Let’s make one thing clear from the off: Nobody should dismiss Roger Federer’s chances of lifting at least one more Grand Slam to add to his mighty haul of 20 in his career. The Swiss master received obituaries for his sporting career several times before his last Slam victory in 2018, and only a fool would bet against him making it to no. 21 and beyond.Nadal Can Eclipse Federer Record.
In saying that, we can say with some certainty that Rafael Nadal will have more chances than Federer to win Slams in the near future. He is, after all, five years younger than Federer. Neither man will go on forever, but Nadal should certainly keep playing a little longer.
As it stands, Nadal sits on 19 Grand Slams; just one behind his great rival, Federer. If the latest tennis betting odds online for the French Open are to be believed, then Nadal will head into the summer with 20 Slams. He’s just 9/10 for the French Open with 888sport, and many believe the bookies are being generous for a player who has dominated a tournament like no player in history.
Nadal’s Clay Dominance Spectacular
Of course, a question that invariably arises is whether Nadal’s record is diminished due to his French Open dominance. A win at Roland Garros in early June – coronavirus permitting – will be his 13th crown on the clay, thus representing around two-thirds of his Slams.
But one would argue that Nadal’s dominance on the clay should not take away from his success elsewhere. Indeed, it’s only really the Australian Open where Nadal has failed to shine (one win). Victory in the US Open later in the year will, for example, draw him level with Federer on five titles.
Another area where Nadal has eclipsed the Swiss is at the Olympics. The Spaniard took gold in Beijing 2008, whereas Federer’s best effort was a silver medal as runner-up to Andy Murray in a memorable final at London 2012. Nadal has been coy about his participation at Tokyo 2020, but one would imagine that he will join Federer and Djokovic for what will surely be a final Olympics for the golden trio.
Djokovic Back to His Best
Of course, there is always the chance that Nadal overtaking Federer’s slam record becomes a moot point. Novak Djokovic looks to be back somewhere near his very best, and he is the 13/10 favourite and 6/4 favourite for Wimbledon and the US Open respectively. It’s almost inconceivable to think that he won’t add a few more Slams to his haul of 17.
Indeed, if we are going by pure statistics and form, it is likely that both Djokovic and Nadal exceed Federer’s 20 Grand Slam haul. Will it settle the question of who is the greatest men’s player if one finishes with more Slams than the other? No. So much of this must be taken in context. One could argue, for example, that Djokovic only came to the fore in Federer’s waning years. How would he fare against the imperious Federer of the mid to late-2000s? Nobody can say for sure.
But if Nadal was to, as expected, take the French Open in June, coupled with Wimbledon or the US Open in the summer, it would at least put the question back on the table. It may be an unanswerable one, as we have been blessed with the three greatest in history in a single era of men’s tennis. At least with that last statement, most of us can find some agreement.