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Who is the Real G.O.A.T in Tennis?

by Sangam Adhikari

We can’t possibly make such a determination today. All three (Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal) all remain active players, and all remain highly competitive at the majors. They may well continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Federer is probably coming to the end of his run, at his “advanced” age (38). I think it is still a question of what kind of record you find most important — Nadal winning 12 French Opens (and seven other majors), or Federer and Djokovic having a more balanced profile (although each has “only” one French Open to his credit). We must realize we are in an incredible time and have been for the last 15 years. I don’t expect this to ever occur again in my lifetime (and I’m pushing 60). I will say I am amazed that Nadal has lasted as long as he has, given the physicality of his type of play — Federer always seems to glide around the court, and Djokovic is somewhere in between those styles.

Honestly, right now, it is so close between Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic that it is hard to pick a goat. It is simply incredible that the undisputed three greatest tennis players of all time are playing in the same era, reflected in their achievements to the degree that I genuinely feel sorry for every other player that has had to play in their period. The domination of them is unparalleled with each of the three having won exactly 54 big titles, i.e., masters 1000, grand slams and ATP tour finals, which in my opinion are the events that separate the good from the great in tennis. Furthermore, in the last decade, these three have won every single grand slam except for five slams, 2 of which were won by Wawrinka. This is crazy that three players have won 35/40 slams of the last decade, not even taking into account the many slams they won before this.

Anyways, enough on gushing about how incredible the three are as a whole, let’s talk about different arguments as to which of the three should individually be considered as the GOAT. While Federer is leading the grand slam total with 20 slams, it must be regarded as that he has won 20/78 of the slams he has competed in. Nadal, on the other hand, has won 19/57 slams that he has played in, a significantly better percentage. Lastly, Djokovic has won 16/59, which is a better percentage then Federer but second to Nadal. So in grand slams, Nadal is in the lead in the argument for G.O.A.T, especially when considering that he is likely to secure the French Open title for a few years to come and be in front in his final grand slam tally. Another argument in Nadal’s favor is that while he has won the majority of his grand slams in the era of the big 4, Federer was able to earn a few slams before this area, against weaker opposition then the big 4. Djokovic’s leading factor in his argument for goat is the fact that he has a positive head to head records against Federer and Nadal; however, he is behind in the grand slam title department. Nadal has a positive head to head record against Federer, and Djokovic has a positive head to head vs. Federer too, meaning Federer is undoubtedly behind them in the head to head the department. At the same time though, due to there being less grass court tournaments, Federer has been unable to play Nadal and Djokovic as much on his specialty surface that he has played them on their specialty surface, which must be taken into account considering head to head.

Honestly, I think it is not possible to say yet as to who is the definitive G.O.A.T, but I am going to have to pick between these three legends of the sport and say that Nadal will end up as the Goat. This is because while it is almost impossible to predict tennis due to the changing nature of the sport, I believe Nadal will win four more slams: 3 more french and one more US open. I think Federer is unlikely to win any more slams; however, his greatness may prove me wrong. Lastly, I think Djokovic can undoubtedly push to reach 20 slams, however, I am unsure if he can exceed this number. This would leave Federer and Djokovic on 20 and Nadal on 23. Who knows? I am just happy to have been alive in the era of the three greatest tennis players in history.

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