Magazine article USA TODAY

Who Is the Best Player of All Time?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Who Is the Best Player of All Time?

Article excerpt

Fans may think of Jimmy Connors as an "old school" tennis player but, according to a new ranking system developed by a researcher at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., Connors is the best player in the (modern) history of the game. Men who played in at least one Association of

Tennis Professionals match between 1968-2010 were evaluated, relates study author Filippo Radicchi. Ranking tennis players is a novel way to show how complex network analysis can reveal interesting facts hidden in the statistical data, explains Radicchi, a physicist and postdoctoral fellow in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department.


He ran an algorithm--similar to the one used by Google to rank web pages--on digital data from hundreds and thousands of matches. He quantified the importance of players and ranked them by a "tennis prestige" score, which is determined by a player's competitiveness, the quality of his performance, and number of victories.

"In this particular ranking system, it's more important to win a single match against a very good opponent than many matches against not-so-good players."

Here is how the lop 30 rank: Connors, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Ilie Nastase, Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, Arthur Ashe, Brian Gottfried, Stan Smith, Manuel Orantes, Michael Chang, Roscoe Tanner, Eddie Dibbs, Harold Solomon, Tom Okker, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanisevic, Vitas Gerulaitis, Rafael Nadal, Raul Ramirez, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Andy Roddick, and Thomas Muster. …

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