Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic ‘GOAT’ debate conundrum posed by Ivan Lendl

Eight-time Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl doesn’t believe there can be an undisputed ‘greatest of all time’ in tennis because of the difference between eras.

The Open era started in 1968 when professional players were allowed to compete against amateurs.

Prior to this landmark moment, Rod Laver was the most dominant player of his generation, winning six Grand Slam tournaments from 1960-62 as an amateur.

When Laver became professional in 1963, he was banned from the major events until the French Open in 1968 when the sport finally turned professional.

The Australian would go on to win a further five majors and finish his career with 11 titles.

But Laver not been blocked from competing at the Grand Slams, it’s widely thought he would have added numerous more titles to his collection.

Instead, Laver’s records have been largely surpassed by the unprecedented greatness of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Federer leads the all-time list with 20 Grand Slam titles with Nadal and Djokovic on 19 and 17 respectively.

In the conversation over who is the greatest male player of all time, the number of major titles is considered to be the deciding factor.

But Lendl feels the different eras means one player can’t be viewed as the ‘GOAT’ on their own.


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“I don’t think so because we have two different eras,” he told WWOS.

“In my mind, there is one guy from the pre-Open tennis era even though he won his second Grand Slams in the post Open era but played most of his tennis in the pre Open era, won eleven majors, two Grand Slams and even if he had not won the Grand Slam in 1962, he would have won his share of majors between 1962 and 1968, and that’s Rod Laver.

“I think he is the best in the pre-Open era. And then you have the Open era where it is much easier to judge, and you just go by the records and we have a hell of a fight for who it will eventually be.

“I don’t think you can compare the two, you have to separate them.”

But Lendl, who has coached Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev, did he admit he is eager to see who will eventually finish with the most major titles.

He added: “It’s between Novak, Rafa and Roger on who ends up with the most majors and who is considered the best of all-time in the Open-era.

“That chapter is not written and it’s going to be fascinating to watch, like in golf. We are very fortunate to watch Tiger chase down Jack.

“I would have never thought after Pete got to 14 that it was not going to stand for a long time and all of a sudden there is going to be three guys who are going to thrash his record.

“Who would have thought that, right?”

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