Andy Roddick has labelled the GOAT debate – the long-standing argument over whether Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic is the greatest player of all time – ‘dumb’ and insists it’s impossible to make a call until the trio have finished their respective careers.
The ‘Big Three’ have won a remarkable 58 Grand Slam titles between them, with Federer, 38, leading the way on 20 majors, Nadal one behind him and Djokovic, the youngest of the group, on 17.
Nadal, the 12-time French Open champion, was tipped to equal Federer’s haul at Roland Garros in May, only for the clay-court tournament to be provisionally postponed until September, while Djokovic has won five of the last seven majors and looks increasingly likely to surpass both.
But Roddick, who won the US Open in 2003, has called for the discussion over who is the greatest to be put on ice until they hang up their racquets.
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‘When it pertains to Serena [Williams] and the women’s side that’s a little clearer,’ Roddick told the Tennis Channel.
‘There seems to be this need to discuss the greatest of all time on the men’s side and, frankly, at this point, I think it’s kind of dumb.
‘It’d be like handing out Oscars before you watch the ending of a movie. It just doesn’t really make sense. It’s just too early.
‘I think we’re lucky to have Novak, Roger and Rafa still in the game – hopefully [Andy] Murray can get back into it – but it’s premature. Everyone likes to go to this conversation non-stop and I think there’s too much wasted breath on it right now.’
Roddick’s final meeting against a member of the ‘Big Three’ was against Djokovic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
At that stage, the current world No. 1 only had five major titles to his name but did Roddick ever expect him to reach his current total of 17?
‘Anyone who says someone can get from five to 20 is lying to you,’ Roddick replied when asked that question by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.
‘I just don’t think that’s a conversation that seems real. I feel like these guys are playing Xbox sometimes the way they go about their business.
Most Grand Slam titles (ATP)
20 – Federer
19 – Nadal
17 – Djokovic
14 – Sampras
‘I remember playing Novak 2012 at the Olympics second round. I was unseeded but had won two of the last three tournaments I’d played in so I was feeling great and I felt that Wimbledon was somewhere I could still go on a bit of a run.
‘Novak is someone I’d had a decent record against at that point and he beat me like a drum. I was like a child on the court. I lost two and two (actually 6-2 6-1) on grass.
‘I was serving average – that’s not good to do against Novak. He just beat me like a drum.
‘That was one of the first times I was like, this game is getting a little bit different to what I was used to. These guys are from another planet right now. That one hit home for me. The way he was playing in that moment was eye opening.’
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