Most "watchable" tennis player of all time...

#1
Enough about who was the best. Though I like to see people win, I also like to see them do so in an entertaining and artistic way. I don't know how tennis is doing at the moment, but I find it incredibly boring to watch. Here are my picks, and my biases are obvious...

1. John McEnroe (sheer art... I've never enjoyed watching anyone play tennis as much as Mac, though at times the mute button is necessary ;-))
2. Stefan Edberg (beautiful serve, wonderful volley, great backhand)
3. Andre Agassi (take it on the rise... wow)
4. Patrick Rafter (a S&V grinder...)
5. Boris Becker (boom-boom)
6. Ivan Lendl (that 1984 FO final was a thing of beauty...)
7. Jimmy Connors (love those flat groundies and the slice forehand)
8. Rafael Nadal (just for his movement)
9. Jelena Jankovic (same reason as Rafa)
10. Lleyton Hewitt (counterpunch, fist pump!, I hope he makes a comeback)

My age definitely plays a role in who I've chosen. I simply didn't see enough of the older guys' play to put them on the list, so perhaps someone who has can edit for me, and I just don't enjoy watching the current crop of players (perhaps I haven't given them enough of a chance, but I don't know if I will). Who makes your list?
 
#2
I don't understand why you don't have Sampras or Federer. By the way, Nadal, Hewitt, and Jankovic are not former players. This thread should be in rants & raves at best.
 
#4
My picks for players who I've enjoyed watching the most

Edberg (fantastic backhand, volleys and movement)
McEnroe (tried to copy his strokes for a long time in the early 80s!)
Kuerten (what an amazing fluid game he had!)
Federer (great at everything!)
Connors (awesome backhand and fighting spirit)
Sampras (clutch serving, great volleys and forehand)
Agassi (fun to watch him make the opponent run all over!)
Rosewall (seen a few matches, very hangdog look, but had superb strokes)
Ramesh Krishnan (very artistic strokes)
Leander Paes playing doubles (very high energy and superb hands)
Haven't seen much of Leconte, Arazi, Nastase, Gerulaitis - but they seemed
to be great entertainment also
 
#5
I don't understand why you don't have Sampras or Federer. By the way, Nadal, Hewitt, and Jankovic are not former players. This thread should be in rants & raves at best.
This is not about records. It is about entertainment. Federer is boring to watch, IMHO. Sampras just didn't make my top 10. I know I have current players in here (I don't dislike all of them, just the modern game in general), but the discussion is about most entertaining of all time, so it's in the former pro player area. Most of the list is probably "former" pro players. How is this different from the million GOAT threads in here with respect to where it belongs?
 
#6
Add to your list Ilie Nastase and Rod Laver. Those two were shot makers of the highest caliber.
Fair enough. From what I've heard (not seen), Laver was maybe the most varied player to ever play the game and could shift his game toward whatever worked. That, to me, would be great tennis to watch.

Nastase... well, certainly entertaining, if only because of his behavior, but I understand from reading that he was an artist. Only saw him play once, as an old man in a Davis Cup tie here in the states.

Thanks for contributing. Who do you think I should remove to add those two?
 
#7
Well for me......

Sampras (the serve...so great, big and clutch, his forehand, attacking style and athleticsm)
Edberg (so elegant and graceful, great volleyer, just nice to watch and of course the backhand)
Graf (the forehand, great movement, nasty slice backhand)
Stich (long, but so fluid)
Becker (how a video game player should play)
Federer (easy on the eyes, fluid mover and has a nice forehand)
Karlovic (just to see him bomb serves ...and improved volleyer, slow as molasses, but fun as hell to watch)
McEnroe (loved the game..... and love the tantrums even more!!!!)
 
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cghipp

Professional
#8
The most entertaining match I've seen to date was a Champions' Series match with Sergei Bruguera. He could put a drop shot anywhere, from anywhere. It was gorgeous to watch!
 
#9
I prefer baseliners with 'quirks' and particularly nice backhands.

Borg, Clerc, Mecir, Gaudio, Berasategui, Kuerten.

I like claycourters, long rallies, topspin. But I prefer guys who play with a certain effortless flair to those who are heavy-duty. So, someone like Mecir is more aesthetically pleasing to me than Muster or Kent Carlsson, although the latter guys are great to watch as well.

Serving and volleying I like for variety's sake and it's nice when a baseliner faces off against a net rusher.
 
#10
Rosewall (seen a few matches, very hangdog look, but had superb strokes)
Rosewall strikes me as the Wayne Gretzky of tennis. He's a smaller guy who is also not stocky, so it's almost shocking, just looking at him, that he was so dominant. He had incredible feel, positioning and pinpoint accuracy. Like a master surgeon.

He was not a very ambitious man without too many serious interests outside of tennis. Rosewall was a family man who would read the bible in his free time. I think that this relatively stable, uncomplicated outlook on the world contributed to his longevity.
 

vbranis

Professional
#11
#1 on my list would be El Aynaoui. Unbelievable shotmaker, always had some tricks up his sleeve. Always entertaining, and I think he would've been hugely popular (and ranked higher) if it weren't for persistent injuries.

He made quite a comeback this year, playing numerous Challenger events which included 1 title, and reaching the SF at the BMW Open in Munich, beating Del Potro along the way. Sadly, he lost to Gonzo after winning the 1st set. He's now ranked 202, not bad for a 37 year old.

Just scroll to 7:10 in this video to see a terrific point:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWPSDUCfUWE
 
#13
Djokovic when he's ahead in a match. Then he screws around on-court. :)

But in serious tennis terms, it's Fedex.

EDIT: to vbranis' video, that put-away shot was classic.

Announcer: "el tu nochine...... OOOOOOOOOH!"
 
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#16
Well for me......
Karlovic (just to see him bomb serves ...and improved volleyer, slow as molasses, but fun as hell to watch)
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I watched him play on TV this summer. Amazingly fluid serve, and when he's on he certainly can serve people off the court. Toss in a few poor service games by the other guy, and I can see how he might dominate, winning a lot of one break or tiebreaker sets. I was certainly entertained and can see why you'd put him on the list.
 
#17
karsten braasch just to see the serve
nalbandian to see his belly
lendl to see if his eyebrows made it through a match


seriously - go see any guy in the top 150 close up. like on an outer court at a masters event. even during qualifying. you'll be blown away with the spin and pace these guys play at. it's all watchable

btw, gonzales has to be on the list. the guy goes for everyting
 
#18
A lot of people find Wilander a bore but I pick him. I don't call him the most exciting. For that I'd choose Becker when he's "on"; also, Navratilova, Mandlikova. But I found immensely watchable the way this guy hit ground strokes, always adjusting slightly to get the ball back in the court, move the other guy around, try different spins, different paces, and explode on passing shots when necessary.

With every stroke you could watch the man think. Never a shot without purpose.

Ultimately tennis is about getting the ball in the court one time more than your opponent, and while there is nothing interesting about merely pushing the ball back in, Wilander did more than that. And there's just something that gives me pleasure about someone who, when he's pressed, you know he's not going to try a dumb shot. He's going to give you more tennis. He'll run hard (I always loved watching him make his gets), he'll adjust, he'll think, and you just have confidence that the point is going to go on -- sometimes turning into something wild, with both players scampering around for lobs, volleys, passing shots. I miss the tennis he gave us.
 
#23
For me, it's Federer. The crap he pulls off is insane.


Also, i'm only 15, and I didn't get to see him play much, but Edberg's game is pure beauty. I love it.

Sampras was good too. I like watching big serves, but not too boring ala Karlovic. Need some explosiveness on court and the dunks were cool (Again, during Sampras' hey day, I was not even in double digits yet. i wasn't even 10 when he won his last GS title).

Agassi was one of my favorites growing up. I probably liked him more than Sampras. Great player, I appreciate him more now, for the same reason as I appreciate Sampras more now, my age. His returns were sick!

And I cannot go without mentioning Safin. Who doesn't like watching him go crazy, and then either breakdown, smash racquets, and swear at umpires, or watch the anger inspire him to play amazing tennis.
 
#24
Most fun to watch?

Federer (artistry in motion)
McEnroe (amazing touch and feel)
Connors (pure intensity and fight)
Pioline (beautiful 1-handed backhand)
Vilas (a raging bull)
Borg (he got to everything)
Murray (incredibly creative)
Tsonga (all out attack)
Simon (never seems to miss)
 
#25
Most fun to watch?

Federer (artistry in motion)
McEnroe (amazing touch and feel)
Connors (pure intensity and fight)
Pioline (beautiful 1-handed backhand)
Vilas (a raging bull)
Borg (he got to everything)
Murray (incredibly creative)
Tsonga (all out attack)
Simon (never seems to miss)
lol, I just notice your status, a talk tennis guru. I thought there's nothing else above GOAT. :)
 
#28
Gustavo Kuerten - very relaxed and fluid game play
Venus Williams - Moves around the court like a hunting cheetah
Monica Seles - Unique Intense Grunt and Killer angles most player would only dream of hitting.
Justine Henin - the best technique and precision which shows how a small player can overpower big players.
 
#30
Ramesh Krishnan
Henri Leconte
Miloslav Mecir
Hana Mandlikova
Martina Navratilova
Peter Korda
Great list^

If I may add:

Yannick Noah
Roger Federer
Hicham Arazi
Johnny Mac
Patrick Cash
Patrick Rafter
Gene Mayer
Ilie Nastase
Guga Kuerten
Pete Sampras
Evonne Goolagong
Justine Henin
Martina Hingis
Rafael Nadal
Guillermo Vilas
Richard Gasquet
Guy Forget
Michael Stich
Boris Becker
Goran Ivanisevic
Justin Gimelstob (just kidding)
Stefan Edberg
 
#31
For fluency and sheer beauty of motion i found Evonne Goolagong peerless. Gabriela Sabatini had sometimes similar charme, especially when hitting a backhand or a backhand volley. Her forehand had too much Vilas in it, and her serve with a slight stopper looked nice, but was ineffective. Out of the men in the last 15 years or so, i found Rios quite fascinating to watch. He had that crazy magic lefty style of McEnroe, but the points were longer, due to his more baseline orientated game. But sometimes he played dropshots and angles to dream about.
 
#32
For fluency and sheer beauty of motion i found Evonne Goolagong peerless. Gabriela Sabatini had sometimes similar charme, especially when hitting a backhand or a backhand volley. Her forehand had too much Vilas in it, and her serve with a slight stopper looked nice, but was ineffective. Out of the men in the last 15 years or so, i found Rios quite fascinating to watch. He had that crazy magic lefty style of McEnroe, but the points were longer, due to his more baseline orientated game. But sometimes he played dropshots and angles to dream about.
I found Sabatini horrible to watch. She was a very good player who was unlucky to in the era of Navratilova, Graf, Seles, Sanchez Vicario, and still would have won with more mental toughness and a bit more luck. Still her game was not nice to watch at all for me. She had flawed technique on nearly every stroke.
 
#33
For fluency and sheer beauty of motion i found Evonne Goolagong peerless. Gabriela Sabatini had sometimes similar charme, especially when hitting a backhand or a backhand volley. Her forehand had too much Vilas in it, and her serve with a slight stopper looked nice, but was ineffective. Out of the men in the last 15 years or so, i found Rios quite fascinating to watch. He had that crazy magic lefty style of McEnroe, but the points were longer, due to his more baseline orientated game. But sometimes he played dropshots and angles to dream about.
Man, just about everything you write here comes from a very geniune love for tennis, grace and a love for the language.
Thanks, urban. You're a mensch ... and a credit to these boards.
 
#37
Enough about who was the best. Though I like to see people win, I also like to see them do so in an entertaining and artistic way. I don't know how tennis is doing at the moment, but I find it incredibly boring to watch. Here are my picks, and my biases are obvious...

1. John McEnroe (sheer art... I've never enjoyed watching anyone play tennis as much as Mac, though at times the mute button is necessary ;-))
2. Stefan Edberg (beautiful serve, wonderful volley, great backhand)
3. Andre Agassi (take it on the rise... wow)
4. Patrick Rafter (a S&V grinder...)
5. Boris Becker (boom-boom)
6. Ivan Lendl (that 1984 FO final was a thing of beauty...)
7. Jimmy Connors (love those flat groundies and the slice forehand)
8. Rafael Nadal (just for his movement)
9. Jelena Jankovic (same reason as Rafa)
10. Lleyton Hewitt (counterpunch, fist pump!, I hope he makes a comeback)

My age definitely plays a role in who I've chosen. I simply didn't see enough of the older guys' play to put them on the list, so perhaps someone who has can edit for me, and I just don't enjoy watching the current crop of players (perhaps I haven't given them enough of a chance, but I don't know if I will). Who makes your list?
my list

1. Andre Agassi (wow... who's that guy in fluoro atire? he is amazing... when i grow up i want to be just like him)
2. Pisto Pete (wow... where is the ball he just served?)
3. Boris Becker (boom-boom.. nuf said..)
4. Bjorn Borg (the first tennis superstar)
5. Patrick Rafter ( the last of the S&V warriors)
6. Stefan Edberg (beautiful serve, wonderful volley, great backhand)
7. Ivan Lendl (no bs tennis...)
8. Marat Safin just because he is marat...
9. Guy Forget (classic in every way.. escept maybe his lacoste equijet)
10. Miloslav Mecir... the talent
 
#40
Because I, for one, found Sampras pretty boring to watch when he was in his prime. He just overwhelmed his opponents and the points were too short. Pete versus Goran at Wimbledon? Better set my alarm to wake me up when it's over.
The 94 one was a servefest, true.

But their 98 final? Where Goran played a flawless 6-2 set, complete with four straight passes that would impress Borg/Wilander/Nadal? That was at least four sets of great sporting drama and skill.

Even though I am a Sampras-loving, chest-haired-American tennis player and fan, I was definitely rooting for Goran that entire two weeks.
 
#41
Why isn't Pete Sampras number 1 one up there?
I can't tell you why he's not #1 on someone else's list, but he didn't make my top 10 because I just remember being bored with the way he took apart players with his serve, volleys, and funny enough groundstrokes (when on...). He's in the top 11 or 12 for me, though. I'm just thinking of players I found fascinating to watch. Even when he decimated players, McEnroe was unbelievable to watch. That 2, 2, and 2 drubbing he gave Connors in a Wimbledon final was maybe the most dominant tennis I've ever seen, and I was glued for the whole 60 minutes (OK, I'm not sure how long, but I think it may have been one of the quickest matches in Wimbledon finals history). YMMV.

As expected, this thread is turning up a lot of interesting players and opinions, and giving me ideas on players to look for who I'd otherwise overlooked.
 
#42
It's funny, I did not think of Pete as boring as a player. Maybe as a 'personality', but his game struck me as ... the way tennis was meant to be played.

I realize that is not fair to the defensive players and the counterattackers, but, I always got a charge out of the way he'd take charge with his serve and second serve, return with guts, retrieve when necessary (see his brilliant defensive performance in the 95 Wimbledon final over Boris), volley like a giant, hit touch shots that would sometimes impress McEnroe in the booth.

There was a time Pete was regarded by commentators as the most complete player in the history of the game. Now, he is seen as a guy with zero backhand, limping between huge serves and carving out quick, efficient, low-effort wins over awed opponent. That might apply to his 2002 US Open title, but, for the most part, he was the Federer of his day.

So, anyway, that's why he's on my list.
 
#45
It's funny, I did not think of Pete as boring as a player. Maybe as a 'personality', but his game struck me as ... the way tennis was meant to be played.

I realize that is not fair to the defensive players and the counterattackers, but, I always got a charge out of the way he'd take charge with his serve and second serve, return with guts, retrieve when necessary (see his brilliant defensive performance in the 95 Wimbledon final over Boris), volley like a giant, hit touch shots that would sometimes impress McEnroe in the booth.

There was a time Pete was regarded by commentators as the most complete player in the history of the game. Now, he is seen as a guy with zero backhand, limping between huge serves and carving out quick, efficient, low-effort wins over awed opponent. That might apply to his 2002 US Open title, but, for the most part, he was the Federer of his day.

So, anyway, that's why he's on my list.

Precisely, anyone who thinks Sampras was nothing more than a serve is clueless.
He was amazing to watch back in the mid-1990s - could hit spectacular shots from
anywhere. One thing that cannot be denied however is that he was quite happy to
conserve energy and go hit-or-miss on most of his opponent's games, knowing that
1 break was usually enough.
 
#46
Sadly, I was biased against Sampras. Mainly because of his hit-or-miss tactic that madhavan mentions and the lack of rivals that could match his brains and skills. It's hard for me to place Sampras next to the other titans because he clearly was better than the competition so that his entire range of mastery was seldom in full display.

But there's moments of Sampras that I love and cherish and when he's wildy entertaining -- in my book -- YEC 96 against Becker, Wimby 98, Wimby 99 and a couple more. There's just too few. I loved his cool (that's always harder than going emotional) and his clever way of outsmarting his opponent in tight spots. He's still better than Fed in pulling himself up out of tough spots...

He's a great player -- one of the best ever.
 
#48
It's funny, I did not think of Pete as boring as a player. Maybe as a 'personality', but his game struck me as ... the way tennis was meant to be played.

I realize that is not fair to the defensive players and the counterattackers, but, I always got a charge out of the way he'd take charge with his serve and second serve, return with guts, retrieve when necessary (see his brilliant defensive performance in the 95 Wimbledon final over Boris), volley like a giant, hit touch shots that would sometimes impress McEnroe in the booth.

There was a time Pete was regarded by commentators as the most complete player in the history of the game. Now, he is seen as a guy with zero backhand, limping between huge serves and carving out quick, efficient, low-effort wins over awed opponent. That might apply to his 2002 US Open title, but, for the most part, he was the Federer of his day.

So, anyway, that's why he's on my list.
Exactly!!! Tennis can't get more exciting than this!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIVAW7oYMGU
:)
 
#49
This is not about records. It is about entertainment. Federer is boring to watch, IMHO. Sampras just didn't make my top 10. I know I have current players in here (I don't dislike all of them, just the modern game in general), but the discussion is about most entertaining of all time, so it's in the former pro player area. Most of the list is probably "former" pro players. How is this different from the million GOAT threads in here with respect to where it belongs?

And why is Fed boring to watch???
 
#50
NO.1 for me would be lendl...the shirts,the big looping groundtrokes, the running forehand down the line, the surleyness, the plucked eyelashes and sawdust all over the court.
others i liked to watch were borg, becker, gene mayer, fritz buehning, mike bauer, paul mcnamee, chip hooper, damir keretic, vilas, clerc actually i could go on and on with players from the 70's and 80's..really loved that era.
for the ladies steffi, evert, jaeger and anke huber.
 
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