Novak Djokovic labelled strongest and least loved of the big three

Novak Djokovic hits the deck

Former Italian No 1 Fabio Fognini has labelled Novak Djokovic as the strongest of the big three.

Fognini added that Djokovic is also the least-liked of the trio.

Djokovic has his fans, and they certainly love him but Fognini has acknowledged that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are names that are received more positively.

Fognini was asked for his thoughts on the GOAT debate during a recent interview with Italian publication Corriere dello Sport.

In terms of resilience and physical fortitude it does appear that Novak Djokovic holds the edge over the other two men with less long injury breaks.

Another reason that Djokovic is perhaps still less well-liked, at least on the circuit, is that he is a major title threat week in and week out and the aura of intimidation surrounding facing him is still very much intact.

“Nole is the strongest and the numbers prove it, but he is also the least loved of the big 3. It is difficult to find a suitable adjective for him. Last year he did not play two Slams and four Masters 1000, but still managed to qualify for the ATP Finals,” Fognini said.

Fognini added that it is difficult to untangle the cords in te GOAT debate as the three clearly had overlapping influence on one another that has made the early 21st century arguably the peak of competitive professional tennis.

“After everything that happened last year in Melbourne, Nole came back and made his mark. He, Roger and Rafa monopolized the circuit and wrote the history of this sport,” Fognini said.

Djokovic has now moved level with Nadal on 22 Grand Slams after winning his tenth Australian Open title in Melbourne in January 2023.

He will be out to snatch a few more big titles before he calls time on his career.

It will be interesting to see how the Olympic Games competition in Paris next year pans out with the event to be played on clay for the first time since the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

Djokovic is desperate to claim a gold medal having fallen agonizingly short in Tokyo after a loss to Alexander Zverev.

“An Olympic medal, especially gold, is always a big wish,” Novak Djokovic told Radio Television of Serbia.

“I rewound my match with Zverev in Tokyo many times, trying to figure out what went wrong,” he said.

“I played superbly up to that point, but I did feel I was running on fumes, both mentally and physically.”

Djokovic will be taking some time away from the tour after sustaining a hamstring injury in Australia but is expected to be fully fit by the start of the clay swing.

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