‘There was something about watching Roger Federer… Novak Djokovic has the numbers, robotic, relentless’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer Wimbledon Centre Court

The greatest tennis player of all time (GOAT) debate featuring Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will always be one of the hottest topics in sport as the trio have transcended tennis.

The Big Three have dominated the record books over the past two decades and have taken tennis to a new level, but it is not easy to separate the three as some feel statistics are the only way to determine who is the GOAT while others feels it more subjective.

In terms of stats, Federer was initially the benchmark as he was first to 20 Grand Slams and also initially held the record for most weeks spent at No 1 in the ATP Rankings, but Nadal soon passed the Swiss as he was the first man to 22 majors with the Spaniard’s tally including a record 14 titles at Roland Garros.

But Djokovic joined Nadal on 22 Grand Slams after winning Wimbledon last year and he could overtake his great rival on Sunday as he is playing the French Open final against Casper Ruud while he now also holds the record for most weeks at No 1 in the rankings and surely more records are to follow.

Even former footballers get involved in the debate as former England internationals and current pundits Jermaine Jenas and Peter Crouch shared their thoughts on the topic recently as they likened the Federer-Djokovic talk to the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo discussions.

“It’s got to be Federer, surely,” Jenas told Eurosport.

He continued: “Djokovic has the numbers and that athletic ability, but for me when you’re looking at sport, that element of grace and what it looks like when you do it has to come into it a little bit. The way Federer played, that backhand…”

Crouch then replied: “Federer is Messi, right? Djokovic is Ronaldo.”

The reaction from Jenas was: “It’s exactly what it’s like. [Djokovic] has the numbers, robotic, relentless, and he’s definitely going to finish his career with way more Slams than anyone that ever has. But there was something about watching Federer… elegance… the geezer didn’t sweat!

“Nadal is one of those players who you can’t not love. He fights for every single point and you’d have his forehand. It was like he hardly held onto the racket. It was mad Djokovic was able to wedge himself in there [between Nadal and Federer].”

READ MORE: ‘I played Federer, Djokovic, Agassi – the best is Nadal’, claims former ATP player