The Ten Greatest Hard-Court Tennis Players Of All Time

Now that the Grand Slam calendar year has been concluded with Daniil Medvedev and Emma Radacanu triumphing at Flushing Meadows, we look back at the ten greatest players to ply their trade on the unforgiving hard-court surface. Hard-court is said to be one of the most neutral surfaces in tennis, which means that it is the perfect surface to gauge a player’s skill. 

A genuinely great tennis player will showcase their arsenal of expertise on the rock-hard surface and always perform well. Most professional players who wield a tennis racket tend to balance out the extreme characteristics of grass and clay courts. The surface is not as fast as grass courts, neither as slow and tiresome as clay. Therefore many believe that a player has to have a well-rounded game on the red dirt and the speedy grass to excel on the hard-courts.

Let’s take a look at the ten greatest players to hone their craft on hard-courts and the incredible feet they’ve achieved. 

10. Dominic Thiem 

Let’s start with the Austrian right-hander who has had picked up fantastic form over the last few years. Theim, who captured his first fabled US Grand Slam in 2020, has been honing his craft at an expert level. 

The Grand Slam winners natural power and pinpoint precision saw him battle back after Alexander Zerev pegged him back at two sets down. Thiem’s unbridled power saw him battle back to beat the German in a fight-set thriller on the hard courts in New York to become the 55th men’s slam title champion in the Open Era.

9. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga

The Frenchman has always been lurking in the background as a threat to the elite forces of the game. Tsonga boasts a plethora of accolades, all won on hard-court. 

The 6’2 foot giant is capable on all surfaces of the game, as evidenced by his 2008 Australian Open final appearance and as a two-time semi-finalist at both the French Open and Wimbledon. The powerful right-hander’s best U.S. Open finish was a quarter-final appearance in 2011 against no.1 seed Novak Djokovic.

8. Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori’s prowess on the hard-court is impressive as he proved at the 2014 U.S. Open final. The Japanese player vanquished some of the very best in the game in thrilling clutch style. Nishikori overpowered Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic before Marin Cilic extinguished his Grand Slam glory hopes.

Nishikori might flourish on the hard-court but he has struggled of late against players with more power in their game. The U.S. Grand slam finalist is great at hitting angle shots on the rise but is reluctant to go up the line with either hand. 

7. Marin Cilic

The Croatian has won numerous accolades over his tennis tenure, including his maiden U.S. Grandslam in 2014 against Kei Nishikori. Clic thrives in faster conditions and has somewhat underachieved in his years on the tour. 

The big Croatian posses a powerful serve, heavy groundstrokes and fantastic consistency to be a real player on the ATP Tour. Cilic continues to be a problem for the top ten of the circuit with a plethora of weapons stored away in his locker.

6. Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych might not possess a Grand Slam dynasty but fans have to admire his consistency over the years. The former professional tennis player was a talented ball-striker who troubled players for years with his gung-ho approach to the game. 

The Czech Republic tennis player’s most notable achievement was reaching the 2021 Wimbledon final, after brushing aside Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals before finally losing to Rafael Nadal in the SW19 final. 

5. Daniil Medvedev

The World No.2. who has won three Masters 1000 Titles, is one of the best hard-court players on the circuit right now. The Russian has reached two Grand Slam finals, both on hard-court. Medvedev lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2019 U.S. Open final and Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Australian Open final. 

The Russian magician has proved time and time again that he is the best returner in the game and can trade at the back of the court with the very best. The Grand Slam finalist has raised some eyebrows over the years and has made a huge splash on the blue surface.

4. Stanislas Wawrinka

Despite nearly dethroning Andy Murray at Wimbledon 20o9, Wawrinka rarely rises to the occasion on the grass. The Swiss tennis player avoids SW19 like the plague but surfaces when the hard-court season returns. The single-handed backhander has captured three Grand Slams over his career and two of them have been on hard-court. Wawrinka emerged victorious over Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open final to blow the Grand Slam cobwebs away.

The next year the Swiss stunned the tennis world by denying the world No.1 his first Roland Garros. It seemed that Stanislas was drinking from the chalice of success, but the journey had to end here. The 2016 U.S. Open came around again and Wawrinka decided to help himself to a final Grand Slam before calling it a day. The in-form Swiss defeated Novak Djokovic again in the final to claim the Flushing Meadows silverware.

3. Roger Federer

Roger Federer has a greater claim than any other player of being the best hard-court player to walk the earth. His ability to add five consecutive U.S Open Grand Slams to his long list of accolades is more than impressive. The Swiss maestro also owns four Australian Open Grand Slam trophies, an achievement comparable to the great Andre Agassi. 

Roger Federer has always maintained his love for the grass-court where he has won an all-time record eight SW19 Grand Slams. The Swissman dominates on the concrete hard-court with his baseline exploits and legendary forehand. 

The best player to ever grace the game is set to receive knee surgery and has been forced to miss this year’s U.S Open to give himself a glimmer of hope to add one final Grand Slam to his long list of accolades. Although Federer is struggling with his age, he is one of the best players on the fast surface.

 2. Rafael Nadal

The Spaniard is not called the ‘King of Clay’ for no reason, winning a phenomenal 13 French Open titles over his impressive career. Nadal has proved his favourite surface is the red dirt, but many overlook that he is nearly as dangerous on the hard stuff, winning an incredible four U.S. Opens and one Australian Slam.

The tennis legend has had his fair share of injury problems throughout his career and the tennising world have questioned him about his durability. The clay-court titan joined Roger Federer in pulling out of the 2021 U.S. Open over a chronic problem with his left foot. His fighting spirit and blistering forehands are unquestioned and this is why he makes it to the number two spot.

1. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is a force of nature. The man clearly is programmed to win and has been vying for supremacy over the last twenty years, attempting to pip both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to Grand Slam glory. The Serbian is the favourite whatever tournament he enters and has a desire and hunger to win it all.

The 34-year-old has won Wimbledon six times, the Australian Open nine times, the French Open twice and the U.S. Open three times. His unmatched energy and stamina prove to be too much for almost every challenger and he excels on the hard-court. 

Djokovic is a model athlete and thoroughly deserves the number one spot for the greatest player to have ever played on hard-court.