Novak Djokovic has won a record 23 Grand Slam titles but it still might not be enough in Federer’s eyes for him to become the GOAT of men’s tennis
Roger Federer has cast doubt on whether Novak Djokovic should be considered the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, despite witnessing the Serbian overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time men’s Grand Slam title standings. Djokovic made the most of Nadal’s French Open absence earlier this month as he defeated Casper Ruud in the final to lift his 23rd Major trophy at Roland Garros but Federer is unsure whether that is enough to claim the coveted status.
Djokovic has been in inspirational form in recent years and has won six of the last eight Grand Slams he has entered. His victory over Ruud in Paris came in straight sets, as did his win against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Australian Open in January.
Djokovic, whose first Major arrived back in 2008 when he got the better of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Australian Open final, is the overwhelming favourite to win his third consecutive Wimbledon title next month. But Federer has still questioned whether the 36-year-old is better than the likes of Nadal and Boris Becker.
After being asked by Swiss publication Tages-Anzeiger if Djokovic was the GOAT of men’s tennis, Federer responded: “I don’t know. What’s best, winning Wimbledon at 17 like Becker or Roland Garros at 36 like Novak? I don’t know.
As long as Rafa plays, you can’t really answer. Then there are some records that can’t be broken.”
Federer himself is among the most successful players to grace the game and dominated tennis between the end of 2003 and the start of 2010 as he reached 22 Grand Slam finals in 27 attempts, lifting 16 trophies in the process.
He went on to win another four Majors before calling time on his career last year and currently sits at No 3 in the all-time men’s Grand Slam standings after landing 20 Slams, with Nadal currently second with 22.
Federer and Djokovic met in five Grand Slam finals while the Swiss ace was still playing, with the latter coming out on top in four of those matches.
Their most recent battle in a Grand Slam showpiece event came in 2019 at Wimbledon when the duo were involved in the longest ever final at the tournament. After four hours and 57 minutes of action, the Serbian eventually claimed victory after winning a fifth set tiebreak at 12-12.
For many years, pundits talked about Federer as being regarded as the greatest player of all time. But with Djokovic still looking likely to land more trophies at the highest level, he could soon move way ahead of Federer and Nadal in the all-time title standings and put the GOAT debate to bed for good.