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  ...built for those in relentless search of eternal damnation

"And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last" - Led Zeppelin (from the song "Stairway To Heaven")

Tennis was invented somewhere around 1859-65. The first major tennis tournament was played in 1877 in Wimbledon in the UK. The Americans started their own championships in 1881. The French did the same in 1897 but did not allow non-French club members to compete until 1924. The Aussies began their championships in 1905. There were other major tournaments played but these 4 tournaments were the for the most part the most important. These four major tournaments were open to amateurs only and professional were barred from competing. The women's amateur tour never really had a professional counterpart, but for the men, the pro tour was more competitive and higher quality, especially after World War II. Eventually around 1968, most of the tournaments declared themselves open to both professionals and amateurs. The professional ATP and WTA tennis organizations were established around 1974 and rankings were established. A lot of money was poured into tennis, through sponsorship, TV coverage and bigger stadium as tennis became more popular and became more international than ever.

The most heated debate in tennis has always been who is the greatest tennis player of all time. This leads to heated debates as with any other sport. Things get complicated with tennis because before the open era (since the 1968 French Open)- when both professionals and amateurs could compete, there was a big divide between professionals and amateurs among men. The professionals who took money through sponsors were shunned by the major championships and were barred from competing. The professionals made their own major championships and competed among themselves. They also did one-one tours where the top professional competed with amateur champions who had just turned pro, in the head to head tours where they played a series of matches across different venues. Since there were essentially two tours out there with the professional being superior but essentially operating undercover and got being able to compete at the biggest majors with historical importance. A further complicating factor in comparing open and pre-opem era is that the competition level increased in the open era with a lot of money being involved and a lot more at stake and popularity of tennis sky-rocketing

These are my thoughts on the greatest debate. A fair comparision is possible only if you agree that:
* There can be no greatest player of all time.
* You cannot compare greats from all eras. Cross era comparision doesn't work!
* Pre World War I era, with little international travel, was vastly different than post WW1 era and so should be considered separate.
* Pre World War II was more international than Pre-World World War I era, but was still was not as global as post World War II era. Also there was a pro tour on the men's side.
* Pre ATP/WTA era after Pre World War II era had many amateur players turning pro soon in their career. The amateur tour was less competitive than the pro tour.
* Open era really became more really open only around 1974. There were many bans and/or boycotts during the 1968-73 period among men.

I have decided to only compare greats within an era. I have identified 4 such eras: Pre-World War I, Pre-World War II, Pre ATP/WTA era and finally the ATP/WTA era.

Pre-World War I Era (1877-1914)

In the Pre-World War I era, I am considering a player as a great if only the player has 4 points aggregate
Points are allocated as follows
* One Wimbledon title counts as 1 point
* One World Hard Court Championship title counts as 1 point
* One World Covered Court Championships counts as 1 point
* One Irish title until 1896 counts as 1 point (for men)
* One Monte Carlo title until 1896 counts as 1 point (for men)
* One Olympic Gold counts as 0.75 point
* One US Championships title counts as 0.5 point
* One Australian Championships title counts as 0.5 point
* One Olympic Silver counts as 0.5 point
* One Olympic Bronze counts as 0.25 point

The following players had 4 points.
01) Anthony Wilding (New Zealand) = 4 (Wim) + 2 (WHCC) + 1 (WCCC) + 5 (MC) + 1 (Aus) + 0.25 (OGB) = 13.25
02) Reggie Doherty (UK) = 4 (Wim) + 6 (MC) + 0.25 (OGB) = 10.25
02) Laurie Doherty (UK) = 5 (Wim) + 4 (MC) + 0.75 (OGG) + 0.5 (US) = 10.25
04) William Renshaw (UK) = 7 (Wim) + 3 (Irish) = 10
05) Ernest Renshaw (UK) = 1 (Wim) + 4 (Irish) = 5
05) Joshua Pim (Ireland) = 2 (Wim) + 3 (Irish) = 5
07) Herbert Lawford (UK) = 1 (Wim) + 3 (Irish) = 4
07) Wilfred Baddeley (UK) = 3 (Wim) + 1 (Irish) = 4
01) Dorothea Douglass (UK) = 7 (Wim) + 0.75 (OG) = 7.75
02) Charlotte Cooper (UK) = 6 (Wim) + 0.75 (OG) = 6.75
03) Blanche Bingley (UK) = 6 (Wim) = 6
04) Lottie Dod (UK) = 5 (Wim) = 5

I am giving the most importance to Wimbledon, the earliest tennis championships for the Pre-World War I era. During this period, travel between continents was very difficult courtesy limited or no sea travel. So the US and the Australian Championships were isolated and the #1 players of those times almost never participated in them. The French Championships were only limited to French Club members and not an international tournament. Wimbledon was the only tournament which attracted a truly international crowd. And even at Wimbledon, the contestants were primarily of British and Irish oirgin until the beginning of 20th century. The Irish championships was the second most important championships considering that most of the top British and Irish players participated in it. Olympics was another important international tounament. The two major championships which had just started before the beginning of World War I were the World Hard Court Championships played on clay and World Covered Court Championships played on wood. These tournaments attracted the best players and the International Lawm Tennis Federation considered these three tournaments as the majors. I have weighted the various tournaments in this period and scored the players.

Anthony Wilding who won 4 Wimbledon, 2 WHCC, 1 WCCC, 5 Monte Carlo, and 1 Australian titles, finished first. He was probably the most dominating player of the Pre-World War I era. He won many championships in different countries. He also won 115 tournaments and was good on all surfaces (grass, clay, wood) during his era. He was the first player to do a calendar Grand Slam of sorts when he won Wimbledon, WHCC and WCCC in the same year. Unfortunately he would be killed in World War I during action at sea. He would have probably boasted a better record if he had lived longer. Laurie Doherty and his elder brother Reggie Doherty who dominated Wimbledon from 1897-1906 came second and third. If not for their fragile health, both of them could have played and won more Wimbledon's. Laurie was the only Pre-World War I tennis champion to win both the Wimbledon and US Championships. Laurie and Reggie completely dominated the Monte Carlo tournament winning it 10 times among them. William Renshaw who won 7 Wimbledon and 3 Irish championships, thus having 10 major titles came fourth. His elder twin brother, Ernest Renshaw won just one Wimbledon, but 4 Irish championships finished fifth. Both players were the leading players of the 1880s. Irish Joshua Pim who won 2 Wimbledon and 3 Irish championships was tied with Ernest Renshaw. The badass looking Herbert Lawford and Wilfred Baddeley who won a total of 4 majors (Wimbledon + Irish) were tied each other for the seventh and final position. Wilfred Baddely who is a dead-ringer for my brother-in-law and who was part of another brother pair (his younger twin brother Herbert was good in doubles), won three Wimbledons more than Ernest Renshaw and Joshua Pim but did not win many Irish. Else, he would have been higher on the list.

Dorothea Douglass who won the Gold medal in the 1908 Olympics and won 7 Wimbledon titles came in first among females from this era. Charlotte Cooper who also won Olympic Gold in 1900 came in second with 6 Wimbledon wins. Blanche Bingley won 6 Wimbledons as well and came in third. Lottie Dod was probably the most talented of the four but did not stick with tennis for long and moved on to other sports like golf and field hockey finding success everywhere. She came fourth and last but would have been first if she had played a bit longer.

A. Wilding R. Doherty L. Doherty W. Renshaw E. Renshaw J. Pim
H. Lawford W.Baddeley D. Douglass C. Cooper B. Bingley L. Dod

Pre-World War II Era (1915-1939)

In the Pre-World War II era, I am considering a player as a great if only the player has 4 points aggregate and has won at least one Wimbedon, US or French Championships.
Points are allocated as follows
* One Wimbledon title counts as 1 point
* One World Hard Court Championship title counts as 1 point
* One World Covered Court Championships counts as 1 point
* One French Championships (since 1925) title counts as 1 point
* One US Championships title counts as 1 point
* One Wembley Pro counts as 1 point
* One US Pro counts as 1 point
* One French Pro counts as 1 point
* One Olympic Gold counts as 0.75 point
* One Australian Championships title counts as 0.5 point
* One Olympic Silver counts as 0.5 point
* One Olympic Bronze counts as 0.25 point

The following players had 4 points.
01) Bill Tilden (USA) = 3 (Wim) + 1 (WHCC) + 7 (US) + 2 (US Pro) + 2 (Fre Pro) = 15
02) Henri Cochet (France) = 2 (Wim) + 4 (Fre) + 1 (US) + 1 (WHCC) + 2 (WCCC) + 1 (Fre Pro) + 0.5 (OGS) = 11.5
03) Fred Perry* (UK) = 3 (Wim) + 1 (Fre) + 3 (US) + 2 (US Pro) + 0.5 (Aus) = 9.5
03) Don Budge* (USA) = 2 (Wim) + 1 (Fre) + 2 (US) + 1 (Wem Pro) + 2 (US Pro) + 1 (Fre Pro) + 0.5 (Aus) = 9.5
05) Ellsworth Vines (USA) = 1 (Wim) + 2 (US)+ 3 (Wem Pro) + 1 (US Pro) + 1 (Fre Pro) = 8
06) Rene Lacoste (France) = 2 (Wim) + 3 (Fre) + 2 (US) = 7
07) Bill Johnston (USA) = 1 (Wim) + 1 (WHCC) + 2 (US) = 4
01) Helen Wills (USA) = 8 (Wim) + 4 (Fre) + 7 (US) + 0.75 (OG) = 19.75
02) Suzanne Lenglen* (France) = 6 (Wim) + 2 (Fre) + 4 (WHCC) + 0.75 (OG) = 12.75
03) Molla Bjurstedt (Norway) = 8 (US) + 0.25 (OGB) = 8.25
04) Helen Jacobs (USA) = 1 (Wim) + 4 (US) = 5
04) Alice Marble* (USA) = 1 (Wim) + 4 (US) = 5

*Lenglen won WHCC in 1914 at the age of 14(!). 1914 belongs to the previous Pre-World War I era. But she won all her other majors in the Pre-World War II era. So she belongs on the Pre World War II era list. Marble won one of her majors (US in 1940) in the Pre ATP/WTA era (1940-1973) but she won all her other 4 majors in the Pre World War II era. Perry also won only major (US Pro in 1940) in Pre-ATP/WTA era winning all the 9 other majors in the Pre-World War II era. Budge won 2 majors (US Pro 1940, 42) outside the Pre-World War II era. But he won 8 other majors in the Pre-World War II era. So his inclusion here is also justified.

Pre World War II era was far more international than Pre World War I era. This was also the begining of the professional era. Several top men like Tilden, Cochet, Perry, Budge and Vines turned professional and started accepting sponsor money. They were hence banned by the tennis federation purists who firmly believed that tennis players should not accept outside money. They were hence barred from Wimbledon, French, US and Australian Championships thus only open to amateurs who received only paltry prize money. On the women's side Suzanne Lenglen became pro as well but since there was no active pro tour for women shortly retired from tennis after turning pro. The pro tour as such was mostly behind amateur tennis in terms of competition and quality until Tilden joined the tour in 1931. I consider the amateur tour to be equal in strength to the pro tour in this era. The balance only started shifting towards pro tennis when Budge joined the pro ranks in the last year of this era which is in 1939. Thats why I have given all the amateur and pro major championships held at UK, US and France, one 1 point each. Australian amateur Championships was the least competitive and was mostly played by Aussies, courtesy the long travel for Americans and Europeans. So I have given only 0.5 point for it.

Among the women, Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills were heads and tails above the rest. Lenglen really would have won more and scored more points here more if she had travelled to US and played the US Championships more. The only time she played in 1921, she was not feeling well and defaulted to Molla Bjurtstedt Mallory in the 2nd round. She didn't return again because of the humiliation from the press who criticized her for withdrawing mid-match. That was the only major match she lost apart while competing. She withdrew from her semi-final and 3rd round at Wimbledon in 1924 and 1926 respectively. Helen Willis finished first with Suzanne Lenglen coming in second. She had a longer career than Lenglen. Just like Lenglen, she lost only 3 major matches, all of them finals (to Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, Kathleen McKane and Helen Hull Jacobs) and never else at a major. Helen Wills and Suzanne Lenglen faced each other only once at a tournament final at Cannes and Lenglen won it in a tough match. Many consider this highly attended match to be the match of the century. Before Helen Wills arrived on the scene, the Norwegian Molla Bjurstedt dominated the US Championships. Her 8 win haul is remarkable considering she did beat Lenglen in 1921 and Wills in 1922 US Championships. She however never won Wimbledon which was more competitive and hence I consider her only a distant third to Wills and Lenglen. She however might have been a tad unlucky considering her best years were probably during World War I when there was no Wimbledon. Helen Jacobs and Alice Marble have 4 US Championships each and 1 Wimbledon and were tied for the last position.

This era produced 7 male champions. We had the American Bills - the little Bill - Bill Johnston and the big Bill - Bill Tilden, and later Ellsworth Vines and Don Budge. The French had their two best champions of all time - Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste. The Brits had their last champion and their first since the 1900s in Fred Perry. Big Bill Tilden who dominated US Championships and won Wimbledon thrice and also the World Hard Court Championships on clay once, topped the list as one would predict. He was no pushover on clay though he never won the French Championships. He won the WHCC which was played on clay. I prefer the uber-dominant all-surface player Don Budge over the rest (even Bill Tilden) but Budge had a short career due to him turning pro in 1939 after just 2 years of amateur tennis. Even his pro-career was shortened courtesy injuries sustained in World War II. Sheer numbers put Tilden and Henri Cochet above him and also had him tied with Fred Perry in numbers. Cochet might be the most underrated of the champions from this era. His pro career was not successful but he turned pro only in 1933 when he 32 and well past it. Not many would put him above Budge and Perry but the numbers speak for themselves. He won WHCC once and WCCC twice and also won 7 other majors making it 10 majors for him. The inconsistent and unfocussed Ellsworth Vines finished fith ahead of Rene Lacoste who had a shorter career than his country man Henri Cochet. Bill Johnston who spent most of the time in Big Bill's shadows was seventh and last.

B. Tilden H. Cochet F. Perry D. Budge R. Lacoste E. Vines
B. Johnston H. Wills S. Lenglen M. Bjurstedt H. Jacobs A. Marble

Pre-ATP/WTA Era (1940-1973)

In the Pre-ATP/WTA War II era, I am considering a player as a great if only the player has 4 points aggregate.
Points are allocated as follows
* One Wembley Pro counts as 1 point
* One US Pro counts as 1 point
* One French Pro counts as 1 point
* One Tournament of Champions counts as 1 point
* One Wimbledon title counts as 1 point
* One ATP/WCT/WTA championships count as 0.75 point.
* One Roland Garros title counts as 0.75 point
* One US Championshiphips title counts as 0.5 point
* One Australian Championships title counts as 0.25 point

The following players had 4 points.
01) Ken Rosewall (Australia) = 5 (Wem Pro) + 2 (US Pro) + 8 (Fre Pro) + 1.5 (WCT) + 1.5 (Fre) + 1 (US) + 1 (Aus) = 20
02) Pancho Gonzales (USA) = 4 (Wem Pro) + 8 (US Pro) + 3 (TOC) + 1 (US) = 16
03) Rod Laver (Australia) = 4 (Wem Pro) + 3 (US Pro) + 1 (Fre Pro) + 4 (Wim) + 1.5 (Fre) + 1 (US) + 0.75 (Aus) = 15.25
04) Roy Emerson (Australia) = 2 (Wim) + 1.5 (Fre) + 1 (US) + 1.5 (Aus) = 6
05) Tony Trabert (USA) = 2 (Fre Pro) + 1 (Wim) + 1.5 (Fre) + 1 (US) = 5.5
06) John Newcombe* (Australia) = 3 (Wim) + 0.75 (WCT) + 1 (US) + 0.5 (Aus) = 5.25
07) Bobby Riggs* (USA) = 1 (Wim) + 1 (US) + 3 (US Pro) = 5
08) Frank Sedgman (Australia) = 2 (Wem Pro) + 1 (Wim) + 1 (US) + 0.5 (Aus) = 4.5
09) Ilie Nastase* (Romania) = 3 (ATP) + 0.75 (Fre) + 0.5 (US) = 4.25
10) Jack Kramer (USA) = 1 (Wem Pro) + 1 (US Pro) + 1 (Wim) + 1 (US) = 4
10) Lew Hoad (Australia) = 1 (TOC) + 2 (Wim) + 0.75 (Fre) + 0.25 (Aus) = 4
01) Margaret Smith (Australia) = 3 (Wim) + 3.75 (Fre) + 2.5 (US) + 2.75 (Aus) = 12
02) Billie Moffitt* (USA) = 6 (Wim) + 0.75 (Fre) + 2 (US) + 0.25 (Aus) = 9
03) Maureen Conolly (USA) = 3 (Wim) + 1.5 (Fre) + 1.5 (US) + 0.25 (Aus) = 6.25
04) Evonne Goolagong* (Australia) = 2 (Wim) + 1.5 (WTA) + 0.75 (Fre) + 1 (Aus) = 5.25
05) Maria Bueno (Brazil) = 3 (Wim) + 2 (US) = 5
06) Louise Brough (USA) = 4 (Wim) + 0.5 (US) + 0.25 (Aus) = 4.75
07) Margaret Osborne (USA)= 1 (Wim) + 1.5 (Fre) + 1.5 (US) = 4

* Newcombe won the WCT finals in 1974 and shockingly the Australian Open in 1975 in the ATP/WTA era (1974-present). But he won 6 of his other majors in the Pre-ATP/WTA era of 1940-1973. So he belongs here. Riggs won Wimbledon and US championships in 1939 which is Pre-World II era, but he won 4 of his other majors in Pre-ATP/WTA era. Nastase won the ATP YEC in 1975 but he won 5 of his other majors (3 ATP YEC, 1 French Open, 1 US Open) before 1974. Moffit won Wimbledon 1975 and US Open 1974 in the ATP/WTA era, but she won 10 of her other majors in the Pre-ATP/WTA era. Goolagong is probably the most controversial inclusion as she won only 2 majors in Pre-ATP/WTA era winning 7 in the ATP/WTA era. But four of the seven were Australian which had a very low level of competition in the '70s. She also won 35 of her 68 titles in the 1970-73 period and was #1 in 1971 and a strong #2 in 197 and , 1973. She was #2 in 1976, but one of her other years from the ATP/WTA era match her best years (1971-73) from the Pre-ATP/WTA era.

The period from 1940-1973 was vastly different for the men vs. the women. During this time there was no pro tour for the women. Apart from the Australian Championships, most women played Wimbledon, French and US Open regularly. Wimbledon was a clear priority. I gave importance to French Championships since most of the dominant players during this time period were either American or Australian and the red clay at the French Championships was the most difficult for them. Brits and French disappeared from top level tennis and it was the Aussies and Americans ruling tennis. And they struggled with clay for the most part. In fact of all the greats only Maria Bueno (Brazil) and Ilie Nastasse (Romania) are non-American and non-Aussie. Thats why I give more weightage to French championships than the US championships. Australian championships weighs even lesser. The men's side had a much superior pro tour with its own majors. I am giving maximum weight to all the 4 pro majors (Wembley, French, US and Tournament of Champions).

Ken Rosewall joined pro tennis in 1957 but started dominated only when Pancho Gonzales semi-retired in 1960 but then he dominated for a long time and was considered number one from 1960-66. He was the sole dominator from 1961-65 and co-dominated with Gonzales in 1960 and Laver in 1966. He won only 2 pro majors in the 50's but ended up winning 13 pro majors in the 60s. Many consider Rod Laver to be the greatest from this period courtesy his 2 calender grand slam feats in 1962 and 1969. But the fact is Rosewall won 7 of his 15 pro majors after Rod Laver turned pro in 1963. In fact Laver who is almost 4 years younger than Rosewall won only 8 pro majors (just one more than Rosewall) in the 60s. Rosewall also won slams in the 70s which Laver couldn't. Going by sheer number means Rosewall is greater and if you take what they did when they their peaks crossed other from 1963-1967, it favors Rosewall. Also when Laver truly became the sole dominator around 1967, Rosewall was already 33 years old. Laver, who was four years younger than Rosewall had an age advantage at the dawn of open era, but he still won 5 majors only whereas Rosewall won 6 majors (2 of them WCT YEC). Pancho is the other top tier great from this era. He finished second behind Rosewall and slightly ahead of Laver. The problem was though he thoroughly dominated the pro era from 1954-1969 and won a total of 15 pro majors just like Ken Rosewall, he turned pro way too soon and was too old to win majors in the open era unlike Rosewall and Laver. Either way his numbers were still better than Laver and he is only behind Rosewall. These three were head and shoulders above Roy Emerson, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Bobby Riggs, Frank Sedgman, Illie Nastase, Jack Kramer and Lew Hoad who were way too inconsistent or unfocussed to dominate the way Rosewall, Gonzales and Laver did. They are all really Tier 2 when compared to Rosewall, Gonzales and Laver. Emerson did win 12 amateur majors but six of them were the lowly Australian championships. Also in Open era, he didn't do much. Trabert, Sedgman and Hoad had the misfortune of running into Gonzales when they turned pro who swept them aside. Riggs was unfortunate that World War II intervening the pro tour for about 3 years when he could have been the best. Nastase was never consistent even though he was the best player in 1972 and 1973 by far. Newcombe was a bit unforutunate to be banned by Wimbledon in 1972 and 1973 and could have added more majors to his list. He was still no Rosewall, Gonzales or Laver, in my opinion and going by records. Many would rate Kramer and Hoad higher and in Tier 1 with Rosewall, Gonzales and Laver but they don't have the numbers and are tied for the tenth and last position in this era. Kramer who was more interested in promoting the tour hardly played pro majors and Hoad was very inconsistent and did not win pro majors except the lone tournament of champions.

Just like the men, there were three women during this period who were solid Tier 1. Margaret Smith, Billie Moffitt and Maureen Connolly. Smith and Connolly both did calendar slams in their career. Smith semi-retired twice (1967 - marriage and 1972 - pregnancy) and could have added to her 24 major haul. She missed 10 majors during her semi-retirement period. Connolly was very unfortunate to be forced to retire prematurely due to a career-ending horse-riding accident. She was only 20 when she retired after winning 9 straight majors. Her only 2 losses were at the US championships before she matured. Billie Jean Moffit (King) was a tad lucky to win 12 majors winning 5 majors in 1967 and 1972 when Margaret Smith Court was semi-retired and skipping majors. Evonne Goolagong was pretty much a solid No.2 throughout her career except in 1971 when she reigned supreme. Maria Bueno was also No.2 for most of her career except in 1959 when she was the best. Louise Brough and Margaret Osborne dominate the 40's and stopped each other from winning more majors.

K. Rosewall P. Gonzales R. Laver R. Emerson T. Trabert J. Newcombe
B. Riggs F. Sedgman I. Nastase J. Kramer L. Hoad M. Smith
B. Moffitt M.Connolly E. Goolagong M. Bueno L. Brough M. Osborne

ATP/WTA Era (1974-present)

In the ATP/WTA era, I am consider a player as a great if only
*Player should have won 5 majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open are considered as majors).
*Player should not have won 2 slams before 1974 (thus Evonne Goolagong, Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver are excluded)

This has resulted in only the following men and women (chronolgically ordered in terms of first major won) being considered for open era.
Men - Connors, Borg, McEnroe, Wilander, Lendl, Becker, Edberg, Sampras, Agassi, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic
Women - Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Seles, Hingis, S.Williams, V. Williams, Henin, Maria Sharapova

The formula to rank the players is simple:
a) Take the win-loss percentage from 7 years which are the highest 7 percentages. Average them
b) If there is a tie in the average win-loss percentage for 7 best years, then give the higher rank to player with most majors won. If there is still a tie give the rank to player who has won more YECs. If still a tie then give the rank to player with more #weeks as #1


1 Roger Federer 511-53=90.60%=91%

Roger Federer is widely considered the greatest player of the modern era. He is No.1 in my book as well - albeit tied with Ivan Lendl. Federer like Lendl is an all-court player. He is most comfortable on the fast surfaces but he is very good on slow surfaces too. Though he was somewhat lucky to finally win the French Open when Soderling took out Nadal in 2009, he has finished runner-up 4 times losing all times to Nadal. Though he might not be the best on clay, he was always among the top players on clay in his generation. He has many titles on clay, after all. He has won an incredible 18 majors 4 more than Nadal and Sampras who are the closest to him. He has also won the ATP YEC six times! He won this 18th major at the ripe old age of 35 which in this current day and age is an incredible feat. There are few records Federer hasn't broken. More than records, whatever Federer has done for tennis by bringing in a plethora of new tennis fans over the years, with this incredibly artistic and aesthetically beautiful game, is really praiseworthy. He is probably the most popular male tennis player of all time and incredibly well respected by ex-champions and peers alike. He is also considered a great ambasssador for sports.

If you look at his game, he is one of the best servers of the game on par with Pete Sampras and possesses one of the most lethal forehands of all time on par with Lendl and Graf, and most of all he is an incredible touch artists on par with John McEnroe. His retrieving skills are also incredible and almost on par with Djokovic and Nadal. He is known to possess every tennis shot known to man and then some more. If there has been ever a weakness for Federer it is somewhat shaky backand (at times) and his resistance to come up with an alternate game plan to deal with great opponents like Nadal and Djokovic in important matches. I think it cost him few more major wins. But anyway, he has won 18 majors and no one is close to him at this point in time - so no point finding holes in his career :)

2004 2005 2006 2007 2012 2014 2017
74-6 81-4 92-5 68-9 71-12 73-12 52-5
93% 95% 95% 88% 86% 86% 85%
2 Ivan Lendl 554-58=90.52%=91%

Now this is going to be a contentious choice for #2. In fact many of you will consider me plain retarded for choosing someone who never won Wimbledon and also won only 8 majors (Borg, Djokovic, Sampras, Nadal have won more) as joint #1 with Federer. Federer has won 10 majors more than Lendl!!! How can Lendl be mentioned in the same breath? Well I am not just merely counting total majors won. If I were, then my whole analysis will be moot right? Why do analysis, statistics and computations when you can just list players by total majors won? As mentioned earlier, I am giving enhanced importance to day-in day-out domination more than anything else. I am also counting majors (check the formula above). If you look at percentage for the 7 best years Lendl is tops and ahead of Federer. Federer's major count actually got him the joint #1 position. Anyway, let's talk about Lendl's game and career. Apart from having a low first serve percentage, and choking some important matches, Lendl, at least, gamewise, was a perfect power baseliner like Federer. He had all the weapons Federer had if not the artisty. He had a comparable forehand and a slightly better backhand than Federer. His serve hough not as good as say Becker, Sampras and Federer, was superior to everyone else on this list. He also had an amazingly powerful baseline game, a rarity back in the early 80s. In fact he is considered the pioneer of modern baseline tennis. He was the first player who could overpower you from the baseline. Initally he was pretty clumsy at the net but became a very good serve-volleyer even winning the Queens club grass court title twice. Though he won innumerable titles, and holds a lot of records, he is remembered for the title he never won. Though he wa a complete player in terms of possessing all the shots, he never won Wimbledon. And this in spite of him converting himself to a serve-volleyer at Wimbledon. He made 5 semis there and lost in finals twice. He also never Australian on grass losing in one final and two semis. I call it the Lendl saga! The biggest problem for him was he kept running into great natural serve volleyers playing their best tennis in the semis or finals (Edberg, Becker, Cash) during his best years on grass from 1985-90. He dedicated himself completely to Wimbledon towards the end of his career, even skipping FO twice, bu could never could win it.

Looking at his game, his best strokes were down the line flat backhand, and forehand from all angles. He also had an incredibly precise lob which he used to hit winners when cornered in an awkward position. He was not afraid to come to the net when given an opportunity and frequently won points there. In my opinion he should have been aggressive in coming to the net in some of the matches he lost. Lendl's biggest weakness ultimately was his mental strength. In important matches, especially finals, he underplayed most of the time. This happened especially early in his career. After destroying McEnroe in the 1982 US Open he was heavy favorite against Connors, but buckled under pressure. He also did not play well in the 1987 Wimbledon final. Cash played out of his mind, but Lendl still was nowhere at the same level as he was in the semi-finals against Edberg. That was probably his best chance of wining Wimbledon. Regardless of that he had a great career being No.1 for 270 weeks (only lesser than Sampras anf Federer), winning 94 titles (only lesser than Connors) and winning 8 majors, 5 ATP YEC and 2 WCT YEC.

1981 1982 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
96-14 106-9 84-7 74-6 74-7 41-8 79-7
87% 92% 92% 93% 91% 84% 92%
3 Jimmy Connors 556-59=90.41%=90%

Another surprise, huh? How is Connors above Borg, Sampras, Nadal and Djokovic who won more slams? Well if you had seen that Lendl is joint number 1 with Federer, you would have guessed this kind of thing may happen. The reason Connors is this ahead, he was simply unbeatable between 1974 to 1978 when he was year-end Number 1 for five years in a row. Sampras broke his record by being No.1 from 1993-1998 but he could lose to anybody and lost a lot every year. Connors in contrast lost only 20 matches in the first three years dominant years - a record which which is slightly inferior than Federer (who lost only 15 matches between 2004-2006) and Borg (19 matches lost between 1978-80) and equals Lendl (20 matches lost between 1985-87). Connors also did not lose much in the other years. And he is simply ahead of Borg because Borg retired young and didn't have many years to count in this calculation after he matured as a player in 1976 (so we end up counting 1975 as well for Borg). So was Connors really dominant those years? Yes, he was but he didn't play many majors and YECs during this period because of his own rebellious attitude towards ATP and ITF. He played AO only twice in his career, and skipped FO until 1978 and did not ATP and WCT YEC in his three best years 1974, 1975 and 1976. In an alternate universe, Connors plays all this and wins few more majors and YECs and looks far more impressive. But anyway I am not counting majors alone here. So he gets his valid third rank.

If you look at his game, he didn't have much weapons but was incredibly consistent from the baseline and had great placement. He hardly used topsin like say Borg but had these forehand and topsin drives which landed deep on the court. This gave him opportunities to spring a sudden suprprise to the net. He lacked the firepower of Lendl but was a great hustler who could convert offense to defense. His double handded backhand was better than his forehand. His serve was effective but nothing to go ga-ga about. His return of serve was very good and among the best ever. Overall his greatest strength was not his game but his aggressiveness on court and a never say die attitude. He is easily the greatest fighter on court ever. He was also a big bully and could get into fights with McEnroe and Lendl which always made for a good spectacle. Because of characters like agressive Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, and Becker and the quieter Swedes like Borg, Wilander and Edberg and the contrast in playing style, tennis was probably at its most eneterainng back then. Connors was by far the most polarzing character on the tour. Some loved his tenacity and some hated his guts for being such a prick. But regardless of that he was a great champion who could have had a few more majors to his career if he had only bothered to participate in them during this prime.

1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1982
93-4 82-8 90-8 68-11 66-6 79-12 78-10
96% 91% 92% 86% 92% 87% 89%
4 Bjorn Borg 469-61=88.49%=89%

There is a lot of love for Borg and if I had put him even at Number 1, some wouldn't have complained and many would have loved to see that. He was considered a tennis rock star because of his good looks. Girl swooned over him and he brought a new level of popularity to tennis through his ice-cold calm demeanour and immaculate baseline game. He was involved in some of the greatest finals ever, especially the ultimate classic - the 1980 Wimbledon final against McEnroe which he won after surviving a intense dramatic 4th tie-break which went 18-16 in his favor. His 1981 French final against Lendl was also great and went a distance. He won that one as well. He also won the 1977 Wimbledon final in a tough 5 setter against Connors and another great 5 setter against Roscoe Tanner at 1979 Wimbledon. Though clay was by far his best surface, he won Wimbledon 5 times in a row which is amazing. He however never won USO. His best chance of winning it were in the 3 years it was held on green clay between 1975-77. In 1977 he retired hurt from his 4th round match, but in 1975 and 1976 Connors stopped him in semis and finals. Once it switched to hard courts, a surface Borg was not very comfortable with, it was more difficult for him. He lost in finals to Connors in 1978 and to McEnroe in 1980 and 1981 and surprisingly to Roscoe Tanner in QF in 1979. Borg is somewhat of an oddity that he liked grass and clay but was uncomfortable on hard courts. Nadal and Wilander were somewhat similar that they didn't play on hard courts nearly as well as clay but they never dominated grass like Borg did. My theory is that Borg did not like artificial surfaces as much. He apparently grew up in the clay and grass courts in Sweden, growing up, and hard courts were relatively alien for him and he didn't play nearly as much to get comfortable with it. Since he retired so young at the age of 25, one can speculate that he would have eventually won USO and also few more majors he would won if he had played a full career. I would have expected him to win at least a couple more French Open titles and a Wimbledon title if he were to avoid McEnroe there. And if he played AO like Wilander, McEnroe and Lendl did in 1983, he might have won an Australian Open or two. Speculation is fun but yields nothing in the end. Regardless he won 11 slam majors by age 25 which is a record which probably won't be broken.

If we look at his game, he played with a lot of topspin. He was a defensive baseliner but was also very good at the net when he ventured there, which is one reason he won it five straight times. He also had this hockey stick flick on his backhand which helped him get to low balls on grass court. His serve was pretty good for his serve (definitely better than Connors but inferior to McEnroe and Lendl), but I think his main weapon were his forehand and his consistent topspin from his baseline. He also had amazing paitence and stamina and could outlast any one from the baseline. He was a wall at the baseline. The ball kept coming back. He even managed to frusturate a very patient Lendl in the 1981 French Open final. His low backhand pickup flick was one of the strangest shots in tennis. It was incredibly effective though. To me he is an earlier version of Nadal. I prefer power baseliners like Lendl and Federer to him but Borg might be my joint 3rd favorite champion with McEnroe, just because he had a unique game and an ice-cool temperament.

1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
77-17 57-12 76-7 70-7 84-6 70-6 35-6
82% 83% 92% 91% 93% 92% 85%
5 Rafael Nadal 475-67=87.63%=88%

If you dislike topspin oriented tennis, you will really hate Rafael Nadal. He plays top spin tennis to the extreme and he does it very well. He can flatten his forehand if needed but mostly prefers to hit heavily spun balls high over the net whether forehand or backhand. It will be interesting to speculate how good he would have on fast grass against the likes of McEnroe, Edberg and Becker who were ever present at net and had good powerful serves. But he dominated the mid-2008 when serve-volley had become obselete with all the surfaces been slow down. He is extremely effective on clay but also good on the slowed grass and hard court surfaces of 2000s and 2010s. His forehand is very good, but I would not rate it over the likes of Lendl and Federer. The main reason being it is not very stylish to watch. The most attractive part of his game is amazing retrieving ability and find openings to hit winners once he gets the opponent out of position in a long rally. Nadal is never the player to finish off points quick as being in long rallies is his strength. He has won an amazing 14 majors out of which 9 are on red clay, this best surface. He has managed to win Wimbledon twice which is pretty surprising given that his serve is just average by modern standards. He has a very good return of serve and can cover the court extremely well even if it is fast grass. His achilles heel is indoor courts which are fast and have predictable bounces which means more offensive baseliners can overpower him. He has won never won the YEC, which is in my opinion sort of a hole in his resume. But then 14 majors is an amazing thing and so far only three men have done it. So all respect to him.

Nadal's game is fun to watch when is in offensive mode. Being a defensive baseliner he is never quick to finish points but when he is in offensive mode he will look for opportunities to get the opponent out of his position and hit his trademark forehand winner. He is really efficient with this strategy on clay and few can figure him out on clay. Only consistent power game on clay can defeat him. And that is such a difficult thing to do since he is good at retrieving even from seemingly impossible positions on the court. I like Nadal's game only when he is in offensive mode, otherwise he is uninteresting to me. He is sort of like Borg to me. But I like Borg better because of his quixotic backhand and overall uncoventional approach to tennis. I still prefer him to Djokovic.

2005 2006 2008 2010 2012 2013 2017
79-10 59-12 82-11 71-10 42-6 75-7 67-11
89% 83% 88% 88% 88% 91% 91%
6 Novak Djokovic 505-69=87.98%=88%

Novak Djokovic to me represent the third type of baseline players - the ball-machine baseliner. Connors might have been the forefather of this style. But I place Connors under a fourth style - i.e the counterpuncher baseliner who absorbs the opponents power and redirects it back and also suddenly springs an attack towards the net. Djokovic on the other hand has power of his own but doesn't overpower you with outstanding winners like say Lendl or Federer. Djokovic is more like latter-day Agassi. He is just plain better than Agassi though, with better return of serve, better coverage and better ability in hitting the ball from side to side to force the opponents into errors. It is somewhere between top spin oriented defensive baseline tennis and aggressive power baseline tennis - I call it controlled aggression baseline tennis. I am honestly not a fan of this style at all. And although I do not dislike Djokovic, I am ambivalent towards him. His personality however is a lot of fun. He had couple of outstanding dominant seasons (2011 and 2015). He has been more or less consistent other years as well. He has won 12 majors now, which is incredible feat for him considering that he had won only one major until he was 23! He was 5 YECs as well and most incredible of all is the only player in the ATP era to win all 4 majors consecutively thus completing a non-calendar grand slam in 2015-2016. He deserves a lot more respect than he gets. His career has been overshadowed by Federer and Nadal. His dominance seasons from 2011-2016 are the reason he is this high on this list.

Djokovic, among the champions here probably has the least attractive game along with Connors. That doesn't make it ugly though. One has to marvel his ability to cover every inch of the court and consistenly hit the ball from side to side. The reason I am not a big fan of this kind of tennis is because there is nothing stunning about it - it is neither aggressive not defensive. So you neither get to see outrageous winners from the baseline nor do you see outstanding defense and winners from impossible defensive positions. So it is somewhat middle of the road. Some people compare Djokovic to Lendl but I don't get the comparison. They might have watched Lendl at his most passive to think Djokovic's game resembles his style. To me Djokovic is like a lethal combination of Agassi like side-side precision and Lleyton Hewitt-like court coverage and never say die attitude. His greatest weapons are his return of serve and his athleticsm and retrieving skills. He also is mentally tough and only gets beat when someone overpowers him or out-manouvers him - both of which are very difficult tasks.

2009 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
78-19 70-6 74-12 74-9 61-8 82-6 65-9
80% 92% 86% 89% 88% 93% 88%
7 John McEnroe 538-74=87.91%=88%

John McEnroe is my second favorite player after Lendl. Personality wise, he is a complete tool. And I don't think he is funny either. His talk show was a disaster and thats the reason behind it. If you ignore his boorish behaviour, he was an amazing talent. He was probably the finest serve volleyer ever. He didn't have bombs like Becker or Sampras but he had a very effective serve albeit with a quixotic serve stance. I think he was on par with Lendl when it came to serving. He also had a long ritual like Lendl and like Lendl did not have a great first serve percentage. But his second serves were good as well. But the most attractive thing about his game was his volleying. He was a supreme touch artist and extremely talented. I wouldn't take his baseline strokes if I life depended on it, but he did fairly well with his baseline shots for his time. He made the French Open final and almost won it in 1984 before Lendl changed strategies and staged a miraculous comeback. Like Borg, he was involved in several classic finals, some with Borg in fact. His 1980 Wimbledon and US Open final against Borg were all-time classics. He had great duels with Connors as well. His 1982 Wimbledon final loss to Borg was kinda shocking considering he defeated Borg the year before who was a much better grass court player than Borg. But Connors played very well in that match and the match was a classic. And as I said before his 1984 French final loss to Lendl was a classic. McEnroe was a fierce competitor but would upset very easily at the umpire, linesmen, camera men or sometime even at the opponent. He had some spats with Lendl and Connors which are still hilarious to watch. Lendl and Connors were probably the ones ones who could stand up to his bullying. McEnroe is a polarizing figure just like Connors and is either hated or loved. But in McEnroe's case the love/hate relationship is even more extreme. McEnroe could have been higher if he had a decent career past 1985 when he was 25 years old and won more majors and also had stronger dominant years past 1985. He took a temporary break from tennis starting 1986 once Lendl beat him at the 1985 US Open and took away the #1 position from him. That was a big mistake as Lendl grew stronger and bigger hitters like Becker and Edberg came along and pushed him in the sidelines. One can say McEnroe had a short career nd was technically done by the age of 25 just like Borg.

McEnroe had an amazing serve volley rhythm. His drop volleys were extremely effective. If I were to think of a perfect serve volleyer, I would take Sampras's consistency on serve, Becker's sliding serve, Edberg's kick serve, McEnroe's reflexes, touch, drop volley, half volley and forehand volley, Edberg's backhand volley and Becker's dive volley and athleticism at the net. As you can see how many serve and volleying attributes fall into McEnroe's bracket. In my opinion he was the best serve volleyer ever and it would have been fun to see more of him in the graphite era starting 1984.

1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985
91-14 84-18 76-10 71-9 63-11 82-3 71-9
87% 82% 88% 89% 85% 96% 89%
8 Pete Sampras 472-94=83.39%=83%
You wouldn't have guessed Sampras at 8th position in the ATP era, would you have? I was never a fan of his over-reliance on serve. He and Goran Ivanisevic single-handedly destroyed my fun of watching Wimbledon in the 90s whenever they played against each other. I still haven't gotten over the horror of watching the 1992 Wimbledon semis and 1994 Wimbledon final. Both matches featured tons of aces, mediocre return of serves, fluffed volleys and probably not a single point which lasted more than 5 shots. Another thing I did not like about Sampras was his penchant for getting into tiebreaks and try winning them. It seemed like his focus was just making sure he held his serve all the way to the tiebreak. That made for boring tennis. Also, I never forgave Sampras for being such crap at the French Open. He did well at the French Open only 4 times, reaching quarters between 1992-94 and losing in the semis at 1996. He managed to get only 3 sets in those 3 quarters and one semis though, being comprehensively thumped in that lone semi final. In 9 other attempts, he made third round only once winning only only 7 matches out of 16. His clay win-loss was a paltry 63% worse than any of the champions on this list on their worst surfaces if you exclude carpet from discussion which had no majors played on it (Agassi was 61% on carpet and Wilander was only 55% on carpet). Even Boris Becker who has never won a clay title has a 66% win loss on clay. Becker also made 3 semis at FO. Edberg has 68% win-loss on clay and all other champions had better than 70% on clay. Lendl whose worst surface is grass has win loss of 75% and Bjorn Borg has win loss percentage of 76% on his worst surface - hard court. Connors worst surface is clay and he average 78%. McEnroe average 72% on his worst surface - clay. If you discount carpet for Agassi and Wilander, Wilander average 72% on hard court, his second worst surface and Agassi averaged 72% on clay his second worst surface. Carpet is not used anymore since 2009 and it was a minor surface in the 2000s, so if we look at Federer, Nadal and Djokovic who are champions of this millenium, then Federer averages 76% on his worst surface, Nadal averages the least of 77% on hard court. His grass percentage is only higher in decimals. Djokovic is uniformly consistent and his worst surface is clay with 80%. So you get my point, Sampras performance on his worst surface is worse than any one on the list (if you exclude Agassi and Wilander on carpet, an obselete surface) and in my opinion puts a dent on his legacy. Another fact I do not like about him is between 1993-1998 when he was number there was not one year in which he did not lost matches in double digits. Of his seven best years only in 1999 he lost less than 10 because he played much less and was injured. Sampras supporters say he showed up stronger in majors but I am not buying it. The years 1996-2002 were incredibly weak with multitude of players getting to #1 and no one being consistent in the top 10 and he won 7 of his slams during that period.

I have been fairly negative in this review, so lets talk something positive about Pete Sampras. His placement of serve was excellent and he got the opponents guessing most of the time. There were bigger servers in the game who hit more aces like Ivanisevic, Stich, Krajicek etc. But Sampras's biggest strength was his mental strength and he could produce aces when breakpoints down. His forehand was pretty good. His backhand was more of a defense shot but on fast surfaces he could hit some well-measured stunners off the backhand too. His overhead was great probably his single best rally shot. And his volleying though not as good as Edberg or McEnroe was still very good. Overall he was extremely difficult to beat on fast hard courts and grass. He was pretty mediocre on clay and his over-reliance on serve which didn't have the same bit on the slower clay, got exposed easily. I find his major count inflated courtesy lack of competition between 1996-2002 but he did win them all fair and square, so have to give credit where it is due. I think his 8th position is fair. He wasn't very dominant. He won 14 majors, 50% of which can be in an incredibly weak era for men's tennis and probably the worst in the ATP era.

1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1999
78-19 85-16 77-12 72-16 65-11 55-12 40-8
80% 84% 87% 82% 86% 82% 83%
9 Andre Agassi 412-86=82.73%=83%

Like Sampras, Agassi benefited from an incredibly weak-era from 1996-2002. He won 4 of his 8 majors from that period. So 50% of his majors came from that period just like Sampars. And like Sampras was never the most dominating player. His best years in terms of percentage were 1988 and 1995. He lost 20 matches in that period which is actually better than Sampras' two best years (1994 and 1996 where he lost 23 matches). And like Sampras, Agassi was inconsistent but stuck around for long to win majors. Both have incredibe longevity if you consider majors won including YECs (Agassi 1990-2003, Sampras 1990-2002). Both were big rivals of each other. One can say Sampras didnt have any major rival except Agassi for him and vice-versa. Agassi was much more popular than Sampras because of his fashion sense (sometime which looked ridiculous) and overall more personable personality than Sampras. He got most of the endorsements. He was sort of a mini rock star at the beginning of his career. If he had the consistency and focus (he virtually disappeared between 1996-1998 and had lousy years in 1989, 1991, 1993) he would have posed more of a threat to Sampras in my opinion. There was a great contrast in style between Sampras and Agassi - Sampras the serve volleying guy with a huge serve and Agassi the consistent ball basher from the baseline with a great return of serve. Sampras always had the upper hand on faster surfaces and Agassi was always better on the small surfaces. But it is major finals that people remember and the perception is Sampras was much better (their h2h in majors is 6-3 for Sampras with 4-1 in major finals). I don't believe that is true. Both were comparable and if Sampras was good enough to meet Agassi more in AO and FO, the head to head would have been more even.

Looking at Agassi's game, I find him similar to Novak Djokovic. Both are similar type of baseliners who like to play controlled aggression from the baseline. Their best shot was return of serve. Agassi returns were based on reflexes. He took the ball much early and had amazing hand-eye coordination. His return of serve was not as effective as Djokovic in my opinion (he let too many aces fly past him), but his returns made for great eye-candy. His forehand was also pretty good and was more potent though error-prone early in his career. He later tamed it down as he evolved into a more of a side to side hitting baseliner from a power baseliner. Even in the early part of his career he was never a true power baseliner as he lacked the incisive shots like Lendl or Federer to blow opponents off the court. But he was a much more flashy player early on. One can say he was more entertaining early on and once he got to #1 again in 1999, he came more of a matured strategic player.

1988 1990 1995 1998 1999 2002 2003
63-11 45-12 73-9 68-18 63-14 53-12 47-10
85% 79% 89% 79% 82% 82% 82%
10 Boris Becker 415-87=82.67%=83%

I used to really hate Becker. But back then I was young and I was a Lendl fan. He single-handedly stopped Lendl from winning Wimbledon in my opinion. Yes Lendl did lose to Cash, Edberg, McEnroe and Connors in semi finals or finals at Wimbledon. But Becker stopped him thrice at Wimbledon, those others stopped him only once each. And in all of those matches Lendl did not play that well. But in all those matches against Becker, he actually played very well. Yet Becker was the better player and had better luck. Lendl had to convert himself into a very good serve-volleyer, but Becker was born a very good serve-volleyer. His volleys were probably not as classy as McEnroe or Edberg, but he had a lot of power on it and was a deadly serve-volleyer when on fire. He should have won more than 3 Wimbledons but played average in some of the finals he lost. The biggest problem with Becker was his inconsistency. He also was stubborn on other surfaces other than grass and tried to out rally the likes of Lendl and other natural baseliners on hard courts, carpet and clay which in my opinion was not a bright thing to do. He had good groundstrokes better than McEnroe and Edberg but was nearly as consistent like Lendl or Wilander from the baseline. Once Lendl was out of the picture around 1992, I started supporting Becker and was extremely glad when he won his sixth major in 1996. He was clearly past it after 1992, but could get sometimes in important tournaments and was unlucky to run into red-hot Sampras at 1995 Wimbledon and red-hot Agassi in 1995 US Open. So his mid-late 1995 and early 1996 consistency deserved dividends. He was a very indoor player far better than Edberg or Wilander or Agassi and nearly as good as Sampras. He won 3 ATP YECs and one 1 WCT YEC. Only McEnroe (3 ATP, 5 WCT), Lendl (5 ATP, 2 WCT), Federer (6 ATP), Djokovic (5 ATP) and Sampras (5 ATP) have won more YECs than him. Many consider him an under-achiever in majors, but it was overall inconsistency which contributed to that. He was never a dominant #1 and only got to #1 once Lendl declined. But I think the main reason he, Wilander and Edberg did not stay as #1 for long time was Lendl who was uber-consitent every day of the year. He was at his best in 1986, 1988 and 1989 - he won one major in 1986, two YECs in 1988 and two in 1989. 1987 was a big slump year for him. And look at Lendl's luck. He met Becker in 1986, 1988 and 1989 - Becker's three best years and did not face him 1987 when he could have most likely defeated him! None of the other years were close to 1986, 1988 and 1989 seasons for Becker which is while he is ranked this low.

Speaking of Becker's game, he had a powerful booming serve, which was better than anyone in the 80s. McEnroe had a good serve and Lendl had a powerful one, but Becker's was of a different league. He had great placement and hit a lot more aces than McEnroe or Lendl. He didn't have a kick serve as such which might explain why he didn't do as good as well as Edberg who had a great kick serve, on clay. He still made three semi-finals at French Open. In 1987 he lost to Wilander, in 1989 he lost to Edberg in an all-time classic and in 1991 he gave a tough fight to Agassi. So one can say he ran into the wrong opponents at French Open, or else he could have at least made the finals. His best chance might have 1989. I have a feeling he would have defeated Chang in the final. May be it's just the fan in me, but Chang struggled a lot against Edberg in the final and Becker had better serve and that year the clay was playing fast. Anyway he had a great career and six majors are well-derserved in my opinion.

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992
69-13 53-15 56-9 64-8 71-15 50-12 52-14
84% 78% 86% 89% 83% 80% 78%
11 Mats Wilander 444-106=80.73%=81%

Many people can't still understand how Wilander won 7 majors - same as uber-talented and dominant McEnroe. Wilander had two good years - 1983 and 1988. But other than that he was pretty mediocre, yet he won 4 majors in those mediocre years. And he is the only who has multiple majors on clay, grass and hard court, apart from Nadal. He also suprisingly got closer to calendar slam than Connors, Borg, McEnroe, Lendl, Becker or Edberg did. Apart from that quarter-finals at the 1988 Wimbledon, he was flawless in the the other three majors winning all of them. He didn't seem to have any major weapons and many considered him a poor-replica of Borg. I don't agree. He was similar to Borg, but he had a good tennis brain and his serve was very consistent. He could venture to the net all of a sudden and confuse opponents. His net game was good. And he had enough power from the baseline to give nightmares to net players. He was basically a solid player who could change tactics mid match. He was also very consistent from the baseline like Borg and Nadal which explains why he was so good on clay. He continues to be underrated to this day. I didn't get to see him much live but I have seen tapes of his matches and I marvel at his ability to stay in a point just like Borg. I also like his ability to hit all the right shots and patiently wait for the other player to unfold. He got Lendl twice at FO, once on AO grass and once at US grass. Three of those 4 wins were in finals. Thus one can say he stopped Lendl from equalling Borg and Laver's record of 11 majors. Becker beat Lendl in three finals. So one can say Becker and Wilander were the ones who seperate Lendl from Sampras in terms of major counts! And he was the one who wrested the #1 rank from Lendl after Lendl was #1 for 157 weeks. So full respect to that. He is so low on the list because he burned out so young in 1989. He literally stopped playing in 1989 and was never the same. And that was after an amazing year - 1988. Though he played on few more years adter 1989, he was never the same and like two notches below the 1982-1988 period. While Borg and McEnroe were toast after 25, Wilander was toast after 24. In fact Wilander, McEnroe and Borg are the reasons, I limited the calculation to 7 best years instead of 8 or more. It just didn't seem to pick their 8th best year as it so shit compared to their best 7.

Wilander had a great single handed backhand slice which is underrate. It was similar to Borg. His double handed topspin backhand was great too. His forehand was okay. He had amazing mobility. And like Connors could do good counterpunching as well. And he could serve-volley and volley better than Connors even though he did not venture to net as often as Connors. Another great attribute of Mats was his great 1st serve percentage. The best attribute was his tennis brain and how to read the situation in the match and act accordingly and change tactics. I would say if Lendl and Federer had Wilander's brain they would have won more majors.

1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
61-18 82-11 54-14 69-21 54-13 71-18 53-11
77% 88% 79% 77% 81% 80% 83%
12 Stefan Edberg 415-118=80.43%=80%

During Lendl days in the 80s, I never liked Becker or Edberg. But I warmed up to Becker once Lendl declined and there was not much hope for him after 1990. But I never warmed up to Edberg. I regret it. He was a fine player, an excellent volleyer and had a marvellous backhand. His groundstrokes were not as good as Becker and he didn't seem to have the power factor in his groundstrokes or serve. Since he was equipped with a massive kick serve he rushed to the net at every opportunity even when he was not serving. It was almost montonous, thats why probably I never warmed up to him. But looking at all those old matches on tape and YouTube, I have a different view of him now and respect him a lot more. In fact I wish I could go back in time and support him in matches not feature Lendl or Becker or Stich (whom I like) at least. I was so fed up of seeing him at Wimbledon that I supported Courier! in the 1993 semis. Edberg's serve was not working that day and Courier was returning very well, yet Edberg kept net-rushing. It was the stubborness like that which caused him many matches in my opinion. I wish I had a time machine so that I go and support Edberg for that semis. Edberg should have sure ripped Sampras a new one in the final. He had beaten him in 1992 US final and 1993 AO semis - the only man to get Sampras back to back in majors!. So a lot of respect to Edberg now. He is only major champion to lead Sampras in h2h when it comes to majors. Like Becker, Edberg was really inconsistent. He could be eaten by anyone in majors and never dominated the game. He lasted longer as #1 than Becker or Wilander but that was post Lendl and when Becker was inconsitent and Wilander was doing a disappearing act. So his weeks as #1 is inflated as such.

Edberg's game was so fine. His volleys were excellent, he had a smooth flowing serve and it his best he was better on grass than anyone else. And he was suprisingly good even on fast hard courts in spite of not having a big serve as such. His back to back win in US Open (1991 and 1992) is amazing. His second win was really amazing considering he destroyed Sampras in the final after three five setters in a row against Krajicek, Lendl (5th tiebreak) and Chang. I consider it one of the greatest epic major wins ever after Sharapova's amazing 2014 French Open win in which she won the last four rounds in three setters. Edberg's forehand was not fun to watch, but his backhand was probably the best ever in modern era. His serve though not as powerful as Becker was very effective and it was tough to break him unless you play a perfect return game. His three back to back finals against Becker at Wimbledon are still a record. Both serve-volleyers put quite a spectacle in all those three finals. Those days are long gone though as serve-volleyers have become obsolete. Serve-volleyer purists long for players like Edberg and Becker to come back. To me Edberg and Becker at their best are the best grass courters of the post-wood era!

1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
60-19 70-21 78-12 67-18 64-16 70-15 76-17
76% 77% 87% 79% 80% 82% 82%


1 Steffi Graf 482-24=95.25%=95%

Steffi Graf finished in the top 2 for 10 straight years with 8 years as #1. Can you imagine that? She has also won the most majors apart from Serena Williams. And she retired when she just turned 30 (Serena won her 22nd slam when she was 35 and her 23rd slam when she was 36). Serena played at the slams 58 times between her 1st slam and 22nd slam and 60 times between her 1st slam and 23rd slam. Steffi played 42 slams between her 1st slam win and her 22nd. It shows how much more dominant and consistent Steffi was compared to Serena Williams. If you chose the gap between their first and 21st slam, Steffi did it even quicker - 21 slams in a mere 36 tries - compared to Serena's 54. It is now fashionable to put Serena above Steffi but to me Steffi was always much more dominant than Serena was. The average win-loss for the best 7 years clearly proves it. Steffi has 95% in her 7 best years while Serena has 92% inspite of the fact that Steffi won more than 100 matches more than Serena in those 7 years. Steffi is my #1 choice even if I do not consider statistics. Steffi dominated all surfaces and won 6 times at the French Open and 7 times at Wimbledon which are polar opposite surfaces. The most amazing thing is that she won 7 slams on her worst surface (clay) at the French Open. Bjorn Borg on the men's side is amazing as well in that he won French Open 5 times and Wimbledon 6 times. But he did not US Open on hard court which is is worst surface. Steffi however was more or less equally good on all surface. Though she was primarily a baseliner she was equally good at the net and ventured when needed. Her most important weapon was her forehand but she was very good in point construction and also was extremely fast and flexible. She would not have won 22 slams without her foot speed. She had a very good serve for her time, which helped her a lot. But perhaps the thing which helped her the most was her single-minded focus on the game and determination to win evey match she played. She lost only 115 matches in her entire career after all.

In the modern era, so far she is my undouted choice of #1. If I were to include other eras I would rate Helen Wills and Suzanne Lenglen equally as #1 to her. The other two I respect the most are Lottie Dod for the early era and Maureen Connolly from the 50s both of who had shortened careers. Margaret Court has the most slams but she won Wimbledon only three times and 11 of her slams are at the Australian Open which was the least regarded major back then. So she is a step below in my opinion. I have the utmost respect for Navratilova and Evert who are below her on my list but they did not dominate their worst surface anywhere close to what Steffi did.

1987 1988 1989 1990 1993 1995 1996
75-2 72-3 86-2 72-5 76-6 47-2 54-4
97% 96% 98% 94% 93% 96% 93%
2 Martina Navratilova 570-28=95.32%=95%

Martina Navratilova in her 7 best years won 570 matches losing 28 matches, thus having a win-loss percentage of 95.31%. She also has the best 5 consecutive years of all the players on her list. She won 428 matches from 1982-86 losing only 14 matches at a whopping win-loss rate of almost 97%. Only Steffi Graf comes close with 96 percentage for 1987-89, 95-96 but those are non-consecutive years. Like Steffi Graf she was extremely dominant and also almost unbeatable at her peak. But she was not as all-court as Steffi. She didn't enjoy clay as much and tended to avoid it. She was especially inferior to Evert there and lost several times to her even in 1985 and 1986 when she was at peak and Evert post-peak. In fact Evert beat her 11 times losing only thrice and could have won more if she met her more on that surface. She was however the best serve volleyer after of the WTA era. She won 9 Wimbledon which speaks volumes about her grass-court prowess. She was an excellent doubles player just like McEnroe who was the best male serve volleyer. But this is a singles list and she falls short of Steffi a little when it comes to 7 year dominance.

1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1988 1989
90-3 86-1 78-2 84-5 89-3 70-7 73-7
97% 99% 98% 94% 97% 91% 91%
3 Chris Evert 540-36=93.75%=94%

Chris Evert in her 7 best years compiled a win-loss record of 540-36 which is 93.75% average lesser than both Graf and Navratilova. But Evert is much closer to Navratilova and Graf than any other women from the WTA era. The next player behind Evert scored only Graf, Navratilova and Evert are from the rest. If Graf was the best all-court player of WTA era, Navratilova the best fast court player of WTA era, then Evert was the best slow court player of WTA era. Evert ended up winning 18 majors like Navratilova but she could have really won more. She did not compete at French Open thrice when was almost invincible on clay and Australian Open from 1975-80 when she could have won at least 3 of them before Navratilova started dominating. Anyway her longetivity like her one-time fiance Connors is amazing. She won a major for 13 straight years! She never lost before the semis from 1971-1982. Thats just incredible consistency and comparable once again to Connors feat of not losing before quarters in majors from 1974-82.

1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1980 1982
100-7 94-6 75-5 70-4 56-3 70-5 75-6
93% 94% 94% 95% 95% 93% 93%
4 Serena Williams 373-33=91.87%=92%

Serena Williams in her best 7 years won 367 matches and lost 38 matches thus scoring 90.61%. She is like the Andre Agassi of women's tennis. She like Agassi is very inconsistent and did many disappearing acts. After setting up hopes high with 1999 US Open win, she disappointed a lot in the 2000 majors and then steading improved winning YEC in 2001. She did a non-calendar slam in 2002-03 just like Navratilova 1983-84 and Graf 1993-94. But slumped once in 2004 losing to a young 17 year old Maria Sharapova in Wimbledon and YEC finals. She was injured and/or inconsitent for most of next three years before coming back top in 2008-09 and half of 2010. She again got injured before launching another big comeback in 2012, her best year since 2002. A chaotic career but she still won all the majors at least once and also won the Olympic Gold medal just like Agassi. Her weakness is clay. She won French Open only once and made only one other semis there. Navratilova was far better there as she won twice and made three other finals

2002 2003 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
56-5 38-3 58-4 78-4 52-8 53-3 38-6
92% 93% 94% 95% 87% 95% 86%
5 Monica Seles 376-56=87.03%=87%

Monica Seles in her best 7 years had a win-loss record of 376-54 and averaged 87.44%. She was the youngest French Open winner in 1990 shocking Steffi Graf in the final who was still reeling from the effects of her father's sex scandal. With Steffi in a slump, she went to dominate the next two years before an unfortunate stabbing incident in 1993 took her out of the game. Seles fans and Graf detractors seem to think that Seles would have continued dominating if she was not stabbed by that crazed Graf fan. But the truth is that we never know. Graf was catching up to Seles and from 1990 to Seles' stabbing in 1993 both were toe-toe when they faced each other. They met seven times and Seles won 4 of the matches. Four of the matches were on clay and one on Australian Open Rebound Ace surface which were Seles favorite surfaces. Steffi won the other two matches. So hard to tell. Seles made a comeback in late 1995 and won the Australian in 1996 but slowly slipped down from the top courtesy weight problems. She was no longer the same.

1989 1990 1991 1992 1996 2000 2001
33-8 54-6 74-6 70-5 47-8 58-13 40-10
80% 90% 93% 93% 85% 82% 80%
6 Justine Henin 332-50=86.91%=87%

Justine Henin in her best 7 years won 332 matches and lost 49 matches thus scoring 87.13%. Justine Henin is one the four champions, along with Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters won majors after making comebacks, Henin and Hingis won nothing big after their comebacks. The reason being both of them did not have the power to deal with the tour which had passed them they were gone. Many experts love the Henin single-handed backhand. But I always thought it was a bit erratic. She did have a game which was more aesthetically pleasing than any of the champions from the 00s. She had a short career which lasted 7 years exactly once she got to the top once she got near the top (like Borg, McEnroe, Wilander). She however did not have 7 full seasons. 2004 and 2005 were injury laden. She still managed to win a major each during those years. Her best years were 2003, 2006 and 2007. She won 5 majors and 2 YECs in those 3 years. She along with Hingis were the only champions after Graf to not rely exclusively on power.

1999 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2010
33-10 75-11 35-4 34-5 60-8 63-4 32-7
77% 87% 90% 87% 88% 94% 82%
7 Venus Williams 351-61=85.19%=85%

Venus Williams in her best 7 years compiled 335-56 at 85.67%. Venus like her younger sister has lasted for a long time. While Seles, Hingis, Henin and Clijsters have played only half to 3/4th careers, Serena and Venus have played right through to their thirtees. Granted they were not injury free and had ups and downs but they showed dedication to last these many years on tour. Just like her sister, Venus had her share for injuries but played more than her sisters and skipper fewer majors. Yet she won only 7 majors when compared to her sister who won 15 majors. Serena is undoubtedbly the better tennis player. Venus never won the French Open or Australian Open and has always been uncomfortable on slower surface. She did however win 5 Wimbledons just like her sisters and can claim she is equal to her on at least that surface. She was never consistent (just like Serena) and was never really at the top of the women's game except for 2000-2001 when she finished year-end #1.

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2007 2010
53-13 61-13 41-4 46-5 62-9 50-10 38-7
80% 82% 91% 90% 87% 83% 84%
8 Martina Hingis 420-82=83.66%=84%

Martina Hingis in her best 7 years compiled a record of 420-80 at 84%. Hingis was probably the most brainy tennis players out there along with Mats Wilander. Just like Mats Wilander she didn't have many weapon but played smartly playing a percentage game and placing her shots. She was not a boring retriever and could hit winner when she liked to. Her point construction was a thing of beauty. She was also herself a beauty, just like Graf and Evert were before her. She was however gone too soon. By 2000, when she was only 20 years old. She was already around 200 weeks as #1 by then. She was in fact the most dominating champion after Graf and Seles but though for a short period. Her 1997 season is one of the best seasons of WTA era. She narrowly missed doing the calendar slam that year shockingly losing to unheralded Iva Majoli at the French Open finals. She would never win French Open losing to Graf in 1999 after throwing a tantrum and serving underhand during matchpoint!

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
46-16 71-5 61-13 71-13 77-10 60-15 34-10
74% 93% 82% 85% 89% 80% 77%
9 Maria Sharapova 329-65=83.5%=84%

Maria Sharapova in her best 7 years compiled a record of 345-70 at 83.13%. If Sharapova did not make this list, she would have at least made the top 3 of prettiest tennis players of all time. She was an absolute sweetheart when at age 17 she destroyed two time defending Wimbledon champion in 2004 finals. She had a very inconsistent career since then having many issues with her serve as well as constant injuries. In spite of her slender model-like frame, she has immense power and can overpower anyone when on fire. She has been on fire enough times to win all 4 majors. The biggest surprise is she inspite of being an uber-aggressive tall player, she has won the French Open which the likes of other tall aggressive players like Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport haven't . Her movement on court is somewhat clumsy but she is a clean striker of the ball and I find her fun to watch.

2005 2006 2008 2012 2013 2014 2015
53-12 59-9 32-4 60-11 37-7 49-13 39-9
82% 87% 89% 85% 84% 79% 81%

Steffi Graf is currently the top player from the WTA era. On the men's side the top spot is shared by Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl. All three of them are right-handed all-court baseliners with powerful forehands. Graf' was more or less equally good on all surfaces - grass, clay, fast hard court, slow hard court, indoor hard court and indoor carpet. If I were to find the weakest surface for her, it would be slow bouncing hard courts which were fast enough to reduce the length and somewhat negate the fast foot-speed and athleticism which were her strengths and allowed her to win long rallies of slower and higher bouncing red clay, but bouncy enough to negative the advantage of her low bouncing backhand slices. On other surfaces she was more lethal - on grass her backhand slice and serve were deadly; on fast courts like fast hardcourt and carpet, she could finish points quicker by running around her backhand and hitting forehand winners. She was also very good indoors because indoors always tend to benefit players with high ball toss and flatter groundstrokes because of lack of the wind factor - and Graf tended to use flatter shots more than topspin. Lend'ls best surface was indoors. He had a high ball toss like Graf and a big forehand as well. His serve was effective and powerful. His first serve percentage was pretty low but that didn't seem to cause much trouble for him as his second serve was reliable. Because of the high ball toss and huge backswing on both sides (unlike Graf who hit the ball late on both sides and hence did not need a big backswing), Lendl always preferred indoors. Since he could hit a lot of topsin but also could hit flat, he was very good on clay as well. Though not a natural fast mover he practied hard and was improved a lot by the time became No.1. He had a very effective running forehand and also a great lob which allowed him to convert defense to offense. He was very good on clay as well and should have won more French Open titles if not for superior clay courters like Borg and Wilander who stopped him thrice. He also started focusing more on winning Wimbledon once he won the Australian Open in 1989 thereby either skipping French Open or not putting much effort into winning it. His second best surface after carpet was hard court. He was equally good on slow and fast surfaces. He had a good topspin backhand which could deal with high bounce on slow hard courts. He made one semis fina and three finals in a row at AO once the Australians switched the surface from grass to slow rubberized hard courts in 1988. Imagine how well he could have done on that surface it were on hard courts uring his prime from 1985-87. His achilles heel was grass. Though he won two titles (1989 and 1990 Queens) he never won Wimbledon making 5 semi finals there and 2 finals. He also never won Australian Open on grass, making 2 semis there and one final. The biggest problem for Lendl was he needed time for his big backswing on backhand which was not possible on the low bouncing fast grass. So he had to play serve-volley at Wimbledon. This he did doggedly even coming in on second serves. In my opinion he should have mixed it up a little. He still never had a favorable draw and luck to win it! He still was great enough to defeat Edberg at Wimbledon and McEnroe and Becker at Queens.

Roger Federer has a big forehand like Steffi and Ivan but he uses a lot more of his wrists and makes it look effortless. He is also more talented overall than Steffi and Ivan. He can hit insane flick slots on the run which bamboozle opponents. He is known for his for artistry and is second only to John McEnroe in the modern-era when it comes to touch. He is great on all surfaces but like Lendl he had to deal with an all-time great on red clay in the form of Rafael Nadal who won it a record 9 times! Nadal beat him four times in French Open and had Nadal not been beaten by Soderling in 2009, Federer could have had a Lendl-like saga at the French Open. Apart from clay where he found it difficult to handled high balls to his backhand, he is more or less supreme. His biggest asset is his serve which is very hard to read. Even his second serve is extremely reliable. His net play is not stupendous but in this current day and age net play is not that important.

.If I were to consider an ideal all-court baseliner who is invincible on all surfaces, I woud choose the following qualities of my number 1 picks:

Serving style - Graf. I find her style of raising both hands high up in the air pointing at the ball very stylish. It is unique and have yet to see anyone do that. She always hit the ball at the right elevation and hardly ever had mis tosses. She also served fast and never seemed to hesitate on her second serve. Lendl took an awfully long time to serve which was annoying to watch sometimes. Federer serves faster and has a very fluid motion better than Lendl in my opinion, but I always found Steffi's serving style very stylish.

First Serve - Federer. I think he has an amazing guile on his serve. It is hard to predict where he is hitting it - at the T, at the body or wide. Sampras and Becker probably had more devastating serve among the champions but I think Federer had the most effective one. Federer also hits an amazing amount of aces and is better than Graf or Lendl in that regard.

Second Serve - Graf. She hardly made double-faults. And she had a great kick serve on her second serve. Federer and Lendl have good second serves but I prefer Steffi's placement, kick and accuracy of second serve

Forehand - All three - This is a tough one. In fact I would say Federer, Lendl, and Graf have the three best forehands I have ever seen. For power I chose Lendl, for consistency and skill I chose Federer and for placement I chose Graf. Graf hit an enormous number of winners with her forehand, Lendl could hit hard from any position and Federer has amazing skills on his forehand side. If forced at gunpoint to make a choice, I choose Graf, but otherwise I would like attributes from all three - skill and consistency of Federer, placement of Graf and power of Lendl.

Backhand - Best bits from all three - I don't think any of the three had a perfect backhand. But I think they had differenet skills on the backhand which complement each other. Graf hit topspin or underspin backhand once in a while but didn't have the confidence to execute it often. She however had a wicked slice on her backhand - the best I have ever seen and far better than Lendl's slice and Federer's slice. I chose Graf's slice backhand, Lendl's powerful flat drives down the line, Lendl's topspin on clay and Federer's cross court flicks. Federer's uses a lot of wrists on his backhand and generally prefers a low ball which he can flick. He is top adept as dealing with high balls as Lendl was. Lendl could hit consistent topspin all day and had great power in the backhand which allowed to hit it flat as well. I had a theory back in the day that if Steffi had Lendl's down the line flat backhand and powerful topspin and used her trademark slice for cross court shots, every opponent would have been toast and she might have done multiple Grand Slams. So it is basically Federer's back for cross courts, Lendl backhand for handling high balls and down the line shots and Steffi's slice to confuse opponents.

Overhead - Federer - Steffi had the worst overhead of the three; although it was not terrible. She hardly took the ball in their air and sometimes she goofed up the overhead even after letting it bounce. It was her single worst shot in my opinion. Lendl's overhead were good but somwhat robotic. I prefer Federer's overhead by a landslide in fact. He hardly ever misses! And even his backhand smashes are awesome.

Lob - Lendl - Without a doubt, it has to be Lendl for this. He made a lob into a offensive weapon. His lobs were the reason he could defeat McEnroe in the 1984 FO final after being two sers down. And who could forget that unbelievable lot for a near losing position at the baseline, down match point against Cash in the 1984 US Open.

Forehand return of serve - Graf - She not only hit with power she had amazing placement there. She had a habit of running down her backhand and hitting aggressive forehand returns. Her forehand returns were so brutal that her opponents almost always served to her backhand. Federer's return is rather conservative and easily the worst return of serve of the three. Lendl when on fire returned extremely well but would sometimes return rather high making it easy to put away with a volley. Lendl used tiny racket heads which gave him great control while returning but also would result in high returns for good serves.

Backhand return of serve - Lendl - Lendl had more variety on his backhand return. He could return aggresively hitting flat or chip it or slice it or just block it. Steffi had a somwhat similar style of return but didn't have Lendl's power and almost never hit it flat mostly relying on slice or chip or blocks. Federer is again a bit conservative on his returns off his backhand for my liking.

Rally consistency - Lendl - have to go with Lendl on this one. Federer tends to suffer with long rallies. And if the rallies were long, Steffi's backhand could get exposed. But Lendl had no such weaknesses. He could play long rallies with ease and also had great stamina and could last 5 setters with ease (at least later in his career when he switched to better diet and more rigorous training).

Defense to offense and vice versa- Federer - This has become an art these days. And one can safely say that recent champions are better that the older champions in this regard, with superior fitness, better court positioning and ability to get to drop shots after being caught way behind the baseline. Federer is as good as Nadal and Djokovic if not better in this regard. I think Lendl was fast but not nearly as agile as Federer. Steffi was excellent but I give Federer a benefit of doubt here as the modern game is more physical and yet Federer does defense to offense so effortlessly with his supreme touch that it is almost poetic to watch.

Speed - Graf - Lendl's speed is underrated. And Federer has some fine wheels but Steffi was in a league of her own. She apparently ran 200m in 23 seconds and 100 minutes under 12 seconds. She could have been a sprinter.

Fitness and Stamina - Lendl - All three are supremely fit. But Lendl could outlast any one on court especially in the mid to late 80s. This is a close call however. I think Lendl gets the nod because of his toughness against clay gurus like Borg and Wilander.

Mental strength - Graf - It will be a joke if I give this to Lendl right? He lost in 11 major finals. Though I must say, baring one loss to Cash all the losses were against players on this list, it is still an excuse. Federer is mentally tougher but has come up short against his arch-nemesis Nadal many times in finals. Steffi was known for her comebacks in finals. There were numerous finals when she pulls victory from the jaws of defeat (1987 FO, 1991 Wimbledon, 1993 FO, 1993 Wimbledon, 1995 Wimbledon, 1996 FO, 1999 FO) . I have to give this to her.

Artitsry - Federer - Without any hesitation, I can say Federer is leagues above both Greaf and Lendl, even though I like Graf and Lendl better than Federer.

Volley - Graf - Though Federer is fairly decent and Lendl serve volleyed to 5 Wimbledon semis and 2 finals, I pick Graf. She hardly got to the net but when she got there more often than not she won it. She could get to real low balls easily and her volleys were quite stylish. Lendl had a great forehand volley but backhand was suspectible. Federer's volleys are kind of hit or miss. Steffi's volley whether forehand or backhand were great when she had right position during the rally. I really wish she volleyed more.

Approach to net - Lendl - Lendl could play passive but when in form, he approached net quite often. His masterful transitions into the net in the 1985 USO final against McEnroe was probably the one reason McEnroe decided to take a break in 1986. I never saw McEnroe being completely outplayed in an important match like that. Lendl practically took over the net in that match.

Serve and Volley - Lendl - Yeah Lendl never won Wimbledon and I give serve volley to him? Am I stupid? Well for a natural baseliner he was great as a serve volleyer. Too bad he didn't have a great first serve-percentage and also played Becker one too many time often to win Wimbledon. Federer did some serve volleying early on at Wimbledon but abandoned it as the surface started becoming slower.

Drop volley - Federer - Federer's traditional volley may not be as good but he has amazing hands when it comes to drop volley. I don't think Lendl's and Graf's drop volley come close.

Drop shots - Federer - Lendl's drop shots were effective on clay. And Graf had a good one too but Federer's is so sublime it is pure genius. He should be using it a lot more.

Flicks - Federer - The greatest wow shot in tennis is Federer's insane flicks which bamboozle opponents catching them off-guard when they are thinking that they have the upper-hand in the rally. Graf and Lendl did insane flicks once in a while but not nearly as often and as effective as Federer.

Temperament - Graf - Lendl could be a little whiny bitch sometimes. But had a far better composure than any of his non-Swedish peers. Federer could lose concentration and get angry. But Steffi was always uber cool on court. And never ever lost concentration. She always faught towards the bitter end.

Off-court personality - Graf -Graf was extremely shy and Lendl and big time introvert. Federer is a lot more social. But he also comes off as sometimes as arrogant. Lendl could come off as a bully though most of the time he was playing practical jokes. Steffi was more spontaneous in interviews and much respected by her peers on and off the court.

Humour- All three - I find all of them funny. Steffi might be slightly more spontaneous than both but Federer makes up for it by his overall cheerfulness and Lendl makes up for it by his unpredictable dry humour.

Strength and Power - All three - Hard to separate the three here. Power tennis was their bread and butter. All three of them were immensely strong. Steffi was slim but extremely fit. Lendl before he got old was in perfect shape. And Federer during his prime was extremely strong and had a muscular game. All three champions reveled in hitting deep shots. Its not all about power, it is also about precision and placement and thats what made the three great power baseliners.

I compared them in 25 categories and they are essentially tied by winning 7 of them. I think the three combined equally make one hell of a unbeatable force.