Roger Federer has been discounted from the GOAT debate following his time sidelined with injury, according to former world No 3 David Ferrer. The Barcelona Open tournament director said it was currently a two-man race between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to be the greatest player, claiming the Spaniard was the current “best”.
Ferrer was one of the rivals to the Big Three during the height of his career, reaching the world’s top three and making the final of the 2013 French Open at his peak. Now retired, the Spaniard is the current tournament director of the Barcelona Open, being held this week, and took the opportunity to give his verdict on the GOAT race in men’s tennis.
With Federer now 40 and Nadal and Djokovic in their mid-thirties, the 27-time title winner commended the duo for remaining on top and still winning Major titles in the later stage of their careers. “The best three are old. However, Rafa and Djokovic still point out the inscription, ‘we are still here’. In the most important moments, they are still the best,” Ferrer said.
Putting his support behind his countryman Nadal in the current standings of who is the greatest player, the Barcelona Open boss continued: “First, I don’t want to think about when they will end their careers. I like the fact that I see this initiative to determine who is the best on the planet in this sport. And I like that Rafa is the best at the moment.”
Although Ferrer narrowed the GOAT race down to the two players, he didn’t completely rule Federer out but explained that the Swiss ace would struggle to get back in the winners circle after playing just five tournaments in the last 26 months. “I think that there will be a fight between Nadal and Djokovic to see who is the best,” the former world No 3 added.
“I’m not saying that Roger can’t be close to winning the slam, but he hasn’t competed for two years, he won’t be among the winners and he will have to play with the best immediately, and that consumes you physically.” There are some positive signs for the 40-year-old though, as he has been back in the gym and sharing his recovery progress on social media over the last week.
Federer shared footage of himself working on his footwork and his swings and he mimicked backhands and forehands using a pole. With Nadal also in the midst of a much shorter injury break after suffering a stress fracture in his rib during his Indian Wells semi-final, there is also good news from the Spaniard who returned to a practice court for the first time in four weeks on Monday.
The world No 4 was forced to miss this week’s Barcelona Open but is hoped to be back in time for the Madrid and Rome Masters, and the French Open. Meanwhile Djokovic is continuing to get some momentum going after playing just two tournaments so far this year, as he is part of the field at the Serbia Open this week.