Federer will now need Djokovic’s help to protect his legacy

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Rafael Nadal US Open trophy

Rafa Nadal’s US Open win has once again confirmed that we are living in the best era tennis has ever seen.

The 32-year-old Spaniard dug deep in a five-set thriller to beat Daniil Medvedev to take his Grand Slam tally to 19 and only one away from Roger Federer’s current all-time record of 20. Whether Federer ever thought that Nadal would one day surpass his record is unknown but it will be at the forefront of his mind right now along with what he has to do to stay ahead.

The answer may not lie in his own ability now that the Swiss legend is in the twilight of his career but rather with Novak Djokovic. Indeed, Federer will need the Serb to halt the Spaniard’s charge by beating him in the next few Grand Slams and by doing so chewing up the valuable time that Nadal has left in his career.

Naturally, Federer will do everything he can to make sure that he alone is able to keep Nadal at arm’s length but at 38, it will only get harder to win and he is sure to need another titan in the form of Djokovic to help stem Nadal’s flow of Grand Slam victories. In fact, Federer will need Djokovic to do what he did to him at Wimbledon after the Serb was able to claim the title in a five-set ding dong battle.

It could have been all so different on a sweltering day in SW19 had Federer managed to successfully serve for the game during the tie-break and that could well be a moment that the Swiss champion may look back on with regrets when he eventually calls it a day. The events of the 133rd men’s final don’t have to be fatal though and Federer will be hoping that Djokovic can also crush a few of Nadal’s dreams should he be called upon to beat him in a final.

That first final could be during next year’s Australian Open but even if Nadal were to falter down under, which is entirely possible when you consider that he last won the event in 2009, it is highly unlikely that he will miss out at the French Open after the Spaniard made it a hat-trick of wins at Roland-Garros in 2019.

At any rate, you would have to have never-before-seen bravery to back another player in Paris during next year’s summer. Nadal’s latest tennis odds to win the French Open are as little as evens and that in itself is a massive indicator as to what is likely to happen next June. On this evidence, it doesn’t take too much imagination to picture a scenario where Nadal equals Federer’s record as soon as next year.

It won’t exactly be panic stations for Federer but given that his last Grand Slam win was 20 months ago at the Australian Open, it seems a stretch to imagine he will win another one. There are no two ways about it, the Swiss maestro will need a bit of help from his peers if he is to be remembered as the greatest of all time.

With that in mind, Federer can’t afford to receive too much assistance from Djokovic or else the Serb will also be within touching distance of catching him. It is indeed a tricky conundrum that Federer faces and the Swiss legend will need everything to happen in moderation as far as his rivals go over the next few years. The 38-year-old will know, however, that when all is said and done and in all likelihood, he will also have to win another Grand Slam if he is to have any chance of ending this titanic duel with the record.

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