Former World No.3 Explains Why Roger Federer is the GOAT Over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

Published 01/13/2022, 2:30 PM EST
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

Former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko spent 15 years on the professional tour. In that time, he won 21 singles titles. Moreover, along the road, he battled the greatest players of his generation and of all time, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.


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In a recent podcast, Davydenko talked about who, in his opinion, is the best among the Big Three. Of course, the Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic debate is one that will plague discussions about tennis for decades to come. In fact, owing to its subjectivity, the question might invite arguments forever!


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Nikolay Davydenko prefers Roger Federer over Novak Djokovic

Talking to Fabio Molle, the host of the podcast, Davydenko had a very clear favorite.

“You’ve played them all. Who for you is the greatest?” Molle asked Davydenko, with a smile on his face. Davydenko began his response by recalling when German World No. 3 Alexander Zverev had said, “Djokovic is the most greatest player.” 

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 14. Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia embrace at the net after their singles match during Day Five of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena on November 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Nikolay expressed that many might consider Novak Djokovic the greatest player, “maybe by the titles, maybe now from the Grand Slams.” Moreover, he acknowledged how Novak has made so many records and won so many Masters titles.

“But the game,” Nikolay said, before revealing who he considers the GOAT, “Greatest for me, still Federer.” Then he explained why he considers Roger Federer the greatest.


“(Federer’s) forehand, like say serve, how mentally he stay(s) on court, how he move(s) on court,” Davydenko explained his choice. Furthermore, he describes Federer as someone who shows the world the most “improving tennis” in the world.

On the other hand, he compares Djokovic’s game to the Swiss legend’s, “Djokovic, he’s the fighter.”

In fact, Davydenko even goes so far as to say take clear favorites, by saying, “Technically, I don’t like Djokovic, how he play(s).” However, the Russian former World No. 3 gives credit where it’s due. He appreciates how Novak fights well on the court, has good control, and moves unbelievably on the court.


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For Davydenko, Djokovic has an impeccable forehand, backhand, and serve. And yet, “technically, I like more Federer, and how he (is) just moving,” he shrugged and stated.

Davydenko picks Federer over the current crop of players as well

Davydenko further went on to say that he believes if Federer were to compete today instead of Djokovic against the likes of Daniil Medvedev, the Swiss champion would still come out on top.

If Roger were to “play against Medvedev, Thiem, Tsitsipas, and everyone, in a good condition, I think Federer will be winning still Grand Slams. This guy is still on top,” the 21-time ATP title winner said.



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Nevertheless, he still put Novak Djokovic a close second right after Federer. Furthermore, he put Spanish legend, Rafael Nadal, in third place, and British star Andy Murray in fourth. However, it is abundantly clear that Davydenko considers Roger Federer the greatest player of all time.


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The GOAT debate among the Big Three is now a tale as old as time, and will certainly continue on forever. Nevertheless, do share your thoughts in the comments.

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Samarveer Singh

235 articles

Samarveer Singh is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. Holding a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Fitness Sciences and Training, Samarveer is obsessed with tennis and basketball. He is also an automotive writer at HotCars.