Australian Open greats ranked in Open era

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
We know the Australian Open champions by heart in the past 20 years but before this, the open was very different. There was less of a participation from the best, if the best players didn't play the second or third best players had their say. So lets analyze the top 10 Australian Open players of all time.

By slam counts ( taking slam finals as tiebreaker, and then win %)
1. Djokovic 10
2. Federer 6
3. Agassi 4
4. Wilander 3
5. Nadal 2
6. Edberg 2
7. Lendl 2
8. Vilas 2
9. Sampras 2
10. Rosewall 2

Djokovic had the best result in the tournament with notable results like 2012 Australian Open finals and 2019 Australian Open finals which were iconic. He is also the first in open era or all time to win 10 titles in mens here. He also has the highest winning rate of close to 92%.

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Federer became number 1 post Australian open 2004. He remained a dominant force for very long time having 14 years gap between his first and last title. He had many crazy encounters with 2017 Australian open breaking 4 and half year draught of slams as well as 2018 Australian open which made him the second oldest player to win a grand slam in open era. He also has crazy 15 Australian open semi finals.

roger-federer.jpg


Agassi was the first open era great to win more than 3 Australian open titles. He won 3 Australian open titles in a row (dnp in 2002) after 29. His best on this surface is still one of the best with 90+ winning percentage. But he skipped many Australian open.

Andre-oord87o2thehp9e2bx6d0zvryyeow09j093qhplx4e.jpg


Wilander is the first of this list to win Australian open on multiple surface types. He took the throne of best Swedish player from Borg in 1982 when at barely 19 years old he became the youngest champion in open era. He won on grass vs players like Wimbledon finalists Kevin Curren and Ivan Lendl. While on hard courts he had success once.

Australian+Open+1988+c.jpg


Nadal chapter in Australian open history is very renowned. He had the back to back 5 hr matches vs Federer and Verdasco to win his first Australian open. Afterwards he reached final 4 more times and lost narrowly to Djokovic Wawrinka and Federer. His second Australian open was when he fought from brink of defeat to one of the best comebacks in tennis history which might be highlight of his Australian open.

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Stefan Edberg won Australian open on grass courts. His Australian open 1985 Australian open also at the age of 19 in November. 1986 the slam was not held due to calendar changes. But 1987 is when he recaptured the slam. This was the final time the slam was held on grass. Edberg made 3 more finals on hard court but he has the infamous record of being only player in open era to retire in slam final.
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Lendl reached multiple finals on grass and hard but between 1989 and 1990 in a field of peak competition he won 2 titles on hard court. He didn't have an aura down under due to intense competition from Edberg Wilander Becker etc..
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Vilas won back to back Australian opens in 1970s which should have made him a number 1 player in atp rankings. His competition in these years was very weak with Vilas being only guy in top atgs playing these tournamnets. But he was very successful for the short time he played here winning 88% of his matches.
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Sampras was very successful in USOpen hard courts. He won 83% of matches here. But he still couldn't beat Andre Agassi in two times they played.
pete-sampras-wins-1994-australian-open.jpg


Ken Rosewall has played tennis for some of his longest spans in life. His career spanned three eras between Ameteur era, Pro slam era and Open era. There was no Pro slam in Australia and he missed big part of his career due to this. But he still won 2 slams in open era at the age of 36 and 37 which made him STILL the oldest australian open champion. Rosewall is the best of pre open era to win 2 slams even in pro era down under.
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buscemi

Hall of Fame
Wouldn't Newcombe be ahead of Rosewall b/c Newk had 2 titles and another final while Rosewall had 2 titles but no other finals.

Plus, players like Courier and Becker should definitely be ahead of Vilas, not based on your criteria, but b/c their wins were against much better fields.
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
Wouldn't Newcombe be ahead of Rosewall b/c Newk had 2 titles and another final while Rosewall had 2 titles but no other finals.

Plus, players like Courier and Becker should definitely be ahead of Vilas, not based on your criteria, but b/c their wins were against much better fields.
There are many different arguments for this list. That's the purpose of this thread. I am not able to rank these guys due to Australian open having special decisions like Surface change, open era when Australian legends got old and players not participating. And you are right, Newcombe will come ahead of these players even statistically.

What do you think would be criteria when comparing Becker vs Courier vs Rosewall ?
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
There are many different arguments for this list. That's the purpose of this thread. I am not able to rank these guys due to Australian open having special decisions like Surface change, open era when Australian legends got old and players not participating. And you are right, Newcombe will come ahead of these players even statistically.

What do you think would be criteria when comparing Becker vs Courier vs Rosewall ?
I would discount Rosewall's 1972 Australian Open win due to the weakness of the field/his draw. Tons of top players didn't play, like Stan Smith (who won Wimbledon that year) and Nastase (who won the U.S. Open that year).

Rosewall's draw was: Jun Kuki, Jean-Paul Meyer, Dick Crealy, Allan Stone, and Mal Anderson. So, five matches against pretty weak opponents.
 

Razer

Legend
I would put it like this....

01. Djokovic
02. Federer
03. Agassi
04. Wilander
05. Courier
05. Sampras
05. Nadal
05. Edberg
05. Lendl
05. Becker

As per finals counted as tie breaker in the OP, you missed out Courier in your top 10 and you included Vilas/Rosewall, see the flaw, Courier is rated as a very powerful aus open champ and not the same for Vilas. So this whole idea of counting in losing finalists as a tie breaker is flawed.
 

nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
I would put it like this....

01. Djokovic
02. Federer
03. Agassi
04. Wilander
05. Courier
05. Sampras
05. Nadal
05. Edberg
05. Lendl
05. Becker

As per finals counted as tie breaker in the OP, you missed out Courier in your top 10 and you included Vilas/Rosewall, see the flaw, Courier is rated as a very powerful aus open champ and not the same for Vilas. So this whole idea of counting in losing finalists as a tie breaker is flawed.
Interesting. Why is Courier a very powerful Australian Open champion? He has won 2 years during transition time from Lendl era to Sampras era. He beat Edberg twice who was never an Aussie Champ after the tour shifted to hard courts. He has never beaten Agassi, Sampras or Becker there, three guys who won in the decade.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Interesting. Why is Courier a very powerful Australian Open champion? He has won 2 years during transition time from Lendl era to Sampras era. He beat Edberg twice who was never an Aussie Champ after the tour shifted to hard courts. He has never beaten Agassi, Sampras or Becker there, three guys who won in the decade.
Courier beat Edberg/Edberg/Stich/Muster/Korda/Bruguera/Enqvist to win his two Australian Opens. Two good title runs overall.

I don't see any reason to discount Courier's two wins in the finals against Edberg. Edberg's two Australian Open wins were on grass, but he also won two hardcourt Majors, with the second of them -- the 1992 U.S. Open -- coming in between Courier's wins over him in the 1992/1993 AO finals. Plus, Edberg had three AO finals and three SFs on hard court. From 1988-1994, Edberg was in the SF or final every year except 1989 when he had to retire before his QF match against Muster.
 

Razer

Legend
Interesting. Why is Courier a very powerful Australian Open champion? He has won 2 years during transition time from Lendl era to Sampras era. He beat Edberg twice who was never an Aussie Champ after the tour shifted to hard courts. He has never beaten Agassi, Sampras or Becker there, three guys who won in the decade.

Jim Courier was a big player at that time, won 4 slams quickly. He was the youngest player to reach all 4 Grand Slam finals at 22. years and 11 months, I think he still holds that record. He was in tremendous form in his relatively short peak, there is no way Agassi would have beaten Courier at the AO even if he had played because Agassi lost 6 straight matches from 1991-1992 & one in 1995. So he is rated high for that 2 years period at least, excluding him for Vilas/Rosewall is odd.
 
Jim Courier was a big player at that time, won 4 slams quickly. He was the youngest player to reach all 4 Grand Slam finals at 22. years and 11 months, I think he still holds that record. He was in tremendous form in his relatively short peak, there is no way Agassi would have beaten Courier at the AO even if he had played because Agassi lost 6 straight matches from 1991-1992 & one in 1995. So he is rated high for that 2 years period at least, excluding him for Vilas/Rosewall is odd.
Courier was a great player, nevertheless Pete should be ranked ahead of him. One more final, but even if you discount for that as a tie-breaker, he is also 2-0 in H2H vs Jim.
 

TripleATeam

G.O.A.T.
It feels weird to say, but yeah I suppose so. But seeing as the AO didn't really come into its own until 1983 it makes sense why Wilander is so high up there. The first 1-2 modern editions (83-84) were still getting their footing before the 1985 edition ushered in the full-scale AO competition. Feels like we're missing some names (70s era tennis), but obviously they just weren't attending much. Sad.

But wow, Edberg and Nadal with greater win% (or finals) than Lendl. Didn't expect that.
 

Sport

G.O.A.T.
WRONG! If a player reaches more finals. proves he is better than a player who fails to reach as many finals. Second place is better than third, fourth or fifth, etc..
CORRECT!*

If Djokovic were to win his 8th Wimbledon title, he's equally great as Federer at W. I don't think the extra loss finals would make Roger a superior W player.

First of all, Djokovic leads the H2H 3-1 over Federer at W. I don't think extra loss finals are more relevant than the actual H2H at the event.

Second of all, Djokovic possesses a superior win % rate in finals.

Federer in W finals: 66,66% win rate.
Djokovic in W finals: 77,77 % win rate.

This stats gives Djokovic a superior clutch level in finals. An inferior win rate gives Federer a poorer clutch level in finals.

P. S.: you can complain all what you want about it being unfair due to Federer being older, and you have a valid point, but at the end of the day, unfair or not, 8 = 8, and stats is all that matters, not subjective eye test or peak level. Having a superior peak level doesn't make you greater at an event, look at how Sergi Brugera is greater than Roger at RG despite possessing a quite likely inferior peak level.
 
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nolefam_2024

Talk Tennis Guru
It feels weird to say, but yeah I suppose so. But seeing as the AO didn't really come into its own until 1983 it makes sense why Wilander is so high up there. The first 1-2 modern editions (83-84) were still getting their footing before the 1985 edition ushered in the full-scale AO competition. Feels like we're missing some names (70s era tennis), but obviously they just weren't attending much. Sad.

But wow, Edberg and Nadal with greater win% (or finals) than Lendl. Didn't expect that.
Yes. During Lendl's long career, he has always struggled on grass. He won 2 queens club titles in his late 20s. He has never been dominant in Melbourne, losing his number 1 ranking to Becker in Melbourne.
 

TripleATeam

G.O.A.T.
Yes. During Lendl's long career, he has always struggled on grass. He won 2 queens club titles in his late 20s. He has never been dominant in Melbourne, losing his number 1 ranking to Becker in Melbourne.
You're right of course, I just didn't expect to see the grass surface so clearly have an impact. Like logically I knew it given as I've stared at the stats for years now, but I never put it together in my head that succinctly before. Wilander is top 5 at the AO, not insignificantly because it was grass. Lendl the same but in reverse.

Just surprised me since I consider the modern AO a HC surface and the "old" AO of pre-1975 as a grass tournament.
 

duaneeo

Legend
Duane go outside lol

Sure, if you believe that it's only about who won the most titles. But that was never my belief.

I find it more impressive that Safin took out Sampras in route to making the AO final in 2002, took out 4-time winner/defending champion Agassi in making the final in 2004, and beat PEAK/defending champion Federer in route to winning the title in 2005.
 

Matrix968

Semi-Pro
We know the Australian Open champions by heart in the past 20 years but before this, the open was very different. There was less of a participation from the best, if the best players didn't play the second or third best players had their say. So lets analyze the top 10 Australian Open players of all time.

By slam counts ( taking slam finals as tiebreaker, and then win %)
1. Djokovic 10
2. Federer 6
3. Agassi 4
4. Wilander 3
5. Nadal 2
6. Edberg 2
7. Lendl 2
8. Vilas 2
9. Sampras 2
10. Rosewall 2

Djokovic had the best result in the tournament with notable results like 2012 Australian Open finals and 2019 Australian Open finals which were iconic. He is also the first in open era or all time to win 10 titles in mens here. He also has the highest winning rate of close to 92%.

GettyImages-1460514890.jpeg


Federer became number 1 post Australian open 2004. He remained a dominant force for very long time having 14 years gap between his first and last title. He had many crazy encounters with 2017 Australian open breaking 4 and half year draught of slams as well as 2018 Australian open which made him the second oldest player to win a grand slam in open era. He also has crazy 15 Australian open semi finals.

roger-federer.jpg


Agassi was the first open era great to win more than 3 Australian open titles. He won 3 Australian open titles in a row (dnp in 2002) after 29. His best on this surface is still one of the best with 90+ winning percentage. But he skipped many Australian open.

Andre-oord87o2thehp9e2bx6d0zvryyeow09j093qhplx4e.jpg


Wilander is the first of this list to win Australian open on multiple surface types. He took the throne of best Swedish player from Borg in 1982 when at barely 19 years old he became the youngest champion in open era. He won on grass vs players like Wimbledon finalists Kevin Curren and Ivan Lendl. While on hard courts he had success once.

Australian+Open+1988+c.jpg


Nadal chapter in Australian open history is very renowned. He had the back to back 5 hr matches vs Federer and Verdasco to win his first Australian open. Afterwards he reached final 4 more times and lost narrowly to Djokovic Wawrinka and Federer. His second Australian open was when he fought from brink of defeat to one of the best comebacks in tennis history which might be highlight of his Australian open.

2492.jpg


Stefan Edberg won Australian open on grass courts. His Australian open 1985 Australian open also at the age of 19 in November. 1986 the slam was not held due to calendar changes. But 1987 is when he recaptured the slam. This was the final time the slam was held on grass. Edberg made 3 more finals on hard court but he has the infamous record of being only player in open era to retire in slam final.
images


Lendl reached multiple finals on grass and hard but between 1989 and 1990 in a field of peak competition he won 2 titles on hard court. He didn't have an aura down under due to intense competition from Edberg Wilander Becker etc..
Ev1zMq2VoAAiC_U.jpg:large


Vilas won back to back Australian opens in 1970s which should have made him a number 1 player in atp rankings. His competition in these years was very weak with Vilas being only guy in top atgs playing these tournamnets. But he was very successful for the short time he played here winning 88% of his matches.
1660763918.jpeg



Sampras was very successful in USOpen hard courts. He won 83% of matches here. But he still couldn't beat Andre Agassi in two times they played.
pete-sampras-wins-1994-australian-open.jpg


Ken Rosewall has played tennis for some of his longest spans in life. His career spanned three eras between Ameteur era, Pro slam era and Open era. There was no Pro slam in Australia and he missed big part of his career due to this. But he still won 2 slams in open era at the age of 36 and 37 which made him STILL the oldest australian open champion. Rosewall is the best of preopen era to win 2 slams even in pro era down under.
f14ffc9d5f1781139d5fa9dcd8de647d18077370
Great effort to summarize OE history at AO, respect, way to go...
 

Sputnik Bulgorov

Professional
CORRECT!*

If Djokovic were to win his 8th Wimbledon title, he's equally great as Federer at W. I don't think the extra loss finals would make Roger a superior W player.

First of all, Djokovic leads the H2H 3-1 over Federer at W. I don't think extra loss finals are more relevant than the actual H2H at the event.

Second of all, Djokovic possesses a superior win % rate in finals.

Federer in W finals: 66,66% win rate.
Djokovic in W finals: 77,77 % win rate.

This stats gives Djokovic a superior clutch level in finals. An inferior win rate gives Federer a poorer clutch level in finals.

P. S.: you can complain all what you want about it being unfair due to Federer being older, and you have a valid point, but at the end of the day, unfair or not, 8 = 8, and stats is all that matters, not subjective eye test or peak level. Having a superior peak level doesn't make you greater at an event, look at how Sergi Brugera is greater than Roger at RG despite possessing a quite likely inferior peak level.

If only titles count, would you agree then that Andy Murray is greater than Nadal on grass because 2=2, 5>2, 1>0?
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
1- Djokovic
2- Federer
3- Agassi
4- Wilander
5- Safin
6- Sampras
7-Nadal
8- Lendl
9- Edberg


Agassi could be above Federer if he hadn't skipped it so much.
Why do you have Lendl above Edberg?

-Edberg was 56-10, with two titles, three other finals, and three other SFs​
-Lendl was 48-10, with two titles, two other finals, and three other SFs​
-H2H was 2-2​

So, Edberg had 8 more wins and an additional final.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
I’ve gone back and watched all of the classic Shawn matches. Great stuff, but I’d take guys like Omega, Danielson and Styles over him personally. He was a massive influence for those guys though.
Of course you would bc watching stuff from decades ago hits different when you didn’t see it in real time, which is exactly why you underrate Rafa. If I was 4 now and watched Kenny matches in 15 years I wouldn’t give af.
 

Razer

Legend
Of course you would bc watching stuff from decades ago hits different when you didn’t see it in real time, which is exactly why you underrate Rafa. If I was 4 now and watched Kenny matches in 15 years I wouldn’t give af.
Its not nostalgia. Its being alive to experience something.

Indeed ....Nacho was born in 1999, so basically Peak Shawn in before his entire existence, cannot expect him to understand the attitude Era cause he was not there....
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Indeed ....Nacho was born in 1999, so basically Peak Shawn in before his entire existence, cannot expect him to understand the attitude Era cause he was not there....
You just really can't go back and watch stuff and have it hit the same. It's like watching Wimbledon 2008 in 2020 for the first time or something lol. You had to see it live, have the pressure of not knowing who was going to win, the backstory going into the match etc. I really wish today's gen could know what it was like watching Wrestling live in the 90s, it will never be like that again lol
I hate that Nacho missed the 90s, they were epic AF :D
 

Razer

Legend
You just really can't go back and watch stuff and have it hit the same. It's like watching Wimbledon 2008 in 2020 for the first time or something lol. You had to see it live, have the pressure of not knowing who was going to win, the backstory going into the match etc. I really wish today's gen could know what it was like watching Wrestling live in the 90s, it will never be like that again lol
I hate that Nacho missed the 90s, they were epic AF :D

Indeed. To like Nadal passionately or to hate him passionately in both scenarios one needs to see 2008W or some other mid 00s matches live, otherwise that same feel will never be there, watching things of distant past now never works.

Same for TV shows as well, if we try to watch a 30 yrs old show today we won't get the same feel that audience got back then when they watched episode by episode every week and waited one extra week with suspence of not knowing what will happen. In WWF as well thd suspence factor of who will win WrestleMania, Who'll win the royal rumble etc etc cannot be matched if we watch it 15 years later

Nacho would be a different person if he was born let's say 7-10 years before his time.

Watching live in 90s at a time when life was slower, internet was still niche cannot be compared with Cena/Roman's eras cause that is in the era of smartphones, the bright white lights everywhere, more cameras rolling .... All this was not there before ....the 90s was darker and that feel cannot be explained to Nacho
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Indeed. To like Nadal passionately or to hate him passionately in both scenarios one needs to see 2008W or some other mid 00s matches live, otherwise that same feel will never be there, watching things of distant past now never works.

Watching live in 90s at a time when life was slower, internet was still niche cannot be compared with Cena/Roman's eras cause that is in the era of smartphones, the bright white lights everywhere, more cameras rolling .... All this was not there before ....the 90s was darker and that feel cannot be explained to Nacho
Blockbuster, VHS, CD's, Laserdisk, having to actually WATCH live concerts and not record them, having to watch something when it was on or you'd miss it....... there was so much peace :D
 

Razer

Legend
Blockbuster, VHS, CD's, Laserdisk, having to actually WATCH live concerts and not record them, having to watch something when it was on or you'd miss it....... there was so much peace :D

Indeed life was peaceful in childhood days. Movies were also not so readily available as it was now, had to rent out VHS, today the pen drives, piracy, OTTs etc etc have changed everything. WWF itself was telecasted a few months later in my country, so we had a lot of suspense of these main events, sometime we even checked the results of the main events on wwe.com in advance or hear rumours from people who accessed the internet and revealed who won. Today no suspense, the entire world has the internet at its fingertips and everything is telecasted almost live. 90s was a good time to grow :D


I think muggery in Tennis of the guys born in late 90s is because these are the first generation who got smartphones & internet right since their were little kids, it will take some time to adapt for both kids and parents, I wont be surprised if kids born 2013 onwards grow up to be much stronger in every field of life than the Gen Z. The internet has made the entire gen Z weak. Tennis is the live example.
 
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ChrisRF

Legend
Exactly. Lendl doesn't get bonus points for making 8 straight USO finals when he lost 5 of the 8 finals.
Why not? Don't make your guy worse than he was here. ;)

I mean, seriously, reaching those 8 finals in a row is a monumental achievement. Winning 3 titles is a great achievement as well, so it's not like he always lost the final. You can combine two positives here. I would even argue that the 8 finals are what makes it legendary and talked about for still a long time to come. So yes, that's even more than bonus points IMO.
 

thrust

Legend
Why do you have Lendl above Edberg?

-Edberg was 56-10, with two titles, three other finals, and three other SFs​
-Lendl was 48-10, with two titles, two other finals, and three other SFs​
-H2H was 2-2​

So, Edberg had 8 more wins and an additional final.
Also, Edberg was dominating Lendl in a final until he became seriously injured and had to quit the match.
 

thrust

Legend
I would discount Rosewall's 1972 Australian Open win due to the weakness of the field/his draw. Tons of top players didn't play, like Stan Smith (who won Wimbledon that year) and Nastase (who won the U.S. Open that year).

Rosewall's draw was: Jun Kuki, Jean-Paul Meyer, Dick Crealy, Allan Stone, and Mal Anderson. So, five matches against pretty weak opponents.
True, but he did win the year before against a very tough field without losing a set and did beat the guy who beat Newcombe in the 72 final. IMO, Ken had a good chance to win the 72 AO against a tougher draw because he was a great grass court player especially in Australia and won the WCT final vs Laver having defeated other top player on the way to that final.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
True, but he did win the year before against a very tough field without losing a set and did beat the guy who beat Newcombe in the 72 final. IMO, Ken had a good chance to win the 72 AO against a tougher draw because he was a great grass court player especially in Australia and won the WCT final vs Laver having defeated other top player on the way to that final.
I agree that Rosewall's 1971 title was legit and that he had a good shot of winning in 1972 even if the field/his draw were better. But, for me, the five players he faced in 1972 lowers the level of that Major enough that I slot him below the other players who won 2 AOs in the Open Era (obviously Rosewall also has his pre-Open Era wins).
 
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