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Best Eastern European Tennis Players since 2000

Victoria Azarenka Australian Open 2013

Congratulations to the Australian Open champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka!

Eastern European Tennis Players Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2013

Eastern European Tennis Players Victoria Azarenka Australian Open 2013 Photos by mbevis

Both of them are currently the number one tennis players and both of them are from Eastern Europe. Are Eastern Europeans really good at tennis, or is it just cognitive bias? Even some very early names may come to mind when one thinks about tennis players from Eastern Europe, for example the Koželuh brothers or Jadwiga Jędrzejowska. But just how many tennis players were/are from Eastern Europe and how does it compare to other parts of the world?

To get some data I used Wikipedia’s comprehensive lists about top tennis players. These two contain all in all 1639 tennis players (you can find information about the criteria on the top of the pages). The first four are traditional tennis countries: the United States has the most (341) people on the list, followed by Australia (126), the United Kingdom (98) and France (94). And then quite a large gap: the fifth is Germany with 59. OK, so no Eastern European country in the top 5, but the list treats e.g. Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia and Slovakia separately. If we add these three up, we get 96: above France and just below the UK!

And if we count all the players from Eastern European countries, we get 338. By contrast: the Commonwealth countries make a total of 313. Even without Russia (and the Soviet Union) there are 275 players from Eastern European countries on this list. The top countries from Eastern Europe are:

  1. Russia (54)
  2. Czech Republic (45)
  3. Czechoslovakia (31)
  4. Romania (31)
  5. Croatia (22) and Ukraine (22)

So on these two lists featuring good tennis players 20% are from the US, 19% from the Commonwealth countries and 20% from Eastern Europe. It seems that it is not a cognitive bias! Eastern Europeans do make great tennis players.

Let’s forget statistics now and let’s get personal. Meet the 20 best Eastern European tennis players since 2000:

Mario Ančić, Croatia
Mario Ančić, Croatia
Ranked no. 7 in 2006. Semi-finalist at Wimbledon, 2004.
Won three single and five doubles titles.
Retired in 2011.
Photo by podravka
Anastasia Myskina, Russia
Anastasia Myskina, Russia
Ranked no. 2 in 2004. Winner at Roland Garros, 2004.
Won 10 single and 5 double titles.
Photo by eugene
Marat Safin, Russia
Marat Safin, Russia
World no. 1 in 2000 and 2001. Winner at US Open (2000) and Australian Open (2005).
Won 15 single titles in his career.
Retired in 2009.
Photo by Swiv
Elena Dementieva, Russia
Elena Dementieva, Russia
Ranked no. 3 in 2009. Runner-up at Roland Garros and US Open, 2004.
Won 16 single and 6 double titles. Retired in 2010.
Photo by thoughtquotient.com
Ivan Ljubičić, Croatia
Ivan Ljubičić, Croatia
Ranked no. 3 in 2006. Semi-finalist at Roland Garros, 2006.
Won 10 single titles.
Retired in 2012.
Photo by Swiv
Nikolay Davydenko, Russia
Nikolay Davydenko, Russia
Ranked no. 3 in 2006. Semi-finalist at Roland Garros (2005, 2007) and at US Open (2006, 2007).
Won 21 single titles so far.
Photo by mirsasha
Dinara Safina, Russia
Dinara Safina, Russia
Ranked no. 1 in 2009. Runner-up at Australian Open (2009) and at Roland Garros (2008, 2009).
Sister of Marat Safin. Won 12 single and 9 double titles so far.
Photo by franz88
Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia
Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia
Ranked no. 5 in 2003. Semi-finalist at Australian Open, 2008.
Won 9 single and 9 double title so far.
Photo by toga
Nadia Petrova, Russia
Nadia Petrova, Russia
Ranked no. 3 in 2006. Semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2003 and 2005.
Won 13 single and 22 double titles so far.
Photo by Keith Allison
Marin Čilić, Croatia
Marin Čilić, Croatia
Ranked no. 9 in 2010. Semi-finalist at Australian Open, 2010.
Won 8 single titles so far.
Photo by qmechanic
Ana Ivanovic, Serbia
Ana Ivanovic, Serbia
Ranked no. 1 in 2008. Winner at Roland Garros, 2008.
Won 11 single titles so far.
Photo by paddynapper
Jelena Janković, Serbia
Jelena Janković, Serbia
Ranked no. 1 in 2008. Runner-up at US Open, 2008.
Won 12 single, and 1 double title so far.
Photo by karlnorling
Vera Zvonareva, Russia
Vera Zvonareva, Russia
Ranked no. 2 in 2010. Runner-up at Wimbledon and US Open in 2010.
Won 12 single and 6 double titles so far.
Photo by Christian Mesiano
Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
Ranked no. 2 in 2007. Winner at US Open (2004) and Roland Garros (2009).
Won 13 single and 15 double titles so far.
Photo by Edwin Martinez1
Tomáš Berdych, Czech Republic
Tomáš Berdych, Czech Republic
Ranked world no. 6 in 2012. Runner-up at Wimbledon, 2010.
8 single, 1 double title so far.
Photo by Christian Mesiano
Agnieszka Radwańska, Poland
Agnieszka Radwańska, Poland
Ranked world no. 4 in 2013. Runner-up at Wimbledon, 2012.
12 single, 2 double titles so far.
Photo by paddynapper
Petra Kvitová, Czech Republic
Petra Kvitová, Czech Republic
Ranked world no. 2 in 2011. Winner at Wimbledon, 2011.
Won 9 single titles so far.
Photo by mirsasha
Maria Sharapova, Russia
Maria Sharapova, Russia
Former world no. 1, currently ranked no. 2.
Won all of the four Grand Slams in different years. 27 single titles so far.
Photo by mirsasha
Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
Ranked no 1. since 2012.
Winner at Australian Open (2012, 2013), runner-up at US Open, 2012.
Won 15 single and 6 double titles so far.
Photo by mirsasha
Novak Djokovic, Serbia
Novak Djokovic, Serbia
One of the biggest tennis stars currently.
Ranked no. 1 first in 2011, currently no. 1 since 12.11.2012.
Australian Open champion: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013.
Winner at Wimbledon and US Open in 2011.
Runner-up at Roland Garros, 2012.
Won 35 single titles so far.
Photo by Carine06
About the author

János Gömöri

János lives in Budapest. He is interested in music, history, coding and linguistics.

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