Novak Djokovic news: Former British No 1 on the day the Serb touched perfection

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - who is the GOAT?

It is the rivalry that has dominated tennis over the last two decades and now former British No 1 Andrew Castle has claimed Novak Djokovic has come the closest to tennis perfection in his battles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic’s deportation from Australia and Nadal’s remarkable triumph at the Australian Open ensured the Spaniard moved ahead of the Serb and Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam winners by sealing his 21st triumph.

The final analysis of who is the greatest of all-time will only come when the trio hang up their rackets and their end-of-career statistics can be compared, but Castle has told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview that Djokovic has come closest to playing the ultimate tennis match in the battles of the big three.

Castle has followed the careers of the ‘Big Three’ at close quarters in his role as the BBC’s lead commentator at Wimbledon and other major events over the last two decades and he suggests Djokovic’s 2019 Australian Open final demolition of Nadal was a tennis masterclass.

“Of all of these magnificent players, if you had to pick one player that played the single highest standard of tennis you have ever seen, who would it be?” asked Castle, speaking to Tennis365 in his role as a Game4Padel ambassador.

“I think that final against Nadal (in Australia) when he beat him for the loss of eight games in 2019 was the single highest standard performance I have seen in just about any sport.

“Every sport is about doing the basics superbly well. That’s where I find the beauty in great sport and for me, Novak does the simple things almost imperceptibly brilliant.

“The return that lands one inch from the baseline and hits someone on the ankle from a great serve. We all know how difficult that is to play at that sort of level, especially on a big point, and he is so reliable.

“All three of them have been magnificent for our sport and the message is the boys aren’t done yet. It is amazing how these older players keep on doing it. Their motivation is incredible.”

Djokovic is due to return to action in Dubai next week, where he is also expected to speak publicly for the first time about his deportation drama in Australia last month.

Game4Padel are hoping to open courts at around 50 venues this year so it should be much more accessible to people to try the sport out and spread the message.