Is the GOAT in tennis a pointless competition?


With the Australian Open taking place in Melbourne from January 16th to January 29th, it’s time to consider some interesting questions. Quora Here’s what tennis observers are interested in: A true tennis fan wouldn’t want to go on about it. ”

But the reality is that whenever there is a Grand Slam tennis tournament, the media inevitably raises the big and unanswered question of who will become the GOAT professional tennis player of all time.

There are three nominees for this honor. At Grand Slam he has 20 wins Roger Federer. Novak Djokovic, 21 Grand Slam champion. Current record holder Rafael Nadal has completed his 22nd Grand Slam at Palmares.

Federer has announced his retirement from the sport and will no longer be competing for the GOAT title. This leaves Djokovic and Nadal as the remaining viable combatants.

Djokovic missed two major tournaments last year, the Australian Open and the US Open, after refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19. This has led commentators to speculate that he would have already passed Nadal had he been cleared to play.

Nadal failed to start preparations for this year’s Australian Open, losing narrowly to Cameron Norrie (Great Britain) and Alex De Minaur (Australia) in the United Cup.

Both players recorded their first and so far only victory over Nadal. But those losses don’t mean much for the Australian Open. Because this lead up his tournament will allow Nadal to amass enough playing time to mount a credible challenge to his opponents as he defends his title as reigning champion.

federer and nadal
Switzerland’s Roger Federer (right) and Spain’s Rafael Nadal attend a training session before the Laver Cup tennis tournament at The O2 in London on September 22, 2022. (Kin Cheung/AP Photo)

Nadal won last year’s Australian Open against Daniil Medvedev in a hard-fought five-set final that lasted over five hours.

Djokovic, by contrast, won convincingly in the match he played in the Adelaide International Tournament. He won in his three sets against the surprisingly tenacious Sebastian his Corda in a phenomenal final.

Therefore, these two legendary and talented players, Djokovic and Nadal, are once again prime contenders for the GOAT title.

When do you pass the baton to a new generation?

Of course, it is possible that neither Djokovic nor Nadal can win in the open. That’s because a new generation of players are becoming more visible and aspiring to win Grand Slams.

These include Alexander Zverev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov and possibly other contenders.

Both Djokovic and Nadal belong to the older generation. Djokovic he is 35, Nadal he is 36. Their undiminished and continuous determination to play tennis is amazing and deserves the admiration of the sport’s aficionados.

However, given the difficulty of comparing players from different eras, it may be pointless to dwell on the GOAT issue.

Also, technology, the provision of medical assistance, nutrition, physical therapy, equipment, coaching, and tournament formats have changed so much over the past half-century that competition has become an unrealistic and inadequate comparative exercise. .

Furthermore, it would be naive to expect GOAT to be determined by the maximum number of Grand Slam wins. In fact, other criteria should also be taken into account, such as the player’s skill, style, and temperament.

If so, Federer could be considered to have won the race even though his competitor was still playing professionally.

Epoch Times photo
An Australian Open branded tennis ball is on the court before the 2015 Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 11, 2015. (Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Moreover, it is difficult to assess the impact of Djokovic’s dismissal from Australia last year on his determination to succeed in the Open this year. But the incident may give Djokovic a chance to win his 10th Australian Open title.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that he will be heckled by those who believe the Australian government has prematurely reinstated his visa to return to Australia.

This is because normally people who are deported from Australia, even if they leave voluntarily, are not allowed to re-enter for three years and must reimburse the Australian Government for the costs associated with their deportation.

Opponents of Djokovic may characterize his re-enlistment as involving an unfair use of administrative discretion. or, if there is one, it is known.

But any true tennis enthusiast would welcome Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open and his quest to become a GOAT.

Epoch Times photo
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning his final match against Sebastian Korda of the United States at the Adelaide International on January 8, 2023 in Adelaide, Australia. (Lauren Elliott/Reuters)

Waste of time?

Even if Djokovic manages to reclaim the crown, the contest won’t be decided at the Australian Open as he is tied with Nadal, each with 22 Grand Slam victories. is not.

The first Grand Slam since the Australian Open was Roland Garros, which Nadal has won 14 times. Nadal is the king of clay. As such, it may take longer to find the final winner of the GOAT contest.

But from an objective point of view, Djokovic’s comeback at the Australian Open is great news for the sport. Many tennis enthusiasts believe that the British Open without a Serbian champion degrades the competition.

Nevertheless, GOAT critics may ask why it is important to pursue this flawed contest. After all, sports are entertainment. Admiring the formidable skill and fortitude of a tennis player is far more satisfying and thrilling than chasing meaningless titles.

So the GOAT question certainly raises a valuable point when rhetorically asking if we are wasting our time. It’s a trip into the future that’s even distracting in a sense.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.

Gabriel Moens

Gabriël A. Moens AM is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and has served as Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Murdoch University. In 2003, Moens was awarded the Australian Centennial Medal by the Prime Minister for his contributions to education. He has taught extensively in Australia, Asia, Europe and America. Moens recently published two novels, A Twisted Choice (2020) and The Coincidence (2021).