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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(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images) /

Second best player on the ATP tour in the Open era – Roger Federer

Roger Federer was just too good for too long to not be ranked at number two here. Sure, he was around a few years before Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic matured into the great players they became, but is that Federer’s fault? Heck, if anything the ideal situation would have been for Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic to all start on the same day and let them battle it out for titles for the next 15 years.

Federer just so thoroughly dominated tennis between 2003 and 2007 that there is almost no rival from anyone else in the history of the sport to compare. He reached 17 straight finals between 2005 and 2006. When he reached the finals between 2003 and 2005 he literally did not lose. In that same time frame, he did not lose to anyone else ranked in the top 10. On grass between 2003 and 2008, he did not lose.

If you had Nadal versus Federer on clay at their peaks, you’d take Nadal. But on grass at Wimbledon, you’d have to choose Federer. Federer played a bit of a throwback game. He did develop an excellent serve, but he was always more about the beauty of touch and baseline to baseline. He moved well, made impossible shots look easy, and early on defeated anyone who dared challenge him.

He smashed Sampras’s record of weeks at number one and ended up at 310. He also has the most semifinal appearances in Grand Slams of any one (46), more quarterfinal showings (58), and second-most final showings (31). He also appeared in one final every year for 15 years, tied with Nadal and the guy who is number one on this list.