Another chapter was added to the debate about who is the greatest male tennis player of all time when Rafael Nadal won his 13th French Open title earlier this week.
Subsequently, it was only about Nadal and Federer, who would be the first to break the impasse and win 21 Grand Slams before the other. Although Federer didn’t play in Paris – he’s been out of action for a year after recovering from a knee injury – the Swiss maestro was the focus of post-game analysis.
The 39-year-old then sat even stronger with a noble message of congratulations, which congratulated Nadal and went viral on social media. Federer praised his “greatest rival” and said among other things: “I always had the greatest respect for my friend Rafa as a person and champion.”
But the love between Federer and Nadal – and the way the tennis world raved about the couple – has shown again how great Djokovic’s claim is to be the GOAT, he still remains an outsider among the Big Three.
“I feel a little for Novak Djokovic, because even on the day when it should be about Djokovic and Nadal, their 56th meeting in the most productive rivalry in men’s tennis, it was still about Nadal and Federer,” said the broadcaster Catherine Whitaker continued The tennis podcast.
“It was still the third wheel, even on a day when Federer wasn’t playing.”
As BBC tennis commentator David Law pointed out, it didn’t help that Federer’s message didn’t mention Djokovic at all. No greetings or congratulations for reaching the finals.
“Federer didn’t mention him in the note, which I have to admit, I looked down and thought, ‘Oh, no, I can’t see that’. Maybe it’s just an accident, ”said Law The tennis podcast.
“I thought he might have done it just to say ‘bad luck’, but here we are.”
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Unfortunately, Djokovic is used to being excluded from the discussions between Federer and Nadal GOAT and descending to a lower level than these two. He was openly taunted on the indoor courts at Wimbledon and the Australian Open during the final he won because the crowd just liked the guy on the other side of the net more.
The whole conversation about Federer and Nadal after Roland Garros’ decision must have stung Djokovic. He has repeatedly said his goal is to win the most Grand Slams of all time and break Federer’s record for most weeks as number 1 in the world (310).
But the top ranked player on the planet didn’t feel the love.
And what about Federer, who calls Nadal his “greatest rival” after Djokovic said about him and Nadal before his blockbuster meeting with the left-hander on sand: “Our head-to-head is the greatest head-to-head ever in the history of the sport … he is definitely my greatest rival. ”
Aside from ignoring rivalries in women’s tennis with this claim, there must be a part of Djokovic that is upset about why Federer sees Nadal and not him as his greatest opponent.
After all, Federer and Nadal have met 40 times (Nadal is leading 24-16), while Djokovic and the Fed Express have scored 50 times, with the Serb having a 27-23 record.
Djokovic has now beaten Nadal 29 times and lost 27 of his 56 games.
The Big Three are in a league of their own, but no matter how hard it is to crack, Federer and Nadal are part of an even more exclusive club that Djokovic will never have access to.
Maybe that will change if he becomes the absolute slam leader, but after all that Djokovic has taken on – remember spreading COVID-19 on his dreaded Adria tour, anti-vaccination chat and a line woman punching a ball in the throat of the US Open – there is a real risk the 33-year-old will never have enough trophies to achieve what he craves more than anything – respect.
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