The wheel of the Big 3, or the wheel of the GOAT debate, if you prefer to put it that way, spins fast. Very quickly. Nine months ago, Novak Djokovic showed up in New York with the possibility of pulling off a monumental double blow: signing the first calendar Grand Slam in more than half a century, while becoming the new record holder for titles in all four tournaments. Majors. The Serb could move up to 21 crowns, just ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Buried under the weight of this double perspective, the Djoker had failed in the final against Daniil Medvedev. Despite everything, while his two great rivals were in the infirmary and his domination on the circuit was almost total, the Serb still seemed to be in the best position. Less than a year and two Grand Slam tournaments later, Nadal, back in business, has risen above the fray. Rather twice than once. He ended his Australian “curse”, which lasted for 13 years, before winning his 14th title at Roland-Garros on Sunday.
The Spaniard had left Melbourne being, for the very first time, the sole record holder. He will now turn his back on Paris with the break in his pocket. He has 22 titles (as many, for example, as the cumulative awards of Björn Borg and Rod Laver, or those of Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe), two more than his two rivals on the time scale.
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The idea is not to be the best in history
But as he has always done, Nadal refused Sunday to place himself on this ground. “It’s very simple to understand. In any case for me, for you it may be a little different“, he first joked before becoming serious. “The idea is not to be the best in history and win all the titles, he explains. We achieved our dreams, myself, Roger, Novak. We have achieved things we never dreamed of!“
If he continues, if he is still there, 17 years to the day after his very first major success, it is… because he still loves tennis as much, even more than competition. Not to be ahead of Djokovic and Federer. “What keeps me going is not competition, being the best or winning more Grand Slams than others.he assures. It’s the passion for the game, it’s living the moments that will stay with me forever and playing in front of the best crowds and in the best stadiums in the world. That’s what motivates me. This passion for what I doRafael Nadal simply concedes that being competitive remains paramount: “If I’m not anymore, maybe I won’t have fun anymore.“
The fact remains that from the sole perspective of this three-way Grand Slam race, this first half of 2022 may have marked a turning point. Though. Let’s be careful. If, for Roger Federer, it seems hardly conceivable that he can further enrich his capital CV, Novak Djokovic has not said his last word. After all, nothing says that the Serb will not be able to join the Spaniard at the end of the summer by winning at Wimbledon, then at the US Open. With them, nothing seems impossible.
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