‘The GOAT? I would say Novak Djokovic even though I am a big fan of Rafael Nadal’

Pre-match Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

Hugo Gaston is the latest player to declare Novak Djokovic the greatest tennis player of all time (GOAT), but that doesn’t change the fact that Rafael Nadal remains the Frenchman’s all-time favourite player.

The Big Three of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have dominated the GOAT debate over the past decade, but many believe the Serbian has separated himself from his two great rivals as he now leads the way in just about every metric.

Djokovic has won the most Grand Slams (24) with Nadal second (22) and Federer third (20) and there is a good chance that he could still add a few more majors to his name before he retires.

The 36-year-old has also spent a record 412 weeks at No 1 in the ATP Rankings with Federer next best on 310, he has won the most ATP Masters 1000 trophies (40) and also won a record seven season-ending ATP Finals.

Some players, fans, commentators and ex-players still feel that selecting the GOAT is subjective as it often comes down to personal preference, but Gaston is not one of them.

World No 82 Gaston had no hesitation naming Djokovic as the greatest player of all time despite naming Nadal as “a guy that I respect enormously”.

“The GOAT? I would say Djokovic. Even though I am a big fan of Rafael Nadal, I would say Novak Djokovic. Rafa is still my favourite player,” the Frenchman told Tennis Legend.

“Before, I had idols but now they are more opponents because we can face each other in the first round of certain tournaments. Nadal is a guy that I respect enormously even if I respect everyone. It’s an example and thanks to him I started playing.”

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Djokovic himself was asked about the GOAT discussions in December 2023 and he admitted that it is not an easy question to answer.

In an interview with L’Equipe, the world No 1 said: “We can provide three answers. The first: ‘I am the best.’ If we think that, we will say: ‘How arrogant he is! He doesn’t respect others.’ The second answer is to say: ‘I don’t think I’m the greatest,’ while showing complete humility, which is possible.

“And the third: ‘I am who I am, I am proud of what I have accomplished, but I respect other eras and all opinions and I leave the GOAT debate to others.’ This is my answer.”