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Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal: grand slams, big titles and career records

Is there now any doubt that Novak Djokovic is the “goat” (greatest of all time) in men’s tennis? The Serbian, 36, made history at the 2023 French Open by winning his 23rd men’s singles grand slam title, moving one clear of Rafael Nadal on the all-time list. The 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 7-5 victory over Norway’s Casper Ruud in the Roland Garros final also meant that Djokovic has returned to world No.1 on the ATP Tour rankings.  

Djokovic’s third French Open title “may have settled the debate once and for all”, said Jonathan Jurejko on BBC Sport. And at Wimbledon in July he has the opportunity to “move ahead of Serena Williams and equal Margaret Court’s record by winning his 24th major”. 

When asked about the “goat” debate, Djokovic said he “didn’t want to enter in these discussions”. He added: “I’m writing my own history. I don’t want to say I am the greatest. I leave those discussions to someone else.”

Minutes after Djokovic’s win, 22-time major champion Nadal tweeted his big rival. “Many congrats on this amazing achievement @DjokerNole,” the Spaniard said. “23 is a number that just a few years back was impossible to think about, and you made it! Enjoy it with your family and team!” Nadal missed the French Open through injury and has indicated that 2024 will be his final year as a professional.  

In 2023 Djokovic has now won the Australian Open and French Open titles. He will go to the third major of the year at Wimbledon as a four-time defending champion. The Championships at Wimbledon take place from 3-16 July.

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Wimbledon will take place from 3-16 July 2023

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2023 grand slam dates and champions

Australian Open 

  • When: 16-29 January 2023
  • Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2023 women’s singles champion: Aryna Sabalenka
  • 2023 men’s singles champion: Novak Djokovic

French Open 

  • When: 28 May-11 June 2023
  • Where: Stade Roland-Garros, Paris, France
  • 2023 women’s singles champion: Iga Świątek
  • 2023 men’s singles champion: Novak Djokovic

The Championships Wimbledon 

  • When: 3-16 July 2023
  • Where: All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, London, England 
  • Defending women’s singles champion: Elena Rybakina
  • Defending men’s singles champion: Novak Djokovic

US Open 

  • When: 28 August-10 September 2023
  • Where: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York, US
  • Defending women’s singles champion: Iga Świątek
  • Defending men’s singles champion: Carlos Alcaraz

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Scott Barbour/Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Grand slam wins and big titles

Tennis fans will argue for hours debating the following question: who is the “goat” in men’s tennis? Icons such as Björn Borg, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors get a special mention in the greatest of all time discussion, but for many people it’s a choice of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.

After winning the 2023 French Open, Djokovic has 23 grand slam titles – one more than Nadal. Following his retirement in September 2022, Federer finished his career with 20 majors. 

Djokovic has dominated on Melbourne’s hard courts with 10 of his 23 slams coming in Australia. Nadal is the all-time “king of clay” with 14 French Open victories out of his 22. Eight of Federer’s 20 wins came on grass at Wimbledon. 

Most grand slam men’s singles titles (all-time) 

  • Novak Djokovic: 23
  • Rafael Nadal: 22 
  • Roger Federer: 20 
  • Pete Sampras: 14 
  • Roy Emerson: 12

Big titles won (records since 1990)

In terms of big titles – a trophy at a grand slam championship, the Nitto ATP Finals, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament or an Olympic singles gold medal – Djokovic leads the way with 67 after his triumph at Roland Garros in 2023. Nadal has 59 while Federer won 54.

Novak Djokovic: 67

  • Grand slams: 23
  • Nitto ATP Finals: 6
  • ATP Masters 1000: 38 

Rafael Nadal: 59

  • Grand slams: 22
  • ATP Masters 1000: 36
  • Olympic singles gold medals: 1 (Beijing 2008)

Roger Federer: 54

  • Grand slams: 20
  • Nitto ATP Finals: 6  
  • ATP Masters 1000: 28

Most men’s Wimbledon titles

  • Roger Federer: 8 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017) 
  • Pete Sampras: 7 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)
  • Novak Djokovic: 7 (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022) 
  • Bjorn Borg: 5 (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980) 
  • John McEnroe: 3 (1981, 1983, 1984) 
  • Boris Becker: 3 (1985, 1986, 1989)

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Novak Djokovic celebrates his win at the 2023 French Open

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Novak Djokovic 

  • Nationality: Serbian 
  • Age: 36 
  • World ranking: 1
  • Career titles: 94
  • Grand slam titles: 23
    – Australian Open (10): 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023
    – French Open (3): 2016, 2021, 2023
    – Wimbledon (7): 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022
    – US Open (3): 2011, 2015, 2018 
  • Big titles: 67
    – 23 grand slams
    – 6 ATP finals
    – 38 ATP Masters 1000 titles 
  • Olympic medals: singles bronze at Beijing 2008

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Rafael Nadal won his 14th French Open title in 2022

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Rafael Nadal 

  • Nationality: Spanish 
  • Age: 37
  • World ranking: 136
  • Career titles: 92
  • Grand slam titles: 22
    – Australian Open (2): 2009, 2022
    – French Open (14): 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022
    – Wimbledon (2): 2008, 2010
    – US Open (4): 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019
  • Big titles: 59
    – 22 grand slams
    – 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles
    – 1 Olympics singles 
  • Olympic medals: singles gold at Beijing 2008; men’s doubles gold at Rio 2016

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Nadal vs. Djokovic: the rivalry and head-to-head record 

With 59 previous matches, Nadal and Djokovic have battled more times in their rivalry than any players in history, ATPTour.com said. The duo have faced each other 18 times at a grand slam: three times at Wimbledon, three times at the US Open, twice at the Australian Open and ten times at the French Open. Djokovic leads the overall head-to-head 30-29, but Nadal has an 11-7 lead in grand slam matches against his rival. 

Head-to-head

  • Career matches played: 59
  • Wins: Djokovic 30, Nadal 29
  • Wins on clay: Nadal 20, Djokovic 8 
  • Wins at grand slams: Nadal 11, Djokovic 7 

Previous matches at Wimbledon 

  • 2018 semi-final: Djokovic won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8
  • 2011 final: Djokovic won 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
  • 2007 semi-final: Nadal won 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 (Djokovic retired)

Previous matches at the US Open 

  • 2013 final: Nadal won 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
  • 2011 final: Djokovic won 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1
  • 2010 final: Nadal won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2

Previous matches at the Australian Open

  • 2019 final: Djokovic won 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
  • 2012 final: Djokovic won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5

Previous matches at Roland Garros 

  • Wins at Roland Garros: Nadal 8, Djokovic 2 
  • 2022 quarter-final: Nadal won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4)
  • 2021 semi-final: Djokovic won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2
  • 2020 final: Nadal won 6-0, 6-2, 7-5
  • 2015 quarter-final: Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3, 6-1
  • 2014 final: Nadal won 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4
  • 2013 semi-final: Nadal won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7
  • 2012 final: Nadal won 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
  • 2008 semi-final: Nadal won 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3)
  • 2007 semi-final: Nadal won 7-5, 6-4, 6-2
  • 2006 quarter-final: Nadal won 6-4, 6-4 (Djokovic retired) 

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Roger Federer won Wimbledon eight times

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer’s career statistics

  • Nationality: Swiss 
  • Career titles: 103 
  • Grand slam titles: 20
    – Australian Open (6): 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018
    – French Open (1): 2009
    – Wimbledon (8): 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017
    – US Open (5): 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 
  • Big titles: 54
    – 20 grand slams
    – 6 ATP Finals
    – 28 ATP Masters 1000 titles 
  • Olympic medals: singles silver at London 2012; men’s doubles gold at Beijing 2008
Roger Federer’s retirement: an end to a ‘magical era’

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