Most Athletic Player of All Time (ATP)

Most Athletic Player Ever

  • Djokovic

    Votes: 22 20.0%
  • Becker

    Votes: 2 1.8%
  • Nadal

    Votes: 30 27.3%
  • Monfils

    Votes: 42 38.2%
  • Lendl

    Votes: 2 1.8%
  • Dimitrov

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (tell us who)

    Votes: 12 10.9%

  • Total voters
    110
#52
Not my poll, but I think the OP was more about pure athleticism, and not about accomplishments and longevity. Still, as I replied earlier, Fed deserves a place there as well.
 
#53
Fed is not an athlete-his style is making his opponent run around while he glides/cruises. He isn't physical-when the going get tough he checks out mentally. He will not 'lower' himself to chase impossible looking balls down like Djokovic & Nadal-which is why he keeps losing.
 
#54
My vote is for Noah. Watching YouTube clips of his matches is inspiring - he plays real man tennis. I love how he just runs to the net and intimidates people with his athleticism.

I can’t think of anyone else that comes close.
Serve-and-volley style without a dominant serve is so much more reliant on athleticism than today’s ball bashing, which is more based on precise shot making.

Noah didn’t have an incredible kick serve like Edberg or rafter. And he didn’t have ridiculous hands like Mac. He was the best ever at making lunging stab volleys and leaping overheads - fun to watch.

And the dude won the French Open!
 
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#58
Monfils seems a bit too clumsy and not always in full control of his body parts to be MAPOAT. And Sampras loses points for letting himself getting fat and slow the last half of his career.
Monfils can do 360 overheads dunks and hit any shot imaginable. I'd say he's in full control of his body parts.

The body part he's not in control of is between the ears.
 
#59
would love to see them compete in a Champion of Champions sort of format.

In terms of the very basal, traditional athletic gifts, Monfils is obviously off the charts in some key respects. He'd have a good aptitude to excel in large parts of a decathlon. Dimitrov is very fit as well just in terms of general athleticism. Murray seems to have (had) a commendable balance between power, endurance and passable strength. Don't exactly see Federer blazing the field in a decathlon or something similar (not to say that a decathlon is remotely the be-all and end-all of general athleticism – it's biased toward certain capabilities – but it's conception of sheer, basal athleticism with a pretty rich history). He's more of a tennis specimen than a general athlete. He'd obviously do well in the sports whose requirements are the most similar to tennis (squash, badminton), though one can go down the rabbit hole in trying to delineate where the line between skill and sheer athleticism goes (ymmv). The truth is that beyond a certain necessary level, tennis' demands on general athleticism aren't terribly high – more about sport specific skills as long as you're past a certain baseline.
 
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#60
Monfils doesn't have the fine motor skills. Djokovic and Murray aren't fast twitch enough I'd say (they don't really have that easy power). Federer's speed fell off too early. Putting Dimitrov is the discussion is hilarious.

I would say it would be between nadal, sampras, and borg in the first tier. If Sampras didn't have thalassemia he would definitely be my #1.
A motor skill is a learned ability to cause a predetermined movement outcome with maximum certainty. Yeah, that's word for word what tennis is. Monfils has plenty of motor skills, he's a professional motor skill. You might want to brush up on what you think you are talking about.
 
#62
A motor skill is a learned ability to cause a predetermined movement outcome with maximum certainty. Yeah, that's word for word what tennis is. Monfils has plenty of motor skills, he's a professional motor skill. You might want to brush up on what you think you are talking about.
Yes I was under the impression that Monfils was about as coordinated as your average joe. Thanks for enlightening me.
 
#65
if we're looking for that combination of strength, speed, balance, great hands/coordination:

sampras, noah, edberg, cash, fed, rafter, borg...a little further back, gonzalez, laver, newcombe...

but to answer the question i'm going to say pete of the guys i've watched live since late 80's.
 
#70
No-one in professional tennis is remotely gifted when it comes to raw physical attributes. They just have good co-ordination (which is more of a complex skill than a raw physical attribute).

There are some people in natural bodybuilding who are 100kg at 12% bodyfat and only 5ft 9in height. These guys can easily rep 200kg on the bench press and 400kg on the squat for about 15 reps. Lol 'tennis players' don't come close.
 

skaj

Professional
#73
Speed, flexibility, ability to change direction and make quick, rapid moves, and conditioning.
I guess power would factor in this discussion, which is the one area Djokovic doesn't have as much of. But he's the fastest, most flexible, and most agile on the court, which is why he won me over all those years ago and why I consider him the most athletic player ever.
Why do you say "he's the fastest, most flexible, and most agile"? He is very fast of course, but there are/were players who are as fast or faster(Monfils, Phau, de Minaur, young Nadal...). Monfils is as flexible, and Srichaphan even more, not to mention some women. Chang, Grosjean, Hewitt... all were more agile(nimble; quickness, direction change etc.).

Also, it's a bit odd that you have Becker in the poll(Lendl and Dimitrov too for that matter), but not Borg and Sampras(nor Noah, Cash, Mecir, Edberg...).
 

droliver

Professional
#79
There are a lot of freaky deaky athletes in tennis. I remember a former player singling out Victor Hanescu as someone all the guys on tour thought had ridiculous athletic ability
 
#80
Its nadal, look at his BULGING muscles
Muscles don't equate to athleticism. And, look at Nadal's right arm, nothing there, just like Fed's little tooth picks. Athletic means good at sports. Most of the top players you can't imagine playing another sport, and if you can, not very well. Nadal is good at golf, the most unathletic "sport" there is. Federer is probably a good skier. Sampras has to be in the running, he has an athletic build, and you can tell he's an athlete. If ever there were a tennis player that could play another sport, it's Monfils. Dude is an athletic freak; fast, agile, long, quick, explosive, powerful, muscular, lean, and can jump out of the gym, he's got basketball player or wide receiver written all over him. There are others, but they aren't the top players, they're good athletes who chose to play tennis. Wish there were more of those.
 

Rosstour

Professional
#81
Nadal is in the conversation, because he was a hulk that had blazing wheels during his peak years. Young Nadal still might take this. Nadal looks like a running back in the National Football league.

I'm going with Nadal on this one. He looks like the only one that could play just about any other sport, due to his strength, build, and speed.
Nadal in the NFL is laughable, he is really not that big. He would get smashed as a running back, that is the same position Saquon Barkley plays lol. And his arms aren't long enough to be a wideout or cornernback.

People think Nadal is massive, but IRL he is just not that big. Muscular sure, but not long-limbed and he is the shortest of the Big 3.

Fed on the other hand looks scrawny on TV, then you see him in person and realize how big his shoulders are. You can't teach that, that is natural.

Nadal also loses points to me because he does not play 'above the rim'. His speed and power never leave the ground.

Quite honestly, Borg was the first guy that came to my mind. But really it's near impossible to pick between a few guys. Specifically Nadal, Djokovic, Borg, Lendl, Sampras and there's a few more. Even Federer deserves his place in this discussion to be honest. Nadal and Djokovic might be able to run faster and they have a bit more endurance, but that doesn't really make them more "athletic." Federer's athleticism is usually underrated because people think he's all about shot making talent and they don't equate that with athleticism.
Fed is not an athlete-his style is making his opponent run around while he glides/cruises. He isn't physical-when the going get tough he checks out mentally. He will not 'lower' himself to chase impossible looking balls down like Djokovic & Nadal-which is why he keeps losing.
Fed is absolutely an athlete, c'mon now. He can make almost any shot look easy, there is a 'grace' to that and it comes naturally.

I see a lot of people talking about Sampras. Did you guys know that even with Sampras' legendary vertical jumping ability, he couldn't dunk a regulation basketball?

I remember he wrote an article in Tennis Mag or Sports Illustrated where he said "I can dunk any ball except a regulation basketball". So the greatest leaper the game has ever known is still basically nothing compared to the guys in the NBA in terms of vertical abilities.
 
#83
Fed is absolutely an athlete, c'mon now. He can make almost any shot look easy, there is a 'grace' to that and it comes naturally.
Sure, I don't mean he isn't athletic, just that when you think of athleticism it is the guys diving/running around like crazy like Becker, Novak, Nadal etc. Hulk Hogan & Lex Luger were athletes, but when you think of athletic wrestlers you think of Shawn Michales, Booker T, Rey Mysterio etc because of their style.
 
#84
Nadal in the NFL is laughable, he is really not that big. He would get smashed as a running back, that is the same position Saquon Barkley plays lol. And his arms aren't long enough to be a wideout or cornernback.

People think Nadal is massive, but IRL he is just not that big. Muscular sure, but not long-limbed and he is the shortest of the Big 3.

I see a lot of people talking about Sampras. Did you guys know that even with Sampras' legendary vertical jumping ability, he couldn't dunk a regulation basketball?

I remember he wrote an article in Tennis Mag or Sports Illustrated where he said "I can dunk any ball except a regulation basketball". So the greatest leaper the game has ever known is still basically nothing compared to the guys in the NBA in terms of vertical abilities.
I agree that running back is ridiculous based on size, but disagree about arm length being a disqualifier for WR or CB. It's definitely a nice perk, but there are plenty at those positions that don't have it, particularly CB.

For WR, he may not be big enough anyway , most of the smaller WR's weigh around his weight but they are quite a bit shorter, and thicker built. Those around his height tend to be 200+ in good condition. There are a few exceptions so it's not out of the question but WR also does tend to select for certain things that aren't necessarily common in regular athletes, like as you mentioned long arms and also big hands which are perks to have in sports such as American football and basketball.

BTW, pretty sure the reason Sampras couldn't dunk a regulation size basketball was his hands weren't big enough to palm the ball. That makes you have to get up a bit higher. Otherwise why would he be able to dunk other balls? He said he can dunk with any other ball, not on a different height hoop.

For CB though, Nadal is the perfect size really. Unlike WR , the CB job isn't to catch the ball but mainly to be a disruptor. That can be done at shorter heights and with not so long arms or big hands just by being a superior athlete. Interceptions are nice, but even the highest intercepting corner will be doing so only a few times a year. These plays will typically have more to do with timing and ainticipation and could be done by pretty much any size corner with any physical attribues.

It's the athletic ability that matters most at cornerback. They tend to be the best pure athletes in the NFL.

With corners, there is actually a bias against being too big and tall because it makes it difficult to move backwards and turn on a dime. The ideal height for CB is 5'11-6'1 and plenty do not have long arms.

I do question though if Nadal would be athletic enough to play corner, but his build is well within the prototype for it.
 
#85
I agree that running back is ridiculous based on size, but disagree about arm length being a disqualifier for WR or CB. It's definitely a nice perk, but there are plenty at those positions that don't have it, particularly CB.

For WR, he may not be big enough anyway , most of the smaller WR's weigh around his weight but they are quite a bit shorter, and thicker built. Those around his height tend to be 200+ in good condition. There are a few exceptions so it's not out of the question but WR also does tend to select for certain things that aren't necessarily common in regular athletes, like as you mentioned long arms and also big hands which are perks to have in sports such as American football and basketball.

BTW, pretty sure the reason Sampras couldn't dunk a regulation size basketball was his hands weren't big enough to palm the ball. That makes you have to get up a bit higher. Otherwise why would he be able to dunk other balls? He said he can dunk with any other ball, not on a different height hoop.

For CB though, Nadal is the perfect size really. Unlike WR , the CB job isn't to catch the ball but mainly to be a disruptor. That can be done at shorter heights and with not so long arms or big hands just by being a superior athlete. Interceptions are nice, but even the highest intercepting corner will be doing so only a few times a year. These plays will typically have more to do with timing and ainticipation and could be done by pretty much any size corner with any physical attribues.

It's the athletic ability that matters most at cornerback. They tend to be the best pure athletes in the NFL.

With corners, there is actually a bias against being too big and tall because it makes it difficult to move backwards and turn on a dime. The ideal height for CB is 5'11-6'1 and plenty do not have long arms.

I do question though if Nadal would be athletic enough to play corner, but his build is well within the prototype for it.
Rafa goes about 6'1" and close to 190. Although muscular, if he trained for American football, I'm sure he could bulk up more. But, I could see him as very good in a variety of sports, as he brings so much to the table....strong, fast, agile, competitive

Apparently, he was also skilled enough in soccer to ponder a pro career there. I know that Roger and Novak also have soccer skills, but have heard more praise given to Rafa's.
 
#89
"a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise."
Prime Dal unarguably.
He had everything. Speed, strength, flexibility, stamina, endurance etc.
The point at 2:10 is insanity personified.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
#92
I agree it's Nadal.

Definitely not running back those guys are like 220 pounds at 5 10.

Cornerback for sure though which is the most athletic position.
I remember during the USO 2013, I think it was the round one match against Harrison - they had a more general sports commie in the booth and one of the tennis only guys was talking up Nadal's athleticism and saying he could make it in the NFL, he got laughed out of the building :-D
 

skaj

Professional
#93
"athletic" in the raw sense depends on metrics of SPEED and POWER at it's core.

The raw athlete is the one who would do well in a combine;

From that the top contenders are Nadal, Monfils, Sampras. I think Monfils is the standout from raw numbers - I believe he was the french under 14 100m champion and could have had a career as a sprinter. I think these guys could be pro at multiple sports. It's evident that a huge part of their games in tennis were based on their athleticism and ability to dominate with power and speed.

Second tier in that company for me are guys like Djokovic, Becker, Borg, Roddick, Rafter, Schrichapan, Edberg, Tsonga.

From another perspective are athletic abilities that are hard to measure with a metric but no doubt are a contributing factor to athleticism and how 'athletic' you think someone is when observing them in motion, these are things like FLEXIBILITY, BALANCE, ENDURANCE, COORDINATION.

From this it's evident Djokovic is incredibly athletic despite looking like a slinky.

A combination of all these factors gives one an overall unique athlete and tennis player in the sense that they can be equally effective with different parts of each metric.

Federer
- speed 8
- power 8
- flexibility 8
- balance 10
- endurance 9
- coordination 10

Nadal
- speed 10
- power 9
- flex 7
- balance 9
- endurance 10
- coordination 9

Djokovic
- speed 9
- power 7
- flex 10
- balance 9
- endurance 10
- coordination 9

Murray
- speed 9
- power 8
- flex 6
- balance 8
- endurance 9
- coordination 9

Sampras
- speed 8
- power 10
- flex 7
- balance 9
- endurance 8
- coordination 9

Monfils
- speed 10
- power 10
- flex 9
- balance 8
- endurance 6
- coordination 8

These are hastily written numbers but there would be other metrics you could add that would also define athletes like touch/feel, agility that are also abilities that help players separate themselves from the pack.

In the end a huge part is the mental side and being confident with your game - that is what makes the distinction of greatness. A lot of top players are great athletes but GOATs are great between the ears and in the heart too.
Monfils should have 10 for flexibility, he is one of the most flexible players ever. Nadal also should have more points there, just think of his slides on clay.
 
#94
No-one in professional tennis is remotely gifted when it comes to raw physical attributes. They just have good co-ordination (which is more of a complex skill than a raw physical attribute).

There are some people in natural bodybuilding who are 100kg at 12% bodyfat and only 5ft 9in height. These guys can easily rep 200kg on the bench press and 400kg on the squat for about 15 reps. Lol 'tennis players' don't come close.
And those bodybuilders wouldn’t come close to being able to play any professional sport. You can be strong without being remotely athletic
 
#95
And those bodybuilders wouldn’t come close to being able to play any professional sport. You can be strong without being remotely athletic
What is 'athletic'? Strength, power and endurance are the only 3 first order athletic traits.

Co-ordination, balance and agility are all second order traits that are based on the first order traits.
 

Zoid

Professional
#96
What is 'athletic'? Strength, power and endurance are the only 3 first order athletic traits.

Co-ordination, balance and agility are all second order traits that are based on the first order traits.
and what about speed? It is the common denominator in so many sports, the faster you can do something well/consistently (all things equal) the better you are at it generally - see; boxing, sprinting, swinging a baseball, swimming, cycling, swinging a racquet, kicking a ball, throwing a ball.

An athlete is not confined to bodybuilding. A bodybuilder is just that, a builder, he does not have to be able to run fast, or throw hard. You could be a world class body builder and never run a mile or sprint a 100m or be able to throw a ball with any coordination. Give me a world class body builder, or monfils or nadal, and then make them do every athletic event, and participate in every sport, and the bodybuilder would be laughable in so many off the top of my head;

baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, 100m, 200m all the metres of the world at running, javelin would be interesting, a tennis player has a very strong arm and core that serving is similar to, NFL wide-reciever monfils would be scary/sampras could have thrown that hail mary with ease.



'Athlete' for me, are the attributes that make one proficient at a physical task, not just the building blocks of strength on a weight rack.

10 000 years ago athletes were prized because they could throw a spear 30 metres and hit the deer, out run and tire other animals, wrestle, punch, kick, not because they had define glutes in a bikini. - they had precision and agility and speed and coordination. Strength was important but it is not the be all end all, it is a facet.
 
#98
clips 1 and 2 are really rare occurrences. novak slips a lot more than other players, but it also has to do with the fact that he does the most sliding, splitting, stretching of anyone in the men's game. I'm sure any other player would fall even more often if they tried the acrobatics novak does every point
 
I agree that running back is ridiculous based on size, but disagree about arm length being a disqualifier for WR or CB. It's definitely a nice perk, but there are plenty at those positions that don't have it, particularly CB.

For WR, he may not be big enough anyway , most of the smaller WR's weigh around his weight but they are quite a bit shorter, and thicker built. Those around his height tend to be 200+ in good condition. There are a few exceptions so it's not out of the question but WR also does tend to select for certain things that aren't necessarily common in regular athletes, like as you mentioned long arms and also big hands which are perks to have in sports such as American football and basketball.

BTW, pretty sure the reason Sampras couldn't dunk a regulation size basketball was his hands weren't big enough to palm the ball. That makes you have to get up a bit higher. Otherwise why would he be able to dunk other balls? He said he can dunk with any other ball, not on a different height hoop.

For CB though, Nadal is the perfect size really. Unlike WR , the CB job isn't to catch the ball but mainly to be a disruptor. That can be done at shorter heights and with not so long arms or big hands just by being a superior athlete. Interceptions are nice, but even the highest intercepting corner will be doing so only a few times a year. These plays will typically have more to do with timing and ainticipation and could be done by pretty much any size corner with any physical attribues.

It's the athletic ability that matters most at cornerback. They tend to be the best pure athletes in the NFL.

With corners, there is actually a bias against being too big and tall because it makes it difficult to move backwards and turn on a dime. The ideal height for CB is 5'11-6'1 and plenty do not have long arms.

I do question though if Nadal would be athletic enough to play corner, but his build is well within the prototype for it.
Pretty sure Sampras could dunk, he said it in this interview: http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=13306

And there's this image, which was taken in 97

 
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