by Ira Gandhi
From Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi all the way to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, tennis rivalries have been one of the most interesting parts of tennis and its history. In addition, rivalries have helped tennis maintain its position as one of the most popular sports in the world. With this in mind, let’s dive deep into the history of tennis and look at the top 5 tennis rivalries of all time! ( In a random order)
Laver – 11 Grand Slams
Rosewall – 8 Grand Slams
One of the very first and biggest rivalries of tennis history from 1963 to 1977 were Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, both of whom were from Australia and grew up playing on grass. They went head to head 164 times but sadly most of those matches were before the open era began. Furthermore, out of those 164 matches Laver won 89 while Rosewall, only 75. In 1956 both of them toured in the amateur circuit but didn’t face each other. They were known as two of the greatest tennis players of all time.
McEnroe -7 Grand Slams
Connors -8 Grand Slams
Secondly we have John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors who before Sampras and Agassi were the top tennis duo. They were very alike with their hot tempers, love for the spotlight, ability to amaze the crowd, and never say never attitudes. However even though they were very alike they detested one another on court. Connors was on the upper hand in their rivalry until he lost 11 matches in a row to McEnroe between 1983 and 1986! Many say their fiercest battle was in the 1984 US Open semi-final which turned out to be their last match in a grand slam men’s singles tournament.
Sampras -14 Grand Slams
Agassi- 8 Grand Slams
Our third tennis duo is the great Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi who got to the scene just as McEnroe and Connors were fading and just in time to re-establish USAs role in men’s tennis. Their different styles of play, combinations and personalities is a big part of what makes them great rivals and catches the audience’s eye. Sampras had the upper hand in this rivalry. He had the better head-to-head record overall as well as in Slams (6-3). As mentioned before their personalities were one of the main things that made them different. Agassi was the wild one, with crazy hair, earrings and flashy outfits. Sampras was the simple and stoic one who rarely made the news.
Nadal – 20-Grand Slams
Federer – 30 – Grand Slams
Coming to the present day we have the Federer – Nadal rivalry which has many parts but is mostly due to how different they are as people similar to Sampras and Agassi. Fedrer is calm and collected on court and mostly keeps a poker face while Nadal on the other hand is like a nearsighted rhino. He changed the game by showing such a kind of power and athleticism it hadn’t seen before. Another aspect of their rivalry is that Nadal is a lefty and Federer a righty making the leftys shots mirror images of the rightys. Overall their rivalry is definitely considered to be one of the greatest and is a tennis gamechanger.
Djokovic- 19 -Grand Slams
Federer- 20 – Grand Slams
Lastly we have Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer who are two of the greatest hard court players of all time, and have made some of the most fascinating matches in tennis history. While Federer was off, defeating others like Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian, it was Djokovic who climbed up the ranks and placed himself on top. As far as scores go federer was alway just a little higher up until 2010 when in the coming 5 years djokovic evened things up by winning 16 of their 25 meets. By far Federer has only beaten Djokovic once, and has been ageing, giving the latter more opportunities for the future.
Tennis would be incomplete without the rivalries that went into it. It’s safe to say that the new generation and talent has a lot to bring so all we have to do is sit back and watch.
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