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Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: career grand slams and big title records

A look at how the ‘GOATs’ of men’s tennis compare

It was a stunning 12 months for Novak Djokovic as he secured the year-end world No.1 spot for a record seventh time and finished with five titles – including three of the four grand slams. 

The Serbian, 34, was unable to add a record-equalling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title, losing in the semi-finals to eventual winner Alexander Zverev. But despite the defeat in Turin he looked back on a superb season where he also broke Roger Federer’s mark for the most weeks at No.1. 

“It was a great season, no doubt,” he said. “I did not play many tournaments, but still managed to end the year at No.1 for the seventh time, broke records for the year-end No.1, historic No.1, won three out of [the] four slams. The year was phenomenal. Maybe could have done better in some other ATP events. But all in all really good ending of the season as well with a title in Paris and semi-finals here.”

Djokovic ‘ducks’ Australia questions

With the season now finished, the focus is now on 2022 – and the first slam in Australia. However, when asked if he will play in Melbourne, Djokovic “ducked” the questions and refused to say whether he will compete after it was confirmed that players will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the tournament, The Guardian reported. 

“We’ll see,” he said. “I haven’t been talking to them [the organisers]. I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be. Now that I know, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

2022 grand slam dates
  • Australian Open: 17-30 January 
  • French Open: 22 May to 5 June 
  • Wimbledon: 27 June to 10 July 
  • US Open: 28 August to 11 September

Here we look at the “GOAT” debate in men’s tennis and compare the career records of the “big three”...

1

Debate 

Who is the ‘GOAT’ of men’s tennis?

Tennis fans will argue for hours debating the following question: which male player is the greatest of all time (GOAT)? Icons such as Björn Borg, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors get a special mention in the “GOAT” discussion, but for many people it’s a choice of one of the “big three”.

After his victory at Wimbledon Novak Djokovic joined Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career grand slam wins. Djokovic has dominated on Melbourne’s hard courts with nine of his 20 slams coming in Australia. Nadal is the all-time “king of clay” with 13 French Open victories out of his 20. And Federer has eight wins on grass at Wimbledon from his collection of 20 slams. 

In terms of “big titles” – victories in a grand slam, ATP Finals, ATP Masters 1000 tournament, or an Olympic singles gold medal – Djokovic leads his rivals. After his win in the Rolex Paris Masters in November, Djokovic has 62 big titles compared to Nadal’s 57 and Federer’s 54.

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Novak Djokovic won the Rolex Paris Masters in November 2021

Novak Djokovic won the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters

Tnani Badreddine/ATP Images/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic 

  • Nationality: Serbian 
  • Age: 34 
  • World ranking:
  • Career titles: 86 
  • Grand slam titles: 20 (9 x Australian Open: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021; 2 x French Open: 2016, 2021; 6 x Wimbledon: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021; 3 x US Open: 2011, 2015, 2018) 
  • Big titles: 62 (20 grand slams; 5 ATP finals; 37 ATP Masters 1000 titles) 
  • Olympic medals: singles bronze at Beijing 2008

3

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2021 Italian Open

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Italian Open final

Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

Rafael Nadal 

  • Nationality: Spanish 
  • Age: 35 
  • World ranking: 6
  • Career titles: 88 
  • Grand slam titles: 20 (1 x Australian Open: 2009; 13 x French Open: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; 2 x Wimbledon: 2008, 2010; 4 x US Open: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019) 
  • Big titles: 57 (20 grand slams; 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles; 1 Olympics singles) 
  • Olympic medals: singles gold at Beijing 2008; men’s doubles gold at Rio 2016

4

Roger Federer is an eight-time Wimbledon champion

Roger Federer is an eight-time Wimbledon champion

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer 

  • Nationality: Swiss 
  • Age: 40 
  • World ranking: 16
  • Career titles: 103 
  • Grand slam titles: 20 (6 x Australian Open: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018; 1 x French Open: 2009; 8 x Wimbledon: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017; 5 x US Open: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) 
  • Big titles: 54 (20 grand slams; 6 ATP Finals; 28 ATP Masters 1000 titles) 
  • Olympic medals: singles silver at London 2012; men’s doubles gold at Beijing 2008

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