Determining who reigns supreme among the best of the bests in a competitive sport such as tennis is very subjective. Pundits and fans will remain divided, but from a neutral point of view, it simply boils down to statistics. Among active and retired players in men’s tennis, three men stand head and shoulders above the rest: Novak Djokovic Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal.
For many years, it used to be in that order of supremacy. These tennis gods among men have entertained fans of the sport, delivering jaw-dropping moments especially when they face one another in any tournament. They have made most of us swear, bite our nails, and burst into celebration while watching our fortune rise on betting offers. In recent years, the man who used to be an afterthought among the trio has been the most dominant. Numbers don’t lie!
With age on his side, at 34, Djokovic is currently tied with Federer and Nadal on a record 20 men’s major singles titles. He had bettered Federer’s seemingly unbeatable record for holding the men’s world No.1 ranking for most weeks. This year, Novak also broke the record he held with Pete Sampras, the retired veteran of the sport who ended every season as World No. 1 from 1993-98. Novak now has a record seven non-consecutive year-end No. 1 finishes. Federer and Nadal trail him by two with five each.
Shortly after learning that the Serbian had broken the jointly held record, Sampras said in an interview that he thinks Novak is the greatest of all time because he has been consistent during an era that featured Federer and Nadal, who are also considered by many as the greatest of all time. Frankly, hardly any neutral fan of the sport would argue his point. With all due respect to both Federer and Nadal, most if not all the records they currently hold will be broken by their arch-rival in a few years.
Every year, Djokovic looks stronger, Nadal is injury-prone, and Federer, the oldest of the triumvirate, seems to be losing the battle against time. It’s safe to say that when they all drop their rackets; Novak will have ended the GOAT debate in Tennis.