Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are widely recognized as the three greatest tennis players of any era. The Big 3 have totaled the beauty of 60 Grand Slams (20 each), leaving the crumbs to the rivals who have faced them in the last decade and a half. If he were to triumph at the US Open, the Serbian phenomenon would rise to 21 Majors and seal a ‘Calendar Grand Slam’ with epic connotations. The situation regarding Roger and Rafa is very different, both away from the tour due to repeated injuries. Although the three sacred monsters have helped to increase the popularity of tennis, it is never easy to compare different eras. Rod Laver ended his career with 11 Grand Slams, of which you arrived during his amateur stint between 1956 and 1962. As professional players were not allowed to compete in the majors from 1963 to 1967, the Australian legend he had to miss the beauty of 20 Grand Slam tournaments. In a long interview granted to ‘La Nacional’, Stan Smith spoke on the issue of the GOAT.
Stan Smith on the GOAT debate
As such, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal are widely regarded as the GOATs of tennis. But two-time Slam champion Stan Smith believes Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, and Bjorn Borg deserve to be held in the same regard. However, Smith did admit that the current era is “special.” “I think there are six that are the best in history. Sampras, Laver, Borg and the Big 3,” Stan Smith said while speaking on La Nacional. “Fortunately these three continue to play. Tennis fans around the world had the opportunity to see three of the best at the same time. It is a special era, which will end in a few years.” Tennis was mostly played with wooden rackets until about the late 1970s. Wooden rackets gave players less margin for error as they had a small head size and an even smaller sweet spot. “I think the only one who would have had great achievements is Roger Federer, because he has a very fair, precise style of play,” Smith said. “In fact, for many years he played with a small hoop racket.” Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal might have some stats in their favor. However, it is Roger Federer who remains the greatest player when it comes to earnings and sponsorship deals even at the age of 40. It is for the 16th consecutive year that he has remained the highest-paid tennis player.