Ex-ATP star ranks Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer far above Novak Djokovic despite Serb icon’s incredible records

The GOAT debate continues as no one from the new generation could outdo the contributions of the Big Three trio of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic any time soon. The conversation that sparks some of the most passionate arguments amongst tennis fans is also seen to have the same effect on the professional tennis players who have shared the court with the legends.

With Novak Djokovic leading in the tally of Grand Slam trophies this year, many tennis legends have declared that he is the greatest, but Younes El Aynaoui thinks differently.

Former ATP star ranks Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer above Novak Djokovic

Retired ATP star Younes El Aynaoui believes that the GOAT debate is not all about tennis and numbers and added that the true champion is seen in defeat. Novak Djokovic, who secured a record 24th Grand Slam title after his victory over Daniil Medvedev to win the 2023 US Open in September, and Rafael Nadal come in second on the list with 22 major titles, while Swiss legend Roger Federer is in third place with 20 major titles.

Earlier this month, Novak Djokovic became the first men’s player to spend 4000 weeks as world No 1, eight year-end No. 1 finishes, winning the Nitto ATP Finals titles in Turin and the 40th Masters 1000 title in Paris-Bercy. Nadal has been sidelined since this year’s Australian Open due to a hip injury but is set to return in 2024, while Federer retired following the 2022 Laver Cup.

In an interview with Punto De Break, El Aynaoui recognised Djokovic and said, “On paper, Novak is making an increasing difference; he continues to add and add titles. Then we would also have to evaluate the behaviour and the person, in that sense, for me Rafa and Roger are above. It’s a personal opinion.”

“For me it’s not all about tennis and numbers, you also have to look at what the person is like or how they handle defeats. In that sense, Rafa is number one, we never saw him do anything strange on the track, and I’m not saying this because [I am] in Spain. He never broke a racket, nor did we see him complain about anything or throw a match, he has always shown a good attitude, he is an example for everyone who plays tennis.”

“Fortunately we were able to enjoy the era of these three players, Djokovic is still playing and expanding his legend, we will see next year how far the new generation goes. Like Roger and Rafa – we will probably never see players again. There is something more behind the numbers, that is seen in the difficult moments of life, in how one behaves. When you win it is very easy, everyone is with you, but the true champion is seen in defeat,” the Moroccan added.

How does Novak Djokovic’s record show his greatness?

Novak Djokovic’s record stands above Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s record. Since the 2007 US Open, Novak Djokovic has competed in the finals of the four major Grand Slam titles a record-breaking 36 times. The Serbian has acquired 24 Grand Slams in his career, with seven ATP Finals title, eight year-end world no.1 spot and 40th Masters 1000 title which is above any other player in history.

Novak Djokovic
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However, ten of these 24 are from the hard court Australian Open and seven from the prestigious Wimbledon grass court. From the US Open and Roland Garros, he has three titles each. This season has proven how much Novak Djokovic has evolved as a player in the last thirteen years after being in the shadows of Nadal and Federer when he turned pro in 2006.

Who is the best among tennis’s big-three in your opinion? Do let us know in the comments section.

Victor Okechukwu

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