Tennis grand slams: Who is the greatest of all time?
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Andy Roddick has said it will be “impossible” to argue against calling Novak Djokovic the GOAT if he is able to win more Grand Slam titles. The Serb came within one match of being the first man in 52 years to achieve the Calendar Grand Slam, and to lift a record 21st Major title, when he lost in the US Open final.
The GOAT debate is as heated as ever, following Djokovic’s latest record-breaking achievement.
The 34-year-old recently secured the year-end No 1 for a record seventh time, surpassing Pete Sampras who finished the season at the top spot for six years in a row from 1993 to 1998.
He sealed his seventh finish as world No 1 with another record, winning his 37th Masters 1000 title in Paris earlier this month, surpassing the 36 titles he was tied with Rafael Nadal on.
While the Serb now has more weeks at world No 1, more year-end No 1 finishes and more Masters 1000 titles than any male player in history, the Grand Slam race remains the one area where he has been unable to pull ahead.
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Djokovic had an incredible season at the Majors, lifting the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon trophies this year, allowing him to equal long-time rivals Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles apiece.
The world No 1 was close to setting himself apart from his fellow Big Three members, as he came into the US Open looking to be the first man in 52 years to achieve the Calendar Grand Slam, as well as the first male singles player in history to win a 21st Major title.
He came within one match of rewriting history books before falling at the last hurdle, losing to world No 2 Daniil Medvedev in the final to cost him the chance to overtake his rivals.
Both Nadal and Federer were absent from the US Open, giving the 34-year-old arguably his best opportunity to pull ahead, but Djokovic will now be looking to secure the Grand Slam record without being alone in the draw.
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He is already in doubt for January’s Australian Open as uncertainties remain surrounding the rules for unvaccinated players, who could face a ban from the tournament, with even Djokovic himself admitting he was unsure whether he would go.
Meanwhile Nadal has already confirmed his return at January’s season-opening Grand Slam, after being forced to end his 2021 season early with a left foot injury.
It means the Serb will need to fend off the Spaniard for a record 21st Major title, and could lose his chance to do so at the Australian Open if he is unable to compete.
However, one former world No 1 believes that, as long as Djokovic wins more Grand Slam titles than his rivals, it will be “impossible” to argue against him being the GOAT.
Andy Roddick, who managed to win the 2003 US Open and reach world No 1 during the era Roger Federer established his dominance, said a record number of Grand Slam titles was all Djokovic needed to make him the undisputable GOAT, with the 34-year-old now holding all the other big records in the sport.
“I’ll say it very clearly,” he said, speaking on Tennis Channel. “If Novak Djokovic ends his career with the most Grand Slams titles of all time it is a statistical impossibility to argue against him being the greatest based on numbers.”
The 86-time title winner looks poised to be able to end his career on the most number of Majors compared to his fellow Big Three members, as he is younger than both Federer and Nadal.
Roddick’s comments come after the former Grand Slam record holder, Pete Sampras, said Djokovic was already the “greatest of all time”.
The retired American finished as year-end No 1 for six seasons in a row from 1993 to 1998 and held the record for the most number of Grand Slam singles titles with 14 before Serena Williams and the Big Three all surpassed him.
Speaking to the ATP Tour after Djokovic broke his record for most year-end No 1 finishes, Sampras said: “I do think what Novak’s done over the past 10 years, winning the majors, being consistent, finishing No. 1 for seven years, to me it’s a clear sign that he is the greatest of all time.”
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