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Is Djokovic Breaking Away with the GOAT Debate?

Brandon Horne

Novak Djokovic in a match against Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2019.

After his record-tying 22nd grand slam victory and record-extending tenth Australian Open title, the GOAT debate is now settled. Novak Djokovic is the GOAT of tennis.

Novak Djokovic's rise to the top of the tennis world has been a remarkable journey. From humble beginnings in Serbia, Djokovic has worked tirelessly to achieve greatness and cement his place in tennis history. His dedication to the sport is evident in his unwavering commitment to training and preparation, and his ability to adapt and evolve his game has helped him stay ahead of his competition. Despite all of his achievements, Djokovic remains humble and grounded, often crediting his success to his team and his firm support system. His positive attitude and sportsmanship have earned him the respect and admiration of fans around the world, and his determination to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible on the court has made him a true legend of the sport.

In all measures, Djokovic leads both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. For head-to-head record, Novak leads Rafa 30-29, and Federer 27-23. In stark contrast to Nadal, Djokovic continues to perform at peak levels, constantly pushing past injuries and age. For example, at the past Australian Open, Djokovic played through a 3 centimeter (1.2 inch) tear of his hamstring to win his tenth title in Melbourne. Even as the youngest of the big three, Novak is still 35 years old, and continues to dominate the tour unlike any other. Since turning pro in 2005, Djokovic has won two or more titles every single year, including 11 titles in 2015 and 10 titles in 2011, both of which are considered as contenders for the best years by an individual player in tennis history.

Djokovic has complete mastery of every surface, having won multiple grand slams on every surface. He is also the only player to best Nadal in all four slams. His hard court prowess is unbeatable, and this claim is supported by a shocking 68 career titles on the surface. He has an astounding 381 weeks and counting as world number one, 71 weeks ahead of the second best player, Roger Federer, and 172 weeks ahead of Nadal. When looking at the best aspect of the tennis GOATs (who I consider to be Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer, in that order), Novak is the only one to appear on multiple top lists. When looking at top backhands of all time, it is undoubtedly Djokovic. His ability to come up with shots from the stretch, defend anywhere on the court at any time, hit with pace and spin, and generate winners, is unrivaled by any other player in the history of the game. In addition, Novak is the top defensive tennis player as well as the best returner of all time in tennis. He can come up with any angle and rarely gets aced, leading to shockingly high break percentages.

Djokovic plays with a mental tenacity that is certainly among the best on the tour, only second behind Nadal. Djokovic has the ability to stay focused and composed even in the most high-pressure situations, often coming back from seemingly impossible positions to win matches. His mental strength allows him to remain calm and confident in the face of adversity, making him a formidable opponent on any court. Overall, Djokovic's dominance in every aspect of the game, coupled with his mental strength, makes him the clear choice as the greatest tennis player of all time. He has shattered records and achieved feats that were once thought impossible, all while maintaining his position at the top of the rankings for an unprecedented length of time. Djokovic has proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with and his legacy in the sport of tennis is truly unparalleled.


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