Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
With Win Over Federer, Nadal Solidifying Position as the GOAT
With his latest win over arch-rival Roger Federer in the Australian Open semifinals, Rafael Nadal took another step toward solidifying his position as the GOAT.
The Greatest of All Time.
With his 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory, Nadal improved to 23-10 against Federer and if he beats Federer’s Swiss countryman, Stan Wawrinka, in Sunday’s final, he will tie Pete Sampras for second all-time with 14 career Majors. Federer is the all-time leader with 17 Majors,
Nadal is 12-0 against Wawrinka and has won 26 straight sets.
Sampras is in Melbourne and watched Federer and Nadal play live for the first time. He will present the trophy to Sunday’s winner.
“First of all, remain a very tough opponent in front,” Nadal, who overcame a large blister on his left hand, told Jim Courier on court. “Wawrinka is playing just amazing, winning a fantastic match against Novak [Djokovic], yesterday against [Tomas] Berdych so he should come to this final with big confidence now. I never thought about having 13 Grand Slams already so I never thought about having 14 but the only thing I can swear is I gonna try my best.”
Nadal has now won five straight against Federer overall and is 9-2 against him n Majors. Federer hasn’t beaten Nadal in a Slam since 2007 and has also now dropped to No. 2 in Switzerland behind Wawrinka.
“First of all, play with Roger always is a very special feeling, no?” Nadal said. “Is probably the opponent that when I go on court I have very, very emotional feelings. We play a lot of times for important things in our career, and today was another important match. He’s a really great champion and for me it’ a really great honor to be in the same [level] like him.”
He added: “I think tonight I played my best match of the tournament, so I’m very happy for that.”
If Nadal, 26, wins the Australian, he will have won every Grand Slam event at least twice. He has eight French Opens, two Wimbledons and two U.S. Opens. (And you have to figure he will be the favorite at the French for at least a couple of more years.)
“I do think without Rafa winning one more major, you could make the argument that he’s the best of all time,” Andre Agassi said last year.
Still, Mats Wilander told SNY.tv at last year’s U.S. Open that Nadal needed to win one more U.S. — which he did — and one more Australian — which he now can — to be considered the GOAT.
“I think [Nadal] has to definitely get to 15,” said Wilander, who himself won seven Majors, including the 1988 U.S. Open. “I do think that he has to win the U.S. Open twice, he needs to win the Australian Open twice.
“Even though Roger only won the French once, he was up against the greatest claycourt player of all time. So I think if Rafa wins here, wins the Australian Open one more time, then he’s got 14. Then I think we can start talking about potentially who’s the greatest player.
“Maybe not of all time because where’s Rod Laver in the whole thing?”
On this night, Laver was sitting courtside watching Nadal further solidify his case as the GOAT.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.