10 Greatest Russian Tennis Players Ever (Ranked)

A Russian tennis renaissance began, in the 1990s, largely thanks to the patronage of Boris Yeltsin and his love of the sport. He opened new tennis courts, funded tennis academies,  and spawned a new generation of Russian tennis players.

In the last 20 years, they have produced winners across all grades in both the men’s and women’s games. Here are the 10 best Russian tennis players ever.

10. Elena Vesnina

  • Grand Slams: 0 (1 Semi-final)
  • Career Titles: 12
  • Highest ranking: No.13
  • Estimated Career Earnings:  $13,011,023

Despite having an all-court game, Vesnina is most known for her offensive baseline play. The foundation of her game is being able to dominate rallies with her groundstrokes or move her opponent around the court to find an opening. Despite being consistent and powerful on her forehand, her backhand is her best shot.

With Ekaterina Makarova, she won the 2013 French Open, 2014 US Open, and 2017 Wimbledon tournaments, and with Bruno Soares, she won the 2016 Australian Open mixed-doubles title. In June 2018, Vesnina ranked first in the women’s doubles. Her highest singles ranking was No. 13 in March 2017.

9. Vera Zvonareva

  • Grand Slams: 0 (2 Finals, 2 Semi-finals)
  • Career Titles: 12
  • Highest ranking: No.2
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $14,839,405

She was known as a baseline player who relied heavily on her athleticism. A better slice backhand and some higher defensive shots would make her an even better player.

The former world no. 2 began playing tennis at a young age and has won 12 consecutive WTA Tour titles while also reaching the finals of various tournaments, including the 2010 Wimbledon Championships and 2008 WTA Tour Championships 2010 US Open. 

Additionally, she won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.[3] She has also won five Grand Slam titles in doubles. Her first two titles came at the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2012, with Nathalie Dechy and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

8. Darina Safina 

  • Grand Slams: 0 (3 Finals, 2 Semi-finals)
  • Career Titles: 16
  • Highest Ranking: No.1
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $10,585,640

In 2009, she lost to Serena Williams in the runner-up spot at the French Open, and Svetlana Kuznetsova was the runner-up at the Australian Open. At the 2007 US Open, won a Grand Slam doubles title with Nathalie Dechy. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, she also won a silver medal in women’s singles. 

In addition to being an aggressive baseliner, Safina takes every shot with full power. She can force a return with a sharp-angled forehand and hit it with a big and heavy forehand for a winning shot. She can also hit a flat, serious, and devastating backhand.

7. Elena Dementieva

  • Grand Slams: 0 (2 Finals) (7 Semi-Finals)
  • Career Titles: 16
  • Highest ranking: No.3
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $14,867,437

Probably the best Russian tennis player never to have won a grand slam title, she is third on our list for winning the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She was probably unlucky to have played in the same era as some of the most remarkable women ever to have played the game.

She previously won the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Her career highlights include 16 WTA singles titles, a final appearance at the 2004 French Open and the 2004 US Open, and seven other Grand Slam semifinal appearances. 

Also, Dementieva was a member of Russia’s 2005 Fed Cup-winning team. In doubles, she won the 2002 WTA Championship with Janette Husárová and finished runner-up in 2002, and 2005 US Opens with Husárová.

Dementieva ranked as high as No. 3 in the world on 6 April 2009. As a result of her final match at the 2010 WTA Championships, she announced her retirement on 29 October 2010.

6. Anastasia Myskina

  • Grand Slams: 1
  • Career Titles: 10
  • Highest ranking: No.2
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $5,606,725

Anastasia Myskina became the first Russian woman to win a singles Grand Slam at the 2004 French Open. She became the first Russian woman to reach the top 3 in the WTA rankings following this victory.

In September 2004, she topped the WTA rankings at No. 2. It is not official that she has retired, but since May 2007, she hasn’t been active on the WTA Tour.

Myskina was a player with both excellent defensive skills and an aggressive shot-making ability. She was known for her powerful two-handed backhand and for hitting it flatly and consistently deep.

It contributed to many of her wins on the court. Despite a powerful forehand, especially when hit inside-out, Myskina sometimes made a lot of unforced errors when using this shot due to a lack of control

5. Daniil Medvedev

  • Grand Slams: 1
  • Career Titles: 13
  • Highest ranking: No.2
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $19,885,705

Daniil Medvedev is one of the top 5 players because he won the US Open in 2021 at only 25. The ATP currently ranks him as world No. 2, his career-high singles ranking first achieved on 15 March 2021. 13 of his ATP Tour titles have come on the singles side, including the US Open in 2021 and the ATP Finals in 2020.  

Medvedev became the first and only player to beat the top 3 players in the world in the route to winning the ATP year-end championship title. Showing his promising career is far from finished, Medvedev will most likely add at least a handful of Grand Slam titles before it’s time for retirement.

4. Svetlana Kuznetsova

  • Grand Slams: 2
  • Career Titles: 18
  • Highest ranking: No.2
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $25,816,890

She has won two Grand Slam singles titles, and two Grand Slam doubles titles. First playing at the Australian Open in 2002, she won her first Grand Slam title at the 2004 US Open over Elena Dementieva, becoming the third Russian woman to win a Grand Slam title after Anastasia Myskina and Maria Sharapova.

Kuznetsova defeated another Russian compatriot Dinara Safina in straight sets to win her second Grand Slam title at the 2009 French Open.

She had been runner-up to Belgian player Justine Henin in the 2006 and 2007 French Open singles tournaments. Kuznetsova, a former No. 2 WTA player, held the No. 2 ranking for 24 weeks in 2007 and 2008.

During the 2010 season, Kuznetsova lost her top 10 rankings and dropped to 72 by year-end in 2012. She recovered in 2016, when she reached the top ten and reached the semifinals of the WTA Finals, her best result in that tournament since her return from injury

3. Marat Safin 

  • Grand Slams: 2
  • Career Titles: 15
  • Highest ranking: No.1
  • Estimated career earnings: $14,373,291

The former world no.1 Marat Safin is one of the most talented Russian tennis players ever. In addition to being the older brother of former Women’s No. 1 player Dinara Safina. The “Safinas” are the only brother-sister tandem in tennis history to achieve the No. 1 ranking.

Safin topped the rankings for nine weeks. He won two Grand Slams in his career. Defeating Pete Sampras in the US Open in 2000 and Lleyton Hewitt in the Australian Open in 2005.

As a Grand Slam player, Safin reached three more Australian Open finals between 2002 and 2005. For his 2002 loss, he cited nervousness and physical exhaustion for his 2004 defeat.[18] For his 2005 victory, he beat Lleyton Hewitt in the final, which sealed his second Grand Slam victory in five years.

2. Yevgeny Kafelnikov

  • Grand Slams: 2
  • Career Titles: 26
  • Highest ranking: No.1
  • Estimated career earnings: $23,883,797

Another former world No. 1 tennis player from Russia is Yevgeny Kafelnikov. In addition to two Grand Slam singles titles, he also won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, helping him surpass Safin at #2.

In 1996, he won the men’s singles and doubles titles at the French Open, making him the first to win both titles at the same Grand Slam tournament.

In 2019, Kafelnikov was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Kafelnikov is a multi-talented sportsman. Since his retirement, he has been busy playing golf and poker. He has played several professional golf tournaments and even cashed at the world series of poker a few times. 

1. Maria Sharapova

  • Grand Slams: 5
  • Career Titles: 36
  • Highest ranking: No.1
  • Estimated Career Earnings: $38,777,962

With five Grand Slams to her credit, Sharapova is undisputedly the best Russian tennis player ever. She won three French Opens, once at the  Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

She won 36 titles in total, including the year-ending WTA Finals in her debut in 2004. As for her doubles titles, she won three. Serena Williams, widely regarded as the most incredible woman tennis player of all time, was also considered one of her greatest rivals.

Sharapova, who has been a WTA member since 2001, has lived in the United States since 1994. In total, she has held the No. 1 ranking in singles for 21 weeks on 5 separate occasions. There are only ten women and one Russian who have achieved a career Grand Slam.

Additionally, she is an Olympic medalist with a silver medal in women’s singles from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Sharapova became the world No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, at the age of 18, becoming the first Russian female tennis player to top the world rankings.

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