15 Best Grass-Court Players of All Time

Having the ability to play at a high level on grass is an underrated skill. For starters, there are no tournaments out there to participate in. This makes it tougher for players to stay in great shape on grass and play at the highest level.

With that being said, winning Wimbledon is ultimately one of the greatest prizes in the game, being able to shine on the big stage and receive great recognition.

Who are the 15 Best grass-court players of all time? This is a look at the greatest men to ever shine on grass. Most of these players are on this list because of their success at Wimbledon, but other wins on grass courts also weighed into the equation.

15. Andy Roddick

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 79.6%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 0 (3 Finals)

Andy Roddick never won Wimbledon. However, he came extremely close on two occasions and made a total of three appearances in the final on grass. If it was not for Roger Federer, his opponent each time, he might be higher on this list.

Even though Roddick does not rely on serve-and-volleying on most surfaces, he did use it to his advantage at some times on grass. He had one of the most dominant serves in the game during his prime, and that set up a lot of easy points on the grass.

14. Guillermo Vilas

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 70.2%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 0 (2 Australian Open Titles on Grass)

Like Andy Roddick, Guillermo Vitas never won Wimbledon. He made it to the quarterfinals twice, but his real success came at the Australian Open on grass.

He was able to win back-to-back titles in the late 1970s, solidifying his place in history after winning the French Open and the U.S. Open in 1977. Even though he was mostly known as a clay-court specialist, the grass-court suited his game as well.

13. Stefan Edberg

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 78.6%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 2

The Swedish standout reached the finals of Wimbledon three times, winning two titles in his career. He was overshadowed a bit by Boris Becker, who had the better career on grass. That is not to say that Edberg was not good in his own right, as he was a very tough out in London.

As a guy who relied on the serve-and-volley play, it was more about precision and power. In order for him to win on grass, his kick and slice on the ball had to be on point.

12. Andre Agassi

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 73.5%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 1

At the beginning of his career, Andre Agassi was never a fan of Wimbledon. He did not like to play on the grass at all and thought about not playing the tournaments from time to time.

His tone ultimately changed, and his best run came in 1982 when he beat Goran Ivanišević in five sets. He also reached one other final in 1999, losing to Pete Sampras. His all-around game allowed him to have success on grass, even if it was not his best surface.

11. Goran Ivanišević 

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 72%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 1

It seems like Goran Ivanišević was never going to win Wimbledon despite several deep runs in the tournament. In 1994 and 1998, he was beaten by Pete Sampras in the finals.

Everything came together in 2001, as Ivanišević made an improbable run and won 9-7 in the fifth set against Patrick Rafter. It was his one and only Grand Slam title, and one of the most probable runs in tennis history.

10. Rod Laver

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 84.8%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 4

It can be very hard to rank Rod Laver in tennis because of the unique time he played. Since the Open Era was not quite around yet during some of his primes, he had to miss several years at Wimbledon.

He ended up winning two Wimbledon Championships as an amateur, and two more as a professional in the Open Era. However, in between those wins were five straight tournaments where he did not participate.

Grass courts at other tournaments proved to be no problem for Laver as well. Some people will have him higher on a list like this, and there is really no way to go wrong. He without question deserves mention, and he mastered the movement on grass when so many struggled.

9. Jimmy Connors 

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 83%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 2

Jimmy Connors found success on any type of surface during his career. He finished with two Wimbledon titles in 1974 and 1982 but also won the Australian Open in 1974, and one of the US Opens on the grass.

His game was very modern for his time, which allows him to have success on many different surfaces from the baseline. It also helped that he had a very determined demeanor at all times to push through any tough parts in matches.

8. Rafael Nadal 

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 78%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 2

For a guy who is so dominant the month before Wimbledon on clay courts, Rafael Nadal has had a pretty good career as a grass court player as well.

He has hoisted the trophy twice in London and made the final on three other occasions as well. He is the winner of arguably the greatest final in Wimbledon history, as he beat Roger Federer in five sets in 2008 to snap the Swiss star’s winning streak.

Nadal spends most of his time hitting from the baseline like he does on other surfaces, but he will come in slightly more frequently at Wimbledon. It is an approach to the game that makes a lot of sense for the Spaniard in order to get a few free points here and there.

7. Boris Becker

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 82.3%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 3

Boris Becker is another classic serve-and-volley player who really liked the way grass courts played to his strengths. He came along at a young age and looked nearly unbeatable, winning three Wimbledon titles in six years.

He was always an extremely tough out until his speed started to fail him a bit, as he was no longer able to hit big serves and get to the net in time. 

6. Andy Murray

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 82.7%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 2

One of the most memorable moments in recent tennis history came at Wimbledon in 2013. This was when Andy Murray finally broke the long drought of a player from the United Kingdom winning Wimbledon in singles.

He solidified his spot as one of the true greats on grass, and then followed it up in 2016 with another victory.

Murray’s game is built for grass, and he does not slip nearly as much as a lot of other players. The longer a tournament goes on, the more of an advantage Murray has as a player on grass.

5. John McEnroe

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 85.8%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 3

Some of John McEnroe’s most memorable blowups happened on grass. People remember him for that, but they also need to remember that he was an outstanding player on the surface.

He finished his career with three Wimbledon titles, and a lot of deep runs as well. Since he was such a proponent of serve-and-volley play, grass courts played right into what he wanted to do out on the court every single match.

4. Bjorn Borg 

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 81.8%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 5

From 1976 to 1980, Bjorn Borg owned Wimbledon. His five straight titles have only been matched by Roger Federer, and it took a pretty remarkable match in 1981 to dethrone the star.

The reason why he is only fourth on this list is that he never bounced back and made a final again. His short prime was truly dominant, but in order to be one of the best three, he needs some longevity in there as well.

3. Pete Sampras

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 83.5%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 7

Pete Sampras’ game was pretty much made for grass when looking at it critically. He was a very hard server for his era, and he loved to come to the net as often as possible.

He was able to back up a very big serve and put away points easily on grass, which allowed him to win seven Wimbledon titles during his career.

2. Novak Djokovic

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 85%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 6

Novak Djokovic has quietly become a true contender for number one as far as grass-court players are concerned. He is not there just yet, but winning his third consecutive title in 2021 puts him in rare company. He’s now a six-time champion, and also has one runner-up finish to his name.

The all-around play of Djokovic on grass courts is pretty remarkable to see, even if he still struggles a bit in the early stages. The grass courts are rather slippery, especially when they have not been broken in just yet.

He sometimes likes to slide into shots and change direction, but his footing does not go with him. As long as he avoids any early-round hiccups, he is always in the mix to win.

1. Roger Federer

  • Win Percentage (Grass): 86.9%
  • Wimbledon Titles: 8

The best player in the history of grass court tennis is Roger Federer. He first made his mark in 2003, rattling off five titles in a row before losing in the final in 2008.

Unlike Bjorn Borg, Federer still found a way to win three more times since that consecutive streak, making the finals three separate times as well. It’s the peak and longevity that makes him very tough to beat.

Many are still looking to see if Federer can make one more run at a title on the grass courts. He almost won in 2019, losing in a fifth-set tiebreak to Novak Djokovic.

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