Home History The GOAT debate – Federer or Nadal…or Djokovic?

The GOAT debate – Federer or Nadal…or Djokovic?

by Jonas Eriksson

GOAT stands for Greatest Player of All Time and the discussion of who can rightfully claim that “title”. Since Federer holds many of the records, especially the heaviest one with 17 Grand Slam titles, most people seem to think that he deserves the GOAT distinction, but when he keeps losing to Nadal and Nadal keeps winning title after title, the discussion starts again.

The facts are (Federer first, Nadal second):

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Federer has obviously won more tournaments, but Nadal is much younger at 26 while Federer is 31. So you could say that Nadal has five more years at least to capture the remaining six slams to catch Federer at 17, given that Federer doesn’t win another slam.

No matter what form Rafa is in, reaching Federer’s number of slams seems very difficult.

But I don’t like to bother too much with calculations. Overall they are too fantastic champions and you could say that Federer is perhaps the Greatest Player of All Time as it stands, while Nadal is definitely the Greatest Clay Court Player of All Time. I know that won’t satisfy a lot of Rafa fans, but at this point in time I think that’s what makes most sense.

Then if you throw in current world number one, Novak Djokovic in the mix, things could get interesting:

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Djokovic has played two amazing tennis years in 2011 and 2012 where he won four slams in total, but as you can see he has some ways to go before he can catch Nadal and well, an even longer stretch to go if he’s to catch Federer.

Can we talk about Djokovic as GOAT? In my mind only if he repeats a year like 2011 again. Twice.

Can he do it?

For a player with Djokovic’s talent, anything is possible, but things doesn’t look great when Nadal is back in great form and with both Federer and Murray lurking in the wings. I would actually be surprised if Djokovic is world number one in the end of 2013. If his knees hold up (always the knees!), I see Nadal standing on top at the tennis world come the Masters in London.

Still, after the Nadal-Federer-Djokovic-Murray-era, there’s only one real GOAT to me and that’s Roger Federer. The other deserves LOTS of credit, especially Nadal, but it’s hard to argue with the impact (and the records) that Federer has had on the game.

And I think it’s silly to compare Laver and the likes with the players of today. The game has evolved so much that it’s hardly used talking about it as the same sport. The competition is tighter, the players are fitter, technology is ten times more advanced, everything has geared up about three notches so the comparison is pointless.

But the current GOAT discussion can still be interesting, especially if Rafa keeps it up and manages to bag two slams in 2013. I would deem that far from unlikely.

Who is GOAT to you and why? Please comment!


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