6. Rafael Nadal
“The King of Clay”, Rafael Nadal by far the best tennis player on clay courts due to his dominance as well as success on this playing surface, thus his nickname.
Nadal managed to get to No. 1 ranking in the ATP singles ranks three times so far in his career: first on August 18 2008 (record which he held for 46 weeks), on June 7 2010 (record held for 56 weeks) and on October 7 2013 (for 39 weeks).
Records and Tournaments won
So far in his career Nadal has managed to win 14 Grand Slams tournaments: the 2005 French Open, 2006 French Open, 2007 French Open, 2008 French Open, 2008 Wimbledon, 2009 Australian Open, 2010 French Open, 2010 Wimbledon, 2010 US Open, 2011 French Open, 2012 French Open, 2013 French Open, 2013 Australian Open and 2014 French open.
He also got in another 6 Grand Slams Finals but ended up as the runner up, in: 2006 Wimbledon, 2007 Wimbledon, 2011 Wimbledon, 2011 US Open, 2012 Australian Open and 2014 Australian Open.
With his win in the 2009 Australian Open, 2005 French Open, 2008 Wimbledon, 2010 US Open and the Gold Medal won at the 2008 Olympics, Nadal is the second player to complete the singles Golden Grand Slam (in which the player wins all four Grand Slams and a Gold Medal at the Olympics).
Nadal’s records don’t stop here: after his win in the 2014 French Open, Nadal has become the only male tennis player to win the same Grand Slam tournament (the French Open) for 9 times and the first player that has won at least 1 Grand Slam tournament for 10 consecutive years. With his last record, he broke the previous one of 8 consecutive years held by Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.
And Nadal is the only player to have a dominant Head 2 Head against Roger Federer (the best tennis player at the moment) although most of Nadal’s wins were on clay, where he’s far more superior than anyone else.
2015 seems to have been the year of Nadal’s downfall, since this is the first year in which he hasn’t won a Grand Slam tournament, ending the streak of his 10 consecutive years record. He also fell abruptly in the ATP rankings this year, reaching the 8th mark in October.
5. Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors has held onto the first position in the ATP rankings for a record of 160 consecutive weeks, from 29 July 1974 until 22 August 1977.
After he relinquished his No.1 rank in favor of Bjorn Borg (for only 1 week), he managed to reach it for another 8 times: in August 30 1977, May 21 1979, September 13 1982, November 8 1982, January 31 1983, February 14 1983, May 16 1983 and June 13 1983 counting up to a total of 268 weeks of being No.1
Records and Tournaments won
During his long career, Connors has set his name in stone for some astonishing records: a total of 109 titles won, with 164 Finals participations and 235 Semifinals participations; 1532 matches played, with 1254 matches won, 278 lost thus resulting in an 81.85% win rate.
Connors has 49 wins on hard court, second to Federer’s 59 and 39 wins on carpet court, second to McEnroe’s 43 wins, although carpet court hasn’t been used since 2009.
Other memorable records Jimmy Connors has established are: 107 grass court match wins in Grand Slam tournaments and shortest Grand Slam final ever in the 1974 US Open singles against Ken Rosewall 6-1 6-0 6-1 the match lasting for only 1 hours and 18 minutes.
Connors has participated in 57 Grand Slam tournaments, out of which he won 8 and came out as runner up in another 7. The 8 Grand Slams Jimmy Connors has won are: 1974 Australian Open, 1974 Wimbledon, 1974 US Open, 1976 US Open, 1978 US Open, 1982 Wimbledon, 1982 US Open and 1983 US Open. The other 7 Grand Slam tournaments in which he wasn’t able to win, although got to the finals, are: 1975 Australian Open, 1975 Wimbledon, 1975 US Open, 1977 Wimbledon, 1977 US Open, 1978 Wimbledon and 1984 Wimbledon.
Connor’s life after retirement
Connors retired from professional tennis in 1996, but as we all know, you can’t really retire from doing what you know and love. So, alongside McEnroe, Connors commentated the Wimbledon tournaments of 2005, 2006 and 2007 for the BBC.
Connors also tried coaching, taking Andy Roddick as his student. Their partnership didn’t last long, ended after 19 months in March 6 2008. A few years later, in July 2013, Maria Sharapova announced that she would take Connors as her coach, only to end their connection few weeks later on 15 August 2013.
Jimmy Connors also published an autobiography, “The Outsider” and received the award of the “Best Autobiography/Biography” at the British Sports Book Awards.
4. Pete Sampras
Petros “Pete” Sampras’s debut in the professional tour was in 1988 when he was 16 years old. That year he started as No. 893 in the world rankings and finished as No. 97.
Throughout his career, Sampras earned himself the nickname “Pistol Pete” for his precise serve. He first reached the No. 1 Ranking in the ATP ranks on 12 April 1993 and he accumulated a total of 286 weeks of being No. 1. Sampras also holds the record for the most year-end No. 1, counting up to six consecutive years of domination.
Records and Grand Slam Wins
Pete Sampras took part in 52 Grand Slam tournaments, winning 14 and coming out second in only 4. The Grand Slam tournaments Sampras won are: the 1990 US Open, 1993 Wimbledon, 1993 US Open, 1994 Australian Open, 1994 Wimbledon, 1995 Wimbledon, 1995 US Open, 1996 US Open, 1997 Australian Open, 1997 Wimbledon, 1998 Wimbledon, 1999 Wimbledon, 2000 Wimbledon and the 2002 US Open.
The Grand Slams tournaments in which Sampras ended as runner-up are: 1992 US Open, 1995 Australian Open, 2000 US Open and the 2001 US Open. Although he participated in 13 French Opens, the furthest he got was reaching the Semi-Finals once in the 1996 French Open.
Sampras holds a couple of impressive records, such as: 8 consecutive Grand Slam Finals appearances won 1995-2002, youngest US Open champion in 1990, 6 years as year-end No. 1 1993-1998; for all of these records he stands alone.
There are other records, in which he’s tied with other legendary tennis players: 11 consecutive years reaching at least one Grand Slam Final 1992-2002 – tied with Ivan Lendl, 5 or more titles at 2 different Major tournaments 1990-2002 – tied with Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer.
Another fun record that Sampras set is that he, as well as Ken Rosewall are the only two tennis players to have one Grand Slam tournaments when they were teenagers, in their 20s as well as in their 30s.
Sampras retired in style, in 2002, after winning the 2002 US Open against his long-time adversary Andre Agassi in the finals. This was his last match, although his official retirement was one year later, in 2003.