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"Of the Big 3, Novak Djokovic seemingly has the longest runway & has been the best consistently for the last 10 years" - Andy Roddick

Novak Djokovic with his seventh ATP year-end No. 1 trophy at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic with his seventh ATP year-end No. 1 trophy at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals
Ewan West
CONTRIBUTOR

Andy Roddick recently opined that Novak Djokovic has a longer "runway" left to win Major titles compared to his great rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The American also believes Djokovic has, over the last decade, consistently been the best player out of the Big 3.

In the 2021 season, Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon before falling one match short of a Calendar Slam at the US Open. This is the third time the 34-year-old has won three Major titles in a single season, after 2011 and 2015.

Djokovic's exploits have also meant he is now level with Nadal and Federer at 20 Slams overall, which is the all-time record in men's tennis.

But the Serb's participation at the Australian Open in January is uncertain given that Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley recently confirmed players would have to be vaccinated to play the event. Djokovic has repeatedly declined to reveal his vaccination status, and at the ATP Finals last week he replied "we'll have to wait and see" when asked if he would play the Melbourne Slam.

But while speaking with Tennis Channel on Sunday, Andy Roddick claimed that Novak Djokovic would have more time to win Majors than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal even if he skipped the 2022 Australian Open.

"Is Novak going to be prepared to play in Australia by avenue of vaccination?" Roddick said. "What I will say confidently is, given the runway and the toll on the bodies [of the Big 3] and what we've seen as far as bodies breaking down - Novak seemingly has the longest runway and has been the best consistently for the last five, 10 years even."

The 2003 US Open champion went on to claim that Djokovic would be the favorite for the Australian Open if he plays, given that he got "better" in 2021. But at the same time, Roddick admitted that Nadal's path would become easier if the Serb (a nine-time champion in Melbourne) were to skip the event.

"But he (Djokovic) only got better this year," Roddick continued. "I don't know if you can say that about Rafa, I certainly don't think you can say that about Roger, unfortunately at this point in their careers. So, Novak still has to be the favorite [for the Australian Open]. But this new wrinkle where Rafa comes in and there's, you know, the route to the Aussie Open title - [where Nadal] doesn't have to go through Novak."

"Rafael Nadal not Australian Open favorite regardless of whether Novak Djokovic plays" - Andy Roddick

Rafael Nadal during his quarterfinal loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal during his quarterfinal loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 Australian Open

According to Andy Roddick, 2009 Australian Open winner Rafael Nadal wouldn't be the favorite for the 2022 edition even if Novak Djokovic were absent. The former World No. 1 also cast doubt on the chances of his former rival Roger Federer ever adding to his Major tally.

"Listen, I don't think Rafa is the favorite [for the Australian Open] regardless of if Novak's there or not as it currently stands, but there's a serious wrinkle," Roddick said. "Unfortunately, I don't think the days of Roger winning Grand Slams are still here. I would love to be proven wrong, but that's a seriously uphill battle."

Edited by Musab Abid
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