7 greatest Swiss tennis players of all-time

Marc Rosset
Marc Rosset

For the past twenty years or so, Swiss tennis has risen to new heights both in Individual competitions and Team level competitions mainly due to the contributions of 3 great players.

But what does the future hold for Swiss tennis? With not a single player aged 21 or under in the ATP Top 200, prospects do look bleak.

Swiss athletes have combined for a total of 28 Grand Slam Singles titles. In Team competitions, Switzerland have won the Fed Cup once in 1998, the Hopman Cup thrice in 1992, 2001 and 2018. In the Davis Cup, Switzerland have won the 113-year-old competition once in 2014 and finished runner-up in 1992.

We take a look at 7 of the best tennis players to have emerged from Switzerland :

#7 Marc Rosset

Marc Rosset entered the tennis circuit in 1988 and was a professional on the ATP Tour for 17 long years.

The 6 ft 7 in Rosset won 15 Singles titles and reached a career-high ranking of World Number 9 in 1995. His best Grand Slam performance came at the French Open of 1996 where he made the semi-finals. However, he lost to 15th seed Michael Stich.

His crowning achievement came at the Barcelona Olympic Games of 1992 where he won the Singles Gold Medal beating Spaniard Jordi Arresse 8-6 in the fifth set. In the run-up to the final, he beat numerous Grand Slam title holders and top players like Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic, Emilio Sanchez and Wayne Ferreira.

In Doubles, he won 8 titles including the French Open in 1992 with compatriot Jakob Hlasek. He was also a member of the Swiss Davis Cup Team which finished runner-up to the United States of America. Despite Switzerland's loss, Marc registered a 5-set singles rubber against then World Number 1 Jim Courier.

#6 Timea Bacsinszky

Timea Bacsinszky
Timea Bacsinszky

29-year old Timea Bacsinszky rose to prominence in the year 2015 winning 15 consecutive Singles matches resulting in two title wins at Acapulco and Monterrey. Interestingly, both these title wins came in Mexico and on both occasions her finals opponent was Caroline Garcia.

At the Indian Well Premier Mandatory Open which followed, she beat 8th seed Ekaterina Makarova before eventually losing to World Number 1 Serena Williams resulting in the culmination of her 15 match winning streak. She made the semi-finals of the French Open beating Petra Kvitova in the 3rd round. However, despite leading by a set and a break, she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams yet again. She continues her fine form on grass and made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon following which her ranking rose to World Number 13.

She continued her fine form in the run-up to the French Open the following year grabbing another 2 titles and made the semi-finals of the Premier Mandatory event in Rome. Consequently, her ranking rose to a career-high of World Number 9. She won the Silver Medal in the Women's Doubles competition at the Rio Olympics partnering Martina Hingis.

Timea Bacsinszky made the semis of the French Open in 2017 for the second time in her career but after that, she has been bothered by wrist injuries and has seen her form and ranking plummet.

She will be looking to rise up the rankings quickly once the 2019 season starts off.

#5 Patty Schnyder

Patty Schnyder
Patty Schnyder

Patty Schnyder was a giant-killer of sorts notching up wins over World Number 1 ranked players at considerable ease. In her career, she lodged wins over Martina Hingis, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo and Caroline Wozniacki.

She thus holds the not so great record as being the only player to have won so many matches against World Number 1 ranked players without winning a Grand Slam.

In her career which saw her retire on 3 different occasions, 11 Singles titles were added to her trophy cabinet. Her career-best ranking was World Number 7 which she achieved in November 2005. Her biggest title win came at the Tier 1 WTA tournament in Zurich, her hometown. At the age of 40, she retired for possibly the last time on 23rd November 2018.

#4 Heinz Peter Gunthardt

Heinz Peter Gunthardt
Heinz Peter Gunthardt

In a 14-year tennis career which began in 1976 and ended in 1990, Heinz Peter Gunthardt won 5 Singles titles and 30 Doubles titles. His highest singles ranking was World Number 22.

But it was Doubles where he truly excelled in climbing to a career-high ranking of World Number 3 in July 1985. That year, he won the Wimbledon Doubles title and the Mixed Doubles titles at the French Open and US Open along with tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

Post his tennis playing career, he achieved enormous success as coach of the legendary Steffi Graf throughout her career. He became a familiar face in tennis while being coach of the legendary Graf. He was later coach to Jelena Dokic, Jennifer Capriati and Ana Ivanovic.

In all, he won 4 Grand Slam titles across Doubles and Mixed Doubles categories and retired with prize money earnings of just over 1.5 million USD.

#3 Stanislas Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 US Open
Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 US Open

'Stan The Man' or 'Stanimal' as he is commonly referred to, Stanislas Wawrinka has earned a reputation of being a giant killer of sorts over the years.

Despite having turned pro in 2002, Wawrinka made it big only in 2008 reaching the final of the Rome Masters losing to Djokovic in the final. The same year, he won the Gold Medal in Doubles at the Beijing Olympic Games along with Roger Federer. He broke into the Top-10 that year which was followed by a slump in form resulting in him dropping out of the Top-10.

2013 was the year of his re-emergence as a force to reckon with. At the Australian Open 4th round of that year, he was part of one of the greatest ever matches played at the Rod Laver Arena. He lost in the 22nd game of the fifth set in a match that lasted over 5 hours. His win at the Portugal Open was his first since 2011.

In 2014, he remarkably beat Rafael Nadal in the finals of the Australian Open - his first win over Nadal in 13 attempts.

His greatest win came at the 2015 French Open final. He lost the first set to Djokovic and won the next 3 sets to prevent Djokovic from making a sweep of the Grand Slams that year also preventing him from winning the Career Slam. His last Grand Slam came at the 2016 US Open where he again got the better off Novak Djokovic in the final.

Persistent knee injuries have dogged his campaign in 2018 and Wawrinka has slipped out of the Top-50 and will look to quickly make amends in the 2019 season.

#2 Martina Hingis

Day Thirteen: The Championships - Wimbledon 2017
Day Thirteen: The Championships - Wimbledon 2017

Scaling new peaks while still being a teenage sensation, Martina Hingis is the greatest female athlete to emerge from Switzerland in all-time.

Hingis is one of the few tennis players in the Modern Era to have transitioned quickly from Singles to Doubles after Singles retirement. She held the Number 1 ranking in Singles for a total of 209 weeks and Number 1 Doubles Ranking for 90 weeks while holding the numero uno position in both formats for 29 weeks.

In Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles, she won 5, 13 and 7 Grand Slam titles respectively most notably winning Wimbledon at the age of 16 in 1997 and in the process becoming the Youngest ever World Number 1 in WTA history.

The only Grand Slam missing in her collection across all 3 categories is the Singles French Open trophy. Had she won the Suzanne Lenglen trophy, she would have become only the 4th player in history to have won the 'Box Set' of Grand Slams.

Hingis retired from all forms of professional tennis in 2017 while still being ranked the Number 1 Doubles Player.

#1 Roger Federer

Roger Federer in a playful mood at the Launch of The Laver Cup
Roger Federer in a playful mood at the Launch of The Laver Cup

There should be no question in anyone's mind as to who the greatest Swiss athlete of all-time is. In fact, very few would even disagree about who the greatest tennis player of all-time is.

Such is the aura and legacy that Roger Federer has built over the years that wherever he plays, he is the fan favorite. It almost looks as if the entire tennis world is rooting for him every single time he steps on the court. The emotions seen across the faces of fans whenever Federer wins or loses is there for all to see. Very few sportsmen can command such a colossal fan following and respect that is bestowed on the great Federer.

Chasing a century of titles in his 38th year, Federer is an outlier of sorts as he has managed to stay fit and be a force to reckon with even in his late 30's when most of his illustrious predecessors called it quits way before 37.

With 20 Grand Slam titles, 99 ATP Singles titles and a host of records to his name, the Fed-Express keeps marching on towards newer and newer heights.

Edited by Pratyay Ghosh
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