Who Is the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time – Tennis Goat Debate Federer, Nadal, Djokovic

Alright before we disagree about the the big 3 and who is the best between them (my opinion changes daily and will continue to change until they are all done playing!) We are all thankful that we got to live in the golden era of tennis and watch these 3 men absolutely dominate tennis! Out of the 74 Grand Slams since Roger Federer won his first 17 years ago, they have combined to win 55 of the Majors. That’s 71% of the time for you non math majors.

That means it’s pretty good odds one of them is going to win the slam. Since Djokovic won his first in 2008, there have only be 8 other champions. That’s 40 Slams out of a possible 48. Andy Murray and Stan the Man make up 6 of the other 8. Murray will definitely be in the honorable mention but wont make out top 10 list today. Let’s also mention since the first slam in 2017, the only people to win ANY slam has been Fed, Nadal, and Djokovic.

The first Slam was Wimbledon in 1877 won by Spencer Gore. There were a lot of people that went on long streaks of winning the same slam over and over back in the day, but we are going to focus on the Open Era. The game was vastly different back then, and travel was much harder, and simply less competition. So let’s just dive into our Number 10 on the list.

10. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver

Source: sportsweeksportslist.wordpress.com

How can you have two people at #10? Good question. Emerson had 12 Slam Titles and Laver had 11. But Remember we are talking about the open Era. These Australian Champions didn’t play much in the Open Era. Laver had only 5 Slams in the Open Era. But what these men did for tennis is definitely worth putting in the top 10. Heck, Laver even has a big arena named after him. He was the No. 1 ranked professional from 1964 to 1970, spanning four years before and three years after the start of the Open Era in 1968

9. John McEnroe

Source: npr.org

What he lacks in Overall Grandslam titles with 5, he makes up for it with entertaining temper, off court acting, and now fantastic broadcaster. While he was definitely one of the greatest players of all time, he was also the most entertaining. I don’t think Nick Kygrios is a great comparison but the tempers just might be. I am pleasantly pleased with the broadcaster he has turned into. He and brother Pat McEnroe are my two favorite to listen to. Fun fact, McEnroe hold the most titles with singles AND doubles combined. (Connors holds the single record) McEnroe became the top-ranked singles #1 player in the world on March 3, 1980. He was the  #1 player on 14 separate occasions between 1980 and 1985 and finished the year ranked No. 1 four straight years from 1981 through 1984. He spent a total of 170 weeks as the world #1.

8. Jimmy Connors

Source: tennis.com

Some how Jimmy Connors is underrated in the tennis world. He held the #1 ranking for the most weeks in a row (160) until Fed broke that streak. He also has the most ATP titles in ATP History… And with 8 slams that definitely puts him above McEnroe in my book. You could easily make an argument for him 5-8 but I’m going to argue that he is #8 for now. Connors won eight Grand Slam singles championships: 5 US Opens, 2 Wimbledons, and 1 Australian Open.

He did not participate in the French Open during his peak years (1974–78), as he was banned from playing by the event in 1974 due to his association with World Team Tennis. This probably would have given him the career grand slam and would probably have double digit slam titles. But we will never know.  He only played in two Australian Opens in his entire career, winning it in 1974 and reaching the final in 1975. Fun Fact, few highly ranked players, aside from Australians, travelled to Australia for that event up until the mid-1980s.

7. Ivan Lendle

Source: tennisnet.com

He ended up with 8 titles in his career and get this… 11 Runner ups. Ouch. However I am not going to fault him for losing in the finals. I think its better than being 6-0 and losing first or second round in the other . He paved the way for our #6 player in terms of diet and conditioning and taking Pro Tennis into some of the fittest most athletic people in the world!

He was world #1 for 270 weeks. Lendl won a career total of 94 ATP singles titles (plus 49 other non-ATP tournaments, a total of 144 singles titles) and 6 doubles titles, and his career prize money of U.S. $21,262,417 was a record at the time

6. Andre Agassi

Source: gq.com

I could be overrating him at 6, but if it wasn’t for Pete, he would be where Pete is. Oh and he is my favorite player… But with that said he does have a 11 titles and helped bring tennis mainstream with his rivalry with Pete. He also has wins against a lot of these legends you are reading about here.

Andre and Rafa are the only two players in tennis history to complete the Career Golden Slam. (All 4 Slams + Win Gold at the Olympics. Federer technically has a doubles gold) Plus he and Steffi Graff are Couple Goals. Two of the greatest tennis player married and creating education opportunities and more in Vegas.

5. Bjorn Borg

Source: skysports.com

Let me start this by stating that he retired at 26… Federer is 37 at the time of this article. Imagine if he had another 11 years on his resume. Unfortunately his hot start and winning his first slam at 18 years old and becoming an international phenom tooks it toll. But his brilliance still graced tennis for a while and was as good as player to play the game. Legend has it, when McEnroe took over the number 1 spot in 1981 after the US Open, Borg skipped the presses and the shower and left town, never to return to tennis as a player again.

“What if”. Between 1974 and 1981 he became the first man in the Open Era to win 11 Grand Slam singles titles (6 at the French Open and 5 in  row at Wimbledon that Fed would once again break another record), although he was never able to win the US Open in four finals appearances.

4. Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras might not look like the 4th most athletic tennis player in the world, but don’t try and tell that to Agassi or Federer. Sampras held the record of 14 Grandslams for a long time before Fed dethroned him as the worlds greatest tennis player. Quickly after Sampras was also be quickly passed by Nadal and Djokovic.

With a big serve and some of the best hands tennis will ever see if made for a leathal 1-2 punch especially in an era where serving and volleying were in. It would be fascinating to see how he would do in todays game. He also had the recond for most Titles at the prestigious Wimbledon before Fed dethroned him again. His epic battles with Agassi made for one of sports greatest rivalries of their time. He is the pride and joy of American tennis and that title could remain there for a long long long time!

Because these 3 players careers go hand in hand I’m going give you a lot of statistics about each player and then at theend I will give you my 1 – 2 and 3 selection of who is the greatest player of all time… Right Now. I will also give you who I will end up being the G.O.A.T when they all retire!

Djokovic, Nadal, Federer. Where do you rate them? Can’t go wrong in my book. Fed leads the way with 20 slams to Nadal’s 19 to Djokovic’s 16.

Fed has 8 at Wimbledon / Nadal has 12 at the French / Djokovic’s has 8 at the Australian Open. This group has won 14 of the last 16 Australian Opens, 14 of the last 16 French Opens, 15 of the last 17 Wimbledon’s, and 11 of the last 16 US Open’s.

Fed has 103 ATP Titles / Nadal has 84 ATP Titles / Djokovic has 77 ATP Titles.

While all the numbers are mighty impressive. One of the most impressive statistic is the number of matches played to win all the big trophies. Djokovic has played less tennis win more tournaments. Also because he has won the most recently and prize money has skyrocketed recently, that is my opinion of why he has made the most prize money on tour.

Another big factor since we are just looking at the big 3 right now is their record against each other. Again Djokovic has a winning record against both of them.

While Nadal DOMINATES clay he has still reached peak success on the other surfaces. Just not as much as the other two have. With Again, Djokovic seemingly the most versatile winner of the 3.


  • Weeks at #1: 206
  • Career titles: 84
  • Grand slam titles: 19
  • 1 x Australian Open: 2009
  • 12 x French Open: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • 2 x Wimbledon: 2008, 2010
  • 4 x US Open: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019
  • Big titles: 54 (19 grand slams; 35 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
  • 2008 Beijing Gold Medal (Career Golden Slam) 2016 Doubles Gold Medal
  • Nadal vs Fed: Leads 24-16
  • Nadal vs Novak: Down 26-28


  • Weeks World #1: 275
  • Career titles: 77
  • Grand slam titles: 16
  • 7 x Australian Open: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019
  • 1 x French Open: 2016
  • 5 x Wimbledon: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019
  • 3 x US Open: 2011, 2015, 2018
  • Big titles: 55 (16 grand slams; 5 ATP finals; 34 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
  • Novak vs Fed: Leads 26 – 23
  • Novak vs Nadal: Leads 28-26

Roger Federer:

  • Weeks World #1: 310 (237 In a row!)
  • Career titles: 103
  • Grand slam titles: 20
  • 6 x Australian Open: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018
  • 1 x French Open: 2009
  • 8 x Wimbledon: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017
  • 5 x US Open: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Big titles: 54 (20 grand slams; 6 ATP Finals; 28 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
  • 2012 Doubles Gold Medal
  • Fed vs Nadal: Down 16-24
  • Fed vs Novak: Down 23-26

Overall Grand Slam Winning Percentage

  • Nadal – 87.71% – 2nd best all time
  • Federer – 87.14% – 3rd best all time
  • Djokovic – 83.12% – 6th best all time

Australian Open

  • Nadal – 83.3% – 7th best all time
  • Federer – 87.5% – 3rd best all time
  • Djokovic – 86.5% – 4th best all time

French Open

Source: atptour.com
  • Nadal -98.1% – 1st best all time
  • Federer – 80.6% – 7th best all time
  • Djokovic – 79.5% – 8th best all time


  • Nadal – 85.7% – 7th best all time
  • Federer – 90.4% – 2nd best all time
  • Djokovic – 82.0 – 10th best all time

U.S. Open

  • Nadal – 81.0% – 9th best all time
  • Federer – 89.7% – 1st best all time
  • Djokovic – 84.6% – 4th best all time

At the beginning of this article I would have put Federer as the Obvious choice for number 1. After all he does have the most Grand Slams. But the fact that he has a losing record to both Nadal and Novak and it has taken him more matches based on percentage to win 103 career titles, he might not even be the greatest player of his generation. While he DOMINATED and was the best player for 237 (4.5 years), Nadal and Novak’s numbers are quite stellar as well.

As of 01/10/2020 G.O.A.T Ranking is…

3. Rafa Nadal

2. Novak Djokovic

1. Roger Federer

As of when the Big 3 is retired the G.O.A.T IMO will be…

3. Roger Federer

2. Rafa Nadal

1. Novak Djokovic

Yup, Novak will be the greatest player tennis has ever seen and everyone is such a Federer and Nadal lover we are missing it! (I am guilty of this as well.) But ladies and gentleman it is time to start giving Novak the credit he deserves as the best player in tennis!