In Australian tennis, there have been many great male tennis players who have flown the Australian flag proudly. Most importantly, Australia has had lots of incredibly talented players who have played for Australia in the ATP and taken it up against the world best.
It was a tough decision to choose the best Australian male tennis players of all time.
Taking everything into account, who has made the cut for the best Australian male tennis players of all time?
Rod Laver, a tennis great and an Australian legend was one to watch. He became a professional tennis player in 1963. He was a dominant force throughout his tennis career due to his accuracy, precision and powerful shots.
In fact, it is hard to see where the weaknesses lie in Laver’s playing style, as he was an all round fine player. He was a player who could attack, defend, volley and always turn the point and match in his favour.
Laver was world number one and hard to beat from 1964-1970. A fine player across all four Grand Slams, as he secured title wins. He became a three time champion at Australian Open in 1960, 1962, 1969). At the French Open, he was a two time champion in 1962 and 1969. A four time Wimbledon Champion (1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969). US Open two time champion (1962 and 1969).
John Newcombe turned a professional tennis player in 1967. During his career, he won seven Grand Slams. In 1974, Newcombe reached the pinnacle of tennis, when he became the world number one.
His playing style was well-known for his massive first serve and volleying at the net. Due to his strong first serve, Newcombe won 80 percent of his first serve points. Newcombe was able to hit his forehand with magnificent topspin, but he rarely hit a baseline backhand that was considered a weakness of his game. Other than this, Newcombe was a superb player in the late 1960s. His forehand volley has become one of the strongest in history.
Newcombe was one of the most powerful and smartest players to play tennis. He was a player who personified what a sporting gentleman was meant to be.
Pat Cash became a professional tennis player in 1982. In fact, he reached his highest ATP singles ranking of number four in 1988. Cash was one of the finest attacking players of the 1980s.
Cash’s greatest achievement as a player was when he secured his first and only Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 1987. The victory for Cash was a momentous occasion, because he overcame the tough Ivan Lendl and world number one player at the time in straight sets. Cash was a significant contributor in the Davis Cup Australian winning teams in 1983 and 1986.
For instance, when Cash was 17-years-old he first represented Australia at the Davis Cup. And he featured in the Davis Cup across eight years and held a record of 31-10.
Pat Rafter became a professional tennis player in 1991. It took Rafter till 26 July, 1999 to become the top ranked singles men’s player in the world. The last Australian to reach world number one was John Newcombe in 1971. Rafter is a right handed player who played with a one handed backhand. The way Rafter played was electrifying with his strong and deep shots and his great ability to quickly run to the net to return a shot was superb to watch. For instance, once, Rafter was at the net, his volleying was precise and hit with speed. He would hit his volleying match winners, from sharp angles. With this playing style, Rafter was tough to beat on hard courts, grass, or clay.
Rafter was hugely admired for his serve and volley game style. In addition, Rafter became the first player in the Open Era to secure back to back US Open titles in 1997-1998. The last Australian to win two consecutive US Open titles was Neale Fraser in 1959-1960.
In Wimbledon 2000, Rafter played a simply remarkable Grand Slam. He was ranked number 12 in the Grand Slam and he overcame American Andre Agassi, the world number two at the time in an enthralling five set semi-final. The semi-final would go down as one of Rafters best career highlights. Most importantly, Rafter advanced to the Championship final, but unfortunately lost to Pete Sampras in an intense five set match.
Lleyton Hewitt became a professional tennis player in 1998. As a player, Hewitt never gave up even when he was down he kept on fighting his way back into the match. Even if he lost, Hewitt was a player who would want a brave loss rather than a three straight sets loss. It was this playing style from Hewitt that took a toll on his body in the end with him having two toe injuries and a hip injury. Hewitt became the youngest world number one in the men’s single division. He surpassed 21-year-old, American and Wimbledon champion Ellsworth Vines who became No.1 in 1932.
Throughout his tennis career, Hewitt’s signature fist pump and ‘come on’ became well known worldwide. Hewitt won 30 singles titles including two Majors at the US Open 2001 and Wimbledon 2002. His first Grand Slam title came over the great and American Pete Sampras at the US Open 2001. Additionally, Hewitt was 2005 runner up at his home Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
Five of the best to make the greatest of all time for Australia. Please have your say?