When I was a young kid the players that I looked-up to were Pancho Gonzales and Tony Trabert (my first racket was a Tony Trabert Special).
But as I got older the player I loved to follow was Rod Laver. I got on the court with him one time when he let a bunch of kids take turns hitting with him in Upstate New York in the mid-sixties.
Laver was impressive in Davis Cup, and he lost a number of years in his prime playing as a pro before the Open-Era. Who knows how many Majors he would have ended up with. His Davis Cup play prompts me to take him over Federer, but I know he was surrounded by lots of other great Australian players.
But it was watching Manuel Santana on TV in 1965 at the US Championships that inspired me to jump up from my chair and run over to the courts and start playing. I'm still there and just hope my body will hold up as long as possible.