“They want to put their name in the history books and are willing to sacrifice a lot for it”


Dmitry Tursunov believes that Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Pete Sampras managed to reach such stellar heights in tennis due to their immense desire to etch their names in the record books.

He recently gave his thoughts on the Greatest Debate of All Time (GOAT) in an exclusive interview with sportskeeda but avoided choosing one as his GOAT.

“Honestly, I see these debates and I see people slack-jawed discussing these things, and everyone comes up with their own argument. I’ve never really had this huge desire to try to figure out who’s the greatest of all times and I don’t really pay attention to it,” Tursunov said.

The Russian described how each of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic strove to surpass the player considered the GOAT before their arrival – Pete Sampras. Tursunov pointed out that there is always a chance that someone will surpass Sampras and the Big 3 in the future.

“Obviously Roger [Federer] was the first guy who got this huge dominance. Sampras also had this huge dominance in tennis, but, I think Roger kind of took it to another level, and then Rafa [Nadal] caught up with him and followed him and passed him and then there’s Novak [Djokovic], who passed Roger and is one behind Rafa. Who knows, maybe someone else will grow even taller than the four of them,” he continued.

The former world number 20 believes that Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Sampras were all driven by records and a desire to create tennis history. Tursunov believes it was this aspect that helped the four find unparalleled levels of dedication to the sport.

“I think they all really want to put their name in the history books. That’s why I think they’re super dedicated, and they push each other extremely hard, they’re willing to sacrifice a lot for it. I imagine that it is necessary to do so”, explained Tursunov.

Tursunov suggested that Federer, Sampras, Djokovic and Nadal are cut from a different cloth, arguing that most players lack the mindset to achieve such prolonged periods of dominance.

“Otherwise I don’t think a normal person would be willing to push themselves to the limit to achieve this. It takes a certain mindset and I think it’s pretty ridiculously amazing how you could have three of those people at the same time basically every single one of them would have been an incredible pass from Pete Sampras,” he explained.

The 39-year-old believes the Big 3 have raised the expectations of men’s tennis to an extraordinarily high level for players and fans alike.

“But having all three of them play together is pretty ridiculous. I don’t know if they spoil tennis fans, but they certainly set the bar high for all the other players who follow them,” Tursunov added.

“I didn’t particularly like tennis as much as, says Rafael Nadal, he seems to really enjoy it” – Dmitry Tursunov

Rafael Nadal in action against Dmitry Tursunov [not in picture] at the 2010 Rakuten Open
Rafael Nadal in action against Dmitry Tursunov [not in picture] at the 2010 Rakuten Open

During his exclusive interview with sportskeeda, Dmitry Tursunov was asked to reflect on his career and sum up his regrets and satisfactions. In his response, the Russian admitted he could have done better in his career but added that it would have been tricky as he didn’t enjoy the sport as much as someone like Rafael Nadal.

“Honestly, I don’t think about it much. I think, for me, it was always difficult to rate him. I felt like I could have been a lot better. I didn’t particularly like the tennis as much as, says Rafa [Nadal], he seems to really like it. I think it helps to push yourself and sacrifice yourself even more than me,” explained Dmitry Tursunov.

Although Tursunov feels he has given more to the sport than most young players of the current generation, he firmly believes that his level of dedication pales in comparison to Roger Federer’s.

“Now looking at some of the young players, I feel like I sacrificed a lot more, but compared to Roger Federer, I don’t know if it was enough. These guys are extremely dedicated. So, one more times, I look at things in comparison. Of course, like I was 20 in the world and in that sense, the career was probably better than a lot of the players there,” he added.

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