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“At the end of the day, we’ll all shake hands and be like, ‘That was awesome.'” – Federer on the GOAT debate, Nadal and Djokovic

Federer will bid goodbye with rivals Nadal and Djokovic on his team rather than opposite the net. And the Swiss legend shared his thoughts on his two rivals in London before the Laver Cup

Federer and Nadal in Cape Town for the Match in Africa exhibition in February 2020 Federer and Nadal in Cape Town for the Match in Africa exhibition in February 2020 Image Credit: AI/ Reuters/ Panoramic

The impending retirement of Roger Federer may have narrowed down the race for most Grand Slams in men’s tennis to a two-GOAT race between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But tennis fans are likely to continue debating on who the GOAT will be for all time to come.

Federer, himself though, sees no need for the comparison even though he finds it wonderful to be part of such an exclusive group.

“People always like to compare. I see it every day with my twins. Without wanting, you compare them. You shouldn’t — ever,” Federer said in an interview with The Associated Press in London where he is preparing for the Laver Cup this weekend.

“Naturally, we do the same in tennis. … I am my own career, my own player, that needed those challenges. They needed a challenger like myself. We made each other better. So, at the end of the day, we’ll all shake hands and be like, ‘That was awesome.’ Now is somebody going to be happier than the other? I mean, in moments, maybe.”

I’m like, Come on, OK? There cannot be possibly that many ‘GOATs,’. In Switzerland, we have a lot of them, but they’re in the fields.”

Federer, who was the first of the Big 3 to break Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams and will end his career with 20 (Nadal has 22 and Djokovic 21), said it was impossible to compare the different careers and trajectories of players.

“I always say it’s wonderful to be part of that selective group,” he said, “How can you compare? What’s better? To win when you’re old or when you’re young? I have no idea, you know. Is it better to win on clay or grass? Don’t know. Is it better to have super dominant years or come back from injury? I don’t know. It really is impossible to grasp. What I know is they are truly amazing and greats of the game and forever and will go down as one of the — maybe THE — greatest.”

Federer also added that the whole GOAT debate has been fuelled by the phenomenon of social media where fans use the term GOAT far too often. “Who is the greatest? Probably MJ. But is it LeBron? Some stats say he is. I think it’s a phenomenon of (social) media. Everybody calling each other ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ I’m like, Come on, OK? There cannot be possibly that many ‘GOATs,’. In Switzerland, we have a lot of them, but they’re in the fields.”

With Nadal and Djokovic both ahead of him in the race for most Slams in men’s tennis, Federer said he is not as concerned about that record as he may have been in the past since it is out of his control now.

“At this point, once either they surpassed you, or you’re not playing anymore, it doesn’t matter how far up they go,” Federer said. “For me, as long as I could be a part of it and control some of it, I cared more. I hope they go and do everything they want. I really hope so. Because it would be great for the game and nice for their fans, for their family. As long as it makes them happy.”

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