Who is the GOAT of tennis?

The two raging GOAT debates are Ronaldo vs Messi and Roger vs Rafa vs Djoker. We’re here to discuss and dissect the latter.

Current Records

With 20 Grand Slam victories apiece, the closeness of the trio’s rivalry is unmatched in any sport. Djokovic had the chance to move ahead but failed in his attempt to clinch the career slam at the recent US Open men’s final.

Here’s a look at each players overall career stats:

Novak Djokovic
Image Credits : Tatiana (http://surl.li/ajgoa)
  • Nationality: Serbian 
  • Age: 34
  • ATP ranking: 1
  • Career titles: 84
  • Grand slams: 20 (9 x Australian Opens: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021; 2 x French Opens: 2016, 2021; 6 x Wimbledons: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021; 3 x US Opens: 2011, 2015, 2018)
  • Major titles: 60 (19 grand slams; 5 ATP finals; 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
  • Olympic medals: singles bronze at Beijing 2008
Rafael Nadal
Image Credits : Yann Caradec (http://surl.li/ajgop)
  • Nationality: Spanish 
  • Age: 35
  • ATP ranking: 6
  • Career titles: 88
  • Grand slams: 20 (1 x Australian Open: 2009; 13 x French Opens: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; 2 x Wimbledons: 2008, 2010; 4 x US Opens: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)
  • Major titles: 57 (20 grand slams; 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles; 1 Olympics singles)
  • Olympic medals: singles gold at Beijing 2008; men’s doubles gold at Rio 2016 
Roger Federer
Image credits: Mirsasha (http://surl.li/ajgph)
  • Nationality: Swiss 
  • Age: 40
  • ATP ranking: 9
  • Career titles: 103
  • Grand slams: 20 (6 x Australian Opens: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018; 1 x French Open: 2009; 8 x Wimbledons: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017; 5 x US Opens: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
  • Major titles: 54 (20 grand slams; 6 ATP Finals; 28 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
  • Olympic medals: singles silver at London 2012; men’s doubles gold at Beijing 2008

H2H win-loss records

In all meetings:

Djokovic v Federer: Djokovic leads 27-23

Djokovic v Nadal: Djokovic leads 29-27

Federer v Nadal: Nadal leads 24-16

In Grand Slam meetings:

Djokovic v Federer: Djokovic leads 11-6

Djokovic v Nadal: Nadal leads 10-6

Federer v Nadal: Nadal leads 10-4

Nadal has beaten Federer at his favourite slam Wimbledon, but the Swiss master has never beaten Nadal at the French Open in six meetings. Djokovic has beaten Nadal only once in eight meetings at Roland Garros.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Djokovic

Strengths:

Mental toughness

Return of serve

Defensive play

Tactical awareness

Weaknesses:

Temperament/anger

Nadal

Strengths:

Top spin

Dogged/mental strength

Defensive play

Weaknesses:

Serve

Federer

Strengths:

First serve

Forehand

Speed and movement

Weaknesses:

Stamina

Ability to bounce back

Conclusion

On current form and fitness levels, Djokovic remains the strongest amongst the trio to win in the final Grand Slam tally. Djokovic, aged 34 is the youngest of the trio, with Nadal slightly older at 35 and Federer chugging along at age 40. Nadal’s persisting knee troubles and Federer’s age seem to be the biggest impediments in their battle for supremacy. Yet, a single slam win for Nadal or Federer in 2022 could change the complexion of the final tally. 

Going solely on the H2H records, Federer most definitely comes out last amongst the three, with Djokovic and Nadal neck and neck in their H2H win/loss records. Yet the purists, there can only be one winner, Roger.

Who do you think is tennis’ GOAT?

If you’re yet to make up your mind, here’s a great video documenting every grand slam win of the trio chronologically.

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