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The Top 5...Feats by Two Compatriots
These players have thrived sharing a home country, and the spotlight.
Published Oct 06, 2022
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In a nation rich with tennis history, Spain made a little bit more this week when Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal sat atop the ATP rankings at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. The duo became the first men from the same country to hold those spots since Americans Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras in 2000.
Alcaraz and Nadal are just the latest in a long line of compatriots to accomplish great things over a period of time. Here’s a look at some dynamic duos who’ve managed to do their home countries proud:
1. Connors and McEnroe Heart NY
If ever a tournament was tailor-made for a player, it was the US Open for Jimmy Connors. His outsized personality fit in perfectly with the New York vibe, but the same could be said for native son John McEnroe, who thrived under the bright lights in the big city. From 1978 to 1984, the two Americans dominated their home Slam, with Connors capturing the top prize three times (he would win the event five times in all) and McEnroe coming in first on four occasions: in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.
2. The United State of Navratilova and Evert
Arguably the greatest rivalry in tennis history, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were a two-woman wrecking crew for the bulk of the 1980s. Perhaps the greatest evidence of their dominance was their run through the majors from 1982 to ’84, when they combined to win all 12 of the Slams contested over that stretch. The streak also carried over into 1985, with Navratilova coming in first in Australia and at Wimbledon, while Evert triumphed at Roland Garros for her 18th—and last major—singles title.
3. How 'Swede' It Was for Wilander and Edberg
Heading into the 1988 season, young Swedes Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg were already Grand Slam champions on multiple occasions. What they accomplished that year was nothing short of legendary. Wilander kicked off his major campaign with his third title in Australia, the first on the new Rebound Ace surface. He then went on to win Roland Garros for the third time and closed out the Slams with his first victory in New York. The third Slam of the season, Wimbledon, went to Edberg, who claimed the title there for the first time. With those wins, Sweden became only the second nation to sweep the men’s majors in a calendar year in the Open Era after Australia in 1969, when Rod Laver pulled off the feat all by himself.
4. Belgians Clijsters and Henin Take a Bite of the Big Apple
It’s not unprecedented, but noteworthy all the same, that a small nation such as Belgium could produce two No. 1 singles players that would go on to enshrinement in the Tennis Hall of Fame. The bulk of their shared success came at the US Open: From 2003 to 2010, Clijsters and Henin won five titles between them. The most memorable of those victories belongs to Clijsters, who, in 2009, making her way back from a brief retirement, won as an unseeded wild card, the first such player to do so.
5. Swiss Misters Federer and Wawrinka Get It Done
They didn’t win every point necessary for Switzerland to claim its first Davis Cup title in 2014, but Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka came awfully close. By the time the pair embarked on their campaign that year, Federer had 17 Grand Slam titles to his credit and had just been joined by Wawrinka in the ranks of major winners. The 2008 Olympic Gold Medal doubles champions, fully committed to the Davis Cup cause, accounted for 11 of the 12 points won by the nation over the year in competition, including Federer’s title-clinching victory over Richard Gasquet in the final.