Roger Federer to miss US Open and undergo knee surgery
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The discourse regarding the greatest of all-time has been a classic debate across all kinds of sports – and tennis is no different. When it comes to figuring out the on-court GOAT, there are three options on the men’s side each with their own remarkable claim to the throne: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Let’s start with Federer. The Swiss icon turned professional in 1998 and became a superstar as well as the leading contender to be considered the greatest tennis player in the sport’s history.
He was the first to reach 20 Grand Slam titles, and Federer has spent 310 weeks atop the world rankings.
Federer, ranked 16th in the world, dominated between 2004 and 2008 as he spent an unbelievable 237 successive weeks ranked number one in the world.
The 40-year-old has struggled with injuries recently, but his longevity at the top of the sport should not be sniffed at.
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He won Wimbledon in 2017 and claimed back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2017 and 2018, while his epic five-set classic final defeat to Djokovic at the 2019 SW19 Grand Slam proved Federer could still compete with the very best in the world.
While he may have missed the chance to move clear of Nadal and Djokovic with a 21st Grand Slam title, Federer’s continued excellence at an age where the majority of great players have retired deserves recognition.
Federer’s greatest rival, the Spanish superstar Nadal, is also in the GOAT conversation.
Like the Swiss star, Nadal has 20 Grand Slam titles with a remarkable 13 French Open victories, cementing the 35-year-old as the greatest player on the clay surface in the sport’s history.
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‘The King of Clay’ has battled injuries such as recurring tendinitis in his knees and nagging wrist issues, which has perhaps limited his winning potential.
However, he turned pro in 2001 and his longevity is often forgotten about due to Federer’s longer career, but a 20-year stint at the pinnacle of the game certainly deserves respect in its own right.
Finally, there is the divisive Djokovic.
The 34-year-old claimed his 20th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and was eyeing a Calendar Slam – winning all four major tournaments in a calendar year – before he was defeated in the US Open final by Daniil Medvedev.
In fact, this year was arguably his most dominant as he defeated Nadal in the Roland Garros semi-finals before winning Wimbledon by dropping just two sets all tournament.
Djokovic is fully fit and will likely surpass his two rivals to become the most successful player in Grand Slam history, but he already has a solid claim to being the greatest player in tennis history.
The Serb will finish 2021 having held the top ranking in the world for a record 348 weeks and he has a favourable record against both Federer and Nadal.
At Express Sport, we want you to cast your verdict – who is the greatest tennis player of all-time?
Have your say in our latest tennis poll – and tell us more about your opinions in the comments below.
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