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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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With Federer claiming his record eighth Wimbledon crown in the summer of 2017, and sixth Australian Open title to kick off 2018, there has been an ever growing consensus that he is the best ever to play the game. Still, there’s not one, but two other current players that will continue to seriously challenge Federer’s claim to G.O.A.T. in upcoming years.

UPDATED September 8, 2019

GRAND SLAM GREATS

Rafael Nadal won his twelfth French Open and fourth US Open this year for his 19th Grand Slam — a total just one behind Federer’s — while Novak Djokovic moved into third place after winning the three consecutive Grand Slam titles in 2018-19 and tallying his fifth Wimbledon triumph this summer.

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 24-16, while Djokovic leads Nadal 28-25, and Federer 26-22. 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), which is the most in history for a male tennis player. He held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks and a record total of 310 weeks.

Career Statistics

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

% Wins in All Finals

65.4

% Wins in Slam Finals

64.5

RAFAEL NADAL

Nadal has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles (one Australian Open, twelve French Open, two Wimbledon, four US Open), the 2008 Olympic gold medal, a record 20 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, and 35 ATP World Tour Masters 1000.

Career Statistics

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

% Wins in All Finals

69.4

% Wins in Slam Finals

70.4

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

In majors, Djokovic has won seven Australian Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, three 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

68.8/fusion_counter_circle]

% Wins in Slam Finals

64.0

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

MEN’S SINGLES GRAND SLAM LEADERS

Roger Federer, 20 100%
Rafael Nadal, 19 95.0%
Novak Djokovic, 16 80.0%
Pete Sampras, 14 — 70.0%
Roy Emerson, 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.