Dominic Thiem insists Novak Djokovic must be regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time, ruling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal out of contention.

Despite a hamstring issue, Djokovic became the joint-most successful male player in grand slam history last week as he moved level with Nadal on 22 titles following his record-extending 10th Australian Open triumph. 

Along with retired 20-time major winner Federer, Djokovic and Nadal find themselves in the long-running debate to determine the greatest player in history.

But 2020 US Open champion Thiem, who believes the number of major wins must be the decisive factor in the conversation, is confident Djokovic will soon leave his two great rivals firmly behind.

"In my opinion, the grand slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis," the Austrian said.

"Everything else is fine, but it's not the same. The slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most grand slams.

"I am not very surprised [by Djokovic's Melbourne triumph]. Djokovic still looks young – physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It's like he was 25 years old.

"We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising."

Roger Federer hailed Novak Djokovic's 10th Australian Open title as an "incredible" feat as the Serbian joined Rafael Nadal on 22 singles grand slams.

Although Federer became the first man to reach 20 majors when he took the 2018 Australian Open title, the Swiss great could not add to that tally before retiring last September and has been overtaken by his two greatest rivals.

With Nadal struggling to stay fit and build up form, it appears Djokovic is the most likely man to add to his haul and finish his career as the outright most successful man in grand slam history.

"Incredible effort, again! Many congratulations," Federer wrote in an Instagram story, acclaiming Djokovic's straight-sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final at Melbourne Park.

Djokovic's Professional Tennis Players Association co-founder Vasek Pospisil described the Serbian as the tennis "man of steel". Fellow ATP Tour stars Denis Shapovalov and Holger Rune also sent messages of praise on social media to Djokovic, as did Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt.

Novak Djokovic will play his 33rd grand slam final on Sunday, extending his men's Open Era record and edging closer to Chris Evert's leading mark across all singles players.

Djokovic beat Tommy Paul at the Australian Open on Friday to advance to a 10th Melbourne final, having won each of the prior nine.

The Serbian has also played nine title matches at the US Open, eight at Wimbledon and six at the French Open.

Even before this latest semi-final success, his tally of 32 major men's singles finals was unmatched in the Open Era.

But the 33rd saw Djokovic match Serena Williams in second place among both male and female players, with only Evert out ahead now on 34.

Djokovic will no doubt back himself to reach and perhaps pass that record before the year is out, with Roger Federer having retired and Rafael Nadal injured again – those two great rivals no longer keeping pace with the 21-time slam champion. A 22nd success on Sunday would equal Nadal's record.

With victory over Paul, Djokovic joined Federer and Nadal as the only male players in the Open Era to reach 10 or more finals at one major.

Federer went to 12 Wimbledon finals, while Nadal has played the title match at Roland Garros on 14 occasions.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has no chip on his shoulder about how much hype he receives, despite becoming the youngest player since Roger Federer to reach three successive Australian Open semi-finals.

Tsitsipas defeated Jiri Lehecka in straight sets on Tuesday to seal his place in the last four in Melbourne.

In the process, the 24-year-old reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the third consecutive year, matching the feat of the great Federer between 2004 and 2006.

The world number four also became the fourth male player in the Open Era to stay unbeaten in his first six grand slam quarter-finals after Rod Laver, Patrick Rafter, and Andre Agassi.

However, Tsitsipas insists he is not worried by how much attention his accomplishments get.

When asked if no longer being talked about as one of the next generation's figureheads meant he now has a chip on his shoulder, the Greek replied: "No, I don't really think about it.

"Every single opponent has his own background, his own sort of dynamic they put out on the court.

"I kind of forgot that Jiri today was a next gen player. Never thought about it.

"I approach every single opponent of mine with the same mindset. I never put labels on them. Each and every match that I get to play against them is a new chapter in my book."

Tsitsipas also believes he has already been through the early stage of his development, and now views himself as one of the maturer players.

"I passed through this myself. At some point it fades out a little bit 'cause you are an adult," he said.

"I had my fair share of that. There's no other 'gen' after that, it's just adulthood. 

"It's mindset. It's clearly mindset. Nothing more."

Asked if this could be the tournament in which he breaks his grand slam duck, Tsitsipas said: "I'm feeling great with my tennis. I don't think I felt so good in a long time.

"I will definitely say yes to it. I've said it, I'm a different player, playing different. My mentality is different. When I'm out on the court, I don't really think of negatives, to be honest. I just go out there and play the game."

Roger Federer saluted Iga Swiatek's miracle shot at the United Cup, declaring 'that was crazy' in response to a tweet from the world number one.

Swiatek - the winner of eight WTA titles in 2022 including the French Open and US Open - helped Poland to a commanding 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan in their opening match in Brisbane.

With the Poles' first win in the competition secure, the 21-year-old helped Hubert Hurkacz put the icing on the cake with a 6-3 6-4 success in their mixed doubles clash against Zhibek Kulambayeva and Grigoriy Lomakin.

Swiatek's moment of brilliance came at 30-15 in game six. Desperately chasing Lomakin's drop volley after a fiercely contested rally, she produced a wonderful backhand slice around the net post to the amazement of everyone inside the Pat Rafter Arena.

The shot was executed on several occasions by 20-time grand slam champion Federer, who retired last year, including in his third-round clash with Nick Kyrgios at the 2018 US Open.

Swiatek subsequently asked the Swiss in a light-hearted tweet: "Do you approve?" - to which he replied: "That was crazy."

The world number one is back in action on Monday when Poland ironically face Switzerland, who boast the likes of Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic and three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka in Group B.

Roger Federer is the greatest of all time and tennis' equivalent of NBA legend Michael Jordan, according to Frances Tiafoe.

Federer retired in September of this year after one of the most successful careers in tennis history, having won his first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2003.

Playing in one of male tennis' most competitive eras ever alongside Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Federer went on to win 20 grand slam titles before calling it quits at the age of 41.

Tiafoe, ranked 19th in the world, is a big NBA fan and found a basketball parallel for Federer in the form of Jordan, who won six NBA championships in the 1990s as well as five MVP awards.

Asked which NBA player he would compare Federer with, Tiafoe told The Old man and the Three Podcast: "I would say MJ.

"You think of MJ and you think that brother was crazy and you think of Federer...everything they did, you're just in awe every time you watched them."

Questioned on whether the Jordan comparison meant he viewed Federer as the greatest tennis player ever, Tiafoe replied: "Oh absolutely. Even though Rafa [Nadal] has more grand slams."

Federer once held the record for most grand slams among male players, but he has now been surpassed by both Djokovic and Nadal, the latter of whom leads the way with 22 titles.

Tiafoe overcame Nadal in the fourth round of the US Open this year and compared the Spaniard's mentality to that of the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"I would give Giannis, just from how he approaches the game and the effort he brings every night," added Tiafoe.

"Just because Giannis is coming to kill you every night. He's going to kill you and Rafa has that attitude too.

"Super nice guy, but as soon we get out there you can just feel that aura and it's the same with Giannis."

Djokovic's chase of Nadal at the top of the grand slam leaderboard was hindered in 2022 by his vaccination status, which prevented him playing at the Australian Open or the US Open, the former of which was won by the Mallorcan.

Djokovic did however collect a seventh Wimbledon crown, and will be able to resume hunting down Nadal at the upcoming Australian Open in January having been granted a visa.

Tiafoe compared the 35-year-old to Denver Nuggets star and fellow Serbian Nikola Jokic, who is the reigning NBA MVP having won the prestigious award two seasons running.

"You're watching him [Jokic] play and you just like how but also you're just in awe of his greatness," Tiafoe added. "Like what can't this guy do on a basketball court?

"This guy [is] a freak. It doesn't look your most traditional way or how you want it to look or whatever.

"Same with Novak. It's not like the prettiest game ever but these guys just get it done."

Casper Ruud has been voted by his fellow ATP players as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a fine season and sits third in the end-of-year rankings after winning three titles.

He also reached the final of the French Open, US Open and the ATP Finals, losing to Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic respectively.

However, one title he does have is the Stefan Edberg Award, which according to the ATP's official website recognises "fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court".

Nadal and the now retired Roger Federer had won the award every year since 2004, with the Spaniard taking it five times – and the last four years running – and the Swiss on 13 occasions.

"A big thanks to everyone who voted for me for this year's ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award," said Ruud.

"I feel very, very honoured and happy to win this prize this year. I will try to keep my mood in the right place for next year. Can't wait to be back on court."

Roger Federer swept to Wimbledon men's singles glory a record eight times, but the Swiss was almost turned away on an impromptu trip to the All England Club last month.

Having retired from professional tennis in September, Federer has more time on his hands than usual and during a visit to London he decided to pay the famous venue a visit.

Singles champions at Wimbledon become honorary members of the club, but it turns out the membership card they are given is rather important, particularly when security insist on seeing it.

Federer posted a picture of the Wimbledon trophy on social media on November 25, with the caption: "Nice to see you again."

It turns out it was quite an effort to get into the grounds before he took that snap, with Federer telling Daily Show host Trevor Noah this week how much of an ordeal it proved to be.

The 41-year-old said: "I have not really been at Wimbledon when the tournament is not on, so I drive up to the gate, where usually guests come in, where you would arrive and then you go up. I get out and tell my coach who was with me at the time, Severin, I tell him I'll quickly go out and speak to the security lady, I got this. I did not.

"So then I get out and I'm like, 'Yes, hello, I was just wondering how I can get in to Wimbledon? Where is the door? Where is the gate?'. She [says], 'Do you have a membership card?'. I'm like, 'Uh, we have one?'."

Doors usually open for Federer, a 20-time grand slam champion, but this one looked like being closed to him, despite his many past successes on the famous grass courts.

He won at Wimbledon each year from 2003 to 2007, before adding titles in 2009, 2012 and 2017. Still, it helps to have a membership card to enter a members' club, as the security official made clear.

Federer said: "I tell her normally when I'm here I'm playing and there's loads of people and I come in in a different way and it's the first time I'm here while the tournament's not on and I don't know where to get in so, 'I'm just asking you again, where can I get in?'.

"She's like, 'Well at the side, but you have to be a member'. So I look at her one last time and I'm in a panic now."

This was where Federer reluctantly played the 'don't you know who I am?' card.

"I'm so sorry, I still can't believe I said that, I still feel bad about it, and I look at her and I was like, 'I have won this tournament eight times. Please believe me, I am a member and where do I get in?'," he said.

He moved along to seek a different way in, and this was where his luck turned.

"I get out of the car and a random person walks in the walkway and said, 'Oh Mr Federer, I can't believe you're here at Wimbledon! Can we take a selfie?'," Federer said.

"I'm like, 'Yes! Let's take a picture!'. And the security guards that are there are like, 'Oh my God, Mr Federer, what are you doing here? Do you have your membership card?'."

Federer did not. This time, however, his luck was in.

"I'm like, 'No I don't, but is it possible to get in?'," he said. "[And they said] 'Of course we'll open the door, let me organise it'."

Although he was unable to play due to injury, Federer made a fleeting appearance at Wimbledon in 2022 at a line-up of champions to mark 100 years of Centre Court.

Roger Federer believes the intense tennis tour schedule can have a negative impact on the mental health of players.

Federer, now retired, won 20 grand slam titles between 2003 and 2018 before stepping away from the sport in September of this year, and he is well aware of the challenges players face.

A number of big-name stars have spoken out about their mental health, including Naomi Osaka and Nick Kyrgios, and Federer feels the packed tennis calendar does not help players.

"When players retire at a super young age, I totally understand it," Federer told a press conference in Tokyo. "The tour is tough... travel, practice, jetlag.

"Nobody is allowed to say, 'Oh, I'm tired today', because it looks like you're weak, and that's why players end up having sometimes mental problems.

"You're supposed to show strength. But we're also not machines, we’re also just human beings."

Federer played on the tour for 25 years before calling it a day, and he is making the most of being able to finally relax, saying: "As a tennis player you're always thinking about your next practice, your next match. It never lets you go.

"I don't think I was that much aware of it, how much that thought is always there, and it rides with you, until you retire and then you realise that stress all drops away."

He pointed to doping tests, and the fact players must constantly make authorities away of their whereabouts.

"We have to fill out the doping forms every single day, one hour during the day, where you are," Federer said. "You're always aware in the back of your head, they could be coming any moment, especially in that hour.

"Once that all drops away you actually feel quite lighter, relieved that you can actually live normally again after 25 years."

Novak Djokovic wants to replicate Roger Federer's emotional farewell by having all his tennis rivals present when he brings down the curtain on his own career.

Federer played his final top-level tennis match in last week's Laver Cup when partnering long-time rival and friend Rafael Nadal in doubles competition

Djokovic and Andy Murray, two of Federer's other great adversaries, were also part of the 41-year-old's side at London's O2 Arena.

Despite boasting an all-star cast of talent, Team Europe fell to a first ever defeat against Team World, yet it was Federer's teary send-off that made the headlines.

And Djokovic, who has no current plans to retire, would like to share a similar moment at the end of his playing days.

"It was just a very touching, very emotional moment," Djokovic told reporters ahead of his second-round match against Pablo Andujar at the Tel Aviv Open.

"Seeing his kids and his family, it got me emotional as well. I also must say I was thinking about how it would look for me when I say goodbye to tennis.

"There is definitely one thing that I will wish to have, other than, of course, my family and the close people in my life, I would love to have my biggest rivals and competitors there. 

"Because it added something more special; it added more importance to that moment."

Federer retires as a 20-time grand slam winner – one fewer major title than Djokovic, who is himself one behind men's record holder Nadal.

With Federer now out of the picture, Djokovic says Nadal remains his biggest rival on the court.

"We played the most matches against each other of any other rivalry in the history of tennis," he said. "The rivalry is very special and keeps going. 

"Hopefully, we'll get a chance to play against each other more times. Because it's exciting for us and also for tennis fans and sport fans around the world."

Lionel Messi should be appreciated by fans of all countries at the World Cup as he will be missed like Roger Federer "and more" when he retires, says Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

Messi scored twice from the bench in Argentina's 3-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday, their penultimate friendly before Qatar 2022.

The Albiceleste head to the finals as one of the favourites, having won the Copa America last year.

That was Messi's long-awaited first major international honour, and this could be the 35-year-old's last chance to win a World Cup, having lost in the 2014 final.

Although the Paris Saint-Germain superstar remains on top of his game, scoring six goals across his past four matches for club and country, Scaloni knows he cannot go on forever.

And the Argentina boss expects Messi's eventual retirement will be received with the same outpouring that met tennis legend Federer's decision to quit the sport last week.

"[Messi] is like Federer," Scaloni said after the Jamaica game.

"He retired and what happened when he retired? Everybody [was] excited, everybody is thinking, 'he won't be here anymore, he's not going to play anymore'.

"How many of us would like to see Federer play tennis? Because it was wonderful to watch him play. The same will happen with [Messi] and more, because football is a sport that moves much more.

"So, let's enjoy him. Everyone enjoys him regardless of the country, it's wonderful to see him.

"I have the possibility of training him, but I would be a fan, I would pay a ticket to see him and I would buy his shirt, regardless of the country.

"So, the only thing left is to enjoy him, because I don't know if something like this will ever be repeated. So, you have to enjoy him and nothing else."

Roger Federer said he felt the pain of Team Europe's first Laver Cup defeat as the World team crashed the Swiss great's farewell party in breathtaking style.

The final event of Federer's playing career veered off the script as he and Rafael Nadal lost in doubles on Friday, before the team collectively succumbed to a 13-8 defeat in London.

Stunning singles wins for Felix Auger-Aliassime and Frances Tiafoe on Sunday, against Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas respectively, followed a doubles thriller that saw Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock topple Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini.

After Team Europe won the first four editions of the Laver Cup, this time they had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat, with Federer sorry to sign off on a losing note.

"Of course I'm disappointed," he said. "I was on the team. I almost lost my voice. My hands hurt from clapping.

"So, yes, I am disappointed. We wish the result would be different. I told Andy [Murray] in the locker room, I don't like losing. It's not fun. It just leaves not the best taste, you know. I think once you have been there and taste success, it's just not the same."

He said his goodbye tournament had been a mix of highs and lows.

"This weekend has been all over the place for me," said the 41-year-old Swiss. "I enjoyed it, but it's unfortunate that we couldn't get the win tonight."

Federer denied he has his eyes set on becoming the next Team Europe captain. Incumbent skipper Bjorn Borg and Team World counterpart John McEnroe have indicated next year's match could be the last that they helm, which would create an appealing vacancy.

"No plans there. Bjorn's doing a great job," said Federer. "Who knows, maybe one day, but we don't have any plans so far."

Next year's match takes place in Vancouver, and Federer will certainly have a role of some sort to play, given he is a co-founder of the event.

"I went through all different types of Laver Cups so far: the first one, the winning teams, now this time on the losing team," Federer said. "There was also one where I was hurt last year but seeing it more from the stands and from the fans' perspective, and now deep on the inside with retirement.

"I have enjoyed the Laver Cup in many different ways, and next year again will be totally different. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure Vancouver is going to be fantastic."

Asked what he would miss about tennis, Federer said: "Not the losing press conferences, I tell you that. They are the worst."

Andy Murray insists he is not thinking about retirement following Roger Federer's emotional farewell, and declared he would not deserve anything on a similar scale.

The Briton was on hand for the 20-time grand slam champion's final bow at the Laver Cup on Friday, with both men competing as part of Team Europe.

Federer exited with a doubles defeat, partnering old rival Rafael Nadal, while Novak Djokovic also featured, to mark a tournament reunion for the one-time 'Big Four' of men's tennis.

Injuries and slowing form for Murray saw that moniker slip to the 'Big Three' as Murray faded, and the former world number one says he certainly does not feel worthy of the acclaim afforded to the 41-year-old Federer.

"I certainly won't and don't deserve to have a send-off like that," Murray said, after he and Matteo Berrettini lost their doubles clash to Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock on Sunday.

"Roger did deserve that night. I'm not going to have a farewell match like that. I probably would announce when I'm going to play my last event, but when that is, I don't know."

Murray was adamant he would not be bowing out just yet, however, stating that Federer's retirement had not got him mulling over whether it is time to hang up the racket too.

"I'm really not thinking about that right now," Murray said. "I'm still playing competitive tennis and physically feeling good against top players.

"I just need to start really turning some of these tight losses and close matches into wins. It's as simple as that."

A three-time grand slam winner, Murray is the only men's singles player in history to have two Olympic gold medals, having won titles at London 2012 and Rio 2016 – the latter in the year he also won the ATP Tour Finals as well as Wimbledon for a second time.

Roger Federer "made the whole world dream" through his tennis, French football great Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday.

The Swiss superstar contested his final match on Friday night in London, as he bowed out at the age of 41, accepting knee trouble in recent years would not allow him to carry on.

Zidane's last match as a player famously ended in a headbutt, a red card and crushing disappointment in the 2006 World Cup final, as France lost out to Italy on penalties in Berlin.

That was a far cry from the celebratory scenes at the O2 where 20-time grand slam winner Federer exited in a hail of adulation and high emotion, as the man from Basle broke down in a flood of tears on court.

The poignancy came after Federer lost alongside Rafael Nadal in a Laver Cup doubles clash with Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, a low-stakes occasion compared to Zidane's swan song.

Both Zidane and Federer played their sport with maverick and artistic tendencies that set them apart from many of their peers, while also winning a stack of trophies.

Zidane had two spells as Real Madrid boss after hanging up his boots following a playing spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he hopes there are great opportunities awaiting Federer too.

"Today you are stepping into another world. I wish you a second part of life as rich as the first," Zidane wrote on Instagram.

"Thank you Roger, you made the whole world dream! And you remained profoundly the same. Thank you Roger, the great class."

Roger Federer has thanked fans and fellow players for providing him with a "magical" send-off at the end of his glittering professional career on Friday.

The 20-time grand slam champion brought the curtain down on his incredible career in a doubles match alongside Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London, facing off against American duo Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

Although Federer and Nadal fell to a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 loss, the Swiss maestro was given a hero's reception at the O2 Arena, and old rival Nadal joined him in shedding a tear after the match.

Immediately afterwards, Federer joked he was simply glad to have avoided injury and described his career as a "perfect journey".

Federer then expressed his appreciation for everyone involved on Saturday, writing on Twitter: "It was a magical evening yesterday. 

"Thank you again to all the players and fans who were here to share this moment with me. It means the world."

Speaking at a news conference after his send-off, Federer described it as "all happiness".

"The match, yes, in itself, sure, is special," he said. "But it's really everything that happened after, because I wasn't aware who was going to come to sing, what was going to happen, where I should go, what was expected of me, or how long it was going to go.

"Then I guess looking around and seeing how everybody got emotional, obviously it's even better, or even worse, I'm not sure what to say.

"The last two days have been tough to say the least. Thankfully, in moments, I totally forgot about it, slept great, everything was wonderful, I could enjoy it. 

"Because of that, I think I will be able to have a better recollection of how it went, because if it's all just stress throughout and I want it to be only perfect, I know I will remember half of it.

"I didn't have fireworks in my head where I see my career flashing by, all the things I'm going to miss. It was hard for me making phone calls, letting people know that this decision is happening. There I felt pain, but now, tonight was all happiness."

Meanwhile, Federer has refused to rule out taking part in exhibition matches in the future, stating his desire to allow more of his fans to see him in action one last time.

"The message from me was just making sure I relay my passion for the sport to the fans, and I let them know that hopefully we'll see each other again on a different type of tennis court," he added.

"I have no plans whatsoever, where, how, when. All I know [is] I would love to go and play places I have never played before or go say thank you for years to come to all the people that have been so supportive of me.

"Because the hard part about the Laver Cup was that tickets were already sold out. The people who maybe would have also loved to be here couldn't make it. 

"Maybe there is another way down the stretch we can party all together."

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