The never ending Greatest of All Time debate in tennis
The world has always had debates about who the GOAT in tennis is. The answers have changed from time to time.
There have been many great players in various eras, starting from the likes of Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors in the early open era. Then came the rivalry of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, who shared a lot of fame together. It was during this period that the sport got really popular, and its modernization made it evolve to new levels which in turn brought in more players from various countries.
In the subsequent years, we saw the likes of Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras take the sport to new heights. And then came in the modern-day greats like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
What makes them stand out from the rest is the fact that they have maintained their fitness levels and have been consistent over their careers. All of them have achieved a lot, but when we say the greatest player, it can be only one.
Amongst these greats, the players who stand out statistically from the rest are undoubtedly Rod Laver, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Laver also had tremendous success when it came to doubles, as he won six Grand Slam doubles titles as well.
He is, in fact, the only player in the Open Era to have won all four Grand Slams in a single year. He led the world rankings for five years in the pre-ATP period whilst also bagging the Davis Cup five times.
The Australian is one of the handful of players who have won Grand Slams as both an amateur and a professional. No one knows how many more Grand Slams he could have won had he been in the Open Era for more time.
Laver also has a record 200 career titles. In his honor, the centre court of the Australian Open has been renamed after him.
The Swiss, who many describe as the greatest player to have played the sport, has many achievements which the rest of the players can only dream of. Those include a whopping 19 Grand Slams and an unequalled 302 weeks at the World No. 1 position (and of those, 237 were consecutive - another record). He has also held the Wimbledon trophy eight times and the US Open five times, both Open Era records.
Federer is one of only 5 players who have won all the 4 Grand Slams and an Olympic medal. He also holds the record of the most consecutive Grand Slam appearances.
The versatility he possesses, the consistency that he has had and the fitness levels he has maintained over the years are all phenomenal attributes. The Davis Cup, Hopman Cup and a record 6 ATP World Tour Finals are just the icing on the cake.
Statistically, there is no one who has had more success than Roger Federer.
Rafael Nadal - often known as "The King of Clay" - is unarguably the best claycourt player the world has ever seen. He came up in the time when Roger Federer ruled men's tennis, and not only rose under his shadows but also challenged him for the position of the ruler of men's tennis.
Nadal has won the French Open a startling 10 times, making him the only person in the history of the game to win a Slam 10 or more times.
He has a total of 16 Grand Slams and is also one of only two male singles players to win the four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold.
He was earlier known mainly for his claycourt prowess, but the fact that he evolved himself into an all court specialist has put him amongst the best players to have ever played the game. His consistent play and vicious topspin are his deadly weapons, and he is also the only person in history to have won at least one Grand Slam for 10 years.
So who is The GOAT?
It is very difficult to pick one of them as the greatest. But statistics don't lie, and so in my opinion Roger Federer has a slight edge over the other two.
His single-handed backhand, quick and accurate serve, big forehand crosscourt winners and unpredictable drop shots are just a few of the various weapons in his arsenal. As time has passed, he has come up with things that have made everyone's jaws drop.
Federer's accomplishments look out of everyone else's reach at the moment. He has been one of the most consistent and fit players in the circuit throughout his successful career. Despite having so many tournaments round the clock, he has not just participated in them, but also performed very well.
You can say that a fitter Nadal could have overshadowed Federer given the superior head-to-head record that the Spaniard boasts, but considering the fact that most of his wins over Federer have come on clay, it brings back the question whether he is versatile enough or not.
There were times when people questioned if Federer was the same incredible player he used to be, but he has constantly answered them with his unbelievable performances.