Who's greater: Nole or Rafa?

Who is greater - Nole or Rafa?


  • Total voters
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PETEhammer

Guest
As of today i have Sampras ahead of Djokovic and behind Nadal Federer and Borg (not by much only because of lack of clay court success) . You are spot on. One has to be the best of their era.
Laver , Borg, sampras, Federer and nadal have been the best of their eras. Hard to compare Laver per se as the game was very differently run back then but as of today they have to be the big 5.
And yes Federer and Nadal are actually different eras. Anyone who thinks Federer post 2009 was peak Federer is new to the sport.
I put Pete on the same level as Fed/Borg (yes I do consider Borg every bit as great as Fed: his dominance of Wimbledon and RG simultaneously is unique to the sport). The problem with placing Fed separate Djokovic/Nadal is that he only dominated 04-07, which isn't an "era" or "decade" like Pete had in the 90s. Furthermore, if you do this, you put Fed's competition in dire straits: his two greatest competitors for slams/in general are Roddick and baby Nadal (he played both 5 times during slams). I don't see how you can take that kind of 4 year dominance with that competition and compare it seriously to either Djokodal with Fed and Murray in supporting roles, or Pete in the 90s with ATGs and specialists for the first 6 years, and specialists and multi-time slam champs on every surface with Andre for the latter half of the 90s, or Borg/Mac/Connors/Lendl in the 80s. I think Fed for better or worse is part of the Djokodal generation, and is going to in all likelihood end up #3, thus barring him from GOAT contending, or putting him into a unique category where he's qualified based off the sheer volume of stats he accumulated.
 
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JaoSousa

Hall of Fame
Clearly my personal criterion for how good/skilled a player is isn't based solely on slam count. Was Nadal worse at playing tennis than Roger was until he won his 20th last year? I don't think so. He's still the same ballstriker he was before he won it.
Finally, someone who gets it.
 

PilotPete

Professional
It's about leading the Slam count, not leading in most of the particular Slams.

Sampras is greater than Nadal in 3 of the 4 Slams, yet Nadal is greater because 20 Slams > 14 Slams without RG.
I disagree. If someone wins 5 slams at each Major and another person wins 21 slams at say AO. I would say the former player is greater even if 20 < 21.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
@Hitman Woah!!!! Most for Rafa. Well, I don't agree. I would set the Big 3 so close to the same level that I would not even think it through more. My favorite is Fed, Nadal 2nd, but I have always argued for Novak. As long as I can remember he's been an amazing force. It's easy, I guess, not to give as much credit for being Mr. Fantastic as the ease at which Fed used to win, but his ability to stretch and change directions seems to me to be an equal talent, almost super human. I don't begrudge him winning so much. I just wish his fans, the noisiest, had a bit more humility.
 

ADuck

Hall of Fame
It depends how people look at achievements. If everything is just about the overall slam count, then Nadal is ahead. But if people look at their careers as a whole without just focusing on one number (20-18), I think people will be more in favour of Djokovic as the more successfull tennis player cause he has mastered the game in a broader and wider way, probably like none other.

So it depends really.
20 > 18 does show career as a whole, unless you mean Nole is ahead because of weeks at no.1 or something.
 

6august

Hall of Fame
I wish Wimbledon 2020 was not cancelled and Judy Dench did not stand there so I can give the answer right now tight here without any hesitation.

But Rafa at AO is greater than Noel at AO, it's already been confirmed.

))
 

JustBob

Hall of Fame
"Greater" as in strictly tennis achievements? Djokovic, he might be down 2 slams, but his resume is far more complete than Rafa's.

"Greater" as in also transcended sports (to become a global icon)? Rafa, because Djokovic can win 40 slams, he'll never reach that status.
 

Arak

Professional
If the criteria is the number of slams then the answer is clear. If the criteria is who is better at playing tennis, then it gets very subjective and will never have a definitive answer regardless of numbers of slams and success in general. To me, if Djokovic and Nadal are playing at the same time, I will watch Nadal, but I will drop both to watch Federer.
 

jussumman

Hall of Fame
A couple of years ago I made my first attempt at a GOAT ranking. It was very challenging but kinda fun.

After much thought and reading here all the opinions, I decided on a Weighted Big Titles system that is fairly simple. Here is the updated list. Roger has been overtaken by Novak for #1 (only very recently). Nadal is #3 so I voted yes Djokovic is better.

If I add a column for Year End #1 (as 1.0 point), 500 events (as 0.25 points), they almost make no difference in this rankings, so I decided to keep it as this for simplicity.

Novak leads Roger H2H, and Rafa is much more 1 dimensional. The further we get away from modern tennis, the more complicated the comparisons get. They played tons of doubles then, and avoided Australian Open like Borg and Connors. I've adjusted slightly including WTC Finals and Grand Slam Cup to make up the difference.

In comparison, if one wants a much more complex scoring system, see the website below. The rankings vary some from mine. Let me know what you think.





 

Beckerserve

Legend
I put Pete on the same level as Fed/Borg (yes I do consider Borg every bit as great as Fed: his dominance of Wimbledon and RG simultaneously is unique to the sport). The problem with placing Fed separate Djokovic/Nadal is that he only dominated 04-07, which isn't an "era" or "decade" like Pete had in the 90s. Furthermore, if you do this, you put Fed's competition in dire straits: his two greatest competitors for slams/in general are Roddick and baby Nadal (he played both 5 times during slams). I don't see how you can take that kind of 4 year dominance with that competition and compare it seriously to either Djokodal with Fed and Murray in supporting roles, or Pete in the 90s with ATGs and specialists for the first 6 years, and specialists and multi-time slam champs on every surface with Andre for the latter half of the 90s, or Borg/Mac/Connors/Lendl in the 80s. I think Fed for better or worse is part of the Djokodal generation, and is going to in all likelihood end up #3, thus barring him from GOAT contending, or putting him into a unique category where he's qualified based off the sheer volume of stats he accumulated.
Sampras had by far the toughest era. Only reason i do not have him as GOAT is his FO record. Even if he made the final a couple of times i may have had him as GOAT. His best level is definitely the best i have ever seen. He had no weakness at all. The BH which often was a weakness when he was at his best was a huge weapon as he could hit winners galore off it. Recency bias is a problem on the internet. The 90s was the golden age of tennis.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Unfortunately, things have never been this clear cut. Emerson for example, had 12 majors and was not considered the GOAT by anyone. Laver has 2 Calendar Slams, but only one is really vaunted (Open Era one) etc. Pete being ahead of Rafa at 3 of 4 slams definitely says something. Remember, prior to the big 3 there were a few detractors who considered Pete's resume unbalanced because half his majors came at one event. Imagine what this means for Rafa.

Overall, what is more pressing for Djokodal is who ends up greatest of this generation, because in order to be eligible for the greatest of all time you must be the greatest of your time. From there, the discussion with the other GOAT contenders may be had.
That's because of a unique situation with pro-amatuer split, not because slam count wasn't valued.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
rafa

slam count - 20 > 18

slam h2h - 10 > 6

simple as that......no need to beat our heads around it anymore than that........
Djokovic is King of 3 set matches.
He does so well in australia and W as thry are the two slams with coolest conditions (AO is now for top players a night tournament).
Djokovic is vulnerable in physical matches. Always has been bar 2011/2012.
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
Like others have said, in short I think Nadal is greater, but Novak is better. I'm not even in the mood to explain why. It should be obvious.
 

daphne

Professional
This forum is like Nadal's fingers tho, constantly stuck up his behind. They won't accept Djokovic is so obviously the better player unless he takes over the slam lead or at the very least equals it. He will tho, i don't think Nadal is the fave for any slam but the French these days unless he gets a cakewalk draw like he did in 2019 at the US open and even then he was so very close to losing to the only top player inside the top 20 he faced.
Spot on.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Anyway, IMO, it doesn't matter who the better player is between them because Rafa will end up greater anyway. He is a bigger lock at RG than Novak at any slam and as long as he doesn't decline terminally on clay, he is a lock for 3 more RG titles at least. Novak won't win 2 slams/year forever to keep up.
 

daphne

Professional
As of today i have Sampras ahead of Djokovic and behind Nadal Federer and Borg (not by much only because of lack of clay court success) . You are spot on. One has to be the best of their era.
Laver , Borg, sampras, Federer and nadal have been the best of their eras. Hard to compare Laver per se as the game was very differently run back then but as of today they have to be the big 5.
And yes Federer and Nadal are actually different eras. Anyone who thinks Federer post 2009 was peak Federer is new to the sport.
LOL
 

daphne

Professional
A couple of years ago I made my first attempt at a GOAT ranking. It was very challenging but kinda fun.

After much thought and reading here all the opinions, I decided on a Weighted Big Titles system that is fairly simple. Here is the updated list. Roger has been overtaken by Novak for #1 (only very recently). Nadal is #3 so I voted yes Djokovic is better.

If I add a column for Year End #1 (as 1.0 point), 500 events (as 0.25 points), they almost make no difference in this rankings, so I decided to keep it as this for simplicity.

Novak leads Roger H2H, and Rafa is much more 1 dimensional. The further we get away from modern tennis, the more complicated the comparisons get. They played tons of doubles then, and avoided Australian Open like Borg and Connors. I've adjusted slightly including WTC Finals and Grand Slam Cup to make up the difference.

In comparison, if one wants a much more complex scoring system, see the website below. The rankings vary some from mine. Let me know what you think.





Hard work. Well done.
 

RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
Has he though? YE1 same as Federer. I would love some journalist to ask players which is valued more weeks at no.1 or YE1 and why. Djokovic would be best to ask really. Id love to know what he values the most.
Well I don't know really. Both achievements have their own characteristics. YE#1 is basically like a world champion title.
 

Start da Game

Hall of Fame
Djokovic is King of 3 set matches.
He does so well in australia and W as thry are the two slams with coolest conditions (AO is now for top players a night tournament).
Djokovic is vulnerable in physical matches. Always has been bar 2011/2012.
nadal used to be a hardcourt mug around 2005 - 2007 and still beat djokovic a superior hardcourter with his tremendous physical ability and athleticism........just watch their indian wells 07 final played under the sun in faster conditions, rafa drops the forehands with pin-point precision and heavy topspin leaving djokovic still in his tracks.........it was like djokovic knew what was coming but he also knew there is nothing he could do about it........

the following week or two weeks later djokovic got a night match in relatively cooler (albeit humid) and slower conditions in miami and immediately takes advantage, beating rafa in straight sets........i remember all those finals like yesterday........
 

thrust

Hall of Fame
As the boisterous Balkan draws within two slams of the supreme Spaniard, the question must once again be asked.

Who is currently the greater of these two champions?
Accomplishment wise, about equal, with IMO, Novak slightly better.
Slams- Rafa 20, Novak-18
Weeks at #1, Novak-309, Rafa-209
YE at #1- Novak-6, Rafa-5
NCYGS- Novak-1, Rafa-0
Grass Slams- Novak-5, Rafa-2
Clay Slams- Rafa-13, Novak-1
Hard Slams- Novak-12, Rafa-5
 

GoldenMasters

Semi-Pro
I am not really sure now. At 19-17 I had Djokovic as greater. When Nadal won and it got to 20-17 I accepted Nadal as greater and I think I wrote that somewhere. But now its 20-18 again 2 slams difference. The thing is the more they win slams the more this low gap becomes meaningless. But its not just that, Nadal fans like to scream 20>18 now that it serves their agenda and will scream 21 > 20 to Fed fans too eventually, however weeks at no.1 and YECs are ALSO important. You can't ignore these if you want to be objective.

Currently Djokovic greater but VERY slightly, or maybe its equal.
 

Hitman

G.O.A.T.
nadal used to be a hardcourt mug around 2005 - 2007 and still beat djokovic a superior hardcourter with his tremendous physical ability and athleticism........just watch their indian wells 07 final played under the sun in faster conditions, rafa drops the forehands with pin-point precision and heavy topspin leaving djokovic still in his tracks.........it was like djokovic knew what was coming but he also knew there is nothing he could do about it........

the following week or two weeks later djokovic got a night match in relatively cooler (albeit humid) and slower conditions in miami and immediately takes advantage, beating rafa in straight sets........i remember all those finals like yesterday........
No.

Nadal in 2005 took peak Hewitt at AO to five sets, was two points away from beating peak Federer in straight sets in Miami final, beat in form Agassi in Montreal, won his only indoor HC title against an inform Ivan rallying back from 2-0 down, in 2006 beat peak Federer in fast conditions in Dubai final, had an absolute quality match in the TMC semis against Federer, wins IW 2007 in destructive form. What exactly made him a mug?

Was it the fact that he lost early in a couple of slams on HC? USO 2005 lost to the best version of Blake, who was a match up problem for him, and yes, Blake was still a problem for Nadal in 2008, where he still pushed him to three sets in Miami, and Blake at that point was starting to fade. His USO 2006 was his only really bad loss, still made the quarters, in 2007 there was no shame in losing to Gonzalez who was blasting winners from everywhere, only the peakiest version of Federer could stop him, and even he was in danger of dropping the first set....2008 Tsonga gave Nadal just as much of a beating, it just happened one round later, had that match happened earlier, nothing would be different.

Nadal lost 4th round of USO to Ferrer because he was injured, he overplayed that season trying to catch Federer, made the big mistake of playing Stuttgart instead of resting post Wimbledon, hurt his knee. And we know Ferrer plays Nadal tough, look what happened at AO 2011 where he pushed Nadal so hard in the early stages, Nadal hurt his hamstring.

Fall of 2007, everyone fell victim to Nalbandian's brilliance, that includes Federer and Djokovic no shame there, and Nadal only lost in the semis at TMC during that period to peak Federer, something he continued to do even after, including 2010 and 2011.

Nadal's HC skills were very good back then, of course he wasn't at peak, but the guy won two HC masters in 2005, nearly won 3, calling him a mug is plain wrong.
 

Hitman

G.O.A.T.
@Hitman Woah!!!! Most for Rafa. Well, I don't agree. I would set the Big 3 so close to the same level that I would not even think it through more. My favorite is Fed, Nadal 2nd, but I have always argued for Novak. As long as I can remember he's been an amazing force. It's easy, I guess, not to give as much credit for being Mr. Fantastic as the ease at which Fed used to win, but his ability to stretch and change directions seems to me to be an equal talent, almost super human. I don't begrudge him winning so much. I just wish his fans, the noisiest, had a bit more humility.
Well if the Big Four were the Fantastic Four, we know who would be Mr Fantastic.

The question is, who would be the invisible girl? :unsure: Murray. :p
 

Hitman

G.O.A.T.
I am not really sure now. At 19-17 I had Djokovic as greater. When Nadal won and it got to 20-17 I accepted Nadal as greater and I think I wrote that somewhere. But now its 20-18 again 2 slams difference. The thing is the more they win slams the more this low gap becomes meaningless. But its not just that, Nadal fans like to scream 20>18 now that it serves their agenda and will scream 21 > 20 to Fed fans too eventually, however weeks at no.1 and YECs are ALSO important. You can't ignore these if you want to be objective.

Currently Djokovic greater but VERY slightly, or maybe its equal.
Well, the difference between last time them having a two slam difference and this time is that Djokovic has picked up the record for most weeks at world number one, plus holds the joint record for most year ending number ones. Two massive milestones under his belt.

Having said that, I still got Rafa in front, but Nole is right up there now.
 
As of today i have Sampras ahead of Djokovic and behind Nadal Federer and Borg (not by much only because of lack of clay court success) . You are spot on. One has to be the best of their era.
Laver , Borg, sampras, Federer and nadal have been the best of their eras. Hard to compare Laver per se as the game was very differently run back then but as of today they have to be the big 5.
And yes Federer and Nadal are actually different eras. Anyone who thinks Federer post 2009 was peak Federer is new to the sport.
Sampras ahead of Djokovic with just 14 slams and no french open. Are you serious? :-D:-DPlus Djokovic has won every big event in the game unlike Sampras.

I agree nadal and federer are still slightly above Novak but it’s very close and Novak has the time still to overtake them. More likely to overtake Fed in the slams than Rafa but both still a possibility.
 

GoldenMasters

Semi-Pro
Sampras ahead of Djokovic with just 14 slams and no french open. Are you serious? :-D:-DPlus Djokovic has won every big event in the game unlike Sampras.

I agree nadal and federer are still slightly above Novak but it’s very close and Novak has the time still to overtake them. More likely to overtake Fed in the slams than Rafa but both still a possibility.
Beckerserve is either a troll or one of the biggest weirdos on TTW. The things he sometimes writes sound so dumb.
 
Anyway, IMO, it doesn't matter who the better player is between them because Rafa will end up greater anyway. He is a bigger lock at RG than Novak at any slam and as long as he doesn't decline terminally on clay, he is a lock for 3 more RG titles at least. Novak won't win 2 slams/year forever to keep up.
I think this is a crucial year. If Novak gets 3 slams this year he will catch nadal in my opinion. I think djoko needs 1 more 3 slam year and then even if Rafa gets RG he’d be just 1 behind with AO next.
 

Start da Game

Hall of Fame
No.

Nadal in 2005 took peak Hewitt at AO to five sets, was two points away from beating peak Federer in straight sets in Miami final, beat in form Agassi in Montreal, won his only indoor HC title against an inform Ivan rallying back from 2-0 down, in 2006 beat peak Federer in fast conditions in Dubai final, had an absolute quality match in the TMC semis against Federer, wins IW 2007 in destructive form. What exactly made him a mug?

Was it the fact that he lost early in a couple of slams on HC? USO 2005 lost to the best version of Blake, who was a match up problem for him, and yes, Blake was still a problem for Nadal in 2008, where he still pushed him to three sets in Miami, and Blake at that point was starting to fade. His USO 2006 was his only really bad loss, still made the quarters, in 2007 there was no shame in losing to Gonzalez who was blasting winners from everywhere, only the peakiest version of Federer could stop him, and even he was in danger of dropping the first set....2008 Tsonga gave Nadal just as much of a beating, it just happened one round later, had that match happened earlier, nothing would be different.

Nadal lost 4th round of USO to Ferrer because he was injured, he overplayed that season trying to catch Federer, made the big mistake of playing Stuttgart instead of resting post Wimbledon, hurt his knee. And we know Ferrer plays Nadal tough, look what happened at AO 2011 where he pushed Nadal so hard in the early stages, Nadal hurt his hamstring.

Fall of 2007, everyone fell victim to Nalbandian's brilliance, that includes Federer and Djokovic no shame there, and Nadal only lost in the semis at TMC during that period to peak Federer, something he continued to do even after, including 2010 and 2011.

Nadal's HC skills were very good back then, of course he wasn't at peak, but the guy won two HC masters in 2005, nearly won 3, calling him a mug is plain wrong.
most of his victories prior to 2007 on hardcourt were a product of his unreal movement and his great forehand........it is only after 2007 that he started laying some emphasis on serve, volley to win wimbledon originally and that carried over to hardcourts gradually........he used to stand 15 feet behind the baseline in 2006........calling a mug is probably wrong but that is what it feels like today after witnessing his best during 2008 - 2014 on hardcourts.........
 

Hitman

G.O.A.T.
most of his victories prior to 2007 on hardcourt were a product of his unreal movement and his great forehand........it is only after 2007 that he started laying some emphasis on serve, volley to win wimbledon originally and that carried over to hardcourts gradually........he used to stand 15 feet behind the baseline in 2006........calling a mug is probably wrong but that is what it feels like today after witnessing his best during 2008 - 2014 on hardcourts.........
No one is saying he was at his peak then, but he was an incredible player on HC. I saw the guy live in person back in 2003, and trust me, Mug wasn't the word that was coming into my mind.
 
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