Best Tennis Players of the Open Era Ranked

zvelf

Professional
As per my explanation here (https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/settling-goat-using-a-mostly-objective-method.662012/#post-14069859), here are my updated rankings of the best tennis players of the Open Era. Since that original thread, I have removed all data prior to the Open Era so players like Laver and Court are judged only by their performance from 1968 on. That is obviously not a fair judgment of their entire career, but at some point, the differences in eras break usage of the same criteria across them all. Names in red indicate players whose pre-Open Era numbers are not considered here and if they were, these players would likely move up in the list, sometimes by significant margins.

I use the word “best” here instead of “greatest” because one can be greater in tennis in other aspects besides play. Court was better than King on the court over all, but King had the greater impact on the game.

Bolded numbers indicate that they are the highest achieved in that metric and what all other numbers in that metric are measured against. As the highest achievement in any given metric changes, how equitable that metric is with the others change. For example, each week Djokovic breaks the record for weeks at #1, the scoring of every man who has ever been #1 will change accordingly. Right now in the scoring for men:

1 major win = reaching 15 major finals = 3.67 Year-End Championships or 3.67 Olympic Golds = winning 53.6 tournaments = 76.3 weeks at #1 = 8.85 years in the top 10 = half the points of achieving a calendar year grand slam

In the scoring for women:

1 major win = reaching 14.5 major finals = 3.25 Year-End Championships or 3.25 Olympic Golds = winning 71.2 tournaments = 80.4 weeks at #1 = 8.95 years in the top 10 = half the points of achieving a calendar year grand slam

Here are the men:





 
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zvelf

Professional
Some observations:

Despite Federer and Nadal being tied in major counts, Federer still leads Nadal comfortably in the scoring due to being way ahead of Nadal in YEC (6 to 0), number of tournaments won (103 to 86), and weeks at #1 (310-209). Similarly, even though Nadal leads Djokovic by 2 majors, Djokovic ranks above Nadal, making up the difference with 5 YEC to Nadal’s 0, spending more than 100 more weeks at #1, and achieving a non-calendar year grand slam.

Among men, Andy Roddick is the best among 1-slam winners. Mark Edmondson is the worst 1-slam winner. David Ferrer is the best player never to win a slam followed by Mecir, Tsonga, Okker, and Berdych. That 3 of the biggest rivals to the Big 3 are here makes sense due to the Big 3 dominating majors at their peaks and Ferrer, Tsonga, and Berdych just could not break through. Ferrer, Tsonga, and Berdych are also evidence that the Big 3 did have to beat other very good players other than themselves.

And of course there is Andy Murray, who did break through. He reached as many major finals as McEnroe, Edberg, and Wilander, and more than Becker, but because his competition were perhaps the three best players ever, he only managed to win 3.

The young up-and-coming players who have already broken the top 90 include Zverev is at 60, Medvedev at 79, and Tsitsipas at 83.

Serena just squeaks by Navratilova for the 2 spot. She moved up from the previous list because I added Olympic Golds to the criteria. Otherwise, Serena would be behind Martina.

Osaka has already broken through to the top 20 players of the Open Era, becoming only the 16th woman to win 4 or more majors. Andreescu is already 42, Kenin is 55, and Swiatek is 64. With majors weighted as 50% of all criteria, winning even 1 moves you up a lot.

Kerber, Mauresmo, Austin, and Halep are almost all tied for the 20th spot with Kerber barely beating out the others. I expect Halep to rise above the others though in another year or two. Even if she never wins another major, she will probably keep winning tournaments and stay in the top 10. Kerber and Halep’s low Elo though shows that their competition wasn’t as great as Austin’s and Mauresmo’s were. Austin’s Elo shows that during her peak year 1980, she was playing at the same level as Henin in her peak year 2007, but of course injury cut Austin’s career short.

Among women, Sabatini is the best 1-slam winner. Chris O’Neil is the worst with Barbara Jordan a close second. Some people might say, who? Exactly.

Radwanska is the best non-slam winner followed by Shriver and Dementieva.

All 3 Maleeva sisters made the cut and rank in order of oldest to youngest: Manuela at 46, Katerina at 78, and Magdalena at 85.
 

zvelf

Professional
Good effort but how come 1 Major win equals 15 Major finals? That's absurd.

Also, Masters should be there somewhere for men. They're not easy events to win.
This link explains how all calculations were made except for grand slam points, which involves some complicated math, which I can go into but will likely end up puzzling non-math geeks.


I personally intuitively feel like majors are weighted too much at 50% so 1 major being worth 15 major finals might be overkill, but there are many who feel majors should be 100% in which case 1 major would be worth more than reaching an infinite number of major finals. On the other hand, the counter argument might be, would you rather win 1 major or lose 15 major finals? Showing how one's views on slams can change depending on perspective, one could easily answer this by saying they would rather lose 15 major finals of today than win 1 Australian Open of the 1970s while preferring to win 1 men's major final in 2008-2013 than lose 15 major finals at any other time.

Masters are something that only really became important in tennis in the past 30 years so adding them would be another criteria that greatly helps more recent players while hurting older players.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
Not everything is about Nadal. If OP was truly butthurt then the chart would've found a way to put Novak #1 and not behind Roger, like Lew does with his stats.
On every important measure Nadal is ahead of Djokovic. More Majors. Better Major h2h. More titles won. And this when Djokovic has twice as many events on his best surface.
The reality is as great as Djokovic is he is not top 5 of all time if you allow for the fact he has so many events on his best surface compared to any past or current player
 

MeatTornado

G.O.A.T.
On every important measure Nadal is ahead of Djokovic. More Majors. Better Major h2h. More titles won. And this when Djokovic has twice as many events on his best surface.
The reality is as great as Djokovic is he is not top 5 of all time if you allow for the fact he has so many events on his best surface compared to any past or current player
Good luck finding anyone who agrees that major H2H or total titles more important than time spent at #1.
 

zvelf

Professional
There are a billion of these. This one has lots of work and effort.

But still just opinion ranking at the end of the day based on metrics used.
I agree that it's impossible to rank players without any opinion whatsoever, but my methodology removes opinion as much as possible. The only opinion that enters into it are the metrics being used, most of which I believe are pretty uncontroversial, and how much weight to give them. Aside from majors won being weighted far, far above everything else at 50% and weeks at #1 being weighted at 11%, all the rest of weighted exactly the same at 5.55%.
 

daggerman

Hall of Fame
Nadal lives rent free in Djokovic fans head lol.
The accepted ranking is
1. Nadal Federer
3. Laver
4.Borg
5. sampras
6. Djokovic.
Djokovic too one dimensional at Major level really compared to the other 4.
5.
I mean, suppose Novak's the 6th-best tennis player in the Open Era.

That's pretty damn good.

You frame it like being the 6th-best tennis player since 1968 makes him bad at tennis. Unreal lack of perspective lmao.
 

zvelf

Professional
Nadal lives rent free in Djokovic fans head lol.
The accepted ranking is
1. Nadal Federer
3. Laver
4.Borg
5. sampras
6. Djokovic.
Djokovic too one dimensional at Major level really compared to the other 4.
5.
This thread was not made with some agenda about the Big 3. Why would I devote the time and energy to look at 177 other players just to make some statement on Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic? But in any case, your take is pretty ridiculous. Djokovic is too one dimensional compared to Sampras who never even reached a French Open final? And to Nadal, whose 13 out of 20 majors are all at the French?
 

Milanez82

Professional
Peak Elo by Hewitt and Roddick puts things into perspective
And that Borg elo is just insane back then

Its obvious there is some Elo inflation going on lately which makes Djokovic number less impressive.
 

itrium84

Professional
Nadal lives rent free in Djokovic fans head lol.
The accepted ranking is
1. Nadal Federer
3. Laver
4.Borg
5. sampras
6. Djokovic.
Djokovic too one dimensional at Major level really compared to the other 4.
5.
One-dimensional player: Only guy in history to win Grand Slam on 3 different surfaces + only guy in history to win all important tennis tournaments.
Multi-dimensional players: Can't stay no1 for too much weeks or years + can't win all important tournaments (not even close).
 

itrium84

Professional
Peak Elo by Hewitt and Roddick puts things into perspective
And that Borg elo is just insane back then

Its obvious there is some Elo inflation going on lately which makes Djokovic number less impressive.
Yeah, those grapes are pretty sour. :)
 

Beckerserve

Legend
One-dimensional player: Only guy in history to win Grand Slam on 3 different surfaces + only guy in history to win all important tennis tournaments.
Multi-dimensional players: Can't stay no1 for too much weeks or years + can't win all important tournaments (not even close).
Too hard court dominated though.
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
Very comprehensive effort, OP.

The Open Era top 10 among the men here seems pretty good, although - as ever, and I'm not sure there is a way to get around this - Borg is ranked below Lendl and Connors due to his short career. Really, he should be above them.
 

CYGS

Legend
Another fantasy ranking. Remove masters but use the total title count - no bias for sure. Another subjective opinion - Everybody and their mum can have one.
 

zvelf

Professional
Very comprehensive effort, OP.

The Open Era top 10 among the men here seems pretty good, although - as ever, and I'm not sure there is a way to get around this - Borg is ranked below Lendl and Connors due to his short career. Really, he should be above them.
I agree that Borg was more talented than Lendl and Connors. These numbers are of course achievement stats and the underlying assumption is that your talent and hard work translate into achievements. But that's not always true and Borg's early retirement hurts his achievement numbers. An even better case is Monica Seles getting stabbed. Borg at least had a choice to retire. Seles was out for 2 1/2 years at her peak through no fault of her own and her achievements would undoubtedly be higher than what they are had there been no stabbing.
 

Sport

G.O.A.T.
Incorrect ranking. The number of Grand Slams is the most relevant all-time great criterion. Other criteria are just tie-breakers in case two players are tied in the Grand Slam count.

Real ranking:
1-2. Federer-Nadal.
3. Djokovic.
4. Sampras.
5. Borg.

If Djokovic isn't talented enough to win as many Slams as Nadal, he ain't greater. Stop with the excuses.
 

zvelf

Professional
Another fantasy ranking. Remove masters but use the total title count - no bias for sure. Another subjective opinion - Everybody and their mum can have one.
There will always be issues with comparing players across eras because what is valued in the game changes. To make it more fair to players in the 70s and 80s, I went with total title count instead of Masters. Of course there were a lot more titles to be had then than now, but that partially makes up for the fact that slams weren't nearly as important then. As I explained in my earlier thread, in the 1970s, the Australian Open and to a lesser extent, the French Open, simply were not as popular as Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and top players (unless they were Australian) often skipped the Australian and to a lesser extent, the French. They weren't seen as must-play tournaments the way they are today. For example, Jimmy Connors, who had one of the longest careers of any major player only ever played the Australian Open twice - in 1974 and 1975 in which he won in 1974 and was runner-up in 1975. So Connors skipped 9 Australian Opens in his prime. (Connors won every major in 1974 except the French, which he did not play and he did not play the French for 5 years between 1974-1978 because he was banned for playing World Team Tennis.) Similarly, Borg skipped all but 1 Australian Open, skipping 7 in his prime. McEnroe did not play the Australian until 1983 and only played it 5 times total in a 16-year career. Had Connors, Borg, and McEnroe played the many Australian Opens they missed, it's almost certain they could have increased their final major counts beyond 8, 11, and 7, respectively. This holds true on the women's side too. Chris Evert skipped 8 Australian Opens and 3 French Opens in her prime. The 6 times Evert did play the Australian, she won it twice and was a finalist the other 4! Martina Navratilova likewise missed 5 Australian Opens and 5 French Opens, some of those during her prime. Both could easily have added to their 18 major win counts had they played these tournaments. To add to the complication, the Australian Open wouldn't expand from a field of 64 to 128 until 1982 making it just slightly easier to win up to that point.
 

CYGS

Legend
There will always be issues with comparing players across eras because what is valued in the game changes. To make it more fair to players in the 70s and 80s, I went with total title count instead of Masters. Of course there were a lot more titles to be had then than now, but that partially makes up for the fact that slams weren't nearly as important then. As I explained in my earlier thread, in the 1970s, the Australian Open and to a lesser extent, the French Open, simply were not as popular as Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and top players (unless they were Australian) often skipped the Australian and to a lesser extent, the French. They weren't seen as must-play tournaments the way they are today. For example, Jimmy Connors, who had one of the longest careers of any major player only ever played the Australian Open twice - in 1974 and 1975 in which he won in 1974 and was runner-up in 1975. So Connors skipped 9 Australian Opens in his prime. (Connors won every major in 1974 except the French, which he did not play and he did not play the French for 5 years between 1974-1978 because he was banned for playing World Team Tennis.) Similarly, Borg skipped all but 1 Australian Open, skipping 7 in his prime. McEnroe did not play the Australian until 1983 and only played it 5 times total in a 16-year career. Had Connors, Borg, and McEnroe played the many Australian Opens they missed, it's almost certain they could have increased their final major counts beyond 8, 11, and 7, respectively. This holds true on the women's side too. Chris Evert skipped 8 Australian Opens and 3 French Opens in her prime. The 6 times Evert did play the Australian, she won it twice and was a finalist the other 4! Martina Navratilova likewise missed 5 Australian Opens and 5 French Opens, some of those during her prime. Both could easily have added to their 18 major win counts had they played these tournaments. To add to the complication, the Australian Open wouldn't expand from a field of 64 to 128 until 1982 making it just slightly easier to win up to that point.
@Phoenix1983 's mum disagrees.
 

thrust

Hall of Fame
Good effort but how come 1 Major win equals 15 Major finals? That's absurd.

Also, Masters should be there somewhere for men. They're not easy events to win.
The open era which only applies to the Men's game began in 1968, therefore: Laver, Rosewall and Newcombe should not have their begin date on their first year on the amateur tour. Their first year playing in the OE is 1968. As the open era only applies to the Men's game Court and King's records should include the years they played before 1968.
 

zvelf

Professional
The open era which only applies to the Men's game began in 1968, therefore: Laver, Rosewall and Newcombe should not have their begin date on their first year on the amateur tour. Their first year playing in the OE is 1968. As the open era only applies to the Men's game Court and King's records should include the years they played before 1968.
1968 is the start year for all the data here for both men and women. You are free to consider that start year as arbitrary or not, but the simple matter is that the further you go back in time, the less rigid the records were kept and the less reliable the data becomes and the less applicable using today's criteria as metrics work. Court is lucky to even count her 70s Australian Open wins in her majors count when they were practically national championships instead of international ones. You are, however, free to collect all the data for the entire history of women's tennis if you see it as all the same and want to be completist.
 

zvelf

Professional
Too hard court dominated though.
Not really. Djokovic has 10 clay court Masters wins, more than anyone else in the history of the game outside of Nadal. Clay court Masters make up 33% of Masters tournaments and 28% of Djokovic's 36 Masters wins are on clay, which is impressive when the best clay courter ever has been his competition. Of Nadal's 35 Masters, 71% are on clay. So if Djokovic's resume is somehow "too hard court dominated," that would go doubly so for Nadal being "too clay court dominated." Personally, I don't bother with surface count in assessing greatness outside of whether one has won some sort of grand slam whether career, calendar-year or non-calendar-year, so Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer have all met that standard in some form.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
Not really. Djokovic has 10 clay court Masters wins, more than anyone else in the history of the game outside of Nadal. Clay court Masters make up 33% of Masters tournaments and 28% of Djokovic's 36 Masters wins are on clay, which is impressive when the best clay courter ever has been his competition. Of Nadal's 35 Masters, 71% are on clay. So if Djokovic's resume is somehow "too hard court dominated," that would go doubly so for Nadal being "too clay court dominated." Personally, I don't bother with surface count in assessing greatness outside of whether one has won some sort of grand slam whether career, calendar-year or non-calendar-year, so Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer have all met that standard in some form.
I was referring to Majors. Until last October Majors was the be all and end all.
Personally while this is boring of me to say i do not think there can be a GOAT when the tour is different now to say 40 years ago surface distribution wise. Until such time as there are equal big events on clay hard and grass then GOAT debates are futile.
 

GoldenMasters

Semi-Pro
Well that is because it is not accurate just randomly selected numbers arbitrarily awarding points for various things.
Most just look at Slam count. Been like that for 50 odd years pretty much
Can you please shut up Pantera with your bs. You keep repeating same bs over and over again.
 
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