Since Carlos Alcaraz continues to ignite the world of tennis as the sport’s latest young star, it’s a good time to take a look at the history of men’s tennis in his native country. Here we present a top 10 list of the most famous Spanish players in tennis history, highlighting their accomplishments on the court. These were undoubtedly Spain’s greatest to play the game.

Which Spanish male tennis player has the most Grand Slam titles?

Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam event titles is a Spanish record, and it’s not even close. The next man on the list has four titles, which shows just how good Nadal was for so many years at the peak of his career.

Who is the best Spanish men’s tennis player right now?

Carlos Alcaraz is not only the best Spanish tennis player right now, but is also No. 2 in the world after having spent considerable time at No. 1. He claimed the No. 1 ranking after winning his first major title at the U.S. Open in 2022 and then won his second when he defeated Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in the summer of 2023.

Who is the greatest male Spanish tennis player of all time?

Prior to the modern Open era, the answer to that question would have been Manuel Santana. The Spanish icon was the first highly successful player from his home nation. He paved the way for the likes of Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz.

Nadal is the best Spaniard in tennis history, and his 22 major titles support that assertion. Carlos Alcaraz is just getting started, but with two Grand Slam event championships to his name already, he could be chasing Nadal’s records in future years.

Famous Spanish Tennis Players

Players such as David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero have taken their turn in the limelight, but no Spaniard can begin to compete with the fame of Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer were tennis’ “Big Three” for a period that spanned more than 10 years. During that time, Nadal became popular with tennis fans around the world. In his prime, he was outstanding to watch, since he displayed so much power in both his serve and forehand.

Nadal won 22 Grand Slam event titles, more than all other Spanish players combined. He is one of the most famous players in all of tennis history

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Spanish Men’s Tennis Players in History

  1. Fernando Verdasco

Birthdate: Nov. 15, 1983
Career Span: 2001 to present
ATP Titles: 7
Grand Slam Event Titles: None yet
Highest World Ranking: No. 7

Fernando Verdasco has had one of the longest careers of any male Spanish tennis player and is still ranked today, albeit in the 300s. That’s not bad, considering that 22 years have gone by since he turned pro in 2001.

Verdasco has won seven tournament titles and was playing some of his best tennis in the early 2010s. During his better years, Verdasco reached multiple quarterfinals at Grand Slam events and played intense matches against Andy Murray at Wimbledon and both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open.

Verdasco’s best finish at a Grand Slam event came at the 2009 Australian Open, where he fought Nadal for five sets before losing a thrilling semifinal match.

  1. David Ferrer

Birthdate: April 2, 1982
Career Span: 2000 to 2019
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: None
Highest World Ranking: No. 3

David Ferrer is one of the best Spanish tennis players who never won a Grand Slam event, but it would be unfair to characterize his career that way.

Ferrer won 27 titles over the course of nearly two decades. He won competitions at every level outside of the majors and consistently went to the quarterfinals or beyond at majors during a three-year span from 2011 to 2013.

During that time, he played in his lone Grand Slam final at the 2013 French Open. Unfortunately, he had to face his legendary fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

While he might not have won a major, Ferrer does hold the record for the most titles on the ATP Tour without winning a Grand Slam event. That’s proof of just how consistent he was during the peak of his pro career.

  1. Sergi Bruguera

Birthdate: Jan. 16, 1971
Career Span: 1988 to 2002
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: 2
Highest World Ranking: No. 3

Sergi Bruguera has two Grand Slam event championships to his name and joins Rafael Nadal as one of just two Spanish tennis players to have won the French Open in back-to-back years.

Bruguera won Roland Garros in 1993 and 1994 – defeating defending champion Jim Courier in the first year and defending his title by beating fellow Spaniard Alberto Berasategui in the second year.

Bruguera reached the world No. 3 ranking at the peak of his career. His 1993 match against Courier was a five-set thriller and one of the best French Open finals of all time.

  1. Juan Carlos Ferrero

Born: Feb. 12, 1980
Career Span: 1998 to 2012
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: 1
Highest World Ranking: No. 1

Juan Carlos Ferrero is one of three Spanish players to achieve the ATP World No. 1 ranking in the post-1968 Open Era. The only others are Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal.

Ferrero won his single Grand Slam event title at the French Open in 2003, when he beat Martin Verkerk in straight sets in the final. He was at the top of his game during that period of his career, having been the runner-up at the 2002 French Open and reaching the U.S. Open final in 2003.

After his playing career ended, Ferrero turned to coaching. He now coaches Carlos Alcaraz, one of the best players in the world today.

  1. Carlos Moya

Birthdate: Aug. 27, 1976
Career Span: 1995 to 2010
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: 1
Highest World Ranking: No. 1

Carlos Moya was the first Spanish men’s tennis player to earn the world No. 1 ranking in the post-1968 Open Era.

Moya, who turned pro in 1995, became the world’s No. 1 just four years later in 1999. The ranking came after he won the 1998 French Open -- in straight sets over fellow Spaniard Alex Corretja -- as well as the Monte Carlo Masters.

Moya was one of the first Spanish players to excel on hard courts. Until his arrival, Spaniards had typically been most successful on clay.

  1. Manuel Orantes

Birthdate: Feb. 6, 1949
Career Span: 1968 to 1983
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: 1
Highest World Ranking: No. 2

Manuel Orantes won his only title at a Grand Slam event when he defeated defending champion Jimmy Connors in the 1975 U.S. Open final.

Tremendously successful throughout the 1970s, Orantes won 36 tournament titles, and 1975 was by far the greatest year of his career. He won the 1975 Hamburg Open, Canadian Open, and Monte Carlo Masters in addition to his win at the U.S. Open. That remarkable run took him to a career-best world No. 2 ranking.

  1. Andres Gimeno

Birthdate: Aug. 3, 1937
Career Span: 1960 to 1973
Tournament Titles:
41 (11 ATP titles)
Grand Slam Event Titles: 1
Highest World Ranking: n/a

Andres Gimeno was one of the most successful Spanish tennis players of the 1960s and 1970s -- winning a total of 41 titles. Eleven of his championships came during the post-1968 Open Era -- and are therefore officially listed by the ATP -- while the others came prior to 1968.

Gimeno was victorious at one Grand Slam event late in his career. That title came at age 34, when he won the 1972 French Open at Roland Garros Stadium. He remains to the oldest first-time major champion in tennis history, and was also the oldest player to have won the French Open men’s singles championship until Rafal Nadal won it at age 36 in 2022.

  1. Carlos Alcaraz

Birthdate: May 5, 2003
Career Span: 2018 to Present
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: 2
Highest World Ranking: No. 1

Only 20 years old, Carlos Alcaraz is already one of the greatest players in Spanish tennis history. By the time his career is over, he might be challenging Rafael Nadal for the honor of being called the all-time greatest.

Alcaraz is one of only six Spanish men to win two or more Grand Slam events. He won his first at the 2022 U.S. Open and then took down Novak Djokovic in the 2023 Wimbledon final.

Alcaraz is the most exciting young player in all of tennis right now, and was the world's No. 1 player for much of 2023 before he lost in the semifinals of the U.S. Open. He became the youngest world No. 1 in history and was the first teenage men’s world No. 1, receiving that honor when he was just 19 years and 214 days old.

The fact that he already has two major championships speaks volumes as to how good this young man is. Alcaraz’s career is going to be a lot of fun to watch for a very long time.

  1. Manuel Santana

Birthdate: May 10, 1938
Career Span: 1958 to 1976
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Titles: 4
Highest World Ranking: No.  1

Manuel Santana was an iconic figure in Spanish tennis and the man who opened the door for players such as Rafael Nadal and the many other Spaniards who followed in his footsteps.

Santana was a magician on clay, winning the majority of his sensational 94 titles on that surface. He won his first Grand Slam event on clay -- claiming the 1961 French Open in 1961. He won another French Open title three years later in 1964.

Santana won the U.S. Open in 1965, when the tournament was still played on grass. Prior to the following year’s Wimbledon event, he was famously quoted as saying grass is “just for cows.” He then went out and won the Wimbledon title to claim the world No. 1 ranking.

Santana came from humble beginnings and only discovered the sport because his brother was working at a local tennis club in Madrid.

Santana passed away in 2021, and his memory was honored by Rafael Nadal.

"The only other Spanish man to win Wimbledon. We will miss you,” said Nadal. “Thank you a thousand times for what you have done for our country and for having opened the way for so many people. You have always been a point of reference, a friend, and a person very close to everyone."

  1. Rafael Nadal

Birthdate: June 3, 1986
Career Span: 2001 to present
ATP Titles:
Grand Slam Event Titles: 22
Highest World Ranking: No. 1

Rafael Nadal is not just the greatest Spanish player in tennis history, he is one of the best tennis players of all time.

Along with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the Spaniard formed one third of the “Big Three” that dominated men’s tennis for over 10 years.

Nadal has won 22 Grand Slam events, including a record 14 French Opens. He has been a dominant force at Roland Garros throughout his career.

His 22 Grand Slam event titles puts him 18 ahead of the next best Spaniard. The consistency he displayed in playing at the top of the game for as long as he did will make it very hard for any future countryman to dethrone him as the most accomplished Spaniard in men’s tennis history.

Since he is left-handed, Nadal’s forehand and level of topspin make him electrifying to watch. He played some of his greatest matches against Federer in the finals of numerous Grand Slam events. The two men met in the Wimbledon final for three straight years, and after losing the first two matches, Nadal finally prevailed in 2008 for the first of his two Wimbledon championships.

Rafael Nadal is a future Hall of Famer and an inspiration not just to every Spanish citizen, but to young tennis fans all over the world who will aspire to his level of excellence in the future.

Parameters for Ranking

These all-time greatest Spanish tennis players have been ranked based on their career accomplishments, Grand Slam event titles, ATP titles, and world rankings during their careers.
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