LONDON — Rafael Nadal says the debate about the greatest player of all time should center on Roger Federer and Rod Laver.
Nadal addressed the topic after defeating Federer 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday. The 27-year-old Spaniard improved to 22-10 against Federer, who has a record 17 Grand Slam titles to Nadal’s 13. Nadal — who has collected a record 26 Masters 1000 titles and won Davis Cup and a gold medal in Olympic singles — believes a player’s success outside of the majors should be given weight in the debate.
“I believe it is 100 percent fair that people say [Federer is the best] because he is today, and it will be very difficult for any player to improve his numbers,” said Nadal, who will face Novak Djokovic in the final of the World Tour Finals on Monday.
“It is not fair to analyze the history of any player only for the Grand Slams. Everyone knows that tennis is not only the Grand Slams. There are a lot of things outside the Grand Slams. Roger has an unbelievable record outside of Grand Slams. For sure, in Grand Slams, he the player who wins more.”
Nadal also mentioned Laver, who won the calendar-year Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962 and a professional in 1969.
“So today the question is not about me or Roger, it will be more about Rod Laver or Roger,” Nadal said. “But I never had the chance to see Rod Laver play. And talking about my career, I am 27. I did more than I ever dreamed. I hope to keep having chances to keep winning. I’m going to work for that. And hopefully when I finish my career, we’ll see where I am in the history of tennis.”