Novak Djokovic appeared to end the debate over who will be etched into the history books as the greatest player of all-time, but Stefanos Tsitsipas has a slightly different view on the long-running debate.
Djokovic’s 24th Grand Slam title in New York all-but ensured he will finish his career as the male player with the most major titles, with his nearest rival Rafael Nadal sitting on 22 Grand Slam wins and the retired Roger Federer back on 20.
Nadal has confirmed he does not know whether he will play competitive tennis again as he battles injury issues and Djokovic looks set to add to his Grand Slam total as he continues to dominate the men’s game at the age of 35.
The numbers appear to confirm Djokovic is in a league of his own, yet world No 5 Tsitsipas has always been a big fan of Federer and that stance will not change now.
The Greek star admitted he was blessed to be part of Federer’s farewell party at the Laver Cup in London last year and even slept with a tennis racket signed by his idol after the event.
Now he has told Kathimerini that he still believes Federer made the greatest contribution to tennis as he pulled the sport into a golden era before he was joined by Nadal and Djokovic.
“He is no doubt the best, going by numbers. He breaks record after record,” said Djokovic when he was asked about Djokovic.
“He also has a thirst, even though he has nothing to prove anymore. That’s how he’s wired.
“He’s never happy; it’s like he’s always trying to prove something to someone. I don’t know what or to whom. It’s like he always wants a rematch. He has that glint in his eye.”
When asked who has had the biggest impact in tennis, the response from Tsitsipas was instant as he replied: “It’s Federer, by a landslide.
“The finesse and beauty he brought to tennis, his magic on the court. I don’t think anyone else will ever match him.”
He also described Nadal as “as the greatest fighter I have ever seen, and not just in tennis, but in any sport,” as he reflected on the greatest qualities of the ‘Big Three’ as we reached the point where reflections on their legacy can now be formed.
Djokovic fans will be quick to condemn Tsitsipas for suggesting anyone other than their man is the greatest player of them all, yet this debate is always nuanced by other factors.
“There are two different conversations to be had about the greatest player, the best player, that comes down to a numbers game and Djokovic will win that,” former British No 1 Tim Henman told Tennis365.
“If you are talking about impact and popularity, it is a one-horse race and there is no doubt that Federer is the most popular player that has ever played our sport.
“With the numbers as they are now, you would have to say Djokovic is leading that debate over who is the greatest.
“The fact that we have this debate as often as we do highlights the reality that some people have a different view and that is the beauty of sport.
“If you were a Federer fan, you would probably never say Djokovic is the greatest player of all-time, but the numbers back up Novak’s case.”
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