Novak Djokovic backed over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for three reasons

Djokovic row: Andrew Allison defends him, saying its his 'choice'

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Novak Djokovic has been backed to go down in history as the greatest player of all time ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by former British No. 1 Greg Rusedski. The Big Three have dominated tennis for years, with Djokovic storming back after Federer and Nadal burst onto the scene before the Serb.

Djokovic spectacularly defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the Italian Open on Sunday. The World No. 1 crushed the Greek contender 6-0 in the opening set before sealing the second via tie-break to win his first title of 2022.

The 34-year-old is seeking to draw level with Nadal’s tally of 21 Grand Slams at the French Open next month after he was controversially barred from playing in the Australian Open earlier this year – a tournament in which the Spaniard won – when he was deported from the country due to his lack of Covid vaccination.

Djokovic heads to Roland Garros in great form on clay, winning a record-extending 38th Masters 1000 title without dropping a single set in Italy – despite finding himself 4-1 down to Tsitsipas in the second set. It led to the 23-year-old labelling Djokovic the greatest in history over Nadal and Federer, and it is a view that Rusedski agrees with.

“Djokovic will go down as the greatest player of all time,” Rusedski said. “He has been world No. 1 for most weeks, he has a winning head-to-head record versus Nadal and Federer. 

“He can end his career with 25 Grand Slam titles.”

Djokovic has a favourable record against both Federer (27-23) and Nadal (30-28) across their careers. The Serb enters the French Open – which begins next Sunday in Paris – as the favourite to secure a 21st Grand Slam title.

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Given Nadal’s foot injury issues, Djokovic’s main rival at Roland Garros could be teenage Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz, who has moved to sixth in the rankings with clay-court titles in Madrid and Barcelona. Djokovic acknowledged the Italian Open win was necessary ahead of the summer run of Grand Slams.

“After everything that happened at the beginning of the year, it was important for me to win a big title, especially with Grand Slams coming up where obviously I want to play my best,” Djokovic said. “Everything that I was feeling in the first few months of the year, as much as I’ve felt pressure in my life and my career, that was something really on a whole different level.

“But I feel it’s already behind me. I feel great on the court. Mentally as well. I’m fresh. I’m sharp.”

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