Roger Federer: The fans are the centre of everything
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Roger Federer has been dealt a snub by Dominic Thiem in the debate to name the greatest male tennis player of all time. The Swiss legend is widely recognised as one of best to grace the game, but Thiem has laid out the criteria which would favour Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic over Federer.
The 41-year-old retired from the sport in September after bowing out at the Laver Cup, bidding an emotional goodbye after an illustrious 24-year career.
Federer, fondly known for his elegant playing style and classy on-court demeanour, won 20 Grand Slams and 103 titles on the ATP Tour – as well as spending 310 weeks cumulatively as the world No 1.
Federer’s last triumph at a Grand Slam came at the 2018 Australian Open where he won his sixth title, but a spate of injuries and subsequent surgeries dogged the latter stages of his career, forcing him to miss five Majors in total.
That had an impact on his ability to add another Slam to his collection of 21 and, while he was out injured, Djokovic and Nadal added more trophies to their collection and the pair are level on 22 apiece after Djokovic won his 10th Australian Open title.
And Thiem believes that counting their individual successes in the Grand Slam era is the only fair way to measure all three players when choosing the greatest, with a strong indication the Austrian does not believe it should be Federer.
“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Thiem told Eurosport. “Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”
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While Federer considers a possible career in punditry with the BBC, Djokovic and Nadal are set to go head-to-head in the battle for the three remaining Slams in 2023, with a 15th French Open success in the Spaniard’s sights, although the emerging generation of youngsters – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud – may have a say in the matter.
But Djokovic’s form in Melbourne last month suggests he could be the favourite to land both the Wimbledon and US Open trophies after blowing away Tsitsipas to claim a record 10th crown.
Thiem insisted that Djokovic’s victory was no fluke and suggested that his fitness levels make him appear to be 10 years younger than his actual age.
“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he added. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old. We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”
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