John McEnroe believes if Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer and goes on to win Wimbledon then it will reopen the debate over who is the greatest player of all time.
Many believe Federer currently leads the way in the GOAT argument as he sits atop in terms of Grand Slam trophies with 20 while Nadal is just two behind after he collected his 12th title at Roland Garros in June this year.
Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is also in the discussion as he is third with 15 having won three of the previous four majors.
Nadal and Federer meet in the last four at Wimbledon on Friday while world No 1 Djokovic takes on first-time semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut.
McEnroe believes the Nadal-Federer clash has a lot riding on it in terms of historical importance.
“We talk Roger more often that he’s the greatest, and there are arguments to be made for Novak and obviously Rafa as well. But if [Rafa] wins this, and wins the tournament, he’s only one away,” he told the BBC.
“The last time that it’s been this close for starters was when it was 2-0. So this has got so much importance historically as well as just obviously a classic match-up between a lefty and righty, the emotions, their styles, everything about it is amazing.”
As for the Nadal-Federer match itself, McEnroe believes the Swiss will need to match the Spaniard’s intensity.
“You play against a guy like Nadal, the guy wants to tear your heart out, he wants to eat you alive,” he said. “I mean, he plays with such intensity. To me, the only chance you have when you play a guy like Nadal is you’ve got to try to match that.
“I know when I played [Jimmy] Connors, who was our equivalent at the time, every point was like the last point you’re ever going to play. You try to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Am I doing as much as this guy?’ and most of the time the answer is no. I get it’s so difficult to do, but you have to try.”
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