ESPN voters choose Nadal as most dominant athlete (individual or team) of the 21st century

octogon

Hall of Fame
Based on his dominance of the French Open, Nadal is about to be crowned the most dominant athlete of the 21st century by voters on ESPN.

In the rounds,Nadal defeated Kobe Bryant's LA Lakers, undeafeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr and dominant Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

The final is between Nadal and sprinting GOAT Usain Bolt. While voting is not yet closed, Nadal's lead against Bolt (nearly 70% of the vote so far) looks to be insurmountable, so he'll offically be declared by ESPN to be the most dominant athlete or sporting team of the 21st century tomorrow.

 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Incredible for Nadal, especially as it involved athletes and teams from every sport. Reconfirms that his French Open dominance is the most impressive achievment in tennis by a long distance and transcends the sport of tennis itself. It also probably confirms that the world will not have much problem seeing Nadal as the GOAT of tennis, once he has the slam record.

But I've always thought Nadal transcended tennis in a way Djokovic and Federer don't quite. I feel he has a stronger case to be the greatest athlete ever than them. And ironically, it's based on that insane, untouchable dominance of the French Open, which some tennis fans bizarrely try to use as a negative against him.
 
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ADuck

Hall of Fame
If he went even stevens in all 4 slams he's arguably not as good. This is why winning more french opens is still more important for his career than winning other non-clay slams.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
Incredible for Nadal, especially as it involved athletes and teams from every sport. Reconfirms that his French Open dominance is the most impressive achievment in tennis by a long distance and transcends the sport of tennis itself. It also probably confirms that the world will not have much problem seeing Nadal as the GOAT of tennis, once he has the slam record.

But I've always thought Nadal transcended tennis in a way Djokovic and Federer don't quite. I feel he has a stronger case to be the greatest athlete ever than them. And ironically, it's based on that insane, untouchable dominance of the French Open, which some tennis fans bizarrely try to use as a negative against him.
Nah you're just a Ned fan.

All Big3 have a claim at GOAT. I think Djokovic with the slam record, #1 weeks, big titles and h2h vs ATG opponents will be acknowledged as the GOAT when their careers are over
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
Honestly, I probably would vote for Bolt over any athlete. He is undefeated in 3 separate Olympic games in the 100 and 200 meters. 6-0. As a former sprinter, I cannot tell you how insane that is. Nadal is definitely next in line though since his records on clay are just otherworldly and will never be surpassed. He owns one surface more than anyone ever has and probably ever will.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Nah you're just a Ned fan.

All Big3 have a claim at GOAT. I think Djokovic with the slam record, #1 weeks, big titles and h2h vs ATG opponents will be acknowledged as the GOAT when their careers are over

Yet Djokovic could never come close to winning an overall poll like this for 21st century dominance, which includes non-tennis athletes and teams. Djokovic is a great tennis player. But nothing he's done or ever will do will come close to catching the imagination of people in the real world outside of tennis, as Nadal's domination of Roland Garros.

Nadal beat a LA Lakers dynasty team. He beat arguably the greatest boxer ever, the greatest swimmer ever and now he's about to beat the greatest sprinter ever. That goes way beyond tennis GOAT arguments.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
Yet Djokovic could never come close to winning an overall poll like this, which includes non-tennis athletes and teams. Djokovic is a great tennis player. But nothing he's done or ever will do will come close to catching the imagination of people in thr real world, as Nadal's domination of Roland Garros.

Nadal beat a LA Lakers dynasty team. He beat arguably the greatest boxer ever, the greatest swimmer ever and now he's about to beat the greatest sprinter ever. That goes way beyond tennis GOAT arguments.
I said you have to wait a few years.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
The correct answer is Simone Biles. A pity she lost in the Round of 16 to... *checks notes* ... Roger Federer
Biles is truly great. But gymnastics is based off subjective scoring/judging, and that is always going to hinder gymnasts in polls or debates like this. You don't need a judge or scoring system to tell you Bolt is the fastest or Nadal owns Roland Garros. They take subjectivity or judging out of the equation, and that naturally feels more impressive to people.
 

EdSWright

Professional
It’s like giving an award to a pentathlete because they fence better than the others. Clay is just one discipline in the sport of tennis.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
It’s like giving an award to a pentathlete because they fence better than the others. Clay is just one discipline in the sport of tennis.
So Bolt doesn't deserve his accolades because he doesn't run marathons or throw the discus?

Nadal's is a GOAT contender in his own sport regardless, but his dominance of the French Open transcends his own sport, just like Bolt's dominance of sprinting transcends athletics.

It's why Nadal is a serious contender for being the greatest ATHLETE of all time, not just the greatest TENNIS PLAYER of all time. The French Open domination is the greatest athletic feat in tennis.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Lol what an asinine post. Really goes to show how much mental gymnastics people have done over time to convince themselves clay is any less important than any other surface.
Yep. It's a bit of a wake-up call for some to realise that Nadal's dominance of clay is winning him "most dominant athlete" conversations against non-tennis athletes who are the best in their sports.

Karma.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
So Bolt doesn't deserve his accolades because he doesn't run marathons or throw the discus?

Nadal's is a GOAT contender in his own sport regardless, but his dominance of the French Open transcends his own sport, just like Bolt's dominance of sprinting transcdnds athletics.

It's why Nadal is a serious contender for being the greatest ATHLETE of all time, not just the greatest TENNIS PLAYER of all time. The French Open domination is the greatest athletic feat in tennis.


Facts :)
 

TripleATeam

G.O.A.T.
If we're talking about one tournament, yeah, Nadal is way up there. However, I think there's something to be said about dominating your whole sport (a la Bolt or Phelps) compared to dominating just one thing.

If Phelps was only the best at crawl stroke and never lost when using that stroke, I'd compare to Nadal. However, there's many more tournaments in tennis - Nadal only dominates the clay tennis season.
 

Backspin1183

G.O.A.T.
Honestly, I probably would vote for Bolt over any athlete. He is undefeated in 3 separate Olympic games in the 100 and 200 meters. 6-0. As a former sprinter, I cannot tell you how insane that is. Nadal is definitely next in line though since his records on clay are just otherworldly and will never be surpassed. He owns one surface more than anyone ever has and probably ever will.
I agree. Usain Bolt has been one of the most dominant athletes of all time.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
Clay is not a different sport btw. The players of Roland Garros are the same of the other slams.

On the other hand 100m, 200m have different competitors from other disciplines, if we want to make a comparison with Bolt for example.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
If we're talking about one tournament, yeah, Nadal is way up there. However, I think there's something to be said about dominating your whole sport (a la Bolt or Phelps) compared to dominating just one thing.

If Phelps was only the best at crawl stroke and never lost when using that stroke, I'd compare to Nadal. However, there's many more tournaments in tennis - Nadal only dominates the clay tennis season.
Bolt's sport is Athletics. It's a multi-discipline sport.

Bolt "only" dominated one aspect of athletics (short sprints). It's not like he's Carl Lewis, who dominated sprinting and the long jump as well. So it's a nonsense argument to use against Nadal. Bolt and Nadal are similarly dominant in specific areas of their sport.
 

Lew II

G.O.A.T.
Bolt's sport is Athletics. It's a multi-discipline sport.

Bolt "only" dominated one aspect of athletics (short sprints). It's not like he's Carl Lewis, who dominated sprinting and the long jump as well. So it's a nonsense argument to use against Nadal. Bolt and Nadal are similarly dominant in specific areas of their sport.
Who is the Carl Lewis of tennis?
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Clay is not a different sport btw. The players of Roland Garros are the same of the other slams.

On the other hand 100m, 200m have different competitors from other disciplines, if we want to make a comparison with Bolt for example.
It's a shame we even have to say this....
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
Bolt's sport is Athletics. It's a multi-discipline sport.

Bolt "only" dominated one aspect of athletics (short sprints). It's not like he's Carl Lewis, who dominated sprinting and the long jump as well. So it's a nonsense argument to use against Nadal. Bolt and Nadal are similarly dominant in specific areas of their sport.
Athletics is actually a collection of sports. Track and field is one of those sports which is what Bolt dominated.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Athletics is actually a collection of sports. Track and field is one of those sports which is what Bolt dominated.
How does Bolt dominate track and field?

He doesn't even do any field events, which many sprinters have done at a high level. The mental gymnastics people are doing here to discredit Nadal and prop up the athletes he's beaten in this poll is hilarious. And I rate Bolt tremendously. But as a track and field athlete, he is far from the most versatile. He has a niche, sticks to it, and crushes everybody else in that niche. But he could do more events.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
How does Bolt dominate track and field?

He doesn't even do any field events, which many sprinters have done at a high level. The mental gymnastics people are doing here to discredit Nadal and prop up the athletes he's beaten in this poll is hilarious. And I rate Bolt tremendously. But as a track and field athlete, he is far from the most versatile. He has a niche, sticks to it, and crushes everybody else in that niche. But he could do more events.
Let me break it down some more. Athletics -> track and field -> sprints. He dominated sprinting, and did it in a way no ever has or ever will, at least for the next 100 years or more.

I don't think people are discrediting Nadal but saying that what Bolt and maybe Phelps did is more dominant. Most of the people in here have been complimenting Nadal. He has a niche? He basically dominated two separate races in his sport for 8 years. That's just unheard of. The two races are nothing alike which I can attest to because I ran them both. I was good in one and not as good in the other, which shows how difficult it is.
 
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Lew II

G.O.A.T.
You just wrote you think Novak will take all the records.
Hilarious how all the Novak fans jump in this.

Why not be happy for tennis that something about tennis get voted over other sports? Doesn’t happen that often.
Future matches are not hypothetical. They will happen in reality.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Let me break it down some more. Athletics -> track and field -> sprints. He dominated sprinting, and did it in a way no ever has or never will, at least for the next 50 years or more.

I don't think people are discrediting Nadal but saying that what Bolt and maybe Phelps did it more dominant. He has a niche? He basically dominated two separate races in his sport for 8 years. That's just unheard. The two races are nothing alike which I can attest because I ran them both. I was good in one and not as good in the other, which shows how difficult it is.
It's highly common for sprinters to successfully double up at the 100 and 200 metres. Those races are all about flat speed, and are nowhere as different to adjust to as you are claiming (and I used to sprint as well, so I'll take my personal expertise over yours).

It'd have been way more impressive (as a feat of versatility) if Bolt went from 100 or 200 to the 400 metres and dominated there. I was always far more impressed with Michael Johnson's versatility as a dominant sprinter than with Bolt, because he was dominant in both the 200 and 400, which are practically different events that require completely different training, conditioning etc. Bolt had more raw speed than Johnson, but dominating the 200 and 400 is waaaaaaaaay more difficult than being great at the 100 and 200.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Remember when Bolt always used to talk about waking up, eating chicken nuggets and going out to win a 100 or 200 metre race?

He could have that "this is easy" attitude, because his natural speed was enough for both those races. If Bolt did the 400, he'd actually have to do crazy amounts of conditioning and tactical training. Bolt avoided the 400 because it required too much work (he said as much himself, even though he was a good 400 metre runner when younger). For the shorter sprints, he didn't have to switch much up.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
It's highly common for sprinters to successfully double up at the 100 and 200 metres. Those races are all about flat speed, and are nowhere as different to adjust to as you are claiming (and I used to sprint as well, so I'll take my personal expertise over yours).

It'd have been way more impressive (as a feat of versatility) if Bolt went from 100 or 200 to the 400 metres and dominated there. I was always far more impressed with Michael Johnson's versatility as a dominant sprinter, because he was dominant in both the 200 and 400, which are practically different events that require completely different training, conditioning etc. Bolt had more raw speed than Johnson, but dominating the 200 and 400 is waaaaaaaaay more difficult than being great at the 100 and 200.
Yes they double up but they don't dominate them both, at least not to the extent that he did. You brought up Carl Lewis but he only achieved half of what Bolt did on the track and was done. Your personal expertise? ok. Then why do you think the 200m race is only about flat speed? It about speed and endurance.

Michael Johnson only once won gold in both the 200m and 400m, and only won gold in one in the next Olympics. He is not on Bolt's level in any shape or form when it comes to dominance. The 200m and 400m is way more difficult? I would say it is more difficult but the fact that Bolt did it 3 times (wining both the 100m and 200m) when no one else could do it more than once, overshadows that.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Good for the game, Rafa deserves it. Clay is the physically most demanding surfaces and he owns it.

While Bolt is obviously amazing, I just don't care about most Olympic disciplines, they bore me to tears if I'm honest. I watch Olympics for basketball and tennis and the opening ceremony.

Edit: Voted for the Nadal, but he seems to be winning anyway.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Yes they double up but they don't dominate them both, at least not to the extent that he did. You brought up Carl Lewis but he only achieved half of what Bolt did on the track and was done. Your personal expertise? ok. Then why do you think the 200m race is only about flat speed? It about speed and endurance.

Michael Johnson only once won gold in both the 200m and 400m, and only won gold in one in the next Olympics. He is not on Bolt's level in any shape or form when it comes to dominance. The 200m and 400m is way more difficult? I would say it is more difficult but the fact that Bolt did it 3 times (wining both the 100m and 200m) when no one else could do it more than once, overshadows that.

400 is about speed and endurance.

200 is mostly about speed. You obviously need a moderate amount of endurance for the 200, but let's not oversell it here.

Bolt is the most dominant 100 and 200 metre sprinter of all time. And yes, based on him doing it more times than anyone else, he deserves to be regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time. I just don't think the 100 and 200 metres are different enough in requirements for me to be overly wowed by it as an example of versatility in sprinting. But no one is denying he is the most dominant sprinter ever. And Johnson wasn't as dominant. But it takes more to be great at the 200 and 400. That's all.
 
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