Former World No. 6 Nikola Pilic recently gave his thoughts on Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in context of the 'Greatest of all time' or GOAT race. According to Pilic, Federer’s claim to the GOAT title no longer holds any merit, seeing how both of his biggest records are on the verge of being broken. The Croat also believes Djokovic’s feat of 300 weeks (and counting) as World No. 1 has gone largely unnoticed by a section of the media.
Novak Djokovic recently went past the 300-week mark at the top of the ATP rankings. The Serb is expected to go past Roger Federer’s record of 310 weeks too, by 8 March 2021.
Meanwhile Rafael Nadal has equaled Federer’s all-time tally of 20 Grand Slams. With age on his side, the Spaniard is likely to surpass that figure - especially since he is the overwhelming favorite to win Roland Garros for at least a couple more years.
During a recent interview, Pilic elaborated on these setbacks to Roger Federer's legacy. The 81-year-old opined that the World No. 5 will find it 'very difficult' to win any more Slams given how tough the competition has become during his twilight years on tour.
"It's hard for me to imagine Roger Federer winning one or two more Grand Slams," Pilic said. "I'm not saying he can't, but it will be very difficult. You see, he now has, in addition to two greats Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, a constellation of younger players: Zverev, Medvedev, Thiem, and he is also 39 years old. In my opinion, the race for GOAT is reduced to two names."
At the moment, Novak Djokovic doesn’t hold the record for either most weeks as World No. 1 or most Slams won. But Pilic feels that the Serb's recent achievement of going past the 300-week mark is an outstanding feat in itself, despite the fact that it hasn’t received as much attention from the 'western media'.
"That's right (Novak Djokovic doesn’t have either record). However, it is not clear to me why the number of weeks is underrated in the first place, especially in the western media," Pilic said. "You know, if you have a player who is 300 or more weeks first, then that means he’s been dominant and constant for a full 10 years. Isn't that a great achievement?"
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic & Rafael Nadal have slowed down but still have something to show: Nikola Pilic
With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal well into their 30s, and Roger Federer touching 40, there is no doubt that the legendary trio are past their peak years.
The 'Big 3' are still winning titles, but not with as much frequency as they once used to. They now face a lot more resistance from players like Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, who are consistently proving themselves on the big stages.
Nikola Pilic believes that the gap between the ‘Big 3’ and the NextGen has been greatly reduced already, and that it will eventually cease to exist. But he claimed that all three of them are still too good to fade away into oblivion.
"It is a natural process that the Big 3 slowed down significantly," Pilic continued. "However, that will surely happen. The difference between them used to be measured in miles, and now it's about centimeters. The old guard still has something to show."Published 01 Jan 2021, 18:54 IST