While parity was the order of the day in the female half of the sport of tennis during the past decade, the men’s game was very much a two horse race. Though it may be a foregone conclusion which players will be found atop this list, the 3-5 slots are certainly open to debate. Here are my picks for the top 5 best male tennis players of the 2000s
5 – Lleyton Hewitt – Some might be surprised to find this fiery Aussie so low on the list. After all, he spent more than a year and half ranked number one in the ATP rankings, and won a pair of Grand Slam titles. So why do I have him at number five? Well, unlike other gentlemen on this list he had the good fortune to (or timing) to hit his peak in the twilight of Pete Sampras’ career, and in the infancy of Roger Federer’s. All of his success came in that brief window, and he hasn’t been much of a threat to win since.
4 – Andy Roddick – Yes, he only has one Grand Slam title (2003 U.S. Open) to Hewitt’s two, and he spent only a few months in the decade at number one, but Roddick has consistently been a top ten player throughout the decade, and, unlike Hewitt, never reached his peak until Federer was dominating the game. He has the best serve in the game, and if he had come along a couple of years earlier there is little doubt he would have more hardware on his mantelpiece.
3 – Andre Agassi – Yes, he played far less tennis in the 2000’s than the other men on this list, but one can’t discount what he did in the previous decade before hanging up his racket in 2006. Agassi, arguably the best returner the sport of tennis has ever seen, defied his age, racking up three Australian Open titles, and reaching the U.S. Open finals twice during the decade.
2 – Rafael Nadal – Even more impressive than the eight Grand Slam titles that Rafa Nadal won in the second half of the 2000’s is the fact that he won them while Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player to ever swing a racket, was in his prime. In my opinion Nadal has displaced the legendary Bjorn Borg as the greatest clay court player of all time, and his five French Open titles, and his record clay court winning streak back that up. However, Nadal is far from just a clay court specialist. Wins at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open have given him a career Grand Slam, and despite chronically bad knees he remains a threat to win every tournament he enters, regardless of the surface.
1 – Roger Federer – There can only be one clear choice for the number one spot on the list of the best male tennis players of the 2000’s. Swiss master Roger Federer was in a class all by himself over the decade gone by. With 15 Grand Slam titles in that period he surpassed the great Pete Sampras, who had previously held the record with 14 Slam victories. He virtually owned Wimbledon, capturing six titles there, and spent a jaw-dropping 259 weeks ranked number one. Though he is finally showing signs of slowing down his accomplishments in the last decade certainly make a compelling argument for declaring him the greatest of all time.