Former Italian Davis Cup captain Paolo Bertolucci recently remarked that while Roger Federer epitomizes tennis, Novak Djokovic is the best player of all time. According to Bertolucci, Djokovic and Nadal have unparalleled levels of mental strength, which sets them apart from their peers.
Paolo Bertolucci is a former World No. 12 whose best Slam performance came at the 1973 French Open, where he made the quarterfinals. The Italian also won the Davis Cup with Italy in 1976, and now works as a sports commentator.
During a recent interview with Corriere Della Sera Veneto, Paolo Bertolucci was asked for his two cents on the GOAT debate between Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
In response, Bertolucci asserted that Federer is the one who has given tennis its identity, but in the same breath labeled Djokovic the best player of all time. The Italian also heaped praise on Rafael Nadal, lauding the Spaniard's mental strength and tenacity.
"Federer is tennis, we are all Federians, but the Djokovic of 2013 and of the last year and a half is the strongest player ever," Bertolucci said. "He and Nadal are able to keep mental and competitive rhythms that I would not have managed even five minutes. But how do they do it? I envy and admire them."
While Novak Djokovic only managed one Slam in 2013, he ended up winning seven titles, making it one of the most successful seasons of his career. He also beat Federer in both of their meetings that year.
Paolo Bertolucci further shed some light on what makes the Big 3 different from the rest of the tour. He revealed that Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have always greeted and interacted with him in public, which for him shows that they respect the history of the sport and are humble.
"They (Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic) know the past of their sport and respect it," the Italian said. "You can meet them at dinner, if you cross them they come to greet you, they know who you are and what you did and chat with you. It is a sign of education, but also of historical culture and modesty. And let's talk about planetary champions, not just tennis. Apart from them, I don't know anyone off the pitch."
Lorenzo Musetti must find a woman like Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, else he could get lost like Bjorn Borg: Paolo Bertolucci
During the interview, Paolo Bertolucci also gave some interesting life advice to compatriot Lorenzo Musetti. Bertolucci claimed that Musetti must find himself a suitable partner much like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had done early on in their careers.
According to the 70-year-old, Musetti runs the risk of losing his way like Bjorn Borg unless he has the support of the right partner by his side. Bertolucci also reckons the teenager ought to play fewer tournaments and instead practice more, as his body hasn't yet developed fully.
"If I were him (Musetti) right now I would play fewer tournaments and take care of the preparation more," Bertolucci said. "The boy does not yet have an adequate physicality.
"Then in tennis he also counts on finding the right woman," he went on. "You look at Federer, Djokovic and Nadal. Federer found himself a tennis player, like Berrettini; Djokovic met his wife at school, Nadal as a child. Otherwise you risk doing like Borg, who at a certain point got lost."