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Why Novak Djokovic will be - and possibly already is - the GOAT

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Roar Rookie
24th July, 2019
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1867 Reads

Following Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon triumph over Roger Federer, there are renewed calls (mainly from the Novak fans) to consider Djokovic as the greatest tennis player of all time.

For the casual tennis observer, Roger Federer remains the number one on the GOAT list, with Rafael Nadal a close second. But if we dig a little deeper, do the Serbian fans have a solid argument to place their man above all others?

Roger and Rafa fans you might want to look away now!

We know that in simple Grand Slam numbers, Roger still holds the lead with 20. Nadal is only two behind, and at 16, Djokovic is four back from Federer, but is five years his junior.

If Federer plays for another year or two, he may sneak one more Slam taking him to 21. If Novak plays for another five years, it is highly probable he will overtake Federer and Nadal to become the greatest major winner of all time.

Only Djokovic has held all four majors at the same time, and although not considered ‘The Grand Slam’ in which a player must win all four in the calendar year, ‘The Novak Slam’ is essentially just as impressive, and a feat that Rafa and Roger haven’t been able to achieve.

But let’s open it up a bit more, because just holding the most Grand Slams is quite simplistic.

I want to have a look at all the ‘Big Tournaments’, such as Grand Slams, Masters 1000 events, ATP Tour Finals, and even Olympic Games. For the sake of this, I am only comparing the stats of ‘The Big Three’.

This is where it gets interesting.

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Number of ‘Big Tournaments’ won
This statistic right here puts into perspective just how amazing this trio of players have been, and still are.

To add further weight, Ivan Lendl is next on the list with 37. Taking into account Djokovic’s age, and the way he is playing, it’s highly unlikely he won’t be the outright leader at the end of his career.

Djokovic – 54
Federer – 54
Nadal – 53

Here we are looking at the overall percentage of matches won in the ‘Big Tournaments’ and then, digging deeper, the percentage of matches won against top ten players:

Nadal: 83.5/65.16
Djokovic: 83.15/68.99
Federer: 81.4/66.20

As you can see, Nadal is marginally ahead of Novak overall, but against top ten players, it’s Novak who clearly comes out on top. This shows his ability to beat the best of the best, more often.

Novak Djokovic with the 2019 Wimbledon trophy.

Novak Djokovic lifts the 2019 Wimbledon trophy after an extraordinary final against Roger Federer. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

The number of Masters 1000 titles won
While they may not be as revered as Grand Slams, most of these tournaments will have almost the exact same field of players competing, and although Nadal is shading Djokovic at the moment, it seems inevitable that by the end of their respective careers, Djokovic will hold this record too.

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Unfortunately for Federer fans, it doesn’t seem like he has any chance of catching the other two.

On top of this, Novak Djokovic is the only player to have won all nine Masters tournaments, which is a phenomenal achievement in itself. Federer has never won Monte Carlo or Rome, while Nadal is yet to hold the trophy at Miami or Paris.

Nadal – 34
Djokovic – 33
Federer – 28

Weeks Ranked Number 1
At the moment, Roger has a pretty good lead, but all Novak would have to do is hold on to the number one position for another 12 months (he has a massive lead at the moment), and he may just take this record too.

Federer – 310
Djokovic – 261
Nadal – 196

Head to Head
Finally, looking simply at Head to head statistics, it’s here we can see that Djokovic has a winning record against both of his major rivals, clearly staking his claim as the GOAT.

Djokovic v Nadal – 28-26
Djokovic v Federer – 26–22
Nadal v Federer – 24–16

Statistics can be manipulated in many ways, and there’s no doubt both Roger and Rafa fans could quite easily find records and facts to support their man.

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However, Novak Djokovic is making it harder and harder for anyone to dispute his place at the top of the tennis tree, and I think, by the time all three have retired, it will be the Serbian who has the GOAT title.