Rafael Nadal: Does Winning the U.S. Open Make Him Greatest Tennis Player Ever?

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer ISeptember 11, 2010

Rafael Nadal: Does Winning the U.S. Open Make Him Greatest Tennis Player Ever?

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts while playing against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during his men's singles semifinal match on day thirteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2010
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Rafael Nadal.

    It's a name that every tennis fan has come to know and respect over the years. Right alongside another tennis great, Roger Federer.

    But the real question is whether he can wrap up another US Open title against the winner of the Roger Federer/Novak Djokovic semifinal. If he does, can we honestly say that Rafael Nadal is the greatest tennis player in history?

    While there will be people on both sides of the argument who will, and should, throw out names like Arthur Ashe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Roger Federer, there will be those that believe Nadal is the best that has ever been.

    Here are 10 ways, five on both sides of the aisle, to get that argument started.

YES: Nadal Has 41 Career Tournament Wins

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating against Fernando Verdasco of Spain during his men's single quarterfinal match on day eleven of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Rafael Nadal has won 41 tournaments. Sure that's respectable, and who's to argue with a resume like that?

NO: It Would Only Be His First US Open Win

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain waves to fans before playing against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during his men's singles semifinal match on day thirteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    I'm not about to call someone the "best ever" when he would have only won his first US Open championship after finishing as a semifinalist in each of the last two years before this year.

YES: He's Owned Roger Federer

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 16:  Mens finalist Rafael Nadal and  Roger Federer of Switzerland hold aloft their trophies after the mens final match during the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 16, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.  (Phot
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Nadal and Federer have faced off a grand total of 21 times in singles events. Nadal leads that series 14-7 all time, including 10 wins in 12 tries on clay courts.

    He also knocked off Federer in the finals of Wimbledon in 2008 and the Australian Open in 2009.

NO: Will Only Be His 42nd Career Win

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Rafael Nadal of Spain holds the Championship trophy after winning the Men's Singles Final match against Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis a
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Winning the US Open this afternoon only gives Rafael Nadal 42 career tournament wins, which trails not only Roger Federer (63) but Pete Sampras (63) and Andre Agassi (60) as well.

    That's like finishing 100 stolen bases behind Ricky Henderson and someone calling him the greatest base stealer ever.

YES: Potential for Greatness Is Just Beginning

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during his men's singles semifinal match on day thirteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2010 in the Flushi
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Perhaps saying he has the potential to be the greatest ever would be a better statement. He turned pro back in 2001 and after nine years on tour, racking up eight Grand Slam titles isn't that bad after all.

    Roger Federer has 16 Grand Slam titles in 11 years.

NO: Trails in Career Grand Slam Titles

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Rafael Nadal of Spain with the winners trophy at the Wimbledon Championships 2010 Winners Ball at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel on July 4, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    A win at the US Open would give Nadal his ninth Grand Slam tournament championship. He would trail Federer (16) and Sampras (14) but would pass Agassi (8).

YES: Dominates Grand Slam Tournaments

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Serena Williams of USA and Rafael Nadal of Spain with their winners trophies at the Wimbledon Championships 2010 Winners Ball at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel on July 4, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    When it comes to Grand Slam tournaments, Nadal is arguably one of the best. In the Australian, US, and French Opens, as well as Wimbledon, he has a combined 113-17 record and holds a 86.92 career win percentage.

    Not to mention he's 38-1 at the French Open.

NO: Couldn't Beat the Best in Their Prime

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    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 12:  Former tennis player Pete Sampras and Roger Federer of Switzerland,during Hit for Haiti, a charity event during the BNP Paribas Open on March 12, 2010 in Indian Wells, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Sure Rafael Nadal is starting to become one of the best on tour, but could he really beat the likes of Arthur Ashe, Andre Agassi, or Pete Sampras in their prime? My guess is no.

YES: Youth and Experience Has Become Deadly

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot while playing against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during his men's singles semifinal match on day thirteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    When you're 24 years old and you're racking up wins like they're going out of style, most would say that you haven't even hit your prime yet.

    At that age, to be doing what Nadal is doing on tour is exceptional. Can he only get better? Most certainly. It's only a matter of time before greatness could legitimately be brought into the conversation.

NO: He's Just Not There Yet

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during his men's singles semifinal match on day thirteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2010 in the Flushi
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    To answer the ultimate question, is he the greatest ever with a win at the US Open? The answer to that is no. At least not yet.

    He's a long way from Federer and an even longer way from Sampras.

    There are too many names out there that he hasn't quite reached yet. Does he have the potential to get there? Most certainly. But it wouldn't be fair to the greatest players of the sports' history to already proclaim a 24-year old the greatest ever.

    There's too much tennis to be played and still a lot to be learned by young Nadal.

    Greatness is right around the corner, but he hasn't earned it...yet.

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