Congrats Stan Wawrinka for winning the 2016 US Open. The one handed backhand wizard lifted his 3th Grand Slam Title (Major) in his 3rd Final and also stopped Novak Djokovic from winning his 13th Major in his 21st Final.
However I firmly feel that Djo has joined the race for Greatest of all time (GOAT), in which his illustrious rivals Roger Federer (Fed) and Rafa Nadal (Rafa) were competing. Nole has 12 Majors with Federer (17), Rafa and Sampras (14 each) ahead of him.
Criteria For GOAT. Offhand one can think about certain criteria such as Number of Majors won, whether career Grand Slam has been won , whether calendar Grand Slam has been won, number of weeks at Number 1, consecutive weeks at Number 1, finishing the year as Number 1 , number of ATP titles won, number of Masters won and so on.
As one sees above while Federer is ahead at 17, he is 35 and his last Major was at Wimbledon 2012. Sadly, It looks quite certain that he will not win any more Major. As regards Rafa, the great champion’s last Major was the French Open in 2014. At that point of time Rafa had 14 Majors and Nole way behind at 6. Now suddenly, just 10 Grand Slams later, Nole has 12. He has won 6 of the last 10 Slams, with Cilic and Murray winning one each and Wawrinka two. Federer’s 17 looks difficult but achievable.
Career Grand Slam is an important aspect as i feel one has to win all 4 Majors to be counted in the GOAT Race. Even Federer was taken seriously as GOAT only after he won the French Open to complete the career Slam. Same holds good for Nole as well. Wawrinka stopped him in 2015 and probably prevented a calendar Grand Slam, but in 2016 Nole by winning French Open tick marked one crucial omission in his list, just like Fed had done earlier. This is one area where Sampras with his poor clay court record and no triumph at French Open falls behind.
Calendar Grand Slam is something neither Rafa, nor Federer nor Nole have which could have been a crowning glory. One marvels how Rod Laver did it not just once but twice, and that too 7 years apart from each other. Don Budge too has done it. In Ladies tennis, Margaret Court, Maureen Connoly and Steffi Graf have achieved this awesome feat as well. However Nole remains the only other male player to win all 4 Majors simultaneously and is the 1st to hold all 4 titles on 3 different surfaces. Therefore he has held his own.
Most weeks at Number 1 is another criteria. Federer is way ahead of others with 302. However Djokovic has already completed 215 weeks at Number 1 and only Federer, Sampras (286)., Lendl ( 270) and Connors (268) are ahead. Federer’s longest streak of 237 is huge while Nole has at present 114 consecutive weeks at Number 1.
Currently Nole has 14840 points and the Number 2, Andy Murray has “only” 9305 points, so its a fair guess that Nole is there as Number 1 for quite some time to come. On this criteria Nadal with overall 141 weeks and consecutive 56 weeks is way behind.
Ending the year as Number 1 is a criteria for GOAT where Sampras is alone at 6. Federer and Connors are at 5 times each while Nole is poised to join them as he has 4, leaving behind Lendl and Mcenroe at 4. Rafa is at 3. So here too Nole has held his own.
Now lets see Number of ATP titles and number of Masters . One sees 88 titles for Federer , 69 for Rafa and 67 for Nole. Of course Connors with 109 and Lendl with 94 have more titles. As regards Masters, Nole has 30, Federer 24 and Rafa 28.
If one looks at ATP end of the year Title where the world’s top 8 meet up, Federer has won it 6 times while Nole and Sampras have 5 each. Rafa has none and this is one tick-mark he would definitely like to achieve.
One Last Criteria. Head to head versus other top players. Here i do not have data of former World Number 1 players but have data of Current and recent stars and it is seen that Nole has positive head to head versus all. Nole’s closest rivalry is with Fed and Rafa against whom he has a positive head to head of 23-22 and 26-23. Otherwise he has huge lead over other top players such as Murray (24-10) , Wawrinka (19-5) , Nishikori ( 10-2) and Cilic (14-0). Hence on this criteria too Nole has shown his mettle.
Ultimately however the criteria which i personally feel is most important is number of Grand Slam Titles. Hence Fed is ahead with 17. If Nole or Rafa reach 17 then considering other criteria as discussed above , then he will be ahead of even the great Federer in the GOAT race. As of now, as discussed in detail above, Nole has definitely joined the race for GOAT.
what do all of you think ? Feedback invited please