Tennis player watchability rankings: Part 4

Published by Bede Briscomb & Matt Trollope

Left to right: Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Serena Williams; Getty Images
In the lead-up to the 2018 tennis season, join us as we rank 40 of the best players base on their entertainment value.

Welcome to the finale of the Tennismash Watchability Rankings! Here staff writers Bede Briscomb and Matt Trollope rank forty star tennis players on their entertainment value.

Today is the top five! You can find the criteria used here.

Related: Tennis player watchability rankings: Part 3

Tier 1

5. Nick Kyrgios

Briscomb: Love to hate, hate to love or just plain love, it doesn’t matter because you know you’re going to tune in. He’s exciting, unfiltered and when firing can even make Rafael Nadal look subpar.

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4. Rafael Nadal

Trollope: It’s hard not to be captivated when Nadal takes to the court. And that’s because he’s taken intensity to new heights. The Spaniard competes harder and more ferociously than perhaps any other player, and his love for the battle hasn’t diminished a bit since the time he first wowed us with such attributes as a teenager. His lethal forehand and speed are breathtaking, and he’s earned millions more fans with his humility, quirky rituals and emotive on-court displays. To watch Rafa is a truly visceral tennis experience.

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3. Maria Sharapova

Briscomb: World No.1, check. Grand Slams, check. Dated high profile ATP players, check. Nike x Swarovski dresses embellished with crystals, check. Loudest shriek on tour, check. Since returning from a doping ban, Masha has become the most divisive of players, and if she had a better record against Serena (2-19 head-to-head), she’d perhaps be the most watchable tennis player of all time.

4Sharapova

2. Serena Williams

Trollope: I have an undying memory of watching Serena Williams enter Arthur Ashe Stadium for a night match. It was the first round of her US Open 2015 campaign, when she was going for the Grand Slam. She strode out, totally owning the place, in a custom-designed black dress as a packed house of 23,000 screamed for her. It was inspiring, and serves as a reminder of how iconic she is as an athlete. Everything about her is eye-catching, from her hair to her outfits to her physique to her on-court demeanour. Her serve and power are just awesome. Her athleticism is incredible – especially when she busts into the splits. Drama and emotion are part of the entertainment spectacle. She stamps her authority on matches and over opponents. She lives to compete on the biggest stages. And her finger wave after each victory – that says “I’m No.1” – is the signature celebration of a true champion. And perhaps the Greatest of All Time.

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1. Roger Federer

Briscomb: What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Roger? Class, poise, unfathomable skills. Federer is not only the greatest tennis player of all time, he’s must-watch TV, and we should all appreciate him while he’s still around.

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