Juan Martin del Potro makes Novak Djokovic claim as he weighs in on GOAT debate

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro
Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro

Juan Martin del Potro believes there will “no longer be a discussion” over who is the tennis GOAT if Novak Djokovic can win “a couple more” Grand Slam titles. 

The 2009 US Open champion declared each of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was “the best in history at different times”, but feels the Serbian “still has a long way to go” before retiring.

Djokovic has won a men’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, while Nadal and Federer are second and third on the all-time list with 22 and 20 respectively.

In addition, the 36-year-old holds the record for most weeks at No 1, ATP year-end No 1 finishes, Masters 1000 titles, ATP Finals titles, while he also has a winning record against his two greatest rivals.

Djokovic and Nadal have faced off a men’s Open Era record of 59 times — between 2006 to 2022 — with the former holding a 30-29 edge, while the Serbian won 27 of the 50 matches he contested against Federer from 2006 and 2020.

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In an interview with journalist Danny Miche at the 2024 Miami Open, del Potro argued Djokovic can end the GOAT debate with more major success when asked for his thoughts on the topic.

“Each one was the best in history at different times. In the period from 2006 to 2009 Roger was unbeatable, but if you went to clay there Rafa was the best,” he assessed.

“Novak still has a long way to go, he won more titles than them and it is still being discussed. I believe that if he wins a couple more Grand Slams, there will no longer be a discussion no matter how many Roger and Rafa fans there are.”

Del Potro won his only Grand Slam title at the 2009 US Open, where — aged 20 — he stunned Nadal and Federer in the semi-finals and final respectively. The Argentine was the first player outside of the Big Three to win a major since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open.

The 35-year-old, who last played in 2022, holds the following records against the great trio: 6-11 against Nadal; 7-18 against Federer; 4-16 against Djokovic.

Del Potro, who was also a runner-up at the 2018 US Open, won 22 ATP titles and reached a career-high ranking of world No 3 despite being plagued by numerous major injuries.

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