10 Skillful Tennis Players In History To Learn From

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick was No. 1 on the junior tennis circuit before he turned pro in 2000. Roddick peaked early, ranking No. 1 in the world by the age of 21. He deserves a place in our top 25 for winning 32 singles titles, but his inconsistent performance and single Grand Slam win prevent him from going any higher.

Jim Courier

America had high hopes for Jim Courier in the early ’90s, and he didn’t disappoint. In 1991, he won the French Open and reached the U.S. Open final, and the following year he won the Australian Open and the French Open and secured the Davis Cup for the U.S. Throughout 1992 and 1993, he spent 58 weeks as the world No. 1 in men’s tennis.

Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt, world No. 1 in men’s tennis in 2001 and 2002 — he spent a total of 80 weeks at the top spot, the 10th most in the Open era — won 30 titles and two Grand Slams. The Australian was a savvy, versatile competitor who may not have been as popular in his heyday as he was later in his career, but he deserves credit for being part of a new wave of male tennis stars (and for making backwards caps on the court a thing).

Guillermo Vilas

Nicknamed the Young Bull of the Pampas, Argentine Guillermo Vilas brought personality and soul to the game in the ’70s — along with a weighty left-handed serve and unshakable powers of endurance, which were strongest on his favorite clay surface. 1977 was Vilas’ year. He won 17 events, including two Grand Slams and a record 46 straight wins.

Gustavo Kuerten

Gustavo Kuerten‘s career highlights include 20 titles, three Grand Slams (the French Open in 1997, 2000 and 2001) and a world No. 1 ranking in 2000. The brightly-clothed, heavy-hitting Brazilian retired in 2008 due to multiple hip surgeries, having made his mark on the history of tennis in more ways than one. Fans loved his love for the sport. He wore his heart on his sleeve and, on one occasion en route to winning his third French Open, he drew a heart in the clay with his racquet and laid down inside it.

Michael Chang

American Michael Chang won 34 titles during his career and one Grand Slam — the 1989 French Open when he was only 17. A speedy, intelligent, fiercely competitive player, Chang never reached the top world ranking, but he was No. 2 in 1996 and took his rightful place in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ilie Năstase

Two-time Grand Slam winner (the 1972 U.S. Open and the 1973 French Open) ​Ilie Năstase led Romania to its first Davis Cup final in 1969 and was the first player to be ranked No. 1 by the ATP’s new computer system in 1973. One of the sport’s most temperamental stars, he received one honor no other tennis player in history can claim — the Code of Conduct was created as a result of his behavior.

Andy Murray

If it wasn’t for the triple threat of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Andy Murray would likely have more Grand Slam titles under his belt. Still, Scotland’s greatest tennis export has three, and at one point he was ranked No. 1 in the world. An ongoing injury forced Murray to announce his retirement after Wimbledon 2019.

Mats Wilander

Before Rafael Nadal came along, Mats Wilander was the only player to have won at least two Grand Slams on three different surfaces (grass, clay and hard court). In fact, he won seven in total. The Swede with the nimble feet was the world’s No. 1 in 1988, the year he won his third Australian Open singles title (defeating Pat Cash in the final). He also won the French Open final against Henri Leconte and beat Ivan Lendl for a Grand Slam win.

Stefan Edberg

One of the greats of the ’80s and ’90s, Stefan Edberg reached the finals for all four Grand Slams and also won twice at Wimbledon, twice at the U.S. Open and twice at the Australian Open. The Swedish star’s slow kick serve was his signature move; it bought him time to move forward into the perfect position for a winning volley.

John Newcombe

One of the few men to have secured a world No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles, John Newcombe was a force to be reckoned with in tennis in the 1970s. The Australian player won 17 doubles titles and seven singles titles, partly due to the phenomenal speed at which he moved across the court and partly because he had one of the mightiest forehand volleys in the business.