RSS
Is Rafael Nadal the greatest tennis player ever?
Nadal's U.S. Open victory cemented his position as the best player in the world, and poured fuel on the "greatest of all time" debate
Rafael Nadal joined the tennis elite with his U.S. Open win.
Rafael Nadal joined the tennis elite with his U.S. Open win.
Getty
I

n Monday's rain-delayed U.S. Open final, Spain's Rafael Nadal overpowered Serbia's Novak Djokovic with a breathtaking display of shotmaking and fitness. With the victory, Nadal completed a "career Grand Slam," meaning he has won each of the four major tournaments — one of only seven players in tennis history to do so. Nadal's archrival, Roger Federer, often regarded as the best player of all time, lost in a semifinal, spoiling a much-anticipated Federer-Nadal final. But Nadal has dominated the Swiss champion in recent years and has an overall 14-7 record against him. Has he now surpassed Federer in the "greatest ever" argument? (Watch highlights from the championship match)

He's making a strong case: Rafael Nadal's 2010 "might be the best year any men's player has ever had," given that he "won majors on three different surfaces requiring three different styles," says Greg Couch at Aol's Fanhouse. "Nadal is playing better now than Federer ever played. In fact, he's playing the greatest tennis of all time."
"With US Open win, Rafael Nadal enters greatest of all time debate"

Just wait a few years: The Spaniard is still only 24, says Joshua Robinson at The Daily Beast, and has continued to improve "every facet of his game." If Federer retires in 2012, as many expect him to, Nadal "would be only 26 years old and without an obvious rival." By that time, it seems clear that Nadal will "stand alone" as the greatest to ever play the game.
"Tennis' next greatest player who ever lived"

Don't count out Federer: "Let's not get too carried away by [Nadal's] ninth major title," says John Leicester at Times Live. Measuring greatness is all about the major titles you've won, and Federer — not to mention other greats like Rod Laver — still hold the edge in that category (Federer has 16). The ever-humble Nadal even concurs, calling the Federer debate "stupid, because the titles say he's much better than me." And it's no sure bet that Nadal will ever catch up, "especially given his physically exhausting, wear-and-tear style of play."
"Nadal not yet greater than Federer"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week