Ivan Lendl has offered his opinion into the ongoing GOAT saga of men’s tennis – and he says there will…
Ivan Lendl has offered his opinion into the ongoing GOAT saga of men’s tennis – and he says there will be two when all is said and done.
One is already set in stone, according to Lendl. The Hall of Famer says Rod Laver is the undisputed pre-Open era GOAT and the other will end up being – at least for the time being – one of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Laver is the only man in history to have won the Grand Slam (all four slams in a calendar year) twice, doing it as an amateur in 1962 and as a professional in 1969.
“In my mind there is one guy from the pre-Open tennis era even though he won his second Grand Slams in the post Open era but played most of his tennis in the pre Open era, won eleven majors, two Grand Slams and even if he had not won the Grand Slam in 1962, he would have won his share of majors between 1962 and 1968, and that’s Rod Laver,” Lendl told journalist Craig Gabriel for Channel 9’s Wide World Of Sports. “I think he is the best in the pre-Open era.”
As for the Open Era, the debate will obviously be ongoing until the end of time. But, it’s hard to see anyone soon surpassing the ‘Big Three’ of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
Lendl, who famously coached Andy Murray to World No. 1 and multiple slams, says the Open Era GOAT will be the player who ends up with the most slams.
Federer is currently leading the way with 20, but the Swiss turns 38 this year, and with tennis likely suspended for the remainder of the season, it would take something remarkable for him to add to his tally.
Nadal is one back on 19 majors, while Djokovic increased his count to 17 following his Australian Open triumph back in January.
Lendl says Federer is ‘leading the race, but the race is not finished.’
“It’s between Novak, Rafa and Roger on who ends up with the most majors and who is considered the best of all-time in the Open era,” Lendl said. “That chapter is not written and it’s going to be fascinating to watch, like in golf.
“We are very fortunate to watch Tiger [Woods] chase down Jack [Nicklaus]. I would have never thought after Pete [Sampras] got to 14 that it was not going to stand for a long time and all of a sudden there is going to be three guys who are going to thrash his record.
“All you can say at the moment is that Roger is leading the race, the race has not been finished. When they retire the race will be finished and you will be able to judge. At the moment Roger is ahead in the race but the race is far from over.”