How Many Male Tennis Players Have Spent a Full Year as World No.1?

    As a predominantly solo sport, tennis rewards consistency above just about every other quality.

    Talent will carry you towards the top, but the ability to maintain impressive individual standards will ultimately separate the best from the rest.

    Reaching the pinnacle of any profession is difficult, and that is particularly true in tennis circles where one swing of the racket can be the difference between tangible success and supposed failure.

    Only 29 men, dating back to the introduction of ATP rankings in 1973, have held the title of world No.1 – making that club remarkably exclusive.

    Of those to hit the summit, just nine have been able to stay there for at least 52 successive weeks – which represents a full year.


    Novak Djokovic, as the most decorated player of all-time, is the only man to achieve that feat on four separate occasions – with his longest run extending to 122 weeks – and he sits at +400 in Wimbledon odds for 2024 despite nursing a serious knee injury. It tells you everything about the Serbian GOAT that he can still earn favor within tennis odds when plenty of those are seemingly stacked against him.

    The same was once true of Roger Federer, with the Swiss maestro earning a reputation within global sport that transcended his chosen profession. He is a 20-time Grand Slam champion and man that once spent 237 weeks – which works out at four-and-a-half years – as the best player on the planet.

    Unsurprisingly, that figure leads the all-time list, with American icon Jimmy Connors – who beat just about everyone but Roland Garros in his career – taking second place with the longest No.1 run of 160 weeks.

    Mercurial Czech Ivan Lendl is the other man to have ticked over the three-year mark, at 157 weeks – with only Wimbledon honors missing from his illustrious CV.

    Pete Sampras set the standard before the era of Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal, and he forms part of the five-man club that can claim to have spent more than 100 consecutive weeks (102 in his case) looking down on the rest of their rivals.

    Lleyton Hewitt mastered Wimbledon and the US Open in his heyday, and the energetic Australian once enjoyed a 75-week run at the top of the ATP charts.

    That impressive winning streak is enough to see him sit above the great John McEnroe, who will probably struggle to believe that given his history in that department. The combustible American posted a best of 58 straight weeks as No.1 when competing with Connors and Björn Borg for bragging rights.

    Borg does not make the year-long No.1 list, but the aforementioned Nadal does – with the King of Clay achieving a career-best run of 56 weeks that will have included plenty of victories on the surface that he mastered and collected 14 French Open titles on.

    The last man on the chart, but by no means the least, is Andre Agassi. His classy two-handed backhand saw him complete the career Grand Slam – winning all the majors while collecting eight of those titles in total. He spent exactly 52 weeks in the top spot at the turn of the 21st century.


    Part of sport’s enduring appeal is that times change.

    Legends will always be made, with the history books rewritten along the way, but players must forever come and go.

    Every generation gets a new hero and a chance to witness feats of seemingly superhuman endeavor.

    That will remain the case heading forward, with windows of opportunity ready to swing open for those that boast both the ability and staying power to stake their claim for standing at the very top of the world.

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