Another epic match. Another monumental battle. This time the Spaniard prevailed, and the sports fraternity is again busy to decide who is the greatest of all time! The number crunching has begun. Novak still holds an edge with 30-29 in their rivalry, so he is the best. Well, the other school thinks, Rafa has more majors (21) and hence he is the king. Novak has won more Grand Slams in the last 10 years and hence he is the undisputed leader. Rafa has dominated one grand slam like no one else, winning it 13 times and counting. So, he has to be at the top. Then there is this other group who argues Roger has played more semifinals, quarter finals and finals in the Grand Slams and made more appearances. Ergo he is the greatest!! Well seems like the academic aptitude of the sports lovers flies high when we talk about this trio. The history of sports has been marred (should I say that) with the funny comparisons. James vs Jordan, Schumacher vs Hamilton, Pele vs Maradona and the list goes on.
I for one, couldn’t care less. Soaking into another magical night, on the famed red clay of La Ville Lumière, adorned by two of the finest athletes of our generation, the statistics was the last thing in my mind. The lethal approach shots of the Serbian, matched shot by shot with that superlative inside-out from the lefty, the impossible “Gets” of Nole with his 500 ft wing span countered by the inconceivable change of the directions by the El Nino – took my breath away. Grit, determination, self-belief, aggression, skills and above all the radiance of two giants of the game – everything was on display. Two men were fighting as if every point was a championship point. At the end of the day, one prevailed but the other didn’t as in any sports.
Why dissect and bisect every performance of these greats of the game? It is ours to learn, enjoy and reflect from these illustrious encounters. When they win that only shows the hunger and the pursuit of excellence, and when they lose it only shows how human they are. Mere numbers do not make them great or differentiate one from the other, it is the humility, grace and the relentless search for the summit which transcend them to the legends of the game that they are. I don’t believe in this mundane debate of the “GOAT”. To borrow Feynman’s words I don’t care what other people think. If Novak, Roger or Rafa did not exist in our generation, we would probably have to invent g to script the tennis folklore!