As Rafael Nadal returns to world number one in the rankings after his semi-final opponent Tomas Berdych retired injured at the China Open Saturday, capping an astonishing comeback for the 13-time Grand Slam champion, the debate stirs up. The Spanish world number two only needed to make the final in Beijing to edge ahead of Novak Djokovic in the new rankings, which will be announced by the ATP on Monday. So as the Spaniard reclaims the top spot, many question on whether he is the best of all time surpassing Roger Federer? We here at Sportzwiki try to find the answer courtesy our featured columnists: Nikhil Deshpande:

  Is Rafael Nadal better than Roger Federer? My answer would have to revert back to an affirmative. Why? Because he will. Nadal has won an Olympic Gold Medal and spear-headed Spain to four Davis Cup titles. Federer has zero and zero. Rafa has won 26 Masters Series titles and that is 5 more than Roger Federer’s 21. He is also 20-1 in Davis Cup matches, with his only loss coming in his first try at age 17. They say “To be the best, you have to beat the best” and time and again Rafael Nadal has beaten someone who’s considered the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer. Federer is 2-6 vs. Nadal in grand slams. Nadal leads Federer 21-10 in head-to-head overall in their careers. Yes, both have won career grand-slams. It once seemed that Rafeal Nadal would be eluded from the Wimbledon title and Roger Federer from the French Open such was the dominance of the other man. But it was Rafael Nadal who broke the dead-lock by defeating Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2008 after two previous unsuccessful attempts in the finals. On the other hand, regardless of Roger Federer winning the French Open the next year in 2009 it’d always remain tainted as Roger didn’t have Rafael Nadal as his competition in the final. Take nothing away from Roger but Nadal has managed to beat Federer at Wimbledon one-on-one but till date Nadal holds the advantage of not losing to Roger Federer at the French Open. And with Rafael Nadal playing out a close-to-perfect hard-court season in 2013, it seems just a matter of time till be surpasses Roger Federer’s tally of 18 grand slams and cements his place as the greatest ever. Advantage Nadal, 1-0 Shamik Mukherjee:

   While Federer is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time with a record 17 Grand Slams to his name. However, Rafael Nadal arguably has a better career record than the legendary Swiss. Nadal’s second US Open title, and 13th Grand Slam, means that he has won one more than Federer at the same age. Add to that a singles Olympic Gold Medal and spear-heading Spain to four Davis Cup titles compared to Federer’szero and zero, and you have a player who has made a more all-round impact on the game. According to John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, winning two more to get to 15 would mean Nadal had a better career than Federer, and one has to agree. For starters, Nadal has 26 Masters Series titles to Federer’s 21.Those four Davis Cup titles and one Olympic gold medal equal at least one more Grand Slam title, if not two. Making it two means that Nadal has 15 titles to Federer’s 17. If we look at how the two won their titles, Federer is 2-6 against Nadal in Grand Slam finals and 15-1 against everyone else. Compare that to Nadal, who is 13-5 in finals, against far tougher competition. It wasn’t until Federer had won his first seven Grand Slams that he ran into Nadal. Following his 7-0 start, Federer is only 10-7 in Grand Slam finalssince meeting Nadal in his first final in 2006, when he was in his prime, aged 25.Sorry Roger Federer fans, but it is a heck of a lot easier to win against Mark Philippoussis and Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis and Fernando González than against Nadal or Djokovic. Now look at who Rafael Nadal has had to beat. After winning his first Grand Slam title defeating Mariano Puertaat age 18, Nadal played Federer in his next seven Grand Slam finals. Nadal is the only tennis player to win at least one Grand Slam title nine years in a row, and although critics call him the “King of Clay” and make him out to be a one-court specialist, Nadal and Mats Wilander are the only two players to win two Grand Slams each on all three surfaces. Tennis commentator Mary Carillo said that the greatest matches she has ever seen on all three surfaces involved Rafael Nadal: When he beat Federer at Wimbledon in 2008, when he lost to Djokovic at the 2012 Australian Open and when he beat Djokovic at the 2013 French Open. Need I say more?


Nadal 2-0 Federer Anand Vasudevan:  Hard work never fails, they say. It is all the same for every sportsman that attains the stardom. While some people are born with the proverbial silver spoon, others are born with a certain talent, while some others have to work with discipline and dedication to attain glory. While Roger Federer belongs to the second type, Rafael Nadal has worked hard to achieve the success that he is enjoying today. Rafael Nadal, the south paw from Spain is definitely one notch better than Federer when it comes to grinding it out on the park. While Federer is known for his flamboyant winners, Nadal chooses to tire out the opponent by playing long rallies and moving around the court like a bolt of lightning. Having been prone to injury, Nadal’s career has had its share of ups and downs. At the early stages of his career, Nadal was tagged as a clay court bully, unable to make any lasting impression in other surfaces. But all that changed in the year 2008 as he clinched in maiden Wimbledon title and was anointed as the world number one, dethroning Roger Federer. From then onwards, Nadal’s career rose like never before as he strove to conquer the other surfaces. He successfully clinched the career grand slam in the year 2010 when he won the elusive US Open for the first time beating Novak Djokovic. It is remarkable to note that he did it before Roger Federer. Federer’s delay in achieving the career grand slam could be attributed to the Nadal factor as Nadal was invincible in the French open having won eight titles till date. He has thirteen grand slams to his name and is raring for more. He has recovered well from his injury and has promised his fans that he would play continuously for the next two years which might mean that he might indeed break Federer’s record for the number of Grand Slams achieved. He is definitely one of the best players of the open era! Thats perhaps 3-0 o Nadal


  Divakar KS: “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist…or you’re Roger Federer.” Said the former world no.01 Jimmy Connors, such is the Swiss maestro’s tennis dominance. Roger Federer attains success by mixing the skills of covering the whole court and exceptional shot making and the ability to execute those skills without any flaws. Sixth to complete the career slam, he stands at the top of Grand slam winners list. He has claimed 17 majors, spent over 300 weeks as the No. 1 ranked player, won six year-end championships and reached the semifinals of 23 straight grand-slam events and the quarterfinals 36 consecutive times — a measure of the unrivaled consistency a player can display. Even on his weakest surface of clay, he has managed to reach the finals of the French open five times and managed to win it once and has 10 clay court titles under his name. While his rivals adopt the power stroke and rocket serves into their technique, the Swiss maestro differs and likes to approach the game intelligently through his envision. Roger Federer has won title in 17 different countries in the same era in which lot of players are not able to take the wear and tear due to constant travel. He is extremely honest, humble during the time of defeats and victories and serves as a perfect ambassador for the sportsmanship spirit. A Spaniard or a Serbian may be able to beat some records but it’s next to impossible to match the consistency he displayed in the fitness, the level of performance and the character on and off the court. Simply put, Roger Federer- the greatest of all time. Finally Federer gets on board, its 3-1 however to Nadal. So who do you think is the Greatest Tennis Player of all time? Shower us with your comments and votes