WATCH: Next-Gen Stars Pick Their ‘GOAT’ Among Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Published 06/18/2021, 8:48 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 07: Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerland embrace at the net after their mens singles semi-final match during Day thirteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 07, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Fans must have heard tennis experts and yesteryear stars put forward their arguments on who they think deserves the mantle of ‘GOAT’ (short for Greatest of All Time) among the Big 3, the combined moniker for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. Now, the Next-Gen stars in the men’s game have taken their picks in the enduring ‘GOAT’ debate.


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While three names came up during a fun Q&A on who they think is the greatest of all, most went with Federer.

Most Next-Gen stars went with Roger Federer as ‘GOAT’


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The session put together by ATP TennisTV featured a nice blend of Next-Gen stars including Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman, Karen Khachanov, Roberto Bautista Agut, Aslan Karatsev, Dan Evans, Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov, and Alex De Minaur. 

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia shakes hands with Roger Federer of Switzerland at the net following victory in his Men’s Singles final during Day thirteen of The Championships – Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Though not among the Next-Gen, big-serving American tennis star John Isner also joined the party.

After flashing a sheepish grin and initially hesitant to take sides, Auger-Aliassime eventually went with Djokovic.

“I don’t want to pick a side but, I don’t know, Djokovic,” said the Canadian, who has hit early form on grass and recently took down Federer in a round-of-16 encounter at Halle.

De Minaur, Australia’s big tennis hope, simply said ‘Rog’, while Evans, Isner, and Karatsev, who took a meteoric leap in the rankings after reaching the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open as a qualifier, also went with Federer.

Agut departed from the Roger refrain and went with compatriot and 13-time French Open champion Nadal. “The greatest of all time? Rafael Nadal,” the Spaniard said.

Stefanos Tsitsipas picked Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev went with all three

Schwartzman, who shares his first name with departed soccer god Diego Maradona, was almost too shy to pick a name. After taking a moment’s pause, the smiling Argentine went, “Roger, I think”.

Tsitsipas, who had the most recent run-ins with two of the Big 3, losing to Nadal in the Barcelona final and Djokovic in the championship clash at Roland-Garros, said, “Rafael Nadal”.

Shapovalov couldn’t be drawn to pick a favorite as he said, “I don’t know. I’d say the Big 3.”


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Khachanov knew what he was getting into as he said, “Tough one. I would go with Federer.” Sinner, too, picked the Swiss, but Zverev didn’t pick one over the other and simply went with “all of them”.

The GOAT debate seems to have no end in sight. Who would you pick as the greatest from the Big 3?


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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.