‘A Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic Roland Garros final could ultimately decide the GOAT’

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Roland Garros 2023 may well settle the debate around who is the greatest tennis player of all time (GOAT) with Boris Becker saying a Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic final could decide who ends up with the most Grand Slam, which many see as the key to determining the GOAT.

Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer were initially tied on 20 majors, but Swiss great Federer has since retired and he is generally no longer in the conversation when it comes to the GOAT.

Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open last year to move to 22 before Djokovic reduced the deficit by winning Wimbledon. The Serbian, though, joined Nadal on 22 majors after winning this year’s Australian Open and many feel the player that ends up with the most Slams will be the tennis GOAT.

Next up is the French Open and Roland Garros is traditionally Nadal’s turf as he is gunning for a record-extending 15th title in Paris, but there are question marks over his fitness as he has struggled with a hip injury and has not played since losing in the second round of the Australian Open.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is a two-time champion in Paris and in 2021 he won his second title after beating Nadal in the semi-final although the Spaniard returned the favour last year as he defeated his great rival in the quarter-final.

Former world No 1 and six-time Grand Slam winner Becker feels a French Open final between Nadal and Djokovic could determine who ends up with the most Slams.

“Whoever likes tennis, we have interesting times where we have arguably the greatest of all time taking all the titles away from everybody else,” he told Tennis Majors’ Fraser Masefield at CloudFest 2023.

“There was a time where each of these players had 20 majors, which is unheard of. To have one is maybe possible, but three impossible. Now Federer has retired, Nadal is possibly on one leg at the moment, Djokovic is also 35.

“Both have 22 majors, the French Open is coming up… It would be interesting to see a final between Nadal and Djokovic to decide ultimately who has the most Grand Slams of all time, so stay tuned.”

A Nadal win at Roland Garros will put the pressure on Djokovic to then draw level at the Wimbledon, but the Serbian has won the last four titles at SW19.

If Djokovic ends up winning in Paris then he could open a healthy gap over Nadal by July as he will be the favourite at Wimbledon.

However, although Nadal and Djokovic are the favourites there is also the small matter of Carlos Alcaraz as the teenager is back to his best form after starting the year under an injury cloud. Alcaraz won the Argentine Open and Indian Wells Open while he reached the semi-final of the Miami Open.

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