Who's the best men's tennis player of all time? It's a debate in which, unlike in golf or basketball, we've got several legit competitors for the throne playing right this very moment. And John McEnroe, himself one of tennis' immortals, is riding hard for Rafael Nadal.
“This guy is to me, I think you can make an argument right here and now, the greatest player that ever lived,” McEnroe said. “If you look at his record against [Andy] Murray, [Roger] Federer, and [Novak] Djokovic, it’s way better than that. He won the Olympics. He’s got Davis Cups, which Roger doesn’t have. I have always said Roger Federer to me was the greatest player that ever lived, certainly the most beautiful player. But I’m going to tell you right here and now there’s a definite argument, I’m starting to lean toward Rafa.”
Credit to McEnroe, he didn't back down from his best-ever pronouncement even after Nadal's shocking first-round loss to Steve Darcis:
Greatness is an arbitrary measure. Win-loss records are not. Nadal is 20-10 against Federer and 20-15 against Djokovic, but as Larry Brown Sports notes, you could argue that those numbers are skewed because of Nadal's absolute dominance on clay courts. (Were Nadal better on other surfaces, the argument goes, he would have reached more finals against the best of his generation.) From one angle, that deflates the Nadal-is-the-greatest argument, but from another, it only enhances that reputation. (He's 25-5 against Federer and Djokovic on clay, which is astonishing dominance.)
This debate will rage forever; best bet for us is to kick back and enjoy our good fortune.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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• Roger Federer: So smooth it looks like he's barely trying