Federer, Nadal, Djokovic – Who’s the Greatest?


As the talking heads continue to banter back and forth about who might be the greatest tennis player of all time (how can you not like it when John McEnroe takes on this topic), the reactions of the fans of the top contenders are often downright classic! If someone says that Djokovic is the most complete player in tennis history (I realize that is different from saying he is the greatest), you’re bound to hear a few “you can’t be serious” retorts to quickly follow. That is just the nature of this bountiful and energetic discussion/debate.

With all due respect to the uber venerables (Mr. Laver, Mr. Borg and Mr. Sampras), as I think about comparing and contrasting Federer, Nadal and Djokovic and their careers up to this point in order to discern who should be considered the greatest of the last 15 years (and just maybe…the greatest of all time), I would like to enter the fray by getting a bit mathematical. I decided to array ten criteria and weight each one in order to formulate how these three tennis superstars line up against each other. Now mind you, this is a work in progress and can easily be corrected and enhanced until we as a tennis community decide we have had enough ? So, here is what I have so far…


Criteria Federer Nadal Djokovic
1 Grand Slam Titles 18 15 12
2 Grand Slam Finals Winning Percentage 64.29 68.18 57.14
3 Grand Slam Match Winning Percentage 86.03 87.10 86.00
4 Grand Slam Semis Made Percentage 57.75 52.00 62.00
5 Career Match Winning Percentage 81.74 82.51 82.78
6 Weeks Ranked Number One 302 141 223
7 Winning Percentage Against Other Two 44.00 54.00 52.00
8 Masters One Thousand Titles 26 30 30
9 Olympic Gold Medals 0 1 0
10 Year End Championships 6 0 5
43.85 41.78 40.55
Federer Nadal Djokovic


So, there you have it! Federer comes out on top with Nadal a close second and Djokovic a close third. Now, of course, I assigned the weights as I believe them to be the most accurate assessors of greatness. Perhaps I’ll display them next time after I ponder things a bit more. Give this a look and let me know what you think! Until then, enjoy Wimbledon and hit the courts yourselves when it’s not too hot ?

I am a young forty something husband to the most beautiful woman and father to the most beautiful girl and to the most handsome lil dude who strives to become a better person in all ways. As an avid fitness buff whose favorite sport is tennis, I desire to gather true tennis knowledge and wisdom and write about it in a way that might help anyone of interest become a more healthy and able "racqueteer."


  1. BBOLD says:

    Interesting analytics. Though Federer has played much longer which comes with more opportunities for grand slam wins. It’s definitely a tight race though.

    • Shack Shack says:

      Hey BBold!

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, Fed is 5 and 6 years older than the other two…so he’s had more tournaments in which to earn more hardware. I think he deserves credit for his longevity at such a high level. At the same time, however, I did use percentages in a number of the criteria to factor for the “time on tour difference.” I really tried to balance a number of elements here. Perhaps I will tweak some things in my formula, but we will see how the conversations goes for a bit 🙂

      Hit the courts when it not too hot there 🙂


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