The Top 5 Tiers of Tennis Champions


In any career comparisons or GOAT discussions it becomes clear that there are constellations of players with similar levels of achievement.  Running through various players in my head, I have arrived at 5 levels of achievement.  For the sake of simplicity I am going to move from Jimmy Connors forward as he strikes me as the first fully formed Open Era champion.  Players who straddled the Open Era and players who retired prior to the Open Era obviously did great things, but their inclusion would make this quite a complex exercise.  I am not using a formula, but am trying to keep in mind accomplishments in terms of slams, rankings and other big events as well as level of play relative to the competition faced in a given player’s era.

Tier 1 (I am placing players in alphabetical order)

  • Bjorn Borg
  • Roger Federer *
  • Rafael Nadal *
  • Pete Sampras

Tier 2

  • Andre Agassi
  • Jimmy Connors
  • Ivan Lendl
  • John McEnroe

Tier 3

  • Boris Becker
  • Novak Djokovic *
  • Stefan Edberg
  • Mats Wilander

Tier 4

  • Jim Courier
  • Lleyton Hewitt *
  • Gustavo Kuerten
  • Andy Murray *
  • Guillermo Vilas

Tier 5

  • Michael Chang
  • Juan Carlos Ferrero
  • Yevgeny Kafelnikov
  • Patrick Rafter
  • Andy Roddick
  • Marat Safin

* – Active Player

Obviously, this could go on as Goran Ivanisevic, Michael Stich, Thomas Muster, Richard Krajicek, Pat Cash, Carlos Moya, Juan Martin del Potro and others are worthy champions as well.  Also, arguments could be made for a player to jump or drop a single tier, but I think no one can reasonably jump or drop more than one tier with the exceptions of active players.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. jane says:

    i think if nole wins one more slam he’ll have as many as j-mac – 7? most of all, for his sake, i hope he wins the french open at some point.

    1. Dan Martin says:

      I agree. I think he can move all the way to the top tier. In fact, I expect him to do so. A lot depends on health etc., but I think he can win any of the 4 for the next 3-4 years and is the favorite in Melbourne until someone proves otherwise.

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