Djokovic refutes arrogance theory with Nadal and Federer message
Novak Djokovic doesn’t believe he should be seen as “arrogant or pretentious” for regarding himself as the greatest of all time, relating his view to LeBron James’ recent comments. The argument on who the tennis GOAT in men’s tennis will likely rumble on for decades with no actual definitive answer.
The only real metric that can be measured is through major titles and currently Djokovic shares the top spot with rival Rafael Nadal with both on 22 slams. Roger Federer finished his career on 20, but is still regarded as the greatest of all time largely due to his style on the court.
All three players play in a different manner and each have their own avid supporters arguing why one is better than the other. The GOAT debate also transcends into different sports from the debate surrounding Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
Speaking before he broke the NBA’s all-time scoring record, James said: “I feel like I’m the best basketball player that ever played the game.” It’s a similar self-belief that Djokovic holds for himself in tennis and the Serbian icon feels he shouldn’t be persecuted for feeling that way.
“Yes, I can relate to that because I believe that what worked for me and still works for me is that self-belief and confidence level,” he told The National. “Of course always balanced with the respect towards the opponent, towards the game, appreciation for the moment and for what you’re going through. But just self-belief that, ‘hey, I know that when I’m ready, when I’m there out on the court, on any surface, against anybody, I’m better, I’m the best’.
“And I don’t think there’s anything arrogant or pretentious about it. I don’t see anything wrong in that. And I congratulate LeBron for his historic achievement, he absolutely deserves it because at this age, he works as hard as anybody really out there. And that’s a great role model and a great example to all the young guys.”
Djokovic went on to pay credit to his sporting rivals for their longevity at the top of their game. And he feels the elite group of sports athletes that he’s in can help inspire the next generation.
“Because I think in basketball, tennis, football, those big global sports, things have changed in terms of the age,” he added. “Maybe up to 10, 15 years ago, anybody who passes the border of 30 years old, he’s already old, they’re already counting his days.
“And nowadays, Nadal this year he’s 37, I’m 36, LeBron James is close to 40, Federer was 40 and was still playing at the highest level, Tom Brady, Serena, Ronaldo, Messi, it’s unbelievable. It’s great because it kind of also gives inspiration to young athletes to know that they can extend their career, that they don’t put the limit mentally just because someone else imposes that limit on them, that after 30 you’re more or less done, so it’s time to think about your end. There is no end really, in your mind.”
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