When the greatest of all time (GOAT) debate pops up in tennis, the name Roger Federer is usually the one that is unanimously mentioned.
There have previously been the likes of Pete Sampras and Rod Laver that have had the GOAT moniker attached to their names through different eras, but with a record 20 grand slams, Federer stands head and shoulders above the rest.
But is that really the case? Does winning grand slams equal greatness, or is there more to it?
Influence is key
Rafa Nadal, regarding as the greatest of all time in clay, is on 19 grand slams, just one shy of Federer at the moment and a huge Nadal fanbase will think that the man from Mallorca can overtake Federer in the number of grand slams won and be the GOAT.
Much like Nadal, current world number one Novak Djokovic is also another name that can overtake Federer as he has 17 grand slams and is only 33 years old and is arguably playing his best tennis.
Both Nadal and Federer have a better head-to-head win-loss record against Federer and has gotten the better of the 38-year-old Swiss in grand slams overall.
They also have age on their side, and if they can keep their form and game up till Federer's age, they surely will overtake Federer.
But none of these players would have made it this far if not for the influence of Federer.
FedEx was the dominant force in Tennis for the most part of the 2000s and early into the 2010s barring the French Open, which was always a fortress for Nadal.
His rivalry with Nadal will go down as arguably the greatest rivalry in the history of tennis.
Great friends off the court, they have been fierce competitors on the field and you would not have seen the rise of Nadal if it wasn't for the dominance of Federer.
There was a time in the 2000s where Federer was so dominant that tennis fans would just crave to see a competitor beat him, and Nadal was the one who stood up.
Likewise, Djokovic also made a slow start in his career but after switching to a gluten-free diet, he too has become a dominant force and the Djoker has influence from both Federer and Nadal in his game.
So overall, it can be said that two of the most dominant forces in tennis today - Nadal and Djokovic - both have been influenced by Federer to have the hunger and desire to reach for the stars and to continue playing at the top level well into their 30's.
An all-round game
Federer can be called the most complete player ever, with a game that is suited for all surfaces, barring clay of course.
A deceptively good and versatile serve, a strong forehand and the best looking forehand in all of tennis, Federer has a game that is built on attack and industry.
He can do the serve-and-volley routine all day on grass and on hard courts, but on clay, due to the sluggish nature of the surface, that gets more difficult to execute.
His game is not bad per say on clay, and if not for the unparalleled baseline play of Nadal, Federer would have dominated in clay too.
Nadal does not have the serve or the aesthetic backhand of Federer but what he does have is a top-spin forehand that is the best in the business and an equally good defense to return just about anything and force the opponent to make an error.
Djokovic has been almost as good as Nadal in his baseline play but he has superior ground shots that Nadal doesn't have.
Unlike Federer, Djokovic does not have the serve-and-volley game and nor does he have the overall attacking game of Federer.
It can be said that Federer has the most complete attacking game of any tennis player in history while Nadal has the best defense and Djokovic has the least amount of weaknesses.
So in the end, while Federer will be the popular choice as GOAT and perhaps the purist's choice as well, based on these factors, one can only have a clearer answer once all three players have retired.
For now, while fans wait for the resumption of tennis post-Covid-19, they can only cherish the fact that three of the greatest-ever players are playing in the same era - perhaps tennis' greatest ever era.