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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer

Toni Nadal, Rafa Nadal's uncle and original coach, offers a simple reason why he regards 20-time Grand Slam king Roger Federer as GOAT.

Photo credit: @LaverCup

The race for the Grand Slam record is fluid, but the status of the GOAT is firm says Toni Nadal.

Grand Slam king Roger Federer is the greatest of all time, says Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal's uncle and original coach.

Watch: Djokovic on Playing To 40, Major Record

In an interview with Hall of Famer Mats Wilander for Eurosport, Uncle Toni tabs the 20-time Grand Slam champion as GOAT—and his personal favorite player to watch aside from his nephew.

“For me, he’s a wonderful player,” Toni Nadal said of Federer. “I like a lot to watch Roger Federer. [If] I was not the uncle or the coach of Rafael, I want Federer to win all the matches.

“I like how [Federer] plays because he’s very elegant, but he’s very effective, too. I know Federer is the best ever. I don’t know maybe with Rod Laver… Rafael is not too far. Federer is the best.”

The 38-year-old Swiss has won a men's record 20 career Grand Slam titles. Federer leads 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal and 17-time major titlist Djokovic in the all-time Grand Slam race.

The Big 3 of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer have combined to claim 13 consecutive Grand Slam crowns.

A defiant Djokovic denied two championship points in the final set fighting off Federer, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) to successfully defend his Wimbledon title last July in The Championships' longest final—and first men’s major final decided in a fifth-set tie breaker.

After winning his eighth Australian Open crown in January, Djokovic conceded he's in "really good" position to surpass Federer to seize the all-time men's major mark.

"I do have professional goals. Grand Slams are one of the main reasons why I am still competing and still playing full season, trying to obviously get the historic No. 1," Djokovic said. "That's the other big goal. I put myself in this position that is really good at the moment. I'm super happy with the way I started the season. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the year."

Tennis Express

Numbers don't lie. Toni Nadal asserts the Big 3 have distinguished themselves as tennis icons for elevating the sport.

"There is a very clear statistic. Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, who were great champions, won 26 Grand Slams combined,” Toni Nadal said. “Rafa, Roger and Novak have 56, which means more than the double.

"Many people tell me that they have improved, but each one could have won many more majors if some of them were not there. “Anyways, they were lucky that the following generation is unable to replace them."

Toni Nadal, who runs the Rafa Nadal Academy in his native Mallorca, says he has a simple tennis dream: that young players try to emulate Federer and Rafa Nadal—not because of their styles of play but because of their passion for play.

“I hope in the next generation can be a player like Roger, similar to Roger, or similar to Rafael," Toni Nadal said. "Because when they put this passion, it’s good for the ATP Tour.”


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