Alex de Minaur cuts down Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in comment about Novak Djokovic

The Aussie star has inadvertently weighed in on the fiercest debate in tennis.

Alex de Minaur, pictured here alongside Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.
Alex de Minaur has declared Novak Djokovic the greatest of all time ahead of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. Image: Getty

Alex de Minaur has inadvertently risked the wrath of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal fans after declaring Novak Djokovic the greatest player of all time. De Minaur stunned World No.1 Djokovic on Wednesday night with a 6-4 6-4 victory in Australia's United Cup tie with Serbia.

The World No.12 scored his first career victory over a World No.1, joining Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt as the only Aussies to beat Djokovic in his career. Speaking afterwards, de Minaur said: "I'm happy I can say I got a win over the GOAT" - short for 'greatest of all time'.

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Debate has been raging for years about which player out of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer is the actual GOAT of men's tennis. Fans of Federer and Nadal are refusing to relent despite the fact Djokovic now has 24 grand slam titles compared to Nadal's 22 and Federer's 20.

Nadal copped some backlash earlier this week when he played down Djokovic's legacy and declared Federer the greatest. "(Federer) is the player who has impressed me the most, the one who has entertained me the most, the one who has moved me the most," Nadal said in an interview with El Pais.

"Watching Federer play has moved me more than Djokovic, and in the end, tennis is about emotion. It's the emotion that draws you to it.

"In terms of tennis, it's clear. It's a combination of very radical styles. Federer was perfection in terms of aesthetics, elegance and technique. I have very good technique, but technique is not the same as aesthetics. They are two different things. He had incredible technique, doing things beautifully with impressive elegance.

"We have all reinvented ourselves (and) that's why there has been this intense rivalry. We always surprised each other. Djokovic, as well, but with a difference compared to the two of us. He hasn't needed to evolve (his style) as much as we have. He hasn't suffered as many injuries. The only thing that has demanded him to improve his game has been his rivals, not physical issues. That's a difference."

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De Minaur's staggering victory snapped Djokovic's 45-match, six-year winning streak in Australia. It came in complete contrast to the 6-2 6-1 6-2 thumping he received from the Serbian star in the fourth round of the Australian Open last year.

"The last time we played I was lucky to get games - to the point where I felt almost embarrassed on the court," de Minaur reflected. "It's been a nice little change-up from one year ago. It's not easy to walk back out on court after you've been thrashed last time."

But the World No.12 isn't getting too cocky ahead of the Melbourne Park grand slam. "Let's not get too ahead of ourselves," he said. "The level is there (but) five sets is a different beast. I'm happy with where my level is, where I am mentally, and the mindset I've got going in. I definitely know that I've got a very high top level and I would love to bring it for Melbourne."

Alex de Minaur, pictured here after beating Novak Djokovic.
Alex de Minaur became just the third Aussie to beat Novak Djokovic. (Image: AAP)

The Sydneysider also took down World No.10 Taylor Fritz at the United Cup in Perth earlier this week. Djokovic, who is dealing with a wrist injury, was quick to praise the 24-year-old's progress over the past year.

"He's one of the quickest players on the tour," the World No.1 said. "He takes the ball early. He's comfortable to come to the net. He's using his serve well.

"He's a very all-around player and great competitor, great fighter. He's going to make you work very hard. You know you're not going to get easy wins or easy points."

with AAP

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