Former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych believes Roger Federer will leave a bigger legacy in tennis than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic even though he won’t be the best player of all time in terms of the number of Grand Slams won.
The final curtain came down on Federer’s 24-year tennis career at the Laver Cup a fortnight ago as the 41-year-old confirmed ahead of the tournament that after struggling with a knee injury for the best part of three years, his body has made it clear that it had reached its limits.
The Swiss Maestro retired with 20 Grand Slam singles titles – which puts him third in the all-time list behind Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21) – while he also spent 310 weeks as No 1 in the ATP Rankings, including a record 237 consecutive weeks.
Although he set numerous other records, many believe he is third behind Nadal and Djokovic in the greatest of all time [GOAT] debate due to the number of majors.
The trio have dominated tennis over the past three decades as Federer started the sport’s golden era before he was joined by Nadal on the big stage with Djokovic eventually completing the formidable Big Three group.
Nadal (36) and Djokovic (35) are likely to play for a couple more years on the ATP Tour and they are expected to add to their Grand Slam tallies with many pundits claiming that the latter could end up with as many as 25 majors.
Djokovic has also surpassed Federer’s 310 weeks as world No 1 as he currently sits on 373 weeks while he also heads the head-to-head record against both Nadal and Federer.
Berdych, who finished runner-up to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2010, explained why in his opinion Federer is “superior” to the other two members of the Big Three when it comes to the overall picture.
“Those who want to compare the best by numbers will find arguments for different options. The number of Grand Slams may be the most objective measure, but there are athletes who have left a great mark,” he told Czech publication iDnes.
“I think Roger will leave a bigger mark than Djokovic. I think he is a bigger icon than Nadal. Perhaps, because he started this great era. What he did for tennis cannot be surpassed by any result.”
He added: “A lot of people watched matches or started playing because of his ability. That is what makes it superior to others. Although, of course, I can understand if a fan finds something special in Nadal, Djokovic or other players.”
Berdych, who turned pro in 2002 and retired in 2019, played against Federer on 26 occasions and had a 6-20 head-to-head record against the Swiss.
The Czech also was full of praise for Federer’s off-court behaviour.
Roger behaved humanely and pleasantly. If you met him in the dressing room or somewhere else backstage, you wouldn’t know what he is,” he said. “On the contrary, he had moments when he acted like a boy and did stupid things.”
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