by Bob Stockton
By the end of 2019, Roger Federer had won 20 Grand Slams and Rafa Nadal had won 19. So can the Spaniard catch up and maybe even surpass Federer in 2020? Or will the Swiss player extend his lead?
There have been moments in both player’s careers when it seemed they had passed their peak and could achieve no more, either through injuries or lack of form. But both have bounced back to hit new heights of greatness.
Federer went close to five years without winning a Grand Slam between 2012 and 2017 and looked destined to his finish career with a total of 17. But at the age of 35, he beat Nadal to win his sixth Aussie Open title and then added two more Grand Slams over the next 12 months to take his total to 20. Now aged 38, he has no immediate plans to retire and will be keen to fend off Nadal for as long as possible.
Nadal had a three-year spell without a Grand Slam between 2014 and 2017 and went on to win another five, reaching seven finals in total over the next three seasons. It was his best run of form since the period between 2008 and 2010 when he won six Grand Slams in three seasons including three in 2010.
The 33-year-old Spaniard ended 2019 as World No. 1. He first achieved the feat in 2008 as a 22-year-old. At 33, Federer had won 17 majors, so Nadal has the edge in terms of age-to-Grand Slam ratios.
Who will win what in 2020?
Federer is now 38 years of age and has started picking and choosing his tournaments more carefully in an attempt to peak at the Grand Slam events. He already has his eye on the Australian Open but will face stiff competition from Novak Djokovic who has bossed the event over the last decade and will start as favourite in the Aussie Open tennis betting in 2020.
Djokovic in the equation
Despite Federer’s brilliance, it is hard to see him stopping the Serbian this time around. After a blip in 2017, the 32-year-old is back to his best and has won four of the last six Grand Slams available. A win Down Under would put him just two Grand Slams short of Nadal and three short of the Swiss.
Nadal has only won once in Melbourne and twice at Wimbledon so his best chance of overtaking Federer will come in the French Open, where he has 12 titles, and the US Open, where he is the reigning champion having beaten Daniil Medvedev in 2019. Based on current form, he will be favourite to win both and that would put him on 21 slams.
With Djokovic favourite to win in Australia and Wimbledon, we predict the season will end with Nadal on 21 Grand Slams, Federer on 20 and Djokovic on 18. The question then will be whether Djokovic can overtake Federer and catch Nadal. Tennis fans should pinch themselves as it may be some time before we see the likes of these three again.