We have seen a changing of the guard in men’s tennis. Among the “Big Four” of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, only Djokovic remains at the top of his game. His dominance is now challenged primarily by young Spanish upstart Carlos Alcaraz, who is fresh off defeating the Serbian legend in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon.

Will Alcaraz eventually become one of the greatest men’s players in tennis history? Where would that leave him in terms of his standing among the greatest U.S. Open champions of all time? He already has one title to his name as he heads into the 2023 U.S. Open. Will he add another this year?

Who won the U.S. Open Men’s Final in 2022?

Carlos Alcaraz won the 2022 Men’s U.S. Open final, defeating Casper Ruud in four sets. Alcaraz is among the favorites to win the 2023 U.S. Open.

U.S. Open Tennis History Winners

Here is the complete U.S. Open list of men’s winners.

Who has won the most men’s singles U.S. Open tennis titles?

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras have the most U.S. Open men’s singles titles with five apiece. Novak Djokovic has the most appearances in the final with nine total.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Men’s Singles winners in U.S. Open Tennis History

  1. Carlos Alcaraz

U.S. Open Champion: 2021

The argument against having current world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in this top 10 list is obvious: He has only played at the U.S. Open twice. Some U.S. Open tennis players have played in it more than 15 times.

In 2021, a then 18-year-old Alcaraz was unseeded when he arrived at the U.S. Open, but the young Spaniard defeated third-seeded seed Stefanos Tstisipas in the third round. He then was forced to retire from his quarterfinal match against Felix Auger-Aliassime, so he was effectively unbeaten in that first year. In 2022, Alcaraz was truly unbeaten in romping to a title that ended with a four-set win over Casper Ruud to make him the youngest U.S. Open champion since Rafael Nadal in 2005.

So, technically, Alcaraz is undefeated at the U.S. Open. Since Novak Djokovic was not part of the 2022 U.S. Open draw, Alcaraz must still prove that he can beat the Serbian on a hard court. Nevertheless, at just 20 years old, Alcaraz is well on his way to becoming a U.S. Open tennis legend.

  1. Bill Tilden

U.S. Open Champion: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1929
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 1918, 1919, 1927

From 1920 to 1926 at the U.S. Open (then known as the U.S. National Championships), American Bill Tilden had a 42-match winning streak --, the longest in the tournament’s history. Although that era of tennis was very different from what we see today, Tilden’s dominant run should not be discounted.
8. Andre Agassi

U.S. Open Champion: 1994, 1999
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 1990, 1995, 2002, 2005

Although he was unseeded at the 1994 U.S. Open, Andre Agassi had no trouble winning it. He dropped just four sets prior to a final matchup against No. 4 seed Michael Stich – a match Agassi won in straight sets.

Agassi was already a household name by that point, having won Wimbledon in 1992. His avenged his loss to Pete Sampras in the 1995 U.S. Open final with an epic, five-set win over fellow American Todd Martin in 1999. After losing consecutive tiebreakers to fall behind two sets to one, Agassi stormed back to claim his second title on home soil.

  1. Rafael Nadal

U.S. Open Champion: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 2011

Clay maestro Rafael Nadal was more than just a one-trick pony. In 2010, the Spaniard was already the French Open and Wimbledon champion. On his way to that year’s U.S. Open final, he didn’t drop a set before drawing No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic. Rain that day got the final off to a wet start and helped Djokovic equalize the match at one set apiece.

That would be as good as it got for Djokovic. Nadal took the next sets 6-4, 6-2 to complete his career Grand Slam.

After the match, Djokovic put it simply when describing his rival: “Right now he's the best player in the world, and he absolutely deserves this title.

Nadal would win three more U.S. Opens championships, most recently in 2019. After undergoing a hip operation in June, he looks doubtful for the 2023 edition.

  1. John McEnroe

U.S. Open Champion: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 1985

Tennis during the early 1980s can be easily summed up in the contrasting styles of rivals John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, who were famously compared to “fire and ice.”

In 1980 and 1981, the two men faced one another in both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals. McEnroe went 3-1 in those matchups, including a sweep of the two U.S. Open meetings.

In 1980, McEnroe had to knock off a young Ivan Lendl in the quarterfinals and world No. 3 Jimmy Connors in a brutal five-set semifinal just to get a final date with Borg. After winning the first two sets, the American began to struggle:

Bjorn, once again capitalizing on my fatigue and his superior conditioning, started inching his way back into the match. I'm positive he had our Wimbledon match in mind,” McEnroe later recalled.

McEnroe won the decisive fifth set to claim his second of four career U.S. Open titles. It’s worth noting that he was also a four-time U.S. Open doubles champion.

  1. Novak Djokovic

U.S. Open Champion: 2011, 2015, 2018
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2021

Current world No. 2 Novak Djokovic has had his share of struggles at the U.S. Open in recent years. A fourth-round matchup in 2019 saw him retire while down two sets to Stan Wawrinka. In 2020, he was bizarrely disqualified after hitting a judge with a tennis ball in the fourth round against Pablo Carreno Busta. In 2021, he lost in the final to Russian upstart Daniil Medvedev. And in 2022 … well, let’s just say he had some vaccine-related issues

However, Djokovic’s nine finals appearances are the most in the Open Era history of the U.S. Open. He bested Rafael Nadal in the 2011 final and Roger Federer in 2015 when each man was at the top of his game. And, of course, he’s among the betting favorites to win in 2023 (Betway odds have him as the second favorite to win the 2023 US Open at +160).

  1. Ivan Lendl

U.S. Open Champion: 1985, 1986, 1987
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989

Yes, you’re reading the above lines correctly. From 1982 to 1989, former Czech world No. 1 Ivan Lendl reached an astonishing eight straight U.S. Open finals, the longest streak in the Open era.

The father of the inside-out forehand” lost his first three U.S. Open finals before setting up a rematch of the 1984 final with John McEnroe in 1985. Bleacher Report described that match this way: “The normally emotionless Lendl began to sense his victory, and with each big point yelled and fist-pumped his way towards cruise control, as he did nothing wrong in the final two sets.”

Lendl would win again in 1986 and 1987.

  1. Jimmy Connors

U.S. Open Champion: 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 1975, 1977

A 21-year-old Jimmy Connors broke through in 1974 to became only the second man in the Open Era to win three Grand Slam events in the same year. Connors did it by defeating Australia’s Ken Rosewall in straight sets -- dropping only two games in the match. His three-Slam achievement seems even more impressive when one considers that Connors didn’t even compete in the 1974 French Open.

The 1974 tournament was also the last one ever played on grass courts, but that didn’t impact Connors. In his next four U.S. Open final victories on a hard court, he would defeat both Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl twice, which was certainly no easy feat, regardless of the playing surface.

  1. Roger Federer

U.S. Open Champion: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 2009, 2015

Five straight U.S. Open titles. Go ahead and count them. From 2004 to 2008, Roger Federer never even went to a fifth set in any of his U.S. Open final-match victories. He did in 2009, however, when he fell to Juan Martin del Potro in a five-set final.

Is Federer’s record of five straight championships unbreakable? It just might be.

Federer was so dominant that he could even win it in an off-year, as described by tennishead.net:

“In 2008 Federer had finally been conquered at Wimbledon by Rafael Nadal. While his invincible varnish had been dulled slightly, he still ruled at Flushing Meadows…in doing so the 27-year-old joined Sampras and Connors on a men’s record five US Open titles, winning them all consecutively.”

Speaking of Sampras. …

  1. Pete Sampras

U.S. Open Champion: 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002
U.S. Open Runner-Up: 1992, 2000, 2001

Petros “Pete” Sampras represented the United States well at the U.S. Open, taking home a joint-record five titles.

He had already reached seven finals and won four championships heading into the 2002 tournament. The 31-year-old had lost each of the previous two U.S. Open finals, and in what would be the last Grand Slam appearance of his career, Sampras faced the same man, Andre Agassi, whom he had defeated for his first U.S. Open title in 1990.

Naturally, Sampras won in four sets.

To beat a rival like Andre, in a storybook ending, it might be nice to stop,” he said about his decision to retire from tennis.

Sampras retired after that victory as the greatest U.S. Open tennis champion of all time.

Parameters of Rankings

Rankings were based on each player’s number of standout performances, the number of titles won by each player, and each player’s legacy at the U.S. Open.


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