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Before the current crop of top-ranked men’s tennis players came to prominence, the most frequently cited candidates for greatest of all time were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. When Pete Sampras broke Emerson’s career record for Grand Slams, his name entered the discussion, as did Roger Federer‘s when The Swiss Maestro later surpassed Sampras’ total.

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Federer claiming his record eighth Wimbledon crown this past summer, and sixth Australian Open title to kick off 2018, has led to a growing consensus that he is the best ever play the game. Still, there are two other current players poised to challenge Federer’s claim to G.O.A.T. in upcoming years.

UPDATED January 29, 2018

GRAND SLAM GREATS

With Rafael Nadal’s French and US Open titles last year, he moved into sole possession of second place with a total of 16 Slams, and Novak Djokovic is tied with Emerson’s total of 12.

Tennis' Grand Slam Greats: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, Novak Djokovic

Below we present some of the numbers behind the Grand Slam title leaders. In head-to-head meetings between the three active leaders, Nadal leads Federer 23-15, while Djokovic leads Nadal 26-24, and Federer 23-22. In 2001, Federer won his only meeting with Sampras in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon.

ROGER FEDERER

Federer has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles (six Australian Open, one French Open, eight Wimbledon, five US Open), the most in history for a male tennis player, and held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks and a record total of 302 weeks.

Career Statistics

0
Weeks at No. 1
0
Singles titles
0
Grand Slam titles

% Wins in All Finals

66.2

% Wins in Slam Finals

66.7

RAFAEL NADAL

Nadal has won 16 Grand Slam singles titles (one Australian Open, ten French Open, two Wimbledon, three US Open), the 2008 Olympic gold medal, a record 19 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, and is tied with Djokovic for the most ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles with 30.

Career Statistics

0
Weeks at No. 1
0
Singles titles
0
Grand Slam titles

% Wins in All Finals

67.6

% Wins in Slam Finals

69.6

PETE SAMPRAS

Sampras was the first man to win 14 Grand Slam singles titles (seven Wimbledon, five US Open, two Australian Open). He also won seven year-end championships and finished six consecutive seasons (1993–98) atop the rankings.

Career Statistics

0
Weeks at No. 1
0
Singles titles
0
Grand Slam titles

% Wins in All Finals

72.7

% Wins in Slam Finals

77.8

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

In majors, Djokovic has won six Australian Open titles, three Wimbledon titles, two US Open titles and one French Open title. In 2016, he became the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam when he defeated Andy Murray in the French Open final.

Career Statistics

0
Weeks at No. 1
0
Singles titles
0
Grand Slam titles

% Wins in All Finals

69.4

% Wins in Slam Finals

57.1

MEN’S SINGLES GRAND SLAM LEADERS

Roger Federer, 20 100%
Rafael Nadal, 16 80.0%
Pete Sampras, 14 — 70.0%
Roy Emerson, 12 — 60.0%
Novak Djokovic, 12 60.0%
Rod Laver, 11 — 55.0%
Bjorn Borg, 11 — 55.0%
Bill Tilden, 10 — 50.0%
Jimmy Connors, 8 — 40.0%
Ivan Lendl, 8 — 40.0%
Andre Agassi, 8 — 40.0%

Fair, or not, one of the most frequent benchmarks used to gauge a player’s greatness is his Grand Slam title total. One can only speculate how many more Slams Borg would have won had he not retired at 26 years of age, or how many Laver would have accrued had he not been banned from playing Grand Slam tournaments for the five years prior to the Open Era.