Several countries have dominated sports in complete fashion; Australia have dominated multiple sports – cricket, hockey and for a significant period, tennis as well. Great Britain dominated Formula One (the currently reigning triple-world champion is also English), as has Germany, with Brazil and Finland also excelling at the sport.
China has been at the head of badminton for decades, ruling the roost across the men’s and women’s game. Tennis has seen a significant number of countries that have produced some of the sport’s most stellar, outstanding talent.
From the days of Australia’s Roy Emerson and Rod Laver in the 60s to Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl in the 70s and early 80s,theÂ bragging rights for top honours in the mens game were alwaysÂ up for the taking. The mid 80s witnessed an iconic rivalry between Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker, followed by an All-American rivarly between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi for dominance in the 90s. The turn of the millenium saw Roger Federer challeged at the top by his nemesis Nadal.The last decade or so hasÂ seen the emergence and supremacy of the Big Four,” with Novak Djokovic being the standout tennis player. But who were the powerhouses of the sport in the Open Era, which commenced in 1968? We explore 10:
Yevgeny Kafelnikov was Russia’s best player in the 90s post the disintegration of the mighty Soviet Union. Kafelnikov won two Grand Slams in his career. At his peak, Kafelnikov was World No’1 and was in the top 10 for most of his career., which he ended with 26 ATP Titles. Marat Safin was a hugely talented player who won two Grand Slams and reached the No. 1 ranking before his temperament got the better of him and Roger Federer began to dominate the tennis circuit. Nikolai Davydenko was another noteworthy player who won a couple of premier tournament on tour,besides represented his country with distinction in Davis Cup. In recent times, the Russians have been well represented by the likes of Mikhail Youzhny, Dimitry Tursonov and and Igor Andreev. It might be noted that Russian female players have done better than their male counterparts over the last two decades. Russian female players have ominated the tour with their golden girl, multiple grand slam champion Maria Sharapova leading the pack. Meanwhile Svetlana Kuznetkova, Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova ,Vera Zvonareva, Anastasia Myskina, Dinara Safina (incidentally, also a former World No. 1 and the sister of Marat Safin), Maria Kirilenko and Anna Chakvetadze have all done exceedingly well on the tour.
Statistics for Russia
– Davis Cup Titles – (2) – 2002, 2006 Mens Singles Grand Slams won by Russian players- (4) – Yevgeny Kafelnikov (2) and Marat Safin (2)
Yevgeny Kafelnikov – Mens Singles – Gold Medal – (2000)
The meteoric rise of Serbia as a tennis powerhouse has been the biggest success story in the game in recent times.Currently they have arguably the best player in the sport in Novak Djokovic. ”Djoko” broke the Federer/Nadal dominance at the top and has held a place of his own at the top of the game.The Serbians to an extent carried on their legacy from the erstwhile Yugoslavia which was a powerhouse of the sport in its own time. Monica Seles and Goran Ivanisevic were great champions of the game both of whom hailed from erstwhile Yugoslavia. Djokovic,the World No’1 at present had a near to perfect season in 2015 by winning 3 of the 4 Grand Slams. Djokovic has racked up 10 Grand Slams (59 ATP titles) and continues to add more and more titles to his kitty with every tournament. Serbia also have world class players in Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki, who both have won titles on the ATP Tour. Dusan Lajovic looks a sure shot talent to watch out for in the near future. In doubles they have a specialist in Nenad Zimonjic, who has been very successful on the tour winning multiple Grand Slams . The current Serbian team have been very consistent in the Davis Cup over the past 5 years. The Serbs have also enjoyed success in the women’s field with top female players in Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jancovic,both of whom have reached the top of the world rankings in womens game.
Statistics for Serbia
Davis Cup Title- (1) – 2010 Mens Singles Grand Slam Titles – Novak Djokovic (10 Titles)
Olympics Novak Djokovic – Bronze – Mens Singles (2012)
The powerhouse of tennis from the Latin American continent, Argentina has been one of the top nation’s when it comes to tennis supremacy. Guillermo Vilas was their first superstar in the game .The clay court specialist was a top player on the ATP circuit in the 70’s and won 4 Grand Slams and had an unbeaten run of 53 matches on clay. In all, he won 62 ATP Titles in his career. José Luis Clerc, Alberto Mancini and Martín Jaite were some of the other top singles Argentine players in the 80s. Guillermo Coria was Argentina’s next big player who did exceedingly well till his career was cut short by a sustained injury; incidentally, he had been named after Vilas. Coria reached the finals of the French Open in 2004 and also won a couple of ATP Master level tournaments. Argentina had a crop of very promising players including Gaston Gaudio who surprised everyone by winning the French open in 2004. Puerta was somewhat a revelation when he reached the finals of the French Open in 2005.
Some Statistics for Argentina
Davis Cup- Finalist – 1981,2006,2008 and 2011 Mens Singles Grand Slams won by Argentine Men – 6 Guillermo Vilas (4 Titles), Juan Martin Del Potro (1), Gastón Gaudio (1)
Olympics Juan Martin Del Potro – Bronze Medal – Mens Singles – (2012 Olympics
The Czechs have had a very rich history in the sport. One of the greats of the game Ivan Lendl, hailed from the erstwhile Czechoslovakia. Lendl was the most dominant and consistent player of his era and won 8 Grand Slam Titles. Lendl won 94 ATP Titles during his illustrious career. Jan Kodes was another great player, one who perhaps did not get the recognition he duly deserved, nevertheless was a champion in his own merit. Kodes won three Grand Slams in his career. Tomas Smid and Pavel Slozil formed a very potent doubles pair for Czechoslovakia on the world tour. In the 90s, the Czechs had the temperamental Petr Korda who was a Top 10 player on the tour.Korda won the Australian Open (1998) besides being a finalist at Roland Garros (1992). In the last decade or so, the Czech Republic have been well represented by a premier singles players in Tomas Berdych. Berdych has been a Top 10 player over the last five years winning premier ATP events on a consistent basis, and a finalist at Wimbledon in 2010.The Czechs also had the services of seasoned veteran Radek Stepanek, who has proven to be a very versatile player, thereby producing good results in both singles and doubles.The big hitting Lukas Rosol has been somewhat a giant killer on the tour taking out top seeds from Grand Slams. Lukas Dlouhy has been their most succesful doubles player, winning multiple Grand Slam titles parternering different partners on the ATP tour. Besides Dlouhy, the likes of Jiri Novak and Martin Damm have also had a good run on the ATP cicuit.
Some Statistics for Czech Republic
Davis Cup Titles – (3) – 1980,2012, 2013 Mens Singles Grand Slam Titles – 11 Ivan Lendl (8) and Jan Kodes (3)
How could the country not find a place, especially after having perhaps the greatest player to have ever graced the game in Roger Federer. Federer has been in a class of his own and taken the game to new heights in the last decade or so. When it comes to sheer finesse and class, few could surpass the skill and ease with which Federer plies his trade. 17 Grand Slams titles, 27 Grand Slam Finals, 302 weeks as World number, a career Grand Slam and 7 Wimbledon Titles shape up Federer’s near-perfect career. Long under the reigns of Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka came out of his shadow by winning the Australian Open (2014) and the French Open (2015). Wawrinka has himself matured into a world class player and has been ranked in the Top 10 over the last two years. Swiss tennis got a place in the world map courtesy Marc Rosset who won the Mens Singles at the 1992 Olympics. Rosset was a big server and natural volley player.Rosset and Jakob Hlasek formed a very potent combination for the Swiss in Davis Cup. Switzerland also had “Swiss Miss” Martina Hingis who became a teen sensation and went onto win 5 Grand Slam singles titles, besides reaching the No’ 1 spot in women’s tennis in her prime – the youngest ever player to do so. Patty Schnyder was another Swiss player who did considerably well on the tour.
Some Statistics for Switzerland
Davis Cup Title: (1) – 2014 Mens Singles Grand Slam won by Swiss Players: 19 Roger Federer (17) and Stanislas Wawrinka (2)
Mens Singles – Gold – Marc Rosset (1992) Mens Singles – Silver – Roger Federer (2012) Mens Doubles -Bronze – Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka (2008 Olympics)
Germany have had their share of golden moments in the sport during the late 80s and 90s. Germans have produced Grand Slam champions in Boris Becker and Michael Stich. Becker became a tennis sensation when he won the Wimbledon at just 17 years of age in 1985. Becker was known to be a great exponent of the classical serve and volley game apart from his booming serves and athletism on the court.
He went on to reach lofty heights in his career by winning the Wimbledon thrice,therby winning 6 grand slams in all. The Germans also had the tall Stich, who did the nation proud by winning the Wimbledon in 1991.
After the two champions left the tour, Tommy Haas came out as the best player from Germany. Haas had a decent career on the ATP tour but could have done better with the immnese talent he possesed. The 90s also had Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler who made the Germans competitive at the world level by winning titles in top tier ATP events.
Meanwhile David Prinosil had some succes by winning a few doubles events on the tour. As we are only focussing on men’s tennis, one cannot help but mention about the legendary Steffi Graf who cemented her place as an all time great by winning a record 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles.
Graf was the best tennis player to ever come out of Germany and make them a world power in the sport along side Boris Becker.. In the last decade or so,the Germans have been well represented by the likes of Florian Mayer, Philip Kohlshchreiber, Philip Petzschner, Benjamin Becker,Tobias Kamke and Daniel Brands who have decently well on tour. Meanwhile, Dustin Brown looks to be an extremely dangerous player who goes all guns blazing with his power hitting.
Some Statistics for Germany
Davis Cup Titles (3) – 1988, 1989 and 1993 Mens Singles Grand Slams won by Germans: 7 Becker (6) and Stich (1)
Tommy Haas – Mens Singles – Silver – (2000) Boris Becker and Michael Stich – Mens Doubles – Gold (1992) Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuttler – Mens Doubles – Silver ( 2004 ) David Prinosil and Marc-Kevin Goellner – Mens Doubles – Bronze ( 1996 )
Spain has been the most dominant tennis nation in the last decade or so and their record at Davis is testimony to the same. The Spaniards can be proud of having one of the greatest players to have ever played the game in Rafael Nadal. Nadal hailed as the greatest clay courter of all time courtesy his 9 French Open Titles has also proved his mantle on other surfaces, showing up for a career grand slam which the very best have only achieved. T The present Spanish tennis contingent has exceptional players in David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, who both have been top 10 ranked players on the tour and won a couple of ATP titles between themselves. Such is the depth of the Spanish contingent that seasoned players like Tommy Robredo, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez are still worthy of beating any top player in the world on their day. Emilio Sanchez, Manual Santana, Victor Hegueros, Manuel Orantes and Andres Gimeno were the great Spanish players of their times and were instrumental in putting Spanish tennis on the World map. The Spaniards were a potent force in the 90s as they had French Open Champions / Finalist in Sergi Brugera, Carlos Moya, Alex Corettja, Alberto Costa and Juan Carlos Fererro who all made it big on the tour by winning ATP Titles, especially on clay their most sought after surface. Add to this galaxy of tennis stars, the likes of Felix Mantilla, Alberto Berasategui and Carlos Costa who were very good players in their own way. Apart from the big names, the current Spanish team has Marcel Granollers, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Albert Montanes and Pablo Andujar in their ranks who all promise of a very bright future. Meanwhile, Marc Lopez has developed into a very good doubles player.
Some Statistics for Spain Davis Cup Titles: (5) – 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011
The Swedes have been the dominant force in tennis from the Scandinavian region. Bjorn Borg was the best tennis player in his prime and won 11 grand slam titles by the age of 26,which included 5 straight Wimbledon titles from 1976-1980. He was ably succeeded by Mats Wilander, who went onto become one of the top players in the mid- and latter part of the 80s,winning 7 Grand Slam in all. When Wilander left the scene, they had Stefan Edberg, a classic proponent of the serve and volley style of play. Edberg had some great battles with his German rival Boris Becker and became No’1, besides notching up 6 Grand Slam’s titles. Edberg’s backhand has been considered one of the best in the game. The rich tradition of Swedish tennis continued with Thomas Johansson winning the Australian Open in 2002. Thomas Enqvist was another consistent performer at big events on the ATP tour. The last great tennis player to come out of Sweden was Robin Soderling, the man often remembered for halting Rafael Nadal’s bid to win a record fifth succesive French Open title.Soderling was twice runner-up at Roland Garros in 2009 and 2011, but his promising career was cut short by a rare medical ailment. Apart from the great singles players they had, the Swedes had some very good doubles specialists in Jonas Bjorkman and Nicalas Kulti who were very successful on the ATP tour winning multiple doubles titles. Besides the greats, the Swedes also boasted of players like Magnus Norman, Magnus Larsson, Peter Lundregen, Robert Lindstedt and Joachim Johansson who had a decent run on the ATP tour. The Swedes in recent years have struggled to find a player of world class pedigree as they usually did, but sooner or later it shall surely come through for this nation with such a great tennis legacy.
Some Statistics for Sweden: Davis Cup Titles – (7) – 1975, 1984,1985,1987,1994,1997 and 1998 Grand Slam Mens Singles Titles Won by Swedish Players:25 Bjorn Borg (11), Mats Wilander (7), Stefan Edberg (6) and Thomas Johansson (1) Olympics: Stefan Edberg – Bronze – Mens Singles (1988 ) Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd – Bronze – Mens Doubles (1988 ) Thomas Jhohanson and Simon Aspelin – Silver – Mens Doubles ( 2008 )
A dominant force in the 50s and 60’s, the country produced some of the greats of the game like Neale Fraser, Fred Stolle, Frank Sedgman, Roy Emerson and Tony Roche,who all were multiple grand slam winners in their own time. Ken Rosewall was their first tennis hero in the true sense. The Australians had their first big superstar in the Open Era with Rod Laver, who won a career Grand Slam in 1969. John Newcombe, John Alexander, John Fitzgerald and Marc Edmondson carried on the legacy into the next decade. The flamboyant Pat Cash, who made a distinct identiy of his own with his colorful bandannas, was their best player in the 80s, and did them proud by winning the Wimbledon in 1987. The 90s saw more world class players on the scene. Pat Rafter, who reached two successive Wimbledon finals (2000, 2001) and won the US Open twice (1997,1998) and the big-serving Mark Philippoussis was a dangerous customer and was deemed as a giant killer on tour. Nicknamed ‘The Scud’, he reached two Grand Slam finals in his career. With the turn of the century, Lleyton Hewitt carried the hopes of the Island nation on his shoulder and has delivered quite well by winning the US Open (2001) and the Wimbledon (2002), thereby becoming the Number 1 player in the sport. Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge dominated men’s doubles for almost a decade as well, as the ‘Woodies’, as they were known, won 11 grand slam titles as a pair. The present crop is being spearheaded by a talented bunch of youngsters in Bernand Tomic and Nick Kyrgios who have showcased their significant skill and talent. Australia have won the Davis Cup for a record 28 times, second only to the United States.
Some statistics for Australia: Mens Singles Grand Slam Titles won by Australians in Open Era:20 Titles Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe (5 each) Rod Laver (4) Patrick Rafter and Leyton Hewitt (2 each) Mark Edmondson and Pat Cash (1 each) Olympics: Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge – Mens Doubles – gold – (2000), silver (1996 )
The United States could be considered the number one nation when it comes to producing tennis champions on a consistent basis, and have always been a force to reckon with in the sport. They have boasted Grand Slam champions and players who stayed at the top of the sport as Number 1s in every decade. The 70s and 80s had an everlasting US presence, with multiple Grand Slam champions in Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe vying for top honors. Besides these legends, the US also had accomplished players in Stan Smith, Rascoe Tanner, Bradd Gilbert, Vitas Gerulatis, Cliff Richey and Gene Mayer who won numerous titles on the ATP circuit. The 90’s had two of the best players of their generation in Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi who won 22 Grand Slam between themselves.The Americans also had a very powerful tennis contigent in Jim Courier,Micheal Chang and Todd Martin,all of whom were Grand Slam winners or finalist.The next generation saw the big serving Andy Roddick as the flag bearer of American Tennis. Roddick bloomed early by winning the US open in 2003 and reaching a couple of Wimbledon finals only to come out second best to Federer in their pinnacle clashes on grass.Americans were served well by the likes of Mardy Fish, James Blake, Taylor Dent and Sam Querrey, who made an impact of their own on the ATP tour by winning titles in the last decade. The US have always had specialist doubles pair besides producing great singles players. In the 80s, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming were the best pair in the world.The iconic Bryan Brothers went onto dominate the doubles and have become the most successful pair in tennis history, winning 16 Grand Slams together. In recent times American tennis has not been as dominant as what they were at one point in time but still a bright spark likes in the tall and lanky John Isner, who looks to be the most talented of the new crop of American tennis players.Isner is a threat on the US hardcourts courtsey his potent service game and hard hitting groudstrokes. A number of other players, such as Ryan Harrison,Jack Sock, Steve Johnson and Donald Young look promising in terms of keeping American tennis competitive at the world level.
Some statistics for the USA: Davis Cup wins: 32 Titles Men’s Singles Grand Slams Won by US Men in Open Era: 51 Pete Sampras (14),Andre Agassi (8), Jimmy Connors (8), John McEnroe (7), Jim Courier (4), Arthur Ashe (3), Stan Smith (2), Roscoe Tanner,Vitas Gerulatis,Brian Teacher, Michael Chang and Andy Roddick (One Each) Olympics: Andre Agassi – Gold – Mens Singles (1996) Mardy Fish – Silver – Mens Singles (2004) Bob and Mike Bryan – Gold – Mens Doubles (2012 ) and Bronze (2008 Olympics)
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