Monday, November 20News That Matters

Can Rafael Nadal's US Open Win Make Him the Greatest Tennis Player Of All Time?



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Last year at this time, the question of who’s the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in men’s tennis was not a particularly hot topic.

Roger Federer had missed the 2016 U.S. Open with a knee injury. His slam count was stuck on 17, and he hadn’t won a major in more than five years. For his part, his main rival, Rafael Nadal seemed equally stuck, three slams behind at 14.  Rafa hadn’t won a major in two years, going 10 slams without getting past the quarterfinals. And Novak Djokovic’s own run at immortality got sidelined as he lost at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Rafael Nadal of Spain, the 2017 US Open Men’s Singles champion, poses with the winner’s trophy in New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

What a difference 12 months makes. Federer came out of nowhere to win the 2017 Australian Open, taking Nadal down in a five setter, giving him the 18th major that seemed out of reach for half a decade. Roger skipped the French, where Nadal won in truly dominant fashion, bumping his slam total to 15.

At Wimbledon, Federer continued his remarkable run. Just shy of his 36th birthday, he won the tournament without the loss of a set, bringing his slam total to 19.

At the U.S. Open, Djokovic, defending champ Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray all withdrew because of injury. Murray’s very late withdrawal—he was seeded second—meant that top seeded Nadal and third-seed Federer seemed destined to meet in the semi finals. That didn’t come to pass, as Federer lost to Juan Martin del Potro. He was clearly not in top form—his match against Youzny was so poorly played you would have been forgiven for assuming it was a match on the Seniors Tour.

Nadal took advantage of a favorable draw—contenders like Milos Raonic, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic also missed the tournament or lost early—to win the tournament for the first time since 2013 to bring his slam total to 16.

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Last year at this time, the question of who’s the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in men’s tennis was not a particularly hot topic.

Roger Federer had missed the 2016 U.S. Open with a knee injury. His slam count was stuck on 17, and he hadn’t won a major in more than five years. For his part, his main rival, Rafael Nadal seemed equally stuck, three slams behind at 14.  Rafa hadn’t won a major in two years, going 10 slams without getting past the quarterfinals. And Novak Djokovic’s own run at immortality got sidelined as he lost at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Rafael Nadal of Spain, the 2017 US Open Men’s Singles champion, poses with the winner’s trophy in New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

What a difference 12 months makes. Federer came out of nowhere to win the 2017 Australian Open, taking Nadal down in a five setter, giving him the 18th major that seemed out of reach for half a decade. Roger skipped the French, where Nadal won in truly dominant fashion, bumping his slam total to 15.

At Wimbledon, Federer continued his remarkable run. Just shy of his 36th birthday, he won the tournament without the loss of a set, bringing his slam total to 19.

At the U.S. Open, Djokovic, defending champ Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray all withdrew because of injury. Murray’s very late withdrawal—he was seeded second—meant that top seeded Nadal and third-seed Federer seemed destined to meet in the semi finals. That didn’t come to pass, as Federer lost to Juan Martin del Potro. He was clearly not in top form—his match against Youzny was so poorly played you would have been forgiven for assuming it was a match on the Seniors Tour.

Nadal took advantage of a favorable draw—contenders like Milos Raonic, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic also missed the tournament or lost early—to win the tournament for the first time since 2013 to bring his slam total to 16.

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