Allow me to explain why Federer has to win the French Open to be a contender for the GOAT. Firstly all comparisons appear to be with Sampras. Why not make comparisons with Rod Laver who has a far more valid argument for being the GOAT. Before I talk about Laver's achivements let me inform those of you who are unaware how tennis worked pre-open era. Professionals were not allowed to enter grand slams, only amateur players were. Rod Laver turned professional after completing his first Grand Slam in 1962. Therefore from 1963 until 1967 Laver was unable to compete in any grand slam events. However there were Majors for professionals that were the equivalent of grand slams. These majors were the US Pro, the French Pro and the Wembley Pro. These were the biggest events in tennis for professionals before 1968. Here are some of Laver's achivements: Won 181 Tournaments Won 19 Majors (6 pre-open era grand slams, 8 pro events, 5 open-era grand slams) Won The Grand Slam twice (winning all 4 grand slam events in the same calander year) Won the Pro Slam once (the professional equivalent of The Grand Slam before the open-era) Spent an estimated 7 years finishing at World Number 1 (although there was not an offical ranking system like there is today this is the figure most experts have agreed on) Won 22 tournaments in a pre-open era year (in 1962, the most ever won in a single pre-open era year) Won 18 tournaments in an open-era year (in 1969, most ever in an open-era year) The Competition: This is a common critisism I hear of the Rod Laver era. People say that the competition is weak. The people who say this are almost exclusively people who have not watched the early game. While it is true that the players from 50 to 100 in the rankings are probabely stronger today than there were back then, it is also true that the top 10 or 20 were probabely stronger back in Laver's time. While it is true that a players first or second round oponents were often weaker than todays by the time the quarter-final, or latest the semi-final was reached the players were playing multi-slam champions with complete games (not the likes of Davydenko and Ljubicic). Generally it does not matter if a player such as Federer is playing Björn Phau (Federer's first round oponent at the AO) or someone worse. Either first round oponent should be easily dismissed by a great champion. It is later in the tournament against the better players who are nearer to your own standard that the matches become closer. Consider that Federer passes Björn Phau with ease and Laver passes M Di Domenico (Laver's 1969 AO first round oponent) with even more ease. However come the quarters Federer has Robredo and Laver has Fred Stolle (2 time slam champion and 8 time slams finalist). Come the semi-final Federer has Roddick (1 time slam champion and 4 time slam finalist) while Laver has Roche (1 time slam champion and 6 time slam finalist). Both players have weak finalists with Federer having Gonzalez and Laver has Gimeno (1 time slam champion). However Laver has had the harder latter part of the draw. Incidentally I choose these draws at random, and obviously both Federer and Laver have had harder slam draws. Laver beat the very best on grass and clay at the grand slams, overcoming the likes of Newcombe on grass and Rosewall on clay. The Surfaces: Here is another reason I here often. Most people think that Laver never played on hard courts. This is not true, Laver never won a slam on hard courts because there were no slams on hard courts when Laver played (both AO and USO were grass). Laver did win the big hard court events at the time however (such as the South African Open at Ellis Park, Johannesburg and US Pro at Boston). He also won the big indoor events (such as Philadephia US Pro Indoor and Wembley British Indoor). There is no reason to suspect that Laver would have not won The Grand Slam had one of the slams been played on hard court. Note that people use Borg as an example of a player who could win on hard courts but not at the hard court slam (USO). This is incorrect reasoning as it was not the surface that stopped Borg winning the USO. Borg hated the noisy crowds and the late night sessions under the lights. Borg performed relativly poorley all accross the USA because of this. Two of the grand slam finals that Borg reached at the USO were actually played on green clay and not hard court at all, thus reinforcing the fact that it was the area not the surface that bothered Borg. Laver won many events throughout the USA so there is no reason to suspect he would have been bothered like Borg was. The Physicalness of the Game: The physical fitness of the players was very high back then. They were not hitting the ball as hard consitantly, but this was down to the older equipment. Players played 5 set matches from the semi-finals onwards even in many smaller tournaments. There were no tiebreaks, so sets sometimes went to scores of 22-20 or more. This meant for exhausting matches. The players also played a hectic doubles schedule, and Laver won 6 doubles grand slams accross his career (4 pre-open era and 2 open-era). Player did not have the same kind of assistance from nutritionists and personal trainder that they have today. In fact the players often took public flights to get between tournaments and arranged traveling themselves. These flights were normally indirect and Vilas stated that many players left the tour simply because of the hassel and stress of the oranisational side. General Consensus: I also here the arguement that most people think that Sampras is the GOAT so he must be. This is because most people know very little about Laver's achivements and have never seen him play. Therefore they disregard him. Those who are more knowledgable tend to choose Laver over the likes of Sampras or Pancho Gonzales (I am not going into a debate about Gonzales now though). Therefore the reason that Federer has to win a FO to be the GOAT is because he needs to match the achivements of Rod Laver. I would in fact argue that Federer really needs a Grand Slam before he start tipping the scales in his favour. N.B I am aware that by counting slams from the pre-open era and the professional equivalent I am effectivly handing out two sets of grand slams, one to ameteur and one to professional. This does favour Laver's pre-open era case as he did not compete against professionals for his pre-open era slams or ametuers for his pro tournament. Even taking this into account though it should be obvious that Laver is considerably ahead of the likes of Sampras and Federer. Remember that also Laver's years as a professional pre-open era had only 3 pro events (slam equivalents) so Laver had less majors he could win during some of the best years of his playing career.