenders. Budge himself reportedly believed that Gonzales was the greatest player ever. During the open era, first Rod Laver and then more recently Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras were widely regarded by many of their contemporaries as the greatest ever. Roger Federer is now considered by many observers to have the most “complete” game in modern tennis, with the potential to challenge the achievements of these past greats. Even among experts, however, no consensus has ever existed as to who has been the greatest of all. Kramer, for instance, still believes that Budge was the best ever on a consistent basis, while Ellsworth Vines was the best when playing at his best. Pancho Segura opts for Gonzales, and Gonzales himself considered Lew Hoad, at the height of his game, to be the best.

-Check out the Federer vs Sampras debate, here.


7 Responses to “‘The greatest player of all time’ debate.”

  1. David said


  2. David said

    Non- OPEN ERA ??
    Pretty hard since I was not alive and the stats are hard to compare due to Pros not being able to play in Slams.
    Top 5
    Bil Tilden
    Don Budge
    Pancho Gonzales
    Fred Perry
    Jack Krammer

    *** I put Laver and Rosewall in open era eventhrough there careers break into both open and non open era. However, you would have to assume that Laver would of had 20-25 slams and Rosewall maybe 16-20 if both could play in the slams during there pro careers.

  3. somebody else said

    There is a Pantheon of All-Time Greats. No single player can officially lay claim to Greatest Ever, since there’s always a player who has achieved something the other has not — and each of those achievements is significant.

    Men’s tennis:

    Open Era (chronological order):

    Jimmy Connors
    Bjorn Borg
    John McEnroe
    Ivan Lendl
    Mats Wilander
    Stefan Edberg
    Pete Sampras
    Andre Agassi
    Roger Federer
    Rafael Nadal

    Classical Era (chronological order):

    Bill Tilden
    Rene Lacoste
    Ellsworth Vines
    Fred Perry
    Don Budge
    Pancho Gonzales
    Lew Hoad
    Ken Rosewall
    Roy Emerson
    Rod Laver

  4. Dave said

    Best ever (any era…as of end of ’08):

    1. Sampras
    2. Laver
    3. Borg
    4. Federer
    5. McEnroe
    6. Agassi
    7. Tilden
    8. Lendl
    9. Connors
    10. Emerson

    Note: For Federer to gain #1 he must do following: re-claim top ranking and hold that ranking for enough weeks to pass Sampras’s record…win the French open (preferably beating Nadal along the way)…win (3) more slams total. If Roger falls to #3 in the world at any point and without being injured, then he has no chance of dethroning Sampras.

    Note #2: Andy Murray SHOULD be on the top 10 all-time list by 2013, assuming he stays healthy and gets his first slam win in either the 2009 Aussie or 2009 French.

  5. Michael said

    Ah come on……Federer is clearly the greatest player ever.
    I can not understand how you can compare borg or connors with him.
    Federer would have easily beaten them.

  6. chanish said

    By winning Wimbledon 2009, yet again, Federer has not only created history with 15 slam titles, but also staked a claim for all-time-greats in the world of tennis.

    Federer may still have a few years left in him to remain in top, and I am sure many more slams await him in the coming future, Nadal, Roddick, Murray, notwithstanding !

  7. Tennis always evolving, and the one we can watch right now is the best tennis ever … with federer on the top of it 😀

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