Tennis G.O.A.T. Debate: Roger Federer Trumps Rafael Nadal as US Open Looms

Michael CasentiCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27:  Roger Federer of Switzerland reaches for a shot during his fourth round match against  Mikhail Youzhny of Russia on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal are synonymous with the acronym "G.O.A.T.", or "Greatest of All Time". These two players are in the elite inner circle of tennis, along with Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, and Bjorn Borg.  Yet, among these five stellar players is the true G.O.A.T.  It's just that the population has not been able to determine one, and only one, player to be given the title G.O.A.T.  I have my opinion that the person who is the true G.O.A.T. is the Swiss Maestro, Roger Federer.

At his best, Roger Federer is the greatest of all time.  At his worst, Roger Federer is the greatest of all time. All the evidence points to the fact that Federer is the best to ever hold a racket.

Grand Slams 

Federer leads the pack with 16 grand slams, followed by Sampras at 14, Roy Emerson at 12, Borg and Laver at 11.  Nadal is behind with 10.  

While some may contend that Federer competed in a weak era, this is untrue.  Federer was such a strong player that he made others look weak, when they were actually part of one of the best generations of tennis players to date.

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Federer also has been to 23 straight semifinals at grand slams, and 23 finals at grand slams. Not only that, Federer has been to a record 29 straight quarterfinals at grand slams.

World No. 1

Pete Sampras holds the record here, but Federer is close behind with 285 weeks occupying the top spot, compared to 286 weeks for Sampras.  Meanwhile, Nadal has held the top spot for about 2 years, or 104 weeks.  However, Federer does hold the record for most consecutive weeks, with 237 weeks.

Sampras leads the pack in most year end no. 1 rankings, with 6, but Federer is at 5.  Nadal has only had two years in which he ended the year at no. 1.


Federer has won 67 tournaments in singles, including grand slams.  While far behind the record set by Jimmy Connors, Federer has among the most career titles.  Nadal is over 20 tournaments behind at 46.

The World Tour Finals, which pits the top 8 players against each other at the end of the season, has been won by Federer 5 times.  Nadal, however, has only been to one final, where he was beaten by Federer in 3 sets. 

Refuting Critics

How can a man be the greatest of all time if he cannot be the greatest of his generation?

Many critics point to Federer's losing head to head to Rafael Nadal as a legitimate reason Federer is not the G.O.A.T.  However, Federer is the best in his generation, evidenced by his winning the most grand slams of his generation.  A losing record to just one player does not equate to a fall from grace. Nadal is not all that there is to tennis.  There are hundreds of other players in the tennis world; tennis is not a battle of Federer vs. Nadal.

Federer hasn't won a gold medal at the Olympics yet.

Federer has actually won a gold medal in the doubles event, which is a huge achievement.  After all, tennis is not only about singles, but also about doubles.  As for singles, Federer almost did get a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but he lost the bronze medal match.  Federer does have a chance to nab a double-whammy—Wimbledon and Olympic Gold—at the All England Club next year, since London will be hosting the Olympic Games.

Roger Federer, in my opinion, is the true G.O.A.T.  And as the US Open looms, I will look to Federer to make a statement, and to prove, once and for all, that he at his best is the greatest of all time, and he at his worst is still the greatest of all time.