Just the other day I was talking with a friend about who the greatest tennis player of this current generation of players is. We threw around the usual names like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic. This debate has been bugging me ever since my friend and I started talking about it; so I have decided to do a bunch of research and find out which male player is really the greatest tennis player of all time.
Selecting the greatest tennis player of all time will have to be broken down into a series of posts, other wise it will end up being really long and boring. So this is part 1, starting with Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal certainly has the likes of the greatest tennis player of all time, especially with his career grand slam under his belt at the young age of 23. Rafa has been argued the best tennis player to ever grace the clay courts, this I have no doubt about; he really is the king of clay. Nadal has an unprecedented 32 titles on clay and has only lost 18 matches on clay in his entire professional career. ONLY 18! That does secure him the title of “Greatest Clay Court Player Of All Time.”
So why wouldn’t Rafael Nadal be the best all-around ever? Nadal doesn’t have the physical ability to keep playing the way he has plays. The guy spends a lot of time scrambling, side to side, sliding, jumping, and scurrying to get balls back in play. His knees cannot last forever, we’ve already seen him miss a couple of months because his knees were suffering from severe tendonitis. How much longer could he potentially continue? Another season, maybe two? If his knees don’t give out first, then it will have to be his shoulder giving way to injury. That reverse forehand he uses all the time is really effective, yet it is extremely damaging to the joints and tendons; it’s only a matter of time before he can’t lift his tennis racquet. He’s good right now, but the question is how much longer is he going to be good. Good thing Uncle Toni is there to keep pushing him to keep playing.
I know, who I am to say that his body will give out before his tennis career is over? I’m not a doctor, though I can assure you that how Rafa works his body is a way that cannot be done for much longer. I mean, come on, how many of us haven’t tried to swing like he does? How many of us feel that it’s not a way to swing on a regular basis? I can tell you from personal experience that even with a good swing, using the reverse forehand like Nadal is painful. If I swung like that 90% of the time I know that I will be needing some major surgery soon.
His accomplishments in and out of tennis are tremendous, winning 537 tennis matches, 46 titles, a career grand slam, a golden slam (Olympic Gold Medal), and has earned $43,780,677. His career earnings do not include endorsements by Nike, Babolat, Armani, and many other brands that Nadal represents. That’s a pretty penny for his career, but he still doesn’t top the income list of the greatest of all time.
Nadal, like many other tennis players, participates in a foundation for people less fortunate. The Rafael Nadal Foundation works and collaborates with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, where both organizations fund school programs, clean water systems, and much more. His humanitarian effort gives him a gold star in my book of greatness off the court.
Does all this make Rafael Nadal the greatest tennis player of all time? You’ll just have wait and read the rest of the series of Who really is the greatest of all time.