Although men’s tennis has seen some unfathomable performances by some of the greats, Roger Federer even now seems to lead the list of the ever ongoing Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate. Among the bevy of his records in the sport of tennis, some prominent landmarks include the Swiss maestro holding the titles of the most Grand Slams (20), most ATP Finals (6), most weeks at number one (310) and most consecutive weeks at number one (237). Very recently, Former World No. 1 Ivan Lendl insists that Roger Federer is currently leading the GOAT. The 8-time Grand Slam winner believes that the GOAT chapter is far from close yet and can be settled once Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have retired.
Roger Federer made his ATP debut in 1998, and ever since then has had a distinguished 22-year professional career, still going strong. The 38-year-old has the most Grand Slam finals, semifinals and quarterfinals of any player in the sport’s history. He is the only player to win 10 or more titles on grass (19), to win a grass-court tournament on 10 or more occasions (Halle – 10 times) and to win a hardcourt tournament at least 10 times (Basel – 10 times). He has held an ATP ranking for 23 consecutive years.
In his interview, Lendl said that because Djokovic and Nadal are younger and still have a few more years and “that is going to be one hell of a race to follow”. Rafael Nadal has been ranked in second place in their all-time list by Tennis Channel. Known as the King of Clay, Nadal has the most titles at a tournament (12 at Roland Garros) and is the only player to win over 10 titles at three different tournaments (Monte Carlo-11, Barcelona-11). Djokovic is the current World No. 1 and is one of five players to win the career Grand Slam, joining Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in an exclusive club. He is also the only player other than Laver to hold all four majors at the same time in the Open Era.
The one to end up with most titles is likely to be considered the frontrunner in the ‘GOAT’ discussion. However, “Affection of the public should not be in the equation. Who is the most popular is one thing but who is the greatest is not being judged by popularity,” Lendl said. But to just talk about the GOAT in tennis considering only male players would be biased. Hopefully, fans take into account female tennis players while discussing this never-ending debate, and meanwhile can enjoy and praise all the other hard working athletes who have always put their best foot forward.