Martina Navratilova Says Next-Gens Are ‘Not As Good’ As Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Published 08/14/2021, 1:28 AM EDT
Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerlan wait to go on stage during the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf=Astoria on in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)


The comparison between tennis’ big three – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic – and next-generation players is one of the ever-growing conversations of the sport. Taking it further, the 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova explained why the big three are better than the next crop of players.

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First of all, the tennis legend straight out mentioned that the big three are a level above the next generation. Navratilova also explained how Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic dominate even when their game is “a little off.” But above all, she acclaimed the big three’s mental toughness as the differentiator factor.

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Martina Navratilova on Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic vs the next generation

Despite being a Grand Slam champion, Dominic Thiem has not been able to keep the consistency up. Similarly, Grand Slam finalists Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Matteo Berrettini fall short compared to the triumvirate of tennis.

Speaking to the Tennis Channel, the retired professional hailed, “These younger players are just not as good as the Big Three. Those three are just on another level. They are amazing.”

Furthermore, Navratilova highlighted the next generation’s lack of resolution when facing a lower-ranked opponent. According to her, Fed-Rafa-Nole understands how to win matches with 60%-70% of their best game.

“The chasm between them and the 20th or 30th-ranked player is that much bigger than it is for these other players. Even on days when they are a little off,” Navratilova added.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 21: (L-R) Andy Murray of Great Britain, Novak Djokovic of Siberia, Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain attend a ceremony for Carlos Moya’s retirement during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 21, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Ultimately, she acclaimed their mental fortitude as the reason they can pull off victories with less performance. She stated that such a mindset comes “from the confidence of knowing you’re better.”

Thiem, Tsitsipas, Zverev, Medvedev, Berrettini indeed have a lot to prove. Interestingly, they have considerable opportunities coming up in Cincinnati and New York.

Watch this story: Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Other Tennis Stars Funny Moments With Their Kids

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic race to become 21 Grand Slam winner

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Unfortunately, the big three will not be playing at the upcoming Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Thus, the next generation can use this time to build up for the year’s last Grand Slam tournament, the US Open 2021.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 08: (R-L) Alexander Zverev of Germany, Dominic Thiem of Austria, Matteo Berrettini of Italy, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Daniil Medvedev of Russia. Roger Federer of Switzerland, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Rafael Nadal of Spain pose for a selfie on a boat on The River Thames during previews for the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena on November 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Moreover, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic will be working hard on lifting their 21st Grand Slam title in New York. Against that, a next-generation player must try to rise and stop their dream.

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Although the tennis world is waiting for the torch to pass on, it hasn’t happened as of now. Only time will tell when or if the next generation players will come outside the shadow of the three living legends.

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Purav Joshi

1127 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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