Reem With A View

"Names and attributes must be accommodated to the essence of things, and not the essence to the names, since things come first and names afterwards." – Galileo

Is NOVAK DJOKOVIC the GOAT of Tennis?

NOTE: We are only discussing the greatest MALE tennis player of all time.
The FEMALE GOAT is between Marina, Steffi Graf, Serena. And Steffi wins it as she is the only female player in open era to win a calendar grand slam. And yes before anyone points out, she also won the Olympic gold, but thats not a prize money event, so am not taking that into criteria for GOAT, which am basing on pure professional prize money events.

djokovic

Novak Djokovic wins the 2016 FRENCH OPEN and with it completes non-calendar GRAND SLAM or the Djoker Slam. Is Djokovic GOAT?

Now, in my view, the most basic qualification criteria for GOAT or GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME is to win a Major or slam in all 3 surfaces. That automatically (and unfortunately) rules Rod Laver out as he won only on grass and clay. It is arguable if he would have won had majors been played on hard courts in 60s.
Only the following 6 players have won Tennis Majors in ALL 3 surfaces (clay, grass, hard court) in the Open Era:
The great Jimmy Connors! Yes, while he didn’t win French Open, not many know that his US Open triumph in 1976 came when it was played on clay.  YES.. for 3 years, the US Open was played on clay as the hardcourt stadium was being renovated. And he beat BORG in that clay court US Open final. Borg as we know was a clay master!
Connors obviously also won US Open on hard court and Wimbledon on grass.
The sportive Wilander we know didnt win Wimbledon, but he did manage to win the Australian Open in 1983 and 84 when it was played on grass. He has also won the French Open on clay and the US Open on hard court.

And then come the modern greats – Agassi, Federer, Nadal and now Djokovic – have all completed  a “career grand slam” (all 4 majors played in 3 surfaces).
Out of these 6 players, Novak Djokovic is the ONLY PLAYER to win 4 CONSECUTIVE MAJORS in a row across 3 surfaces. This makes Djokovic a massive GOAT contender.

But despite that, Nadal remains, the only male player to win 3 consecutive MAJORS IN 3 DIFFERENT SURFACES within a single calendar year when he won the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010. No player has ever done this to date.

And Federer of course has 17 majors. But his poor losing record to Nadal in head to head really puts a dampener on his GOAT claims.

BUT if Djokovic wins WIMBLEDON, then he will equal Nadal’s under-rated record above and also become the first to win 5 majors in a row. UNPRECEDENTED.

And if he wins the US Open, then he wins the “calendar grand slam”, the ONLY male player to do it across 3 surfaces. And also winning 6 majors in a row in that process.

Djokovic has ticked almost all other boxes: better head to head against the top 4 best players of his era: Federer, Nadal, Murray and Wawrinka and barring one, ALL his Major wins he faced another major winner as opponent. Plus, he has won more ATP Masters Series titles than anyone else.. and  is also the first to cross $100MN prize money.

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In short:
Just Wimbledon and US Open wins this year stand between Djokovic and the crown of UNDISPUTED Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

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The Best Decade of All Time in Tennis

In no generation or decade in the Open Era have the top active players won 91% of all grand slams!
Never before. Not the Agassi, Sampras, Courier period nor the Connors, Borg and Mcenroe period
Not even the Wilander, Lendl, Edberg and Becker period.
Have taken a top player to mean anyone who has AT LEAST won 4 grand slams in the Open Era in their entire career!
Agassi, Courier and Sampras together won LESS THAN 60% of all grand slams.
Borg, Connors, Vilas and McEnroe were better and they CUMULATIVELY won 75% of all slams.
The immediate next group of Connors, McEnroe, Wilander won just 83% of their slams.
Even the highly competitive 80s era of Wilander, Lendl, Becker and Edberg together won just 82% of all slams.
But FEDERER, NADAL AND DJOKOVIC HAVE WON 32 OF THE LAST 35 SLAMS. 
Never before have the top tennis players DOMINATED a decade like this.
This is a phenomenal 91% win rate in all grand slams.
And the best part? the TIME PERIOD of this era is now 9 YEARS!!!  so its not like a brief 2-3 year bright period. Its freaking 9 YEARS!!!
(Click on the image to see full size).
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Why Nadal’s 5-2 head-to-head record against Federer is misleading!

A lot of arm-chair Nadal fanboys keep touting the stat that in Grand Slam Finals, Nadal has a 5-2 head to head record against Federer and hence Federer hasn’t “dominated” Rafa.

But these guys completely miss the point (which all tennis legends like Sampras, Agassi, Laver, Mcenroe and Becker accept):

Nadal didn’t even make ONE  U.S. Open final during Federer’s reign!!!

ZILCH. ZERO. Not ONE SINGLE final in the 5 YEARS Federer won.

Why should we bother about Federer losing to Nadal, if we don’t scrutinize Nadal losing to weak players in US and Aus Opens? In fact, Nadal lost to way lower ranked Soderling in 4th round of his FAVOURITE surface after winning 4 times.  Federer has lost ONLY in the finals of Wimbledon since his 1st win in 2003  and NEVER lost US Open after he first won it in 2004.

Nadal is extremely inconsistent in Hardcourt Slams. (Update: 27/Jan/2011,  Nadal has crashed out of Aus Open in Quarters! )

Considering Roger’s awesome hardcourt Slam record, the head to head would easily be in FEDERER’s favour  of at least 8-5 (4 US Open wins and 2 Aus Open wins in Federer’s prime).

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By  refusing to acknowledge Nadal’s miserable hard court slam record, and refusing to see Federer’s total dominance in US Open, the head -to-head stat supporters are  PUNISHING Federer for his CONSISTENCY in reaching FINALS of ALL slams, and REWARDING Nadal for his failure in U.S.Open and Aus Open.

Absolutely ridiculous. Basically Nadal fanboys have been devastated by Federer’s French open win and the fact that he has been declared the Greatest Tennis Player of ALL Time by none other than Sampras, Agassi, Lendl, McEnroe etc etc.

The right way to check slam dominance, is to take up ALL THE SLAMS in which BOTH Nadal and Federer participated and check the winning percentage you find that Nadal is way inferior to Federer than Agassi was to Sampras (and not otherwise as Nadal fanboys love to believe).  When you add the 2 Wimbledons, 4 Aus Opens and 5 US Opens that Nadal and Federer haven’t met in, but Federer won 2 , 3  & 5 of those Slams respectively, you get the TRUE picture.

Over time, Federer will dominate sports history books, while Nadal may remain a footnote (unless he starts winning 10more slams…)

Also read: how-nadal-maintains-his-head-to-head-record-against-federer

To quote a fellow tennis enthusiast & blogger (see comments section below):  “…Roger leads (Rafa) 29-20 and 35-23, in the Same Tournament Entered and the Titles in Total Tournaments Available, respectively. On top of that Roger leads 12-6 in the Same 21 Grand Slams Played.”

This is an awesome stat and once and for all makes the lousy “Roger didn’t dominate Rafa” argument completely untenable. Read the full analysis here which debunks the popular myth that Roger never dominated Rafa. A better and more statistically valid data set to measure GOAT and true Grand Slam head to head is the above mentioned  “Same 21 Grand Slams Played”.  Click here to read more:  There’s More to Nadal and Federer Than Head-To-Head Meetings

Update: May 30, 2010

To put all debates to rest, Nadal himself now admits Roger Federer is better with simple, cold logic in an interview. Read the article here : Roger’s still better, says Nadal

“If someone says I’m better than Roger, I think they know nothing about tennis,” Nadal said…

“You see his titles, you see my titles. There’s no comparison.
It’s difficult to compare Roger with me right now. He has 16 Grand Slams, I have six. Roger’s records might be impossible to beat.”

Despite Federer’s more tightly-packed trophy cabinet, Nadal has a 14-7 head-to-head record against his rival and has won six of their last seven encounters.

The 24-year-old Mallorca man, however, believes that is indicative of nothing more than the Spaniard’s famed ability on clay. “I am number two in the world for five years now,” he said.
“I think I am a good number two. Sure, I can beat him, number two can beat number one. I can beat him, but I beat him a lot of times on clay. I’ve played with him more times on clay than on the rest of the surfaces.”

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Will Nadal burn out at age 26 like Bjorn Borg?

I found interesting similarities in the Grand Slam runs between Sampras and Federer as well as Borg and Nadal in terms of their Age vs Slams won!

(Note that have taken 31 yrs as maximum age considering Sampras retired at that age for apples to apples comparison for the 14 slam win rate).

Some important pointers:

1. Pete Sampras had only 3 wins in his last 16 slams.

2. Roger Federer needs only ONE win in his next 15 slams to equal Sampras and just 2 to break the world record.

3.  Nadal has more than 35 slams to beat Sampras, and is close to beating Borg’s slam total by age 23

4. Borg had the highest rate of slams by age 23 and played only 3 slams a year. He never played a lot of Aussie opens (except early on in 1974 types ) as he kept losing US Opens . Borg didn’t feel Aussie Open was important unless he won the US Open.

Nadal seems to be slightly behind Borg’s run rate. And Federer’s win rate is next to Borg despite playing way longer schedules. Unbelievable.

Nadal too may burn out like Borg especially because his game is more Physical than Federer’s and the body takes punishment on hard courts. Nadal also won’t be able to maintain the speed and power beyond age 25-26…as the tennis schedules are too long now days. Federer’s game like Sampras suits long term play.

Grand Slam wins

Grand Slam wins

But I feel even if Nadal wins 15 slams and Federer wins the French, they can still be called greatest only of the MODERN era as people forget Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall were banned for more than 44 Slams due to them turning PRO… Rosewall lost peak 11 years of his life. It was Laver and Rosewall’s efforts which led to the Open era in the first place and modern players from Borg to Nadal and Federer have to be thankful for them. Between them, Laver and Rosewall would have won 20+ slams if allowed to play as there was no one close to them. And it isn’t their problem that Hardcourts weren’t provided for Slams, as either would have won for SURE if there was that surface provided.  It is for this reason, that historians will ALWAYS place Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall as the Greatest Tennis Players of ALL TIME.  To beat them, the minimum no. of slam which Federer or Nadal must win are 20, else there is no comparison for the unfair way in which Laver/Rosewall were prevented for 44 Slams simply because they turned Pro.

For a detailed perspective, please also read the following article:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/119898-the-hall-of-goats

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Greatest Wimbledon Final in History

The Federer-Nadal final yesterday was so epic in scale, quality, tension & drama that it made the Becker-Edberg finals of 1988-90, the Borg-McEnroe final of 1980 and any Sampras-Agassi final look terribly “average”. These 2 guys are playing at a level, unseen in tennis history… The only sporting equivalent I can think of is Zinedine Zidane’s unbelievable level of play & ball control in the France-Brazil quarterfinal in the 2006 Worldcup and Zidane again in the 1998 World cup final against Brazil.

Yes, there is no comparison in Tennis…yet. Maybe the next U.S.Open, where Federer is again favorite (since the hard court is way faster than grass) will hopefully see a similar final.

Though Nadal won, to be fair to Roger, with the light so poor the last 4 games of the 5th set was simply a matter of luck…They should’ve stopped play. Similarly, it would have been unfair to Nadal too if he had lost the match instead of Roger. The light was terrible and not fit for professional play.

What does the future now hold for ROGER FEDERER? For starters, the grass is so slow nowadays, that baseliners will continue to dominate Wimbledon like the French Open. But Rafa Nadal, who dominates on clay, is still weaker on grass, and weakest on hardcourts. The slower the court the more dominating Nadal is. In contrast, Federer’s game becomes better & better as the courts turn faster.  This means, the only way he can beat Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams, is by going for the US and Australian Opens. Because Nadal will continue to win grass & clay, next 2-3 years.

But then again, Federer can surprise everyone by bouncing back to win not just the US and Australian this year, but next Wimbeldon as well… Nadal will end up with 7-8 French opens, and maybe 3-4 Wimbledons… but to me Roger Federer IS the greatest tennis player of all time. Remember, he is the ONLY player to win 3 GRAND SLAMS in the same year, THRICE.

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