Athleticism is one of the less talked-about attributes of a tennis player. While skill, temperament and mental toughness are key ingredients for success, athleticism is no less important in a physical sport like tennis.
Raw athleticism alone is no guarantee of success, but it can make for highlight-reel worthy moments that can get the crowd on its feet. With the homogenisation of surfaces in the last two decades, athletic all-court players have been on the rise.
On that note, here's a look at the ten most athletic men's tennis players in the sport's history:
#10 David Ferrer
David Ferrer is often regarded as one of the best players in the Open Era not to have won a Grand Slam title. The 2013 Roland Garros finalist won nearly 750 matches in a career spanning two decades.
The now-retired Ferrer was especially known for his athleticism and never-say-die spirit. Although he struggled against the Big Three of men's tennis - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - Ferrer won 27 singles titles, including the 2012 Paris Masters.
After retiring in 2019, Ferrer briefly coached World No. 3 Alexander Zverev before parting ways with him in January this year.
#9 Andy Murray
Andy Murray is one of the few active former World No. 1 players on the tour. The 34-year-old, currently ranked 85 in the world, has won an impressive 46 singles titles, including three Grand Slams.
Murray doesn't have an aesthetically pleasing game, but his raw athleticism and tenacity allow him to rub shoulders with and beat the best at their own game. A quintessential baseliner, the Brit is now a pale shadow of his former self following hip surgery.
Nevertheless, he has had a decent 10-8 start to the year, making the final in Sydney, where he lost to Aslan Karatsev.
#8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a fearsome hitter of the tennis ball and moves well for a man of his height (6' 2").
The Frenchman, a former top-ten player, is currently languishing outside the top 250, winning only three matches since the start of last year. However, the 36-year-old has had many impressive wins against Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, widely regarded as three of the best players in history.
A thorough entertainer on the court, the 2008 Australian Open finalist has a game style and athleticism reminiscent of a certain Boris Becker. Tsonga recently announced that he will be hanging up his boots after this year's French Open.
#7 Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras is widely regarded as one of the best players in the Open Era, especially on grass. The 50-year-old's 14 Grand Slam singles titles are only behind Nadal (21), Federer (20) and Djokovic (20).
Sampras, a quintessential serve-and-volleyer, was renowned for his signature 'slam dunk' smashes. It goes without saying that the American was a superb mover on the court, retrieving tough balls and hitting stunning winners, thanks to his incredible athleticism.
The seven-time Wimbledon winner retired after winning his final Grand Slam title at the 2002 US Open, where he beat his compatriot Andre Agassi.
#6 Paradorn Srichaphan
Paradorn Srichaphan was Asia's top player and the first Thai to be ranked inside the world's top 10.
The former World No. 9 had a relatively short career, spanning around 10 years between 1997 and 2007. He won five singles titles in the early 2000s. Srichaphan was renowned for his politeness and incredible athleticism on the court. He had a powerful baseline game and a strong serve.
Unfortunately, mouting injuries meant he had to call it a day when he was just 28, playing his last singles match at the 2007 Miami Masters. He lost to Luis Horna in first round of the tournament.
#5 Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem has a powerful all-court game. He is especially renowned for his single-handed backhand and claycourt prowess, and of course his supreme athleticism.
The Austrian, 28, became a Grand Slam champion after beating Alexander Zverev at the 2020 US Open. Thiem is a two-time Roland Garros and Australian Open (2020) finalist.
The soft-spoken Austrian ascended to a career-best No. 3 in the world before suffering a wrist injury that has kept him off the court since Mallorca last year.
Thiem was expected to return in Cordoba this year, but another wrist injury has delayed his comeback.
#4 Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov is Bulgaria's best-ever tennis player, ascending to a career-best ranking of World No. 3 after winning the 2017 ATP World Tour Finals.
The 30-year-old has a trademark single-handed backhand and impressive athleticism to boot. Dimitrov, who is 7-6 for the year, has won over 350 singles matches in his career.
The eight-time singles titlist has won titles on all three surfaces. However, he's at his best on hardcourts, where his flexibility, athleticism and penchant to hit spectacular winners are at full tilt.
Nicknamed 'Baby Fed' for having a playing style similar to Roger Federer, Dimitrov is an entertainer on the court and has a warm personality off it.
#3 Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is widely regarded as one of the best all-court players and returners in the sport's history.
The reigning World No. 1 has a stellar resume, winning 20 Grand Slam singles and a record 37 ATP Masters 1000 titles. One of the best movers on the tennis court, Djokovic is renowned for his supreme flexibility, athleticism and mental toughness.
The Serb knows how to hit back when he's on the back foot, saving numerous match points (and championship points) during his illustrious career.
Djokovic was denied a calendar year Grand Slam and a slice of tennis history when he was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final last year. A win would have made the Serb only the second player in the Open Era to win the calendar year Grand Slam and the first to win 21 titles.
#2 Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic, is arguably one of the best players in the sport's history. The legendary left-hander, also called the 'King of Clay' because of his staggering exploits on red dirt, is a supreme mover on the court, especially on clay.
The 13-time Roland Garros winner is still going strong at the age of 35. He produced a career-best 20-0 start to the current season before his unbeaten start was snapped by Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final.
Earlier in the year, Nadal recovered from two sets and as many break points down against Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final to win a record 21st Major.
#1 Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils is arguably the most athletic player in the history of the sport. The Frenchman, a former World No. 6, is still going strong at the age of 35, providing glimpses of his jaw-dropping athleticism, flexibility and power-hitting prowess.
The 11-time singles titlist has been on tour for nearly two decades, having turned pro in 2005 and winning over 500 singles matches. However, Monfils has often been plagued by inconsistency and questionable temperament, especially against better players, despite his ability to hit big off either flank.
A quintessential baseliner, Monfils looks to grind opponents down rather than go for the kill. His playing style is good enough against 'lesser' players but not against the Big Three (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic), who have a cumulative 41-6 record against the Frenchman.
What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here