French Open: The 9 greatest men’s singles champions – ranked!

Bjorn Borg Rafael Nadal Ivan Lendl
Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, and Ivan Lendl all feature in our rankings

Winning the French Open is one of the greatest challenges in men’s tennis, with only a select few able to triumph on the famed clay courts of Paris.

Several legends have triumphed in Paris, but who are the greatest champions of them all?

We rank our nine greatest French Open men’s singles champions, focusing on the Open Era – do you agree with our picks?

9) Guillermo Vilas

Titles: 1977
Finals: 1975, 1978, 1982

Vilas only prevailed once at Roland Garros, but his clay-court prowess and overall French Open record made him an obvious choice for this list.

The Argentine won his first of four major singles titles in Paris in 1977, defeating Raul Ramirez in the last four before thrashing Brian Gottfried for the loss of just three games in the final.

Vilas had previously made the final in 1975 and again reached the Championship match when defending his title in 1978, before reaching his last major final at the event in 1982.

8) Jim Courier

Titles: 1991-92
Finals: 1993

One of the few American men to thrive on the dirt, Courier won back-to-back titles at the French Open in the early 1990s.

The first of his Grand Slam victories came at the event in 1991, where he beat compatriot Andre Agassi in five sets to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

And 12 months later he again lifted the iconic trophy, easing past Petr Korda in straight sets for the second of his two wins in Paris.

Former world No 1 Courier nearly made it a trifecta of titles at Roland Garros, again reaching the final in 1993.

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7) Roger Federer

Titles: 2009
Finals: 2006-08, 2011

Much like Vilas, Federer only claimed one title at the French Open, but his overall tournament record sets him out as a great of the event.

The Swiss Maestro’s sole victory in Paris came 15 years ago, where he famously beat Robin Soderling in straight sets to finally complete the Career Grand Slam.

That was not the only time Federer found some success at Roland Garros, reaching three straight finals from 2006-08, and again in 2011.

He would have almost certainly lifted more crowns had it not been for a certain Spaniard.

6) Gustavo Kuerten

Titles: 1997, 2000-01
Finals: N/A

One of the most popular champions in French Open history, ‘Guga’ Kuerten is still beloved in Paris 27 years on from his maiden triumph at the tournament.

The Brazilian had not won an ATP-level title coming into the 1997 edition but stormed to the title, beating two-time former winner Sergi Bruguera in the final.

Three years later he was back in the Championship match and beat Magnus Norman in four sets to claim his second Slam, before successfully defending his title with victory over Alex Corretja in 2001.

5) Mats Wilander

Titles: 1982, 1985, 1988
Finals: 1983, 1987

One of the most successful players of the 1980s, Swedish star Wilander won the French Open on three occasions throughout his legendary career.

Much like Kuerten, Wilander won his first-ever ATP title at the tournament, claiming victory as a 17-year-old by beating Vilas in the 1982 final.

Three years later he was back lifting the title, beating key rival Ivan Lendl for the title, before downing home favourite Henri Leconte for his third crown in 1988.

A hugely successful dirtballer, Wilander was also runner-up in 1983 and 1987.

4) Ivan Lendl

Titles: 1984, 1986-1987
Finals: 1981, 1985

Lendl was arguably the greatest male player of the 1980s and won three of his eight Grand Slam singles titles at Roland Garros.

After four previous major final defeats, the Czech famously came from two sets down against John McEnroe in the 1984 final to finally lift his first Grand Slam title.

And he would later win back-to-back titles in 1986 and 1987, beating Mikael Pernfors and Wilander respectively to complete his trifecta of titles in Paris.

He was also twice a runner-up at the French Open, reaching his first Slam final at the event in 1981 and again reaching the final in 1985.

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3) Novak Djokovic

Titles: 2016, 2021, 2023
Finals: 2012, 2014-15, 2020

With 24 Grand Slam titles, no man in history can match Novak Djokovic, and some of the Serbian’s most memorable wins have come at the French Open.

Few can forget when he finally completed the Career Grand Slam in 2016, rallying from a set down to beat Andy Murray in the final and lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the first time.

Five years later he became the first man in history to win every major twice with victory in the 2021 final over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and became the first man to do that three times by beating Casper Ruud in 2023.

Djokovic is also a four-time runner-up in Paris, and much like Federer would have surely won more titles had it not been for the ‘King of Clay.’

Read More: Novak Djokovic – Former world No 2 has ‘no doubt’ about tennis great in French Open verdict

2) Bjorn Borg

Titles: 1974-75, 1978-81
Finals: N/A

A true icon of the sport, six of Borg’s 11 Grand Slam victories came at the French Open, including his first and last triumphs.

Borg was still a teenager when he won his first two titles in 1974 and 1975, overcoming Manuel Orantes and Vilas respectively to claim back-to-back titles.

After missing out for the next two years, he then won four straight titles from 1978-81, and was the four-time reigning champion when he retired from the sport aged 26 in 1982.

He could have likely won more titles had he played, but six French Open wins still secures his spot as a true tennis great.

1) Rafael Nadal

Titles: 2005-08, 2010-14, 2017-20, 2022
Finals: N/A

There was no doubt about who was No 1 here.

Nadal’s French Open record is perhaps the greatest record in tennis and is up there among the most dominant records in the sport, with just three losses to his name at the tournament.

The Spaniard beat Mariano Puerta to claim his first title in 2005 and then beat Federer in three straight finals from 2006-08.

After his shock 2009 loss, Nadal then won five straight finals from 2010-14, with another final win over Federer and two over Djokovic to his name.

His late 2010s resurgence saw him again win four straight titles from 2017-20, and he captured a staggering 14th title in 2022.

Nadal is undisputably the ‘King of Clay’: frankly, no one comes close to him.