Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will overtake Roger Federer, claims Robin Söderling
- Soderling believes Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have an upper hand in the race for most Grand Slams.
- The Swede also considers Nadal as the favourite at Roland Garros this year.
Söderling, one of only two players to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, has played against all three players in their prime. He believes that Nadal or Novak Djokovic might leave Federer behind in the Grand Slam tally over the next few years.
The 35-year-old said that while Federer, 38, is still capable of packing a punch or two at the elite level, he might not have the 'hunger' to compete with his two younger rivals.
Federer leads the list for Grand Slam titles at the moment with 20. The 33-year-old Rafael Nadal comes next with 19 Slams, while Djokovic, 32, is on his heels with 17. Söderling said that after the trio retire, one of Djokovic or Nadal will be at the top of the pile.
"It is more likely that Rafa will win a Grand Slam this year or next year than Roger," Söderling said in a chat with Sky Sports.
"Federer can still do it but I don’t believe he has the hunger in him now, but we will see. When they’re all retired it’s going to be Nadal or Djokovic who will end up with the most Grand Slams."
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem have the best chance at Roland Garros: Soderling
Söderling himself came close to winning Roland Garros in both 2009 and 2020. But he was beaten in the 2009 final by Nadal, and in the 2010 final by Federer.
The Swedish international said that Rafael Nadal, who has 12 Roland Garros titles, will be an unquestionable favourite this year as well. While the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the tournament into the latter half of the year, Söderling feels that the change will barely deter the Spaniard.
"Of course it’s going to be a completely different tournament but Rafa on clay – it doesn’t matter if it’s in June or September – for me, if he’s healthy, he’s still going to be the favourite," Soderling said.
The Swede picked out two other players to run Rafael Nadal close at the Roland Garros this year: Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem. Djokovic, who became only the second player to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2015, has been fairly consistent at the tournament. He has made the quarterfinal every year for the last 10 years, while also claiming a record-breaking title in 2016.
Thiem, on the other hand, is one of the best claycourters in the world at the moment; many consider him to be second favourite for Roland Garros this year. The 26-year-old has made at least the semi-final of the tournament four years in a row, finishing runner-up in the last two editions. He also made the final of the Australian Open this year, where he lost a gruelling five-set encounter against Djokovic.
"There are a couple of players who I actually feel can win the French Open. I think Thiem and Djokovic can do really well on clay but it’s just amazing to see Rafa as the favourite again," Soderling added.