When Rafael Nadal tied Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles last Sunday by triumphing at Roland Garros, fans and analysts once again began debating who the best player in history is. After reaching the St. Petersburg Open semi-finals on Friday, former World No. 3 Milos Raonic said there is no simple answer.
“I think it’s hard to debate it now because there are a lot of open-ended things,” Raonic said. “You have Rafa who’s going to be around to play more tennis. We have Roger who’s going to be coming back next year to play more tennis. You have Novak who’s maybe got age on his side and has been definitely the healthiest of them, especially over the past few years.
“It’s not only about Grand Slams. Weeks at No. 1 matter, head-to-head results against each other, those matter. How many times you win each Grand Slam, that matters, how many Masters series you win, there’s a lot. There is always going to be an argument about who is the greatest of all-time.”
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As Raonic said, there is no clear-cut metric. Federer and Nadal are tied for the most majors (20), Federer has the most tour-level titles of the trio (103) and if Djokovic maintains World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings through 8 March 2021, he will eclipse Federer for the most weeks at top spot.
If nothing else, it’s exciting to watch three legends competing at the same time, pushing each other to even greater heights.
“I think we are very lucky to be able to have that argument all in the same generation where you can compare these guys rather than comparing some players from now to players from 20 years ago or to players from 40 years ago,” Raonic said. “It’s really a pleasure to have the guys in front of you all at the same time so that you can have this comparison.”
Raonic has earned three wins against Federer (3-11) and two victories against Nadal (2-8). He is still pursuing his first triumph against Djokovic (0-11). But more than anything else, the Canadian is impressed by what the ‘Big Three’ has accomplished, with Nadal’s 13th Coupe des Mousquetaires being the latest achievement on a long list.
“It’s incredible what Rafa has done, to win the tournament 13 times in 16 years,” Raonic said. “Before these three guys started, the Grand Slam record was 14. He has a good chance to have 14 at one event, so who would have thought that was possible?”
Raonic plays Borna Coric on Saturday for a spot in the St. Petersburg final.