Sania Mirza believes Roger Federer is the greatest player of all time because his talent level is higher than that of anyone. According to Mirza, even if Rafael Nadal crosses Roger Federer's record Slam tally, the Swiss would remain ahead because of the ease with which he plays.
Nadal is currently tied with his arch-rival at 20 Grand Slams, and will be looking to break the record at the Australian Open this month. Federer, on the other hand, has been out of competitive action since suffering a setback in his recovery from a double arthroscopic knee surgery last year.
Sania Mirza recently appeared in an Australian Open pre-show on Sony Sports where she was asked if Rafael Nadal taking the lead in the Slams race would give him the edge in the GOAT debate, or if Roger Federer would continue to enjoy his status as the greatest ever. Mirza responded that Slams should not be the only factor in determining greatness levels, and that talent-wise Federer would always have the edge over his rival.
"He (Rafael Nadal) is definitely the greatest of all time on clay, there's no doubt about that, but I don't know if he's the greatest of all time in terms of just pure talent," Mirza said. "I think Roger Federer still takes that. I think anyone that knows even a little bit of tennis knows that. I don't know if you agree with me or not, but when you watch Roger play tennis (it) comes a lot easier to you than it comes from most people in the world."
Mirza then praised the Swiss Maestro's effortless playing style and joked that he probably doesn't understand why the other players practice so much.
"I always joke saying he must be thinking, 'A bunch of fools who practice for 5 hours a day'. He must be thinking, 'Oh my god! It's so easy I don't know why they're practicing'," Mirza contiued. "So I personally feel that Roger Federer is the greatest ever tennis player, regardless of the numbers, because I think talent wise he is still the best."
"Does one Slam change whether Roger Federer is the greatest?" - Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza, who has herself won six Grand Slams in her career, refused to buy into the numbers game during the interview. In addition to Roger Federer, Mirza also cited 23-time Major champion Serena Williams, who is chasing Margaret Court's record tally in Melbourne this year, as an example to further her argument.
The Indian asserted that Federer and Williams are the greatest players in their respective fields not because they have won the most Majors in the modern era, but because of their contribution to their game.
"I mean, I don't think so," Mirza replied when asked whether number of Slams is the sole factor in the GOAT debate. "Then Serena Williams wouldn't be the greatest women's player today, and Roger Federer wouldn't be, because Roger has the numbers to back him but does one Slam really change whether you're the greatest or not."
At the end of the segment, Mirza claimed that Serena Williams and Roger Federer would still enjoy their status as the 'greatest ever' based on their talent alone, regardless of whether they held the record for most Grand Slams won or not.
"Hands down, Serena is the greatest woman to play the sport. Whether she reaches the number or not is irrelevent, I mean it's just the way she plays she is the greatest ever. And just the way Roger plays," Mirza said.