Who is the GOAT – Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer

Tennis GOATs on Courts

Ever since the Big Three emerged, one question has been on the mind of all tennis fans worldwide: Who is the GOAT – Djokovic Nadal or Federer. With 3 tennis juggernauts in the running, this question is as difficult to answer as it would appear.

The Big Three have represented the greatest level of competition and competitiveness in tennis history. From the before Open Era and even today, no 3 tennis players have so thoroughly dominated the sport and been recognized as the best of the best not only in their time but for all of competitive tennis history.

Who is the goat? Nadal Djokovic Federer

Tennis is such a complex sport with different courts, moves, and playstyles. Given the right move set and skill, a tennis player could excel in clay court play but then go on to struggle in the much rarer grass court. Injuries are also extremely common in tennis leading to extended breaks, loss of form, or even early season ends. This is without mentioning the simple fact that performance can vary from day to day, the no. 1 ranked player isn’t ranked at the top because he could defeat everyone ranked under him.

We will make use of a point system awarding each player a point for the most impressive record, court statistics, and other career achievements. The player at the end with the most points will be crowned as the tennis GOAT.

Basic Career Statistics

Some basic numbers and math are a good way to gauge someone’s overall performance and are great assets in comparisons such as these. Let’s take a look at 8 surface-level values for the player with the highest number, a point will be added to his tally but there will be special cases when more than one player may be rewarded for a query.

Novak Djokovic

Total matches played1315
Win-Loss1098 – 217
Win percentage83.4%
Career titles98
Total weeks spent at No.1426
Matches played against Top 10360
Matches won against Top 10250
Longest match winning streak43
Year end No. 1 rankings8

Rafael Nadal

Total matches played1297
Win-Loss1074 – 223
Win percentage82.8%
Career titles92
Total weeks spent at No.1310
Matches played against Top 10298
Matches won against Top 10192
Longest match winning streak32
Year end No. 1 rankings5

Roger Federer

Total matches played1526
Win percentage82.0%
Career titles103
Total weeks spent at No.1209
Matches played against Top 10347
Matches won against Top 10244
Longest match winning streak41
Year end No. 1 rankings5
 Goat Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Career Comparison

Looking at these rudimentary career statistics, it’s easy to see that different players excel in different categories but Novak seems to have the best career-records. The most experienced player is Roger Federer who recently retired. He dominated tennis almost entirely in the early 2000s and many of his records stem from that period. It is after Nadal and Djokovic entered top-level tennis that Federer lost his monopoly on hard and clay courts. Even though Federer has played the most matches, Novak Djokovic holds the highest match-win percentage of any male player in the Open Era, easily earning him a point.

As for career titles, the much more experienced Federer takes the point with his impressive 103 singles titles which are the second highest in the Open Era, while Novak and Nadal followed closely behind, separated by one title. Total weeks at no.1 is also a great measure of which Big Three member had the edge for some time and once again Djokovic takes the point. His total time at no.1 is also an Open Era record.

Stats against top 10

For matches won against the top 10, Federer is one victory ahead of Novak but given that Roger gas retired, Novak will soon surpass his record so both of them will receive a point. The longest match win streak goes to Novak once again but Federer has had 2 impressive streaks throughout his career compared to Novak’s one so both of them can receive a point. Year-end no. 1 rankings usually mean a successful season and Novak has been ranked no.1 a record 8 times.

At a glance, it seems Novak is dominating the competition with Federer following slightly behind. Nadal hasn’t even won a point yet but this was the first analysis, many more await below that will level the playing field. The points are currently set at:

Novak DjokovicRafael NadalRoger Federer

Grand Slam Results

The Grand Slams are the highest level of competition on the ATP Tour and they represent the apex of competitiveness in tennis with all of the top players in attendance. The Grand Slams are both good and bad metrics for measuring overall performance as throughout the long competitions, off days and injuries are commonplace but at the same time, a definitive victory at a Grand Slam can skyrocket your ranking and allows you entry into the upper echelon of tennis players.

All 3 members of the Big Three instantly gain a point for most titles at three of the events. Nadal has won 14 French Open titles which is the most major singles titles won by a player in the Open Era, Novak Djokovic has won 10 Australian Open titles after his recent victory against Tsitsipas, and Roger Federer has won 8 at Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal hold the joint record for most men’s singles Grand Slam titles in history with their 24 and 22 titles respectively while Federer lags behind in term of Grand Slams titles. Both Djokovic and Nadal secure themselves a point for their record.


HEAD TO HEAD – Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer

Career Grand Slam

Another Grand Slam result to consider is the actual Grand Slam, career Grand Slam, and non-Calendar year Grand Slam achievements. Once again, Novak and Nadal are one of 4 male players ever to achieve a double career Grand Slam which is winning a title at each Grand Slam competition on 2 occasions. Since Roger Federer has also won a single career Grand Slam, he gets one point while Djokovic and Nadal get 2.

Novak and Nadal also have other Grand Slam achievements that earn them another point each. Novak Djokovic is the only player in history to achieve a non-Calendar year Grand Slam which means winning at all 4 Grand Slam competitions consecutively but not in the same calendar year.

Career Golden Slam

Nadal on the other hand has achieved a career Golden Slam which is winning at each of the Grand Slam competitions while also winning a Gold medal at the Olympics. More on the Olympics in the other career accomplishments section.

This will bring the point tally to:

Novak DjokovicRafael NadalRoger Federer

ATP 1000 Results

The level of competition below the Grand Slams is ATP 1000 events. Novak Djokovic holds a record 40 titles followed closely by Nadal who has 36. If there was ever a King of Masters, it would be Djokovic as he is the only player in tennis history to win a title at each of the 9 Masters competitions, which is a feat he accomplished twice, also known as a career Golden Masters. In 4 Masters events Novak and Nadal, each hold the record for most titles which includes a joint record with Federer. He also holds the record at the last remaining Masters event. Nadal also holds many other records regarding ATP 1000 tournaments so gets one extra point. So considering the record titles, double career Golden Masters, most titles at individual events, and Nadal’s extra records, the tally is now:

Novak DjokovicRafael NadalRoger Federer

Tennis Courts Specialists

  • Clay Courts : Nadal’s win percentage of 97% is the highest among any player on any court surface. He also won 14 majors on Clay court He truly deserves 2 points for his complete domination on the court surface.
  • Grass Courts: Federer won record 8 Grass court majors whereas Djokovic win 7 Wimbledon. Federer wins a point for his excellence and proficiency on the court. In this court, like hard court, both deserve 1 point each.
  • Hard Courts: Like Grass courts there is no clear king of Hard court as Djokovic wins 13 Hard Court Majors and Federer win 11 Majors. We will give a point to each


Tennis Courts Specialist (Hard, Clay, Grass)

The points sit at:

Novak DjokovicRafael NadalRoger Federer

Other Career Achievements

Year-end championships such as the ATP Finals also deserve a mention. Novak have won 7 Finals and Federer have won 6 Finals with the Serbian winning his most recent title last year. Nadal has surprisingly never won a Finals competition. We will give 1 point to each on this achievement.

Then at the Olympics, all members of the Big Three are medalists with Novak’s bronze, Roger’s one Gold and Silver, and finally Nadal’s 2 gold medals. 1 point will be given for each Bronze medal, 2 for silver, and 3 points for Gold. Djokovic holds the record for most ranking points (16,950) held by any player when he won 4 consecutive Grand Slam events and 10 masters titles.

The Final points are now as such:

Novak DjokovicRafael NadalRoger Federer


Given the final tally, it came to a close competition between Novak and Rafael but Novak managed to clinch victory. But Over all Novak Djokovic have edge of being top. Many people would agree that Roger fell out of the running in the later years of his career when he struggled with his form. Novak and Rafael have much greater records and simply off the fact that Roger has retired, it was really only a question between Novak and Rafael. We have seen time and time again that this duo still represents the zenith and peak performance of a tennis player. Novak won the Australian Open and is no. 1 again while Nadal is by far the most consistent player among the Big Three, being ranked in the top 10 for more than 15 years straight. They continue to dominate tennis even with younger talent on the block.

Novak Djokovic has recorded the highest win percentage of any male tennis player, has had amazing performances on all court types, set records no player has even come close to replicating, and, seems to still be at his prime. Even among the Big Three, Novak leads in recorded matches against both of his colleagues. In our opinion, there are none as deserving as Djokovic to be crowned as the GOAT of tennis.

Given the use of different criteria and personal evaluations, our answers may differ greatly from others. So how about we turn the question to you, Given the knowledge you’ve been equipped with who do you think Who is the GOAT – Djokovic Nadal or Federer.

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