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Lendl: Simple Answer in GOAT Debate

Ivan Lendl offers a logical response to the GOAT debate.

The Hall of Famer names Rod Laver as the pre-Open era GOAT and says the Open era GOAT will be the Big 3 champion—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic—who wins the most career Grand Slam crowns.

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In an interview with Craig Gabriel for Channel 9's Wide World of Sports, Lendl says Laver, the only player in history to sweep the Grand Slam twice—once as an amateur in 1962 and again as a professional in 1969—is the pre-Open era GOAT.

"In my mind there is one guy from the pre-Open tennis era even though he won his second Grand Slams in the post Open era but played most of his tennis in the pre Open era, won eleven majors, two Grand Slams and even if he had not won the Grand Slam in 1962, he would have won his share of majors between 1962 and 1968, and that's Rod Laver," Lendl told Craig Gabriel. "I think he is the best in the pre-Open era."

Lendl, who previously coached Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev, rates 20-time Grand Slam king Federer as leading the Open era GOAT race though he says both 19-time major champion Rafael Nadal and 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic can surpass the Swiss as GOAT by winning more career Grand Slam championships.

"It's between Novak, Rafa and Roger on who ends up with the most majors and who is considered the best of all-time in the Open era," Lendl said. "That chapter is not written and it's going to be fascinating to watch, like in golf.

"We are very fortunate to watch Tiger [Woods] chase down Jack [Nicklaus]. I would have never thought after Pete got to 14 that it was not going to stand for a long time and all of a sudden there is going to be three guys who are going to thrash his record.

"All you can say at the moment is that Roger is leading the race, the race has not been finished. When they retire the race will be finished and you will be able to judge. At the moment Roger is ahead in the race but the race is far from over."