Skater Yuzuru Hanyu and snowboarder Ayumu Hirano are both titanic icons of their genre. Both possess phenomenal athleticism combined with breathtaking artistry. The two have shattered numerous records, and have triumphed on the world’s biggest stages. And there’s no shortage of flair, mystique, and sheer voltage from these two legends.
This savvy Aussie possesses a potent serve and forehand, an elegant all-court game, poise under pressure…and 3 Major championship trophies, on three different surfaces. A class act.
Your author has spent many an hour in rapt engagement with the sport of tennis. Since the early 1970s, it has been my favorite sport to watch and to play. The above constitutes my highly opinionated (yet utterly impartial…) list of the greatest practitioners I’ve ever witnessed. The order might well be in flux, but as for now, I feel comfortable with Roger Federer at #1, Pete Sampras #2, Björn Borg #3, Raphael Nadal #4, and Novak Djokovic #5.
Those who follow these five legends could all be considered “Honorable Mention”, as I feel the top 5 are simply a cut above. This is certainly not meant as a slight, as all included here are geniuses of the game. In no order, I’ve selected John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, Arthur Ashe, and Boris Becker.
What criteria were used? Mostly, the eye and gut test. Certainly, career accomplishments were very much factored in. But, I went primarily by feel. Federer is quite simply the greatest tennis player I’ve seen. No one quite compares. What he’s done on the court is both sublime *and* ridiculous. After the Swiss maestro, we thought Sampras barely nosed out the Swede on the strength of, surprise, his immense first and second serves. Borg, the mightiest titan I had beheld in my youth, is next; the man’s groundstrokes revolutionized the game, with their blistering topspin. He was also *insanely* fast. Rafa takes #4, on the merits of his own wicked topspin forehand, foot speed, and indomitable will. And speaking of indomitable, the same applies to Mr. Djokovic. His return of serve is also probably the most effective/intimidating we’ve seen.
A final word on Federer, from the man who knows him best: Rafa Nadal. “If he is playing very good, I have to play unbelievable. If not, it’s impossible, especially if he’s playing with good confidence. When he’s 100 per cent, he’s playing in another league. It’s impossible to stop him.” – 2007
The final of the 2020 US Open featured everything one could desire in a championship match: high level of play; swings in momentum; and commendable bravery from both players. Naomi Osaka emerged the victor in an epic struggle with Victoria Azarenka, claiming her 3rd major trophy in the process. Both players exhibited tremendous desire, not to mention wondrous shotmaking. It will be a long-remembered match for the championship level on both sides of the net. Osaka’s wicked groundstrokes, formidable serve, and grace under pressure eventually prevailed.
25 year old Daniil Medvedev, the world’s 2nd ranked player, plays a fascinating game of tennis. Though 6’6″, he plays mostly from the backcourt, where he is utterly ruthless. Ceaseless probing, penetrating groundstrokes, hit mostly flat, help him gain control of the point, and he is not one prone to relinquishing it. A formidable competitor, Medvedev plays controlled offense superbly, has a very effective serve, and has excellent foot speed. He seems destined to be at or near the top of the men’s game for many years.
The inimitable magic of Steph Curry, which for him is a mere bagatelle. Curry is without a doubt one of the greatest long range shooters ever, possesses magical ball handling skills, is an electric passer, and is an über-inventive, potent scorer from anywhere on the court. The 2 time league MVP holds a number of NBA records, including highest free throw percentage for a career, most points in an overtime period, most 3 point shots made in a season…the list goes on. Steph is the only player ever to lead the league in scoring while achieving the 50-40-90 shooting trifecta. The 6’3″ guard has revolutionized the way the game is played, and is a joy to watch.
Update: On the evening of December 14, 2021, Curry broke the career record for made 3-pointers, eclipsing Ray Allen’s mark of 2,973.
Homeric valor, unfathomable resolve, and titanic talent were exhibited by both champions in this unforgettable battle.
Wilt Chamberlain accomplished Herculean, seemingly impossible feats. 100 points in a game; a 50.4 scoring average in a season; 55 rebounds in a game; seven consecutive scoring titles to begin his career. And on and on. As a Harlem Globetrotter, he hurled Meadowlark Lemon around in one skit as if he weighed 210 ounces, rather than 210 pounds. Lemon called Chamberlain the strongest athlete who ever lived. He was certainly one of the greatest.
Wilt won his 2nd and most satisfying NBA championship in 1972 with the Lakers, who set a then-league record with 69 wins, including a stunning 33 in a row. His role had changed, and he showed he could dominate by defending (though he was already a great shot-blocker), rebounding and fuelling the team’s lethal fast-break. A legendary, iconic sporting figure whose true talents may never be fathomed.
Highlights from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series Championships for the San Francisco Giants.
Please see our related post focusing on 2010 and 2012, at our site Bideodromage II.
One of the premier pure shooters we’ve ever encountered, Purvis Short was quite capable of finding creative ways to score, as well. He averaged a healthy 28.0 ppg in 1984-85. It always seemed so easy, almost casual. A vastly undervalued star. And, as far as sheer beauty is concerned, his silky-smooth, high-arcing jumper is at or near the top of the heap.