The Best US Tennis Players in History

While the whole world still debates about the “greatest of all time” title between Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic, we want to recall the greatest American players to have ever played the beautiful game of tennis. It is very hard to rank and compare those who have played in different eras. People generally use the number of Grand Slam titles and/or ATP rankings, but the realistic algorithm should be much more complex.

For example, some fans appreciate the more versatile players who are capable of winning trophies across several surfaces, others admire those who have multiple wins at a single Grand Slam event, while some simply pick their all-time favorites based on playing styles.

It was not easy to put together a list of the most successful American men’s tennis players of all time, but we did our best and we had the valuable hands of the tennis experts of Here are those who made it.

5 – John McEnroe

John McEnroe took seven Grand Slam titles during the era of Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and Bjorn Borg which is quite an astonishing achievement. He lifted the trophy four times at US Open and three times at Wimbledon. John also played the Roland Garros final in 1984 but dropped a two-set lead to lose 2-3 to Ivan Lendl in Paris. It was a shocking comeback from the Russian player who only took five games in the inaugural two sets. Had McEnroe won that clash, he would likely be ranked higher in this list. Nevertheless, it is significant to mention that McEnroe is still the only men’s tennis player with at least 70 titles in both singles and doubles. He had a spectacular season in 1984, managing a sensational record of 82 wins and only 3 losses in a year.

4 – Don Budge

Some of you may not agree, but we had to find a room for Don Budge in this list. Don, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 84, won ten major titles, six of which were Grand Slams. While this should not put him on the list of the top-five American players ever, his dominance while doing so made us find a way. Don won all of his six Grand Slams in only two years, back in 1938 and 1939 respectively. He is still the only American male tennis player with all four Grand Slam titles. The achievement is greater if we know that Don made won all four slams in one year.

3 – Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors had a remarkable career during which he managed to win as many as 109 tournament titles. He had the misfortune to play in an era of Sweden’s great, Bjorn Borg. Borg was the main reason for the fact that Connors won “only” eight Grand Slam trophies. The majority (five) came at the US Open. Jimmy is actually the only player in tennis history to have won the US Open on three distinct surfaces (grass, clay, and hard). He also won two Wimbledon titles and one Australian Open. Unfortunately, Jimmy was not allowed to play at the 1974 Roland Garros during by far the best year of his career. Many experts and tennis aficionados believe that he could have won the calendar Slam had he made an appearance in Paris that year.

2 – Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi won the same number of Grand Slam titles as Jimmy Connors. What separates the two is the fact that Agassi managed to complete a career Grand Slam. Only five players in the history of the game have managed to win all four majors at least once. Agassi is among them. Australian Open was by far his favorite tournament as Andre became the first man with four Aussie Open titles back in 2003. Of course, this achievement looks minor after the appearance of Novak Djokovic, but it was huge back in the early 2000s. On top of the slams, Agassi won the Olympic gold medal for the United States in 1996 by beating Spaniard Sergi Bruguera in straight sets. Add the fact that he spent more than 100 weeks as the World No 1 and you’ll easily understand why he holds the second spot on this list.

1 – Pete Sampras

While we may have had some doubts regarding the previous spots, the first place just had to be reserved for this man. Pete Sampras is the best American men’s tennis player in the history of the game. No other US player has even come close to his amazing 14 Grand Slam titles. Unfortunately, Pete has never won Roland Garros but still left tennis as an all-time record holder with 14 major singles titles to his name. Pistol Pete spent as many as 286 weeks as the World No 1. He broke the record by finishing six years as the best player in the world. Last but not least, we have to mention his amazing farewell to the game because Pete Sampras defeated Andre Agassi in an all-American US Open final in 2002. The win marked his record-breaking 14th Grand Slam title in the very last match he played in his rich career. 

Huynh Nguyen

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