The debate over the identity of the greatest male tennis player of all-time is one of the big talking points in tennis and for some greats of the game, the legend at the top of the pile will always be Roger Federer.
Novak Djokovic looks set to end the most glorious era in the history of the men’s game as the most successful player of them all, with his 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open confirming him as the most profile trophy collector of them all.
Djokovic’s great rival Rafael Nadal is also in the mix when it comes to the GOAT debate as he has claimed 22 Grand Slam titles, including a mind-blowing 14 wins at the French Open.
The achievements of Djokovic and Nadal have pushed Federer back to third place in the all-time Grand Slam winners’ list, but many believe the Swiss maestro deserves to hailed as the greatest for different reasons.
The influence he had dragging tennis into the modern era and setting the standards for Nadal and Djokovic to aspire to is one factor in the Federer argument.
He also took tennis to a huge audience around the world with his majestic style of play and his flawless demeanour on and off the court.
Here, some of the game’s greats suggest Federer should still be in the GOAT debate even though he cannot match Nadal and Djokovic in the Grand Slam stakes.
Former British No 1 Tim Henman
“There are two different conversations to be had about the greatest player, the best player, that comes down to a numbers game and Djokovic will win that.
“If you are talking about impact and popularity, it is a one-horse race and there is no doubt that Federer is the most popular player that has ever played our sport.
“Overall, Djokovic is the best of all-time on the numbers, but many will still pick Federer because of what he contributed to the game on so many levels.”
Former world No 1 Mats Wilander
“You know I don’t like the saying who is the GOAT, because ‘greatest of all time’ is one thing, but ‘best of all time’, we will give to Novak Djokovic these days. The ‘greatest of all time’, I like to give to Roger Federer because I think he put tennis in everyone’s TV set.
“It will be interesting to see what he (Federer) does with the rest of his life, is he going to be part of tennis in the way we are [in the media]? Is he going to be coaching?
“He has his management company and is involved in a clothing line, but I would love to hear him commentate just to hear what he has to say, it would be great.
“It was so sad when he decided to retire, that is the saddest moment I have witnessed in professional tennis. He is a great guy, so nice to everybody, a class act.”
Doubles legend Mike Bryan
“All three of these great champions are amazing, but for me, it has to be Roger Federer at the top. Those few years when he was dominating, he barely lost any matches.
“The way he does is it always so smooth. He doesn’t sweat, he is just like a zen master. He is also the most relaxed in the locker room.
“Before a Wimbledon final, he is laughing in the dressing room like it’s a Sunday afternoon in the park.
“When it’s all said and done, who knows who will have all the records? It will probably be Djokovic, but I will always have a special place in my heart for Roger.”