GOAT Update After Novak Djokovic’s 2021 Australian Open Victoryby Ben Fadden February 23, 2021 0 comments
The first Grand Slam tournament of 2021 tennis is in the books, but it does not stop fans from continuing to debate who the greatest men’s player of all-time is.
Before getting into whether the 2021 Australian Open changed the rankings of who the greatest player of all-time is, here is where the “big three” finished:
Novak Djokovic: Beat Danill Medvedev in Championship 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
Rafael Nadal: Lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Quarterfinals 3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5
Roger Federer: Did Not Play (recovering from double knee surgery)
The question is if the Australian Open changed where they stand in the G.O.A.T conversation… the answer is no.
The GOAT Standings
Federer and Nadal are still both tied at 20 career grand slam titles, which is now two more than Djokovic has after his dominant straight-sets win in the 2021 Aussie championship.
There is no doubt that “The Joker” has a solid chance at catching up to Federer and Nadal based on his dominance on the hardcourt, but as of now he is still ranked third because he has work to do if he wants to catch up. Nevertheless, Djokovic showed again in Melbourne that he isn’t losing a step, and he has now won half of his majors down under.
People will overreact to Nadal’s quarterfinals performance where he crumbled after holding a two-set advantage to Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-3. While there is no excuse for losing three straight sets, especially when you’re a player of Nadal’s caliber, it is widely known that Nadal’s strong suit is the clay. To this point, he has has won a combined three majors on hard courts which is eight fewer than Federer.
The good news for Nadal is the clay is coming up next, so he has a chance–like he always does in Paris–of winning his 21st grand slam title, which would put him in front of Federer and give him his 14th French Open title.
For Federer, he is still the best of the big three. He hasn’t played a match since his 2020 Australian Open semifinal loss due to knee surgery, but will be back starting at an ATP tournament in Doha, Qatar in March.
Federer isn’t getting any younger (39 years old) but he still has the edge over Nadal. Don’t forget that he was ranked as the No. 1 player in the world for 237 consecutive weeks from 2004 to 2008. The Swede leads the Spaniard in head-to-head matches on hard court (11-9), grass (3-1), and indoor hard court (5-1) having over 230 more career wins with 17 more career titles than Nadal.
While Nadal is the best clay player of all time, it is very impressive that Federer has won the most historic tennis tournament in the world (Wimbledon) a total of eight times.
Perhaps Federer’s knee surgery will get him back to the form he was in as recent as 2018 when he won the Australian Open for the sixth time and then took a younger Djokovic to five sets in 2019 in London.