Italian tennis has always been very competitive. While they might not boast as many individual Grand Slam champions as some countries, they have several players who are consistently in the mix on the men’s and women’s sides.
Who are the 10 best Italian tennis players of all time? Looking at their achievements throughout their career, this is the definitive ranking of those players.
10. Andreas Seppi
Throughout his career, Andreas Seppi was a very consistent tennis player. Even at age 38, he is still out there competing in tournaments. Although he never got higher than #18 in the world, he was a tough matchup at all times.
Reaching the fourth round in six different Grand Slam tournaments, Seppi is also the owner of three career titles. He dabbled in doubles a bit, but only reached the quarterfinals in two Grand Slam doubles events.
9. Jannik Sinner
The fact that it can already be argued that Jannik Sinner is a top 10 Italian tennis player of all time says a lot about his talent. Just 20 years old, he’s reached the quarterfinals in two Grand Slams in his career. He’s up to as high as #9 in the world, and he looks to be a consistent top 10 player for years to come.
Sinner has all the tools to be a future Grand Slam champion. There are no guarantees in tennis, but he’s shown that he doesn’t back down against anyone.
8. Fabio Fognini
Fabio Fognini has never broken through and won a Grand Slam title. In fact, he’s never been all that close, reaching just one quarterfinal. However, there’s something to be said for playing at a high level for a very long time. That’s exactly what he’s pulled off in his career.
Reaching as high as #9 in the world and consistently having a seed at Grand Slam events, Fognini has carved out a great tennis career. He’s also an accomplished doubles player, winning the 2015 Australian Open.
7. Flavia Pennetta
Flavia Pennetta might be the most surprising Italian singles champion. After having a solid career with a few titles sprinkled in, she made her deepest run to a championship in what would be her final Grand Slam of her career. She decided that once the match was over, she had nothing left to accomplish as a player.
Another Italian to reach #1 in the world in doubles, she’s now half of the most impressive Italian tennis couple. She married Fabio Fognini in 2016, and they have two children together.
6. Roberta Vinci
Winning a Grand Slam title is never easy. Roberta Vinci did just about the next best thing to winning a title, taking out Serena Williams as she attempted to win all four Grand Slams consecutively.
In 2015, she shocked the world with a quarterfinal upset. Her loss to Flavia Pennetta sullied her run a bit, but it was still a great day for Italian tennis.
Before that, Vinci was a steady player on tour who also had quite a bit of success in doubles. She reached #7 in the world in singles, but she was #1 in the world in doubles in 2012.
5. Matteo Berrettini
There might be some who feel like putting him on a top 10 list is a little early for the talented Italian youngster. However, he’s been able to show that he can go pretty deep in Grand Slam tournaments already, and the best is yet to come.
He has been able to have quite a bit of success despite not having as many weapons as some of the best players on the tour. His ability to move the ball around and use a variety of different shots gives him an edge over most.
4. Nicola Pietrangeli
Before the Open Era, there was an Italian player who wrapped up a couple of Grand Slam singles titles.
Not everyone puts this high on the list because the competition was never the best, but he deserves mention for his great play. Nicola Pietrangeli won the French Open in 1959 and 1960, while also getting up to #3 in the world.
Pietrangeli is forgotten by a lot of tennis fans now, but Italians still hold him in his regard for what he pulled off. Winning a Grand Slam tournament in any era is impressive.
3. Sara Errani
There were some ups and downs in the career of Sara Errani, but it all came together for her most memorable run at the 2012 French Open. She lost in the finals, but she solidified herself as a legitimate top 10 player to stay in the mix for a few years.
Errani is another player who was never physically gifted like some of the others on the WTA Tour. She was able to stay competitive by moving her opponents around and always being in great shape.
If not for some untimely injuries, there’s a chance that she could have stayed around for a little bit longer near the top as well.
2. Francesca Schiavone
It’s hard to argue with Francesca Schiavone‘s record and ranking. She’s the highest-ranked Italian woman ever, and a Grand Slam singles champion. Constantly looked out as an undersized player on tour, she bloomed late in her career and had her most memorable victory on clay.
Schiavone was not just a one-trick pony with Grand Slam success. She also made a few deep runs at the other Grand Slams, making the quarterfinals in all three at least once. She also backed up her 2010 French Open title with another finals appearance in 2011.
1. Adriano Panatta
Many are shocked to hear that there is only one Italian man who can claim a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era on their resume. Adriano Panatta won his title way back in 1976 at the French Open. Italians, in general, have had a lot of success on clay courts compared to other surfaces.
There are a lot of clay courts in Italy, and the Italian Open is played on clay courts as well. He was able to grind his way to a victory and become immortalized as an Italian tennis great.
He only reached as high as #6 in the world, but no one can take away his Grand Slam title. It makes it even more special that he holds the distinction of being the only player ever to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros. Until another man wins on the Italian side, he deserves all the praise thrown his way.
Final Thoughts on Italian Tennis
With so many promising Italian players coming up, many think it’s only a matter of time before one breaks through and wins a title.
There is just too much ability coming from the country to consistently come up short. Italians are always very competitive in the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, but now they need to show that they can stick around and compete individually.