Nadal, Djokovic or Federer, who is the best tennis player?

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best tennis player

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Federer, Nadal, Djokovic: three of the greatest players ever are competing in the same era. After a time in which Nole seemed completely unbeatable, Federer and Nadal have come back to the top of world tennis and arguably as strong as ever.  Roger Federer with his 20th Grand Slam victory has showed to be once more the king of tennis, however Nadal with his 17th Grand Slam and current number 1 spot in ATP classification wants to contest. Edited in June 2022, Nadal leads the Grand Slam count with 22, followed by Federer and Djokovic with 20 each.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have dominated tennis over the last 10 years. Each of them has a different play style and their preferred surface. These players have longstanding rivalry and have encountered each other on many occassions, often in Grand Slam finals. Federer last Grand Slam trophies were the Australia Open 2018 and 2017, as well as Wimbledon 2017; Nadal won Roland Garros 2018 and 2017, as well as the Open USA in 2017; and Djokovic won the American tournament in 2016. It does not seem that any of the best young tennis player is still ready to replace any of these three legendary sportsmen. 

Best tennis player?

  • Nadal is often nicknamed the King of Clay. The Spanish player has won an outstanding number of titles on this surface, including 11 French Open, and reached an incredible streak of 81 consecutive wins on clay. But he has also won major titles on all the surfaces and even an Olympic Gold in Bejing 2008.
  • Djokovic has suffered injuries and his performance at the ATP World Tour is not back at its best. The Serbian has won many titles in the last few years, clinching his 12th Grand Slam in June 2016 at the French Open. He then became the first player since Rod Laver to hold the four Grand Slam titles at the same time. But at Laver's time (1969) three of the four tournaments were played on grass, which makes Djokovic's accomplishment even more notable.
  • Federer has been called the Greatest Of All Times by many observers, and compared to other sport legends such as Jordan, Rossi or Woods, maybe a bit too soon now that Nadal and Djokovic are getting closer to his records. Not only is he praised for his 20 Grand Slam titles, or his 302 weeks as number one, but also for his style of play. He keeps many records, among which 65 straight victories on grass. He won his 19th Grand Slam at Wimbledon in July 2017 and his 20th at Melbourne in January 2018, being one of the oldest player to win a major title.

Nadal vs Djokovic vs Federer: comparing the players

Here are the main achievements of the three players (updated after Roland Garros 2018):

  Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic Roger Federer
Birthdate June 3, 1986 May 22, 1987 August 8, 1981
Turned pro 2001 2003 1998
Grand Slams 17 12 20
Australian Open 1 6 6
French Open 11 1 1
Wimbledon 2 3 8
US Open 3 2 5
World Tour Finals 0 5 6
Masters 1000 32 30 27
Others 30 20 50
Total titles 79 68 97

Gold medals

Weeks at nº1







Total wins 903 797 1149


Head to Head

Nadal vs Djokovic 25 vs 26
Djokovic vs Federer 23 vs 22
Nadal vs Federer 23 vs 15


Records of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in Grand Slam tournaments

Statistics are up to date after Wimbledon 2017

  • Federer has won more Grand Slam tournaments than any other male player (20), but he also holds the records for most finals (29), semifinals (42) and quarterfinals (50), showing great consistency at the highest level in the biggest tournaments. By the end of the 2018 Australian Open, he had won a record 332 matches in Grand Slam. Federer has won a record 8 titles at Wimbledon, and is the only player to reach at least 5 times the finals at each Grand Slam.
  • Nadal is second in Grand Slam titles (17) after his victory at Roland Garros 2018, a tournament he has won 11 times, a record for any Grand Slam. Nadal has 90% win rate in the French Open. He has won more Masters 1000 titles than any other player in history. Nadal was the first player to win at least one Grand Slam tournament for 10 consecutive years.
  • Djokovic is fourth in Grand Slam titles (12), but has succeeded where Nadal and Federer failed: winning successively the four Grand Slam tournaments. He then won 30 Grand Slam matches in a row, a record in Open era. He has also won the Australian Open a record 6 times. He is the only player to reach three times in a row the finals in each Grand Slam tournament.

Check out these videos with the career highlights of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer

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