2021 served Novak Djokovic to clear the gap that separated him from eternal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time Grand Slam ranking. The world number 1 won three majors this year and had a great chance to overtake the US Open.
In the event of a victory in New York and consequent 'Calendar Grand Slam', Nole would have put an end to any debate related to the GOAT. The 34-year-old from Belgrade also finished the season at the top of the ATP rankings for the seventh time in his career, thus detaching his idol Pete Sampras.
The situation of Roger and Rafa is very different, whose appearances on the field have been very limited in recent months. The 40-year-old Swiss underwent surgery on his right knee for the third time, while the Spaniard played the pittance of seven official tournaments in 2021.
The Manacor veteran is preparing to return to action at the prestigious Abu Dhabi exhibition in mid-December. In a recent interview with 'moneycontrol.com', well-known New York Times correspondent Christopher Clarey explained why King Roger gets along much better with Nadal than Djokovic.
Clarey talks about the Big 3
Clarey feels that having similar backgrounds is one of the reasons why Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal get along so easily while the Swiss and Novak Djokovic hardly meet or greet each other. "Rafael Nadal was Roger's first major challenger," he said.
"By the time Roger made peace, Djokovic came along. Federer had a tough time to accept." Clarey also acknowledged the fact that since Nadal has always been very humble and respectful towards Federer, he easily developed a great bonding with the Swiss.
"Rafa was deferential, Djokovic did impressions; perhaps Federer didn't much appreciate," concluded Clarey. As the 2021 season is about to end, the focus has shifted towards the upcoming year. It opens with the Australian Open, and players will be involved in certain events prior to the first Grand Slam event of the season.
This includes the ATP Cup which has become a prominent event in which top players represent their nations. Soon after the ATP Cup, players will shift their focus towards the first Grand Slam event of the season, the Australian Open.
It will be interesting to see which nations go deep into the event and which player carries their team to glory. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are all tied at 20 Majors each at the end of the 2021 season.