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Roger Federer has a better volley, Rafael Nadal has a superior forehand: Becker gives his ratings in GOAT debate

Roger Federer
Roger Federer
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Modified 14 Oct 2020, 17:35 IST
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On Sunday, Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in the French Open final to tie Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles. And now, former World No. 1 Boris Becker has provided a unique analysis on the Greatest of all Time (GOAT) debate between the Swiss and the Spaniard.

Many others have used statistics such as most weeks at No. 1, most Slam finals, most Masters 1000 titles and head-to-head to try and arrive at a conclusion. But the German instead chose to break down the games of both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, rating each of the strokes and other intangibles in a column for The Daily Mail.


Boris Becker rates Roger Federer higher in longevity, and Rafael Nadal higher in movement

Becker rated Roger Federer higher in two aspects of the game - the serve and the volley - which are considered to be two big weapons in the Swiss' arsenal. The German also scored Federer higher on longevity, given that the Swiss is still going deep in the Slams and is ranked No. 4 even at the age of 39.

Federer has said he still believes he can win another Slam, which is why he continues to play. And the way he has managed his physical recovery and schedule in recent years has certainly helped him extend his career at the top of the game.

Roger Federer plays a volley during his second round match against Jay Clarke at Wimbledon in 2019
Roger Federer plays a volley during his second round match against Jay Clarke at Wimbledon in 2019
"Serve - Roger Federer 9: Incredibly accurate in terms of picking his spots and hard to read for his opponents. He also delivers a great second serve from what is another classical part of his game with a smooth and almost effortless-looking action," Becker wrote. "Rafael Nadal 8: This can be put in the category of another area that Rafa has improved in the past ten years, as it was originally a weakness. He has adapted his technique to make it more powerful and varied."
Volleys - Roger Federer 10: His hand-eye coordination is so good, and he picks up the ball so early, that he can do pretty much what he wants with his volley. As someone who has come to the net so often from early in his career, he is supremely comfortable there," the German added. "Rafael Nadal 9: He also has a fantastic eye and this would be an area of his game that is sometimes underrated. The baseline is his natural territory, but most players would love to have his touch around the net as well."
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Becker, who has in the past coached the other GOAT contender Novak Djokovic, rated Rafael Nadal higher on the forehand shot and court movement. While Becker gave Federer 9 on 10 for his incredible footwork and graceful movement, he handed the Spaniard a perfect 10 on 10 for his incredible ability to retrieve 'so many balls back from seemingly impossible situations'.

Rafael Nadal plays a forehand during the 2020 French Open final against Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal plays a forehand during the 2020 French Open final against Novak Djokovic
"Forehand - Roger Federer 9: This shot is a bit of a throwback to the eighties, a flatter stroke than Rafa's without the extreme western grip. Devastating from anywhere on the court, but not quite the monster that the Spaniard possesses," Becker went on. "Rafael Nadal 10: A unique shot which sees him almost hit his head on the follow through. But that is what gives it so much power and spin, making it bounce up high in a way that has, in particular, broken down so many opposing backhands."
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Becker rated both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal equally in three categories: the backhand, ability to win on all surfaces and killer instinct. In the popularity category he gave the Swiss some additional brownie points, comparing him to global icons like Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shake hands at the net after their Wimbledon 2019 semifinal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shake hands at the net after their Wimbledon 2019 semifinal
"Backhand - Roger Federer - 8: Again a classic old-school sort of stroke that has served Roger so well, and is especially good on quicker surfaces. His backhand slice, which imparts a deceptive amount of spin, is better than that of his rival," Becker wrote. "Rafael Nadal - 8: An area which ten years ago was a bit of a weakness in terms of variety but has massively improved. Rafa benefits from being ambidextrous and on the day I thought it was a key shot in winning Sunday's final."

Becker also made a mention of Novak Djokovic, stating that he shouldn't be counted out in the GOAT race despite his lopsided defeat in Paris. Overall, the German's ratings give Roger Federer a slightly higher score (85) than Rafael Nadal (84), but it is clear that everyone is splitting hairs at this point.

Published 14 Oct 2020, 13:28 IST
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