Ranking the five best players on the ATP tour of the Open era

(Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT
Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT /

Fourth best player on the ATP tour in the Open era – Pete Sampras

I know I said I wouldn’t rank players based on raw numbers (I lied; just wait until the last slide) but 14 Grand Slams is a difficult number to disrespect, especially as that was the all-time high by three titles until one of the other guys on this list came around. No, Pete Sampras was not good – OK, he was awful – on clay, but almost every player on this list has some surface they don’t excel at.

Sampras was also a player who took advantage of his time. He has arguably the best serve on grass or hard court that the tennis world has ever seen. He didn’t just win at places like Wimbledon, he dominated. Sampras won seven Wimbledon finals, a record until Roger Federer surpassed him, and never lost a final at Wimbledon.

It should also be noted that while Sampras was definitely much better on grass or hard court, he still kept his number one ranking for more weeks (286) than anyone else until – you guessed it – Federer passed him.

Sampras was more meticulous, more driven, and simply better than most of his contemporaries. Sure, Agassi had the more versatile game, but if you were going to have a final at the U.S. Open or Wimbledon with both players at the top of their game, your bet would have to be Sampras over Agassi. At every surface of Grand Slams and through many years on each, the only major where Sampras finished with double-digit losses was the French.