Novak Djokovic named the GOAT because of his incredible numbers and caring nature

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic during a match
A funny moment involving Novak Djokovic

The numbers don’t lie as they prove that Novak Djokovic is the greatest ever male player, according to former doubles world No 1 Sania Mirza, who says the Serbian’s “caring nature towards other players” adds to his greatness.

The greatest player of all time (GOAT) debate has been one of the hottest topics in tennis for several years with Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer well clear of their peers.

Federer was initially the frontrunner as he was the first player to 20 Grand Slams and he also set a record for most weeks at No 1 with 310 weeks. Many also believe he paved the way for those who came after him.

Nadal then took over Federer’s tally of 20 majors as he was the first man to reach 22 while he also won an unprecedented 14 Roland Garros titles and spent more than 200 weeks at the top of the ATP Rankings.

But then came Djokovic as he surpassed Nadal’s Grand Slam mark as he now sits on 23 after winning this year’s Australian Open and French Open while he also holds the record for most weeks at No 1 with a tally of 389 weeks.

The Serbian also leads the head-to-head against both Federer and Nadal and has also won a record 38 ATP Masters 1000 titles and six ATP Finals trophies.

Indian great Mirza, who has won three Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and three Grand Slam mixed doubles trophies, feels Djokovic is the clear GOAT.

“I don’t know in which generation we will be able to see three of the best the world has ever produced,” the former doubles world No 1 told The Week’s Neeru Bhatia.

“The debate will continue but I definitely think that, given the way Novak is playing physically, he has probably become the greatest ever male player if you look at the numbers. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal forced each other to become the best and they credit each other, and also Novak, for pushing them to their limits.”

Djokovic does have a lot of detractors with many unimpressed by his on-court demeanour – although most of those detractors are people who have never met him – and Mirza says he is “quite liked” by his peers, which also counts towards his greatness, along with his ability to adapt.

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She added: “Coming back to Novak, he is very caring towards other players. He is part of the Professional Tennis Players Association (which seeks greater autonomy for players), but he does not need to be part of it. He does so because he wants to help others who are not as privileged as him. I do not know how to describe greatness, but it is not just about being a great tennis player. It is also about being a good person.

“I do not know if he is misunderstood on the circuit; he is quite liked actually on the tour. Everybody has a lot of respect for him, as they should, but I think because it has been a Rafa-Roger rivalry, everyone spoke about him as the third man who kind of came in. Who would have thought he would surpass everybody one day.

“He has evolved a lot physically; he has done everything in his power to be at the top of his game, especially at 36. He talks of 36 being the new 26―he truly lives by that. The way he moves and conducts himself, be it in his diet or training, is all a sign of him evolving and becoming the best version of himself. It is quite scary that the best version of himself is the greatest tennis player of all time.”

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