Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer: the great men’s tennis ‘GOAT’ debate


Tennis fans will argue for hours debating the following question: which male player is the greatest of all time? 

Icons such as Björn Borg, 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”. 

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been so good in recent years that the trio have won 56 of the last 67 grand slams.

Federer leads the way with 20, Nadal is one behind on 19 while Djokovic is catching up with 17 following his win at the Australian Open in February 2020

Serbian Djokovic has dominated on Melbourne’s hard courts with eight of his 17 slams coming down under. Spaniard Nadal is the all-time “king of clay” with 12 French Open victories out of his 19. While Swiss star Federer has eight wins on grass at Wimbledon from his collection of 20 slams. 

Here we look at the career records of the big three GOAT contenders…

2020 grand slam dates
  • Australian Open: Djokovic beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4  
  • Wimbledon: cancelled 
  • US Open: 24 August to 13 September (defending champion – Nadal) 
  • French Open: 20 September to 4 October (defending champion – Nadal)

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Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: how they compare

Novak Djokovic
  • Nationality: Serbian 
  • Age: 32
  • World ranking: 1
  • Career titles: 78
  • Grand slam titles: 17
    – 8 x Australian Open: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020
    – 1 x French Open: 2016
    – 5 x Wimbledon: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019
    – 3 x US Open: 2011, 2015, 2018
  • Big titles: 56 (17 grand slams; 5 ATP finals; 34 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
Rafael Nadal
  • Nationality: Spanish 
  • Age: 33
  • World ranking: 2
  • Career titles: 84
  • Grand slam titles: 19
    – 1 x Australian Open: 2009
    – 12 x French Open: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
    – 2 x Wimbledon: 2008, 2010
    – 4 x US Open: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019
  • Big titles: 54 (19 grand slams; 35 ATP Masters 1000 titles)
Roger Federer
  • Nationality: Swiss 
  • Age: 38
  • World ranking: 4
  • 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)

2020 men’s singles grand slam winners

2019 men’s singles grand slam winners 

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For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world – and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda – try The Week magazineStart your trial subscription today 
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