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Nadal in final

Sampras: Rafa should be in the 'GOAT' conversation


Exclusive. Pete Sampras has told The Tennis Space that Rafa Nadal should be “in the conversation” about who is the greatest player of all time. 

Sampras on who is the greatest tennis player of all time: “It’s always been so clear to me that Roger is the greatest. But I would say that, with Rafa doing what he’s been doing, he has an argument to be in the conversation. Rafa isn’t done yet. He could win more majors. He’s got a winning record against everyone that he has played in his generation. He’s won the Davis Cup, he’s won the Olympics. It’s such bar-room talk. You look at Rafa and what he has been able to do, you look at Roger and the fact that he did what he did for so long, winning all those majors. I hate talking about it. I feel as though every generation has the guy. Which generation was the best? You could talk about it all day. I just think that Roger was so consistent and so good for so long. But with Rafa, he’s sure to pass me on the list of most grand slam titles, and the question is whether he can take it further and go for that record.”

  • Anonymous

    Federer is (a) still the greatest player in the Nadal era (since 2005 French Open); (b) the greatest player in his Federer era (since 2003 Wimbledon); (b) the greatest player in the ATP era (since 1972) and the Open era (since 1968); and (d) the acclaimed greatest player of all time (since 1877).

    First, the following links show why Federer’s career accomplishments are superior to that of Nadal and Sampras:

    The following links show how much Federer dominates the records in the ATP era and Open era (do a find/search for Federer, Nadal and Sampras, and see where and how often their names pop up):

    The following links explain why Federer remains the greatest player in the Nadal era since mid-2005. How can Nadal be considered for greatest of all time when he is not even the greatest in his own Nadal era?

    Second, in the Open Era, head-to-head records have not been used to evaluate the great players. That’s because H2H rivalries are a secondary consequence of the primary goals of the ATP tennis tour, which are: win biggest titles, win most titles, be No. 1 ranked player. These goals are the primary criteria for evaluating the GOAT. It is similar in other major sports – it’s far more important to win the big prizes (Superbowl, World Series or NBA Championship) than to have a winning record over a rival team.

    Third, Olympic gold and Davis Cup have never been important criteria in tennis history for selecting the greatest players. What’s more significant is that Nadal has failed to win the World Tour Finals year-end championship. This WTF is the fifth most prestigious title in tennis after the four slams. Its roll of winners is better than most slams. It’s more valued (in terms of points) than the Olympics and Davis Cup. The WTF is historically significant in the Open Era, since today’s ATP Tour is based on the 1970 Grand Prix tennis circuit with its Grand Prix Masters to climax the season. The Grand Prix circuit (climaxing in the year-end championship) kept the contract pros from abandoning – and weakening – the four slams and Davis Cup for NTL/WCT events that made money for the promoters (i.e., otherwise the four Slams, Davis Cup and Olympics would probably have become insignificant or even obsolete today).

    Nadal is not there yet, so it’s moot to speculate about Nadal for GOAT at this point in time. Federer was 25 years old at 2007 Australian Open when he was four away from Sampras’s 14 slams. 27-year old Nadal, with about 800 career matches, has a lot of mileage and is nearing the end of his prime – so it’s going to be tougher for older Nadal to win four more slams than it was for younger Federer.

    In June 1981, at age 25, Bjorn Borg was just one French Open title from tying Roy Emerson’s grand slam record. A few months later, Borg effectively left the game, surprising everyone.

    Furthermore, prematurely promoting Nadal for GOAT is an insult to the proven career accomplishments of past players: had the grand slams been open to professionals between 1920 to 1968, Ken Rosewall would probably have won 17 – 19 major titles, Rod Laver 15 – 16 majors, and Pancho Gonzales and Bill Tilden both 14 – 15 majors based on their dominance of the most meaningful top titles of their eras (which wasn’t the four grand slams since the world’s best players who were professionals were banned from playing the slams).

  • TennisWeenie

    The following link shows why bitter biased people should not comment: