COVID-19: The Recalibrated argument of GOAT in Men Tennis

If you ask that which has been the most impactful and defining tweet in the recent times, the answer would be the one-word tweet by iconic, the living legend Roger Federer, on the news that Wimbledon 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The word he tweeted was – “devastated”. The reaction is natural for someone which has lifted the trophy a record eight-time and has been the most adorned plated at the grass of All England Club over the past two decades. It could have been nine titles for the swiss great, had he not missed those championship points against Djokovic last year.

The French Open 2020 has been postponed, and till now the authorities have not made any announcement regarding US Open 2020. However, the way COVID-19 has gone berserk in Europe and the USA, there are bleak chances that we will see another Grand Slam in 2020. The fraternity and fans smell the coffee and clearly realizes that for Tennis, 2020 is seemingly over.

With this and regarding Men’s Tennis, the discussion of the race GOAT (Greatest of All Times) needs recalibration.

The men’s Tennis is in a unique time zone these days or rather say for the past few years, as three greatest ever tennis players are active together in same time zone. No prize for guessing; it is Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal. Their dominance at ATP is beyond imagination; and surreal. If we take Wimbledon 2003 as a starting point (the first Grand Slam by Federer, first of the trio as well), these three greats have clinched 56 Grand Slams out of total 67 played till date. This is a colossal statistic. It is also worthwhile while to mention that Nadal won his first Grand Slam in 2005 and Djokovic in 2008.

Though these three have booked the top three slots in the hierarchy of greatest Men Tennis player ever, the top-ranking is still open as all three players are active.

Federer made an emphatic comeback after few years of silence when he lifted Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2018 and seemingly booked the GOAT title but then Nadal and Djokovic have been exceptional in the past two years and the argument of GOAT continues.

Currently, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have 20,19 and 17 Grand Slam titles. Federer had a bleak chance to add to this tally, particularly after losing the match of nerves in the final of Wimbledon last year. His last practical chance to add one more title was Wimbledon 2020, which has been lost now. At this stage of his career, the chances of Federer winning any other slam, apart from Wimbledon are close to zilch. Age is catching him fast and by the time of Wimbledon 2021, Federer would be almost forty.

Nadal still rules the clay at Roland Garros, and thus French Open 2020 was a clear chance for him to catch Federer’s tally of 20, which has been lost in all probability (if French Open 2020 would be scraped). For Nadal, any other Grand Slam apart from French Open looks bit unlikely as Nadal cannot climb over a wall called Djokovic at the grass and hard surface. With age catching him too and the advent of like of Dominic Thiem, Nadal’s supremacy at clay-court also will not last long. But for Nadal, unlike Federer, there is still a chance for 1-2 Slams even after 2020 is washed out. It all depends on how Thiem challenges him at clay and how fit Nadal remains. So, Nadal still has a chance to match tally of Federer and maybe going beyond.

Djokovic now holds a clear chance to finish with more slams then these two. He is the youngest among them and currently he is in the form of life. If we extrapolate his form over the past 18 months, then barring French open, he will remain a favourite at all three slams in 2021 and maybe in 2022 as well. Thus, Djokovic has a chance to go beyond a tally of 20 Gland Slams, which perhaps may be final tally for Federer and Nadal.

The CORVID-19 has costed the trio overall 2-3 Grand Slams but has virtually sealed Grand Slam career of Federer and maybe for Nadal as well.

The biggest loser though is the Tennis fans. The unending charm of Paris’s clay and London’s grass keeps people spellbound every year. It is enigmatic. These Grand Slams are like an annual festival. They give us epics, which we cheer for years to come, like the Djokovic-Federer final last year in Wimbledon.

Cannot help it though, nature is dictating its terms and that is the bottom line.

(The Author is NewsMobile iJourno. Views expressed are personal)

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