Three GOATs, One Cup: Splitting Hairs In The Golden Era Of Tennis

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The world of tennis is currently in an awesome Game of Thrones-esque rivalry, with three of the greatest players to ever grace the court contending for 2020 Grand Slam titles and legitimate claim to GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) status. 

Considering Federer's age, there’s every chance this could be the last year 'the big 3' go toe-to-toe across the globe. As we look back on this golden era, it feels like the perfect time to take a deep dive into some stats to see who holds the strongest claim to being the greatest of all time. 

Ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic match this evening, we've compiled a snapshot of the three greats.

Roger Federer

With Federer turning 39 this year, there’s no doubt retirement is approaching the Swiss legend. The when and where, however, remain a mystery, with his own coach predicting the unpredictable. Federer claims that he isn’t seeking a Grand Slam win to seal his illustrious career, aiming for a quieter conclusion on his own terms. While the Australian Open is unlikely to be his last tournament, there’s nothing stopping the most widely recognised player from hanging up his racquet after one of his pet events in Switzerland or Germany later this year.

  • Grand Slams: 20
  • Big Titles: 54
  • Career Titles: 103
  • Most weeks at number 1
  • Most consecutive weeks at number 1. 
  • Grand Slam win-loss: 86% 
  • Rivalries with Sampras, Agassi, Roddick, Hewitt, Murray, Nadal & Djokovic
  • Has never retired hurt from one of his 1500+ matches in 22 seasons of play

Rafael Nadal

At 33, Rafa has survived an injury plagued career to rival Federer for GOAT status. With recent comments about the distant Paris Olympics, Nadal seems to have plenty left in the tank. However, his hyper-psychical style and susceptibility to injury are likely to dictate his longevity.

While he doesn't have as many Grand Slams as the Fed Express (at least until Roland Garros this year), he does have exactly the same number of 'Big Titles' (Slams, Masters & ATP Finals titles combined) and convincingly leads head-to-head matches against Federer (24-16).

  • Grand Slams: 19
  • Big Titles: 54
  • Career Titles: 84
  • Grand Slam win-loss: 88%
  • The undisputed king of clay with 12 Roland Garros titles
  • Gold Olympic medal from Beijing 2008

Novak Djokovic

The Djoker started 2020 in fine form with a straight-sets win over Nadal in the final of the ATP Cup in Sydney. After re-wiring his system by kicking gluten out of his diet, he's been the most dominant player of the past decade. 

  • Grand Slams: 16
  • Big Titles: 55
  • Career Titles: 77
  • Grand Slam win-loss: 87%
  • Record $21 million winnings in 2015 - most prize money ever in a calendar year
  • 29 - 26 lead head-to-head over Nadal
  • 26 - 23 lead head-to-head over Federer

So, a completely ridiculous yet somehow accurate summary of this situation could sound something like: Federer is the greatest player of all time, but the underdog when pitted against Nadal or Djokovic. Nadal has a better record against Federer and Djokovic in Grand Slam matches but Djokovic has a better overall winning percentage against both Federer and Nadal. So, which GOAT you got?

Regardless of which champion you enjoy backing, we're all privileged to able to watch such champions in the same era. 

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