Tennis GOAT debate: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafa Nadal vote

To be the GOAT you have to do more than just win tennis matches, which Novak Djokovic struggles with. But even the statistics don’t speak for the Serb. POLL.

A debate that rages among tennis fans every year at every Grand Slam. Who is the greatest player of all time?

What are the criteria? Are we only including the Open Era? Should it be for men and women? Is it just the number of Grand Slams you’ve won, or is there more to it?

As Novak Djokovic prepares for the Australian Open final where a win in Melbourne would earn him his 10th title, Julian Linden and Scott Gullan discuss where the Serb sits in the discussion if he beats Stefanos Tsitsipas.

DJOKOVIC WILL BE THE GOAT
Argument by Jules Linden

If Novak Djokovic wins his 10th Australian Open on Sunday, the debate over who the GOAT is should end right there.

In a golden era of legends of all time, Djokovic has proven to be the best of the best and therefore deserves the most coveted title in tennis.

Another victory at Melbourne Park will take Djokovic’s total Grand Slam titles to 22 – matching Rafa Nadal’s all-time record for men and leaving the Serb behind only Margaret Court (24) and Serena Williams (23).

Barring an unexpected mishap, he should charge past the two women remaining in front of him before retreating, but he’s already done enough to be the GOAT.

While the number of Grand Slam titles is important, it shouldn’t be the only factor in determining GOAT.

If you put all the greats in the same tournament at their peak, Djokovic would win at a gallop.

Because what counts just as much as the number of Grand Slams is the quality of the opponents and the obstacles they have overcome.

And in that sense, Djokovic can thank Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for getting him to the top.

Not only did they force him to raise his game to a level no one else has come close to, but they lend added credence to his victories, as none of his Grand Slams have been easy.

SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE FOR THE GOAT

For years Djokovic was considered inferior to his two great rivals, but he learned from them and eventually surpassed them.

In their head-to-head matches, Djokovic has the edge and is the only one of the so-called ‘Big Three’ to hold all four Majors simultaneously, having completed an off-calendar Grand Slam in 2015 and 2016.

And if he’s better than Roger and Rafa, then he’s also superior to everyone else because they are the benchmark.

The proof is in the sheer volume of records it holds and its versatility on all surfaces.

He has played in more Grand Slam finals than any other player and has been the world No. 1 for the longest time, more than seven years in total.

But it’s not just his impressive numbers that make Djokovic the GOAT.

What really sets him apart is his ruthless determination to keep getting better,

His dedication to fitness and attention to detail are legendary and one of the reasons he’s been at the top for so long.

He may never be as popular as some of the other GOAT contenders, but no player in tennis has been more determined and successful for so long.

DJOKOVIC IS NOT THE GOAT

Argument by Scott Gullan

To be the GOAT, you have to do more than just win tennis matches.

There’s another side, the inspiring part of winning hearts, being a pioneer for people to make the world a better place by offering something more than just being able to hit a ball over a net more successfully than others.

If you just want to do tennis stats on your own, Djokovic is still not preferred. If he wins on Sunday night, he’ll still only level with Rafael Nadal who, despite his injury setback at Melbourne Park, plans to face Roland Garros where he wins with a hand behind his back.

Whatever you think of Margaret Court, she has won 24 Grand Slams in singles and a total of 64 in doubles and mixed.

Serena Williams still has more singles grand slams at 23 and we’ll get to her legacy shortly, Steffi Graf has 22 slams with the addition of being the only player to have won every major at least four times and a golden slam (grand slam plus Olympic gold).

Then there’s “Rocket” Rod Laver, the only person to have completed the calendar year’s Grand Slam twice. Djokovic has never done it.

He hasn’t won the most Australian Open (court), he hasn’t won the most French titles (Nadal) or Wimbledon (Federer), while there are only three US Opens on his resume.

So what has Djokovic done for the game off the pitch?

Hmmm. We’re sure there’s charity work being done somewhere, but what first springs to mind is the selfish, awkward Covid party he had during the height of the pandemic that was spreading the disease further.

Then there’s the Australian visa debacle over its anti-vax stance. It’s a personal decision, which he is of course entitled to make, but trying to slip through a loophole into a country that has strict rules against it was thoughtless, calculating and just plain selfish.

Serena Williams has rubbed people the wrong way from time to time, often with her short-tempered post-game demeanor, but that’s dwarfed by what she’s done as a trailblazer and heroine to African American girls and boys for generations .

Laver sacrificed part of his career in favor of people like Djokovic as he was the pioneer of the pro era.

Roger Federer’s grace and humility inspired so many – including Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina – at a level that clearly surpasses his contemporaries.

When it comes to GOAT status, the numbers should never be the deciding factor. Look at Muhammad Ali, he is considered one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century and has been called the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.

Did he have the best fight record of all time? No, there were many with better stats, but for all other factors that make up the GOAT, he had them and some.

Not Novak Djokovic.

WHO ELSE COULD IT BE?

SERENA WILLIAMS (USA)

Grand Slam title: 23

Australian Open: 7 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017)

French Open: 3 (2002, 2013, 2015)

Wimbledon: 7 (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)

US Open: 6 (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Claims to be the GOAT – Holds the record for most Grand Slam titles in the Open era when tennis turned professional.

STEFFI GRAF (Germany)

Grand Slam title: 22

Australian Open: 4 (1988, 1989, 1990, 1994)

French Open: 6 (1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999)

Wimbledon: 7 (1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996)

US Open: 5 (1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996)

Claims to be the GOAT – Only person to have won every Major at least four times and also completed the Golden Slam (Grand Slam plus Olympic gold).

RAFAEL NADAL (Spain)

Grand Slam title: 22

Australian Open: 2 (2009, 2022)

French Open: 14 (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022)

Wimbledon: 2 (2008, 2010)

US Open: 4 (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)

Claims to be the GOAT – Holds the record (14) for most wins in a single Grand Slam (French Open).

ROGER FEDERER (Switzerland)

Grand Slam title: 20

Australian Open: 6 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)

French Open: 1 (2009)

Wimbledon: 8 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017)

US Open: 5 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Claims to be the GOAT – Holds the men’s record for most wins at Wimbledon, widely regarded as the premier Grand Slam event.

ROD LAVER (Australia)

Grand Slam title: 11th

Australian Open: 3 (1960, 1962, 1969)

French Open: 2 (1962, 1969)

Wimbledon: 4 (1961, 1962, 1968, 1969)

US Open: (1962, 1969)

Claims to be the GOAT – Is the only person to have completed the calendar year Grand Slam twice.

MARGARET COURT (Australia)

Grand Slam title: 24th

Australian Open: 11 (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973)

French Open: 5 (1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1973)

Wimbledon: 3 (1963, 1965, 1970)

US Open: 5 (1962, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1973)

Claims to be the GOAT – Has won more Grand Slam titles than anyone, not just in singles (24) but overall (64), including doubles (19) and mixed doubles (21).

Originally published as Tennis GOAT debate: The arguments for and against Novak Djokovic

https://www.codesports.com.au/tennis/tennis-goat-debate-the-arguments-for-and-against-novak-djokovic/news-story/8fcda5cb1b8499e0fa0f43b469997131?nk=6abe99f0bf17524d4469e1931cd286fd-1674979026 Tennis GOAT debate: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafa Nadal vote

Ryan Sederquist

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