In the space of less than 20 years, three players have been able to overcome (and not just) the 14 Slams won by Pete Sampras. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have written memorable pages of tennis history, remaining on the crest of the wave even after turning 30.
The Big 3 currently have the same number of Majors each (20), after the Serbian star triumphed for the sixth time at Wimbledon last Sunday. Being the youngest and also the fittest, the number 1 in the world seems to be the main suspect to end his career with the most Grand Slams on the board.
King Roger now seems to be on the avenue of sunset at almost 40, while Rafa has to deal with an exhausted physique after years and years of battles. The 34-year-old from Belgrade can also take part in the 'Calendar Golden Slam' this year, having decided to travel to Tokyo to play the Olympic Games.
Nole only took a bronze in Beijing in 2008, one more reason to beat the competition in Japan.
Krueger on the GOAT debate
"If you asked me back when Sampras retired, 'Would anyone beat 14?' I think pretty much everyone would say that would never happen," said Mitchell Krueger.
"And now you have three guys at 20." The American also threw his weight behind Novak Djokovic in the GOAT debate, but admitted he would not have done so a few years ago when Roger Federer owned most of the records.
“If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said 100% (Federer) — no doubt in my mind," Krueger added. "But you can’t really argue with the numbers (of Novak Djokovic) and the facts. It’s so hard to say, because on clay I’d still say Rafa is the best player, and I would still say on grass Fed … Fed in his prime," Krueger said.
"And then you have Djokovic, who is basically all-surface." Due to the ongoing pandemic outbreak, Tokyo Olympics has many rigid restrictions. Therefore, numerous top players have taken the difficult decision to withdraw, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
However, determined on his path to Golden Slam, Novak Djokovic will travel to Japan and try for the gold medal. None of the big three players have become an Olympics champion in the men’s singles event. Moreover, Federer and Nadal reasoned injury doubts and incomplete recovery, respectively, for their withdrawal this time. It seems improbable for the two to win the gold in Paris in 2024.