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How far ahead is Novak in the Men’s all time Grand Slam race?

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most grand slams, tennis, men's singles, djokovic, nadal, federer, sampras

Here is your ultimate ‘most Grand Slams’ guide for the men’s singles division.

It’s been a race of epic proportions, for multiple decades now.

And 2023 made an enormous impact on where the dust may settle, once Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s careers are all said and done.

Djokovic now has breathing room in the most Grand Slams race, securing a 24th major at Flushing Meadows, after being denied by young gun Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz a truly epic 2023 Wimbledon final.

The tour is now ramping up for 2024 and while Novak was unable to add to his tally down under, Nadal’s chances of catching the Serb are slim; maybe he has one final push in him, but what’s not to say Djokovic still has multiple years at the top left in him?

Let’s run through where the aggregate now is and list out the most Grand Slams, plus also re-live the more recent huge developments to it all; Novak’s Rafa-equaling mission down under in early 2023, the enormous moment at Roland Garros, the rising star disrupter and Roger Federer’s retirement.

Who has the most Grand Slams in men’s singles history?

The Top 8

24* – Novak Djokovic (Age: 37 in May 2024)

The Djoker started 2023 one Slam behind Rafa, but the script has been more than flipped, claiming three of the four majors across the calendar year. It’s somewhat fitting he claimed the crown on Nadal’s sacred surface and venue. It was Djokovic’s third title at Roland Garros; he now also has four singles championships at the US Open, seven Wimbledon titles and 10 at Melbourne Park.

The scary part is he’s still not showing much sign of slowing down; only perhaps minor signs of more injury niggles popping up at a higher frequency.

22* – Rafael Nadal (Age: 38 in June 2024)

Rafa won the Australian Open and then the French in 2022 to move ahead of both Djokovic and Federer, but nothing since then.

It will be fascinating to see whether he can add to his tally, and now whether he can again catch Novak. The odds are undoubtedly stacked against him, given how Djokovic is looking right now and where Rafa’s fitness is at.

most grand slams, djokovic
Most Grand Slams | Djokovic moves ahead

20 – Roger Federer (retired)

While he’s third on this list, news of Roger’s retirement in the upcoming Laver Cup prompted a wave of ‘GOAT’ claims and emojis across social media. The Fed is behind a couple of other legends on this list, but his style and grace on and off the court elevates his profile even higher than the numbers.

All names listed below are retired

14 – Pete Sampras

12 – Roy Emerson

11 – Rod Laver

11 – Björn Borg

10 – Bill Tilden

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most grand slams, alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz (second from the left) is the new kid on the block, looking to disrupt Novak Djokovic’s race to more major titles.

Djokovic channels Kobe Bryant, reaching major 24

Well this race looks over now.

Novak Djokovic claimed a third Grand Slam title of 2023 and his 24th major. And just like he did in Melbourne and then Paris, the Serb had a custom-made jacket with a large ’24’ across the chest; the same number the late Kobe Bryant wore for the second half of his career. The two legends were good friends.

“We chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality when I was struggling with the injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game,” Djokovic said of Bryant.

Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Novak makes huge GOAT statement, moving past Rafa for number 23

Advantage, Novak Djokovic.

The Serb took the lead in the biggest race of them all; to see which of tennis’ greats retires with the most Grand Slams. Following on from a 10th Australian Open title, he then ticked off a third championship at Roland Garros, beating Norway’s Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 7-5.

That was number 23 for Novak, the most Grand Slams by any player we’ve ever seen, moving one ahead of Rafael Nadal and three beyond the man who many still consider the best they’ve seen, Roger Federer.

Wrapping up his third title in Paris also confirmed he’s the first to ever win all four Grand Slams at least three times. The records truly tumbled at Roland Garros on the final day of the 2023 tournament.

This follows Djokovic’s incredible statement in Australia earlier this year, as his push to finish with the most Grand Slams received a giant boost, winning at Melbourne Park for number 22.

Most Grand Slams, Novak Djokovic, French Open
Novak Djokovic has won the most Grand Slams – now at 23.

Novak Djokovic’s major breakthrough down under for number 22

The 2023 moment Novak Djokovic drew level with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slams

The Serb overcame a hamstring complaint, working his way through a gruelling fortnight to prove he truly is the king of the AO.

Djokovic’s post-match celebration was incredibly telling, as he uncontrollably wept at the feet of his team in the stands at Rod Laver Arena. It was a release of tension that had been building for years; off the back of his very public covid vaccine stance and subsequent visa struggles that denied him clean entry into the event 12 months earlier.

His relationship with fans was complicated even before then; Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been so well loved over the years and every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Novak is viewed as a villain to many and he become a far more polarising figure after the chaos of his turbulence with immigration in Australia in January 2022.

Make no mistake, he remains a hero to many as well; his success generated plenty of noise in Melbourne across the fortnight. And he rode that wave all the way through, taking out the men’s final by downing Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets 6-3,7-6, 7-6.

most grand slams
Novak Djokovic ties up the race to claim the most Grand Slams of all time.

The rise of Carlos Alcaraz

After Carlos Alcaraz’s first tennis Major and news of Roger Federer’s retirement, a new reality is setting in. This kid is special, but just how good is he?

Spain’s rising sensation Carlos Alcaraz finished the 2022 season off with some searing heat. He became a Grand Slam champion and number one in the world at just 19 years of age.

He made pretty light work of another promising young talent, Norway’s Casper Ruud, in the US Open final at Arthur Ashe Stadium; a four set victory after winning three straight five-setters to reach the championship finale.

Most Grand Slams
Carlos Alcaraz arrives at the scene, disrupting the race to the most Grand Slams.

How many Grand Slams can Carlos Alcaraz win?

This is obviously a tough question to answer. But assuming Alcaraz has a fairly injury-free run right the way through his 20s, and manages to follow a timeline similar to his compatriot Nadal and play into his mid-30s, he could compete in well over 50 Majors.

One main factor is how much longer Djokovic sticks around on the Tour. But the unknown, of course, is who else arrives. Alcaraz is far from the only rising talent in the ranks right now, too. So there are a stack of moving parts.

But (as has been established) Alcaraz has so far carried himself with serious class and grace. It’ll ensure he has crowd support wherever he plays and his sustainable success will remain palatable, even when his winning gets more repetitive.

Roger Federer’s retirement announcement

Father time eventually caught up with Federer, but only well into his 30s. He could not live up to his lofty standards the last few seasons, with different medical struggles taking charge.

Roger’s last major championship was the 2018 Australian Open. But the added health and fitness hurdles started earlier. His first major injury and break away from tennis came in 2016, suffering a meniscus tear while running a bath for his daughters. He came back for the 2017 season and started with a bang, claiming his fifth of six titles at Melbourne Park.

Federer then dealt with back issues, plus foot and wrist setbacks. And then he re-injured his knee at the 2020 Australian Open, which required surgery. That injury plagued his last two years, requiring further surgical procedures. That ultimately led to Federer’s recent decision to hang up the headband and racquet.

Roger’s retirement decision adds a layer of clarity to the big picture; he’ll stay at 20 majors and finish with the third most Grand Slams… at least for the foreseeable future.

Phil Prior
Phil Prior
Phil is the editorial lead at Only Sports, bringing more than 12 years of wide-ranging sports media experience to the team. But it’s his unrivalled passion that sets him apart. He also commentates AFL on SEN Radio, plus Rugby on Stan Sport. Find Phil on LinkedIn.

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