John McEnroe believes Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time.
John McEnroe believes Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time.Reuters

After winning seven Grand Slams and playing and commentating on the sport for over four decades, tennis legend John McEnroe believes that 17 time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer is the greatest of all time, except while playing Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

John McEnroe ranked Federer, Nadal, Laver, Pete Sampras and current world No. 2 Novak Djokovic as the top five male champions in tennis history.

"Federer overall, consistency-wise, is the best player ever. If you put Nadal, who is to me, the other guy. Those two if they played one-on-one and both guys were playing their best, I would say Nadal matches up better with Federer. Overall, I think Federer's been more consistent. Nadal's been more injury-prone." Sampras would be the best fast-court player. Djokovic, to me, has moved up to number five all time. Rod Laver, who is my idol, is still there," WFAN Radio quoted McEnroe as saying.

With a lot of praises for Nadal and Federer, the Hall of Famer feels that because of their age and their injury problems their playing days are numbered and feel their departure from the sport will leave a huge void in the sport.

"There's a void that's about to occur because of what's happened with Federer and Nadal. I mean, they're at the end, right? You can't imagine them going on more than a year or two. Djokovic and Murray are the two best, but they're not getting younger. I know 29 sounds young, but they're going to have another couple years, you anticipate" McEnroe said.

John McEnroe also expressed his disappointment in the fact that in the last 13 years there has not been any top American tennis player. Andy Roddick was the last American to win a major Grand Slam. He won the US Open way back in 2003. McEnroe feels that high costs of training, America's inability to attract athletes to play tennis is one of the main reasons there are no champions from America in recent times.

"Wouldn't it be nice if the best tennis player in the world was from New York? The sport is being hurt, the last 10 years, by the fact there really hasn't been a top American player. Roddick was the last guy that won something. He won the Open in 2003. Since then 13 years and counting. None".

"So we need to sort of do something about that otherwise it becomes this...I don't want to say cult, but it's big in Europe. And you see a lot of European basketball players are having success here. And so athletically, the best athletes in other counties in Western Europe, they go to tennis a lot sooner. It's more available and it's got more of a history than it does here," McEnroe was quoted as saying.

John McEnroe singled out two young American talents in Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe who he believes are potential top ten players. He also mentioned that Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios has the capability to become the best player in the world.

"Talents like Nick Kyrgios, he could be number one in the world, but mentally he's like one hundred in the world. So if you're one in the world, ability wise, and one hundred in the world mentally, that makes you thirteen in the world, which is what he is right now."