Sunday, January 16, 2022

Djokovic vs. Federer vs. Nadal: How the race for the men’s Grand Slam titles is taking shape

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Djokovic, Federer and Nadal are all tied while the trio remain leaders in men’s tennis

The trio have been the dominant force for well over a decade, and it remains a hotly debated topic when it comes to deciding which of them is the greatest of their time if not of all time, as they each hold different records.

The race for the most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis continues with Novak Djokovic hoping to overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2022.

At 39, Federer is the Elder Statesman, and with 20 major titles, he’s also reached the most Grand Slam finals, semifinals and quarterfinals of any male player in the Open Era.

In 2020, 35-year-old Nadal drew level with Federer in 20 Grand Slams as he won the French Open again. It was his 13thth Title at Roland Garros and no player has been as dominant in a major event as the Spaniard in Paris.

Djokovic then made it to 18th place by beating Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final in early 2021, then prevailed over Nadal by beating him in the semifinals at Roland Garros before claiming the No. 19 title in the final secured against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

And Djokovic, 34, may well have age on his side in his pursuit of the most Grand Slam titles towards the end of his career, especially as he drew level with his old rivals with a sixth Wimbledon title in July.

Djokovic lost the 2021 US Open final, although one thing seems certain, the Serb is keen to claim the ‘GOAT’ crown. To do so, however, he must hold back an ever-improving roster of younger players in order to do so.

When Djokovic won his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2008, Federer already had twelve and Nadal three.

The age difference made Federer the player to beat in the early stages of Nadal and Djokovic’s careers, and in 2009 he surpassed Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Slams to become the all-time men’s record holder – despite being in the 2010s was tracked down.

Regular triumphs for Nadal in France and Djokovic in Australia helped both to do well on the scoreboard, but Federer remained 17th after winning Wimbledon in 2012.

Along with Serena Williams, Federer has helped redefine the age at which top players are typically expected to retire, despite winning his 20th seasonth Slam at the 2018 Australian Open, he hasn’t given up hope of expanding his tally.

This desire to continue has also motivated Nadal and Djokovic, and if the two play as long as Federer has managed, there is every chance that the latter will lag behind in the overall race for the Grand Slam title.

There are, of course, a few factors that will determine the eventual outcome when all three retire. Overall, what Federer posts before calling it is one, although Nadal is expected to surpass him this year.

Meanwhile, Nadal’s stranglehold at the French Open is a key factor as he looks poised to win there in the years to come, while Djokovic’s skill is mostly on the hard courts – and the fact that he’s played four of the last six Winning Wimbledon events – means he couldn’t give up on increasing his total even if he eventually goes ahead and Nadal and Federer are long since retired.

Considering Nadal is just a year older than Djokovic and only overlapping at the same age for two weeks, the signs suggest this fight could go on for some time.

That then brings us to the final factor, the next wave of talent who want to follow in the footsteps of Dominic Thiem who won the 2020 US Open and win a maiden slam.

Daniil Medvedev did this when he won the US Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are among the names who hope to win majors too, while there are also high hopes for Jannik Sinner.

But despite Medvedev beating Djokovic in the 2021 US Open final, it seems like the Serb is yet to pause.

The race goes on.

Follow i sport on Facebook for more tennis news, interviews and features, or listen Love Tennis Podcast presented by James Gray from i on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcastS

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