Does it matter who wins the most grand slams? The Big Three deserve far greater appreciation

By Sports Desk July 15, 2019

Roger Federer has the most grand slams, Rafael Nadal eventually might and Novak Djokovic has them both covered head-to-head.

So go part of the arguments amid endless debates about who the greatest men's player of all time is.

Those discussions will persist for decades to come, like there is somehow a right answer to separate Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, who have won 54 grand slam singles titles between them.

Djokovic edged Federer in a classic Wimbledon final on Sunday, winning 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in a match lasting just shy of five hours.

That took the 32-year-old up to 16 major singles triumphs, closer to Federer (20) and Nadal (18).

But will that final tally even matter as much as some think? Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi are all titans of the Open Era. They won 49 between them, and only Agassi completed a career Grand Slam by claiming the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are all-time greats. The sports world is blessed to have the trio still going head-to-head, producing matches like the latest one between the Swiss maestro and Serbian star at the All England Club.

The final major tally will never be enough to settle the conversation and for good reason: namely, how different the greats are.

The ever-popular Federer is loved by purists for the brilliant serve, effortless movement and glorious shot-making. Nadal? The forehand, intensity and previously unseen – and probably never to be seen again – dominance of a major at the French Open. Djokovic? The best returner, turning defence into offence so easily he has found a way to beat Federer and Nadal more often than not.

Why must one be the greatest when all three are the greatest at different, admirable aspects?

The debate about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will rage for decades to come, too, and they are also so different that both can, and should, be enjoyed, if some can for one moment put aside Ballons d'Or, trophies, goals, assists and whatever other numbers suit their views.

Even if just for a moment, forget tallies and appreciate greatness, because the Big Three in men's tennis deserve it.

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