Australian Open is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis. The first Grand Slam tournament of a calendar year, Australian Open has a history of over hundred years as it started in 1905. Until 1987, the tournament was held on grass court, which was replaced by hard court in the following year. Today, Australian Open is one of most popular sporting events in the world in terms of television viewers. In 2010, the tournament drew 653,860 attendances, which is around 50,000 more than what turned up the previous year.
Here, I have made a list of top ten best singles male tennis players in the history of Australian Open. So, while making the list, I mainly considered players’ performances and records in the singles event of Australian Open. I hope you will enjoy the list, but you can let us know your choices in the comment section.
One of the greatest male tennis players of all time, Roy Emerson won 6 our of his 12 Grand Slam titles in Australian Open, a record for Australian Open tournament. Five out of his six Australian Open titles came in successive years, starting from 1963 to 1967. His 12 career Grand Slam titles was the highest for a male tennis players at the time of his retirement, which was so far surpassed by only two players: Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.
Besides his tremendous success in Australian Open, Roy Emerson became the first male tennis player to win all four Grand Slam titles at least twice during his career, and was the first male to win all the Grand Slam titles in both singles and doubles events.
Many believe that Roger Federer is the all-time greatest male tennis player in the history. The Swiss tennis maestro is currently the most successful male tennis player of Grand Slam with a record 16 titles to his possession. He has won Australian Open 4 times in between 2004 and 2010. Some of you may consider him above Emerson due to the fact that all his Australian Open titles came in Open era.
Federer is just one of the seven male tennis players who have completed career Grand Slam. Moreover, he also holds the record for remaining world no. 1 in ATP rankings for 237 consecutive weeks.
Another great of Open era, Andre Agassi also won 4 Australian Open titles during his career. Well-known for his return of serve and baseline game, the American made Australian Open his favorite Grand Slam tournament as he won half of his total career Grand Slam titles in Australian Open. Alike Emerson and Federer, he also accomplished a career Grand Slam.
Unlike many players, Andre Agassi was a multi-surface specialist as he won titles on all surfaces including hard, clay and grass. The former world no. 1 was very popular throughout his career not only for his success on the court, but also his effervescent personality.
Kenneth Robert Rosewall, popularly known as Ken Rosewall, is another Australian great of tennis. The eight-time Grand Slam winner, Rosewall was among the first tennis stars in the post World War II era. He also achieved 4 Australian Open titles during his career and the 16-year gap between his second and third Australian Open title is one of the longest in the history of the tournament.
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During his illustrious career, Rosewall also won French Open and US Open titles, but he could never win Wimbledon, despite his four appearances in the final of this tournament. His contribution to tennis in the post-war era helped develop the game and reach where it stands today.
One of the early greats of tennis, Jack Crawford won 6 Grand Slam titles of which 4 came in Australian Open. The Australian tennis star was one of the dominant players of 1930’s. He came agonizingly close to winning all four Grand Slam titles in a calendar year in 1933 when he won Australian, French and Wimbledon, but he lost to Fred Perry in a five-set classic final in the US Open.
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Besides his success in the singles, Crawford also won 6 doubles and 5 mixed-doubles Grand Slam titles during his glorious career, including 3 doubles and 2 mixed-doubles titles in Australian Open. The former world no. 1 was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.
The Australian great could have easily ended up in the top three or four, if it was a list of all time greatest male tennis players. Rod Laver was undoubtedly the best male tennis player of 1960’s, a decade during which he won all of his 11 Grand Slam titles including 3 in Australian Open and remained world no. 1 for seven years.
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Rod Laver holds many records of tennis. He is the only tennis player in the history who have won all four Grand Slam tournaments in a calendar year, first as an amateur in 1962 and then in 1969 during the Open era. Today, he is just one of the three tennis players (including both male and female) who won all four Grand Slam singles titles twice. Laver was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner, Mats Wilander was one of the most dominant male tennis players of 1980’s. His 3 titles in Australian Open easily earned him a place in this list. Through he could not accomplish a career Grand Slam due to his unsuccessful campaigns in Wimbledon, no one can doubt about his class and greatness. Interestingly, his only Grand Slam title in doubles came in Wimbledon.
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The Swedish tennis star won all the Grand Slam singles titles, except Wimbledon, in 1988. His first two Australian Open titles came when the tournament was played on grass courts, and thus, he became one of only five male players to win Grand Slam singles titles in grass, hard and clay courts. By the time he turned 20, Mats Wilander had already achieved 4 Grand Slam titles, a record that still stands.
Though Adrian Quist is now considered to be one of the greatest doubles players of all time, the Australian also achieved considerable success in Australian Open singles. He secured all of his 3 Grand Slam singles titles in Australian Open in between 1936 and 1948. Besides, Quist also won 10 doubles titles in Australian Open, all of whom coming in ten successive tournaments.
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Known for his superb backhand and classical forehand, Adrian Quist won 14 doubles Grand Slam titles during his career on his way to completing career Grand Slam in doubles.
The four-time Grand Slam singles winner, Jim Courier bagged 2 Australian Open titles during his career. The former world no. 1 defeated Stefan Edberg in the 1992 Australian Open final, before defending it successfully against the same opponent the following year.
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The American still holds the record for being the youngest male tennis player to reach the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments when he was 22 years and 11 months old. Courier was also the runner-up of 1991 US Open and 1993 Wimbledon tournaments.
Anderson is one of the two players, placed in this list, who did not win any Grand Slam singles title, except Australian Open, during their career. His three Australian Open titles came in 1922, 1924 and 1925. The Australian also won the Wimbledon doubles title in 1922, his only success in Grand Slam doubles.
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Some of you may not agree with his inclusion in this list, but considering his success in Australian Open, James Anderson deserves a spot among the top ten all time best of the tournament.
Some other great players who could make it to the list: Boris Becker, Ashley Cooper, Stefan Edberg, John Bromwich, John Newcombe, Pete Sampras, Rodney Heath, Johan Kriek and Ivan Lendl.