…from J.McEnroe to Nishikori…

My biographies of the “elite/1st league” players born between 1959 and 1989, so those who were the most successful in the 1980s, 90s, 2000s and 10s. The main criteria: Top 10 (there are some exceptions to this), minimum 100 wins and a major semifinal at least (exceptions too).
If you wonder why I divided players this way:
1) guys who began their careers when the Aussie Open was held on grass, Key Biscayne was the “fifth Slam”, Dallas was important, wooden/aluminium/graphite racquets were in usage simultaneously, Davis Cup rubbers were played without tie-breaks
2) guys who began playing well when emerged the “Mercedes Super 9” events – a tier just ranked below the Slams, Germany held two very important events (“Masters”, Grand Slam Cup)
3) guys who experienced three huge reforms in tennis since the beginning of their careers: sitting between sets, slowing down the conditions, elimination of “best of five’ finals in events below Slams
* Highest ranking in parentheses, blue – serve-and-volleyer, bold – two-handed backhand, (red) – left-hander
1959: John McEnroe (1)
1960: Andres Gomez (4), Ivan Lendl (1), Yannick Noah (3), Tim Mayotte (7)
1961: Anders Jarryd (5), Brad Gilbert (4)
1962: X
1963: Henri Leconte (5), Mikael Pernfors (10), Joakim Nystrom (7)
1964: Miloslav Mecir (4), Jimmy Arias (5), Mats Wilander (1), Jakob Hlasek (7)
1965: Guy Forget (4), Karel Novacek (8), Pat Cash (4), Emilio Sanchez (7)
1966: Stefan Edberg (1), Andrey Chesnokov (9), Jonas Svensson (10)
1967: Magnus Gustafsson (10), Alexander Volkov (14), Aaron Krickstein (6),
Thomas Muster (1), Boris Becker (1)
1968: Petr Korda (2), Michael Stich (2)
1969: Alberto Mancini (8), David Wheaton (12), Cedric Pioline (5), MaliVai Washington (11)
1970: Magnus Larsson (10), Andre Agassi (1), Jim Courier (1), Todd Martin (4), Marc Rosset (9)
1971: Sergi Bruguera (3), Goran Ivanisevic (2), Wayne Ferreira (6),
Pete Sampras (1), Richard Krajicek (4)
1972: Jonas Bjorkman (4), Michael Chang (2), Patrick Rafter (1)
1973: Alberto Berasategui (7), Greg Rusedski (4)
1974: Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1), Karol Kucera (6), Thomas Enqvist (4), Alex Corretja (2),
Andrei Medvedev (4), Tim Henman (4), Felix Mantilla (10)
1975: Thomas Johansson (7), Albert Costa (6), Marcelo Rios (1), Jiri Novak (5)
1976: Mark Philippoussis (8), Carlos Moya (1), Gustavo Kuerten (1), Nicolas Lapentti (6),
Rainer Schuettler (5), Magnus Norman (2), Sjeng Schalken (11), Nicolas Escude (17)
1977: Arnaud Clement (8), Nicolas Kiefer (4), Guillermo Canas (8)
1978: Dominik Hrbaty (12), Sebastien Grosjean (4), Tommy Haas (2),
Gaston Gaudio (5), Mariano Puerta (9), Radek Stepanek (8)
1979: Ivan Ljubicic (3), Nicolas Massu (9), James Blake (4)
1980: Marat Safin (1), Juan C. Ferrero (1), Fernando Gonzalez (5)
1981: Lleyton Hewitt (1), Roger Federer (1), Jurgen Melzer (8),
Nikolay Davydenko (3), Mardy Fish (7)
1982: David Nalbandian (3), Guillermo Coria (3), David Ferrer (3), Andy Roddick (1),
Tommy Robredo (5), Mikhail Youzhny (8)
1983: Fernando Verdasco (7)
1984: Mario Ancic (7), Gilles Simon (6), Robin Soderling (4), Janko Tipsarevic (8)
1985: Stan Wawrinka (3), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5), John Isner (8),
Marcos Baghdatis (8), Tomas Berdych (4)
1986: Rafael Nadal (1), Richard Gasquet (7), Kevin Anderson (5), Gael Monfils (6)
1987: Novak Djokovic (1), Andy Murray (1)
1988: Marin Cilic (3), Juan M. Del Potro (3), Roberto Bautista (9)
1989: Kei Nishikori (4)

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What’s below it’s an attempt to display tennis hierarchy by decades of birth expressed in simplistic ranking system. I’m not a follower of comparing players across different decades because there are many variables. You should take it with a pinch of salt, creating such a ranking it’s a complex task and has its flaws, anyway it helps to comprehend the value of specific players at particular historic times given the most important events in tennis (so looking at the issue more from a perspective of a sports historian than tennis historian). I took into consideration the following events (Grand Slams, “Masters” for 8 best players, Olympics, “Masters 1K” earlier known as “Mercedes Super 9”, WCT Finals/Grand Slam Cup and Davis Cup finals). First the ranking of players born in the years 1959-1967. The point system goes at it follows:
Grand Slams (except Aussie Open prior to 1988):
4 – champion, 3 – runner-up, 2 – semifinalist, 1 – quarterfinalist
Aussie Open (prior to 1988), “Masters”, Olympics and Key Biscayne (1987-89):
3 – champion, 2 – runner-up, 1 – semifinalist
WCT Finals:
2 – champion, 1 – runner-up
Davis Cup finals:
1 – each vital “Bo5” win
114 – Lendl
88 – J.McEnroe
84 – Becker
64 – Edberg
62 – Wilander
21 – Mecir, Muster
18 – Cash
15 – Leconte, Noah
14 – Mayotte
9 – Gomez
8 – Jarryd
6 – Forget, Krickstein
5 – Chesnokov, Pernfors, Svensson
4 – Novacek, Gilbert
3 – Nystrom, Volkov, Arias
2 – Gustafsson, Hlasek, E.Sanchez

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Below ranking of players born in the years 1968-78. The point system goes as it follows
(expanded with more events):
Grand Slams:
4 – champion, 3 – runner-up, 2 – semifinalist, 1 – quarterfinalist
Mercedes Super 9 (including years ’88-89), “Masters”, Olympics:
3 – champion, 2 – runner-up, 1 – semifinalist
Grand Slam Cup:
2 – champion, 1 – runner-up
Davis Cup finals:
1 – each vital “Bo5” win
177 – Agassi *
172 – Sampras
66 – Courier
65 – Chang
54 – Ivanisevic, Kafelnikov
50 – Kuerten
43 – Stich
42 – Moya
39 – Rafter
34 – Rios
33 – Bruguera
31 – Krajicek
30 – Henman
29 – Corretja
26 – Grosjean, Haas, Korda
24 – Enqvist, Pioline, Martin
22 – Medvedev
21 – A.Costa
20 – Ferreira
18 – Philippoussis
17 – Bjorkman
13 – Rusedski
12 – Johansson, Kiefer
11 – Hrbaty, Larsson, Mancini, Mantilla, Schuettler, Stepanek
10 – Norman, Rosset, Washington
9 – Canas, Gaudio, Wheaton
8 – Novak
7 – Berasategui, Lapentti
6 – Clement, Schalken, Escude
5 – Kucera
3 – Puerta
* There’s no doubt to me that Sampras was the best player of the 90s, in this simplified ranking he’s below Agassi because Sampras was playing at the top in the years 1990-2002 while Agassi in the years 1988-2005, five years more at the top made the difference

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Below ranking of players born in the years 1979-89. The point system goes as it follows
(actually the same as the ranking above):
Grand Slams:
4 – champion, 3 – runner-up, 2 – semifinalist, 1 – quarterfinalist
Masters 1K, “Masters”, Olympics:
3 – champion, 2 – runner-up, 1 – semifinalist
Davis Cup finals (until 2018):
1 – each vital “Bo5” win