Since Roger is not playing today and I have some time on my hands I felt like pondering this question. Let me just make it clear that I don’t believe there can be a GOAT, but that it is OK to debate it. There is no harm in speculating. It is fun and interesting. I think without a GOAT debate tennis would not be as interesting. I think there is a pretty good argument for either Roger or Nadal to be the GOAT because this is clearly a very strong era for tennis and both these players could have achieved even more if they didn’t play in the same era. But like I said we will never quite know who is the GOAT. I was just wondering in terms of the Fedal GOAT debate what the effect of the Australian Open final of this year had. I would say a pretty drastic one. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Nadal would win the title after the departure of Djokovic.
He faced Djokovic’s conqueror in the final who he held a 12-0 head-to-head record against going into the final. No one gave Wawrinka much of a chance but he stepped up and played the match of his life which would have far reaching consequences. Not only did he step out of the shadow of his legendary compatriot and friend once and for all with his first slam title, but he stopped Nadal from almost certainly eclipsing his friend in terms of all time greatness. Not only would a second Australian Open title have given Nadal a second career slam(something Federer could never achieve), but it would have given much needed balance to the Nadal resume which is so dominated by his clay results. It would also have put him within just 3 slam titles of Federer’s all time record.
He threw a spanner in the works…
Given that Nadal basically holds a monopoly over the French Open, it surely would have been just a matter of time before he surpassed Federer. He may even have ended up with something in the region of 20 slam titles. But the Australian Open final was a double victory for the Swiss. Stan assured another slam title for the Swiss but he also gave his Swiss friend a chance in he GOAT debate. With his head-to-head record over Roger and the straight set beat down in the semi-finals, the second career slam would have already put Nadal ahead of Roger in the GOAT debate in the minds of some people. But thank God Stan threw a spanner in the works. Not only is it good for tennis but as a fan of Roger I definitely don’t want to see Nadal surpass his records. By beating Nadal in Melbourne Stan was also able to do something that Roger has not been able to do in 7 years.
My respect has dramatically increased for Stan in Melbourne as well. I always thought he was a bit weak in the mental department but he has showed he is anything but by defeating both Djokovic and Nadal to win a slam, a feat no one has ever been able to achieve. I definitely think he is a slam contender from here on, and it makes tennis more interesting. With Nadal losing in the final of Melbourne he slips to 13-6 in slam finals too, while Roger is 17-7. Another big game changer. Roger now clearly has the better record in slam finals, and that after Nadal was 10-2 at one stage. Clearly it is not getting any easier for Nadal to win slams. If only Nadal could be defeated in the French Open again that would be a big blow to him. Djokovic has been knocking for a while. Last year he came extremely close.
…and it caused another twist in the Fedal GOAT debate.
Can he make it happen this year? Or can Stan cause another shock upset? I still think Nadal will catch up with Roger, but it is now a lot less certain. You just know at the end of the day there is gonna be a lot of debate about these two. In the head-to-head Nadal is the better player but as far as overall records go Roger’s is by far more balanced and he is still ahead in many of them. For instance he was more dominant than Nadal who relied mostly on one surface for his dominance. He has many more weeks at number one. He has 6 Masters Cup titles while Nadal has none. He has the more balanced slam resume. I think if Nadal catches up with Roger in slam titles he will probably be recognized by most as the better player, because of the dominance in the head-to-head. So I think Stan has thrown Roger a lifeline here in the Fedal GOAT debate.
Now he needs to make it count and try to win that one more slam…