Is Nadal Now Officially the Goat After AO Success?

The 2022 Australian Open saw Rafael Nadal enter a league of his own in the tennis world. He became the first man to win 21 Grand Slams. Thanks to his tournament success, he has now left behind both Federer and Djokovic on 20 Slams each. So naturally many are now asking the question of whether Nadal is now classed as the GOAT of the men’s game. To be fair, this is a perfectly viable question since no other man has won 21 Grand Slams! 

Rafael Nadal

However, today I’ll be looking beyond the Grand Slam tally to identify whether he really can be classed as the GOAT! Keep reading to see what verdict has been reached.

21 Grand Slams but Not the True Goat – Here’s Why

Before running the risk of making this an ‘anti-Rafa’ piece, I’d like to quickly clarify that what he has achieved is remarkable. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest players and competitors we have ever seen in the men’s game. And the fact that he is the first man to win 21 Grand Slams is also absolutely phenomenal. However, I’m still not convinced that he should be regarded as the GOAT of men’s tennis. Here’s why:

13 French Open Titles

This is something that many tennis players may find a little controversial – especially the hardcore Nadal fans of this world. But I believe it is a major reason as to why Nadal cannot be considered as the GOAT, not just yet anyway! He now has 21 Grand Slams, as we all know, but 13 of these have come at the French Open. Of course, Nadal has been a God of clay-court tennis ever since he came onto the ATP Tour. And undoubtedly, he is the greatest clay-court player to have ever lived. 

But if you were to remove the 13 French Open titles from his record, he is left with just 8 Grand Slams on all other surfaces. If you do the same for the other GOAT contenders (Federer and Nadal), meaning that you remove their most successful slam to avoid bias, Federer would have 12 and Djokovic would have 11. 

Weeks as World Number 1

While the previous reason may be a little controversial, this one cannot be debated. Facts are facts, and I believe that the classification of the GOAT is all about consistency. And what better indicator than looking at who has been at the top of the game for the longest? At the time of writing, Djokovic has enjoyed more than 360 weeks as world number one. This is the all-time record, and behind him, we have Federer, with 310 total weeks as the world’s best player. As for Rafael Nadal, the total weeks he has been at the top of the game cumulate to 209. 

Obviously, this is still an incredible achievement, but it shows that he hasn’t had the same consistency as guys like Federer or Djokovic. For me, this, alongside the reason mentioned previously is why Nadal cannot be viewed as the GOAT – yet!

About the author

Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the United Kingdom. He has previously played NCAA college tennis in the USA and competed in many international events throughout his younger days. He still plays competitively and follows both the ATP & WTA Tours closely. His favourite player is Roger Federer.

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