Rafael Nadal has great chance to get ahead in GOAT debate

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Former Australian tennis star Casey Dellacqua says Rafael Nadal’s quest to win this Australian Open title, which would put him at the top of the Grand Slam titles leaderboard with 21, could trigger a major shift in the GOAT debate.

With both of his rivals not present and Roland Garros up next, Nadal could have 22 grand slams to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s 20 each by June.

It’s a scenario that would clearly be a nightmare for Djokovic in particular, given there’s a clear sense that the Serbian star needs an open and shut case from a Grand Slam titles perspective, due to the fact that he trails Federer and Nadal in the popularity stakes.

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“Rafa’s certainly got a good chance to win another one right here I think, heading into the French Open where he’s been the man on the clay for so many years,” Dellacqua told Wide World of Sports’ The Morning Serve.

“Rafa’s prospects are looking good, but in terms of the greatest of all time, that discussion will always be open for opinions.” 

Yet, while that would clearly add weight to his case, Dellacqua said personal preferences would always colour the GOAT debate.

“In my opinion, the greatest of all time is a reflection upon how many titles you’ve won, but also what you give back to the sport, what you do in the sport,” Dellacqua said. 

“We obviously love the champions of the game that are champions on the court and are champions off the court so I think as a whole that debate is always going to be back and forth.” 

Nadal fought through a five-set epic against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday, and will play Matteo Berrettini for a spot in the final this afternoon – but regardless, Dellacqua said he won’t be the favourite in the final.

“Rafa’s going to be up for a challenge that Medvedev may bring to him – but he’s obviously got to get through his next match first,” she said.

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Medvedev will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas tonight in the other semi-final.

The No.2 in the world is now the clear favourite to win the title, despite getting pushed to the brink by Canadian young gun Felix Auger Alliasime in their quarter-final on Wednesday.

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