The Wall Street Journal recently published the results to a study by Filippo Radicchi that used an analytical approach to try and determine the best men’s tennis player of the Open Era (1968-present).
The study, which was published recently in a scientific journal looks at every match played and gives each player a “prestige score” based on the number of wins they had in their career against quality opponents.
Based on the study, Jimmy Connors ranks as the top men’s player of all time. Connors is helped by the fact he played competitive tennis until he was nearly 40. But while his 109 career titles is tops all time, his eight career Grand Slam titles is only tied for eighth ever.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer, who has the most career Grand Slam titles (16) is only the seventh best men’s tennis player ever based on Radicchis “Prestige Score.” He is just ahead of Pete Sampras who has the second most Grand Slam titles, and just behind Stefan Edberg. Yes, Stefan Edberg.
Not even listed among the top eight players based on Prestige Score are guys like Roy Emerson (12 Grand Slam titles), Rod Laver (11), Bjorn Borg (11), Bill Tilden (10), and Rafael Nadal (9) all of whom have more Grand Slam titles than the top 6 players on this list.
It is nice to see somebody try to quantify greatness in tennis. But while Stefan Edberg had a nice run in the 80s and early 90s, he seems to benefit on this list from having a career that overlapped many of the other greats and had more opportunities to play against “quality opponents.”
So to say Edberg is a better tennis player than Federer seems like a bit of a stretch. And if there is a problem with that piece, then the entire list comes into question. And if the list is flawed, it is hard to accept that Connors is indeed the best over.
All data via Wall Street Journal or Tennis-X.com
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