Sue Barker picks her GOAT from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
It’s the debate that divides tennis fans around the world, with the criteria used to decide who should be hailed as the greatest male player of all-time sparking plenty of debate.
The topic has risen to the surface again in recent weeks, after Roger Federer’s emotional retirement following a final appearance alongside his old rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London.
Federer finished his career third in the list of Grand Slam winners with 20 titles, one behind Novak Djokovic and two behind all-time leader Nadal.
Yet Barker, who was 1976 French Open singles champion and went on to lead the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon for 30 years in a celebrated broadcasting career, admits she will always have a soft spot for one man in this debate.
Speaking at an event to promote her new autobiography ‘Calling The Shots’, Barker revealed Federer is the player who she enjoyed watching more than anyone else.
“We have been blessed to watch this incredible era of the sport and all three of these great players will be remembered as greats of the game,” began Barker.
“Djokovic might well end up with the most Grand Slam titles and what Nadal has achieved at the French Open with his 14 titles is just incredible.
“But I look at the way they play and Roger Federer made the game look so easy. Also, the role model he was to kids and his popularity around the world is second to none. He has been voted the most popular player for 20 years in a row.
“We were so lucky to have him playing until he was 40 and for me, I would still say at the moment that Roger is the best for everything he stands for and what he has given the sport.
“I was very fortunate to be part of the Parade of Champions on middle Sunday at Wimbledon this year and Roger came over to take part. We didn’t know he was coming until half an hour before so it was very exciting.
“Then at the end, John McEnroe made a special presentation to me as it was my last year with the BBC and I was blubbing. Roger looked at me and reminded me of the time I made him cry on center Court when he won Wimbledon for the first time and it was a lovely moment.”
Barker was also asked to pick who would win a contest between British great Andy Murray and Tim Henman if they were both at the peak of their powers and she came down in favour of the Scot.
“Tim will never forgive me for saying this, but it would have to be Andy,” she added, clearly reluctant to go against her friend Henman. “Having said that, it is a different era and when I look at myself playing with my wooden racket, it looks like we are playing ping-pong.
“Every generation moves on and gets stronger and I’m sure Tim would have been a better player in this generation, but Andy had something about him that made sure he was a great, great champion.”
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