Big 3 (tennis)
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|Prize money||$ 352,739,547|
|Highest ranking||No. 1 (2 February 2004F, 18 August 2008N, 4 July 2011D)|
|Current ranking||No. 1 (5 November 2018D)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||W (2004F, 2006F, 2007F, 2008D, 2009N, 2010F, 2011D, 2012D, 2013D, 2015D, 2016D, 2017F, 2018F, 2019D)|
|French Open||W (2005N, 2006N, 2007N, 2008N, 2009F, 2010N, 2011N, 2012N, 2013N, 2014N, 2016D, 2017N, 2018N, 2019N)|
|Wimbledon||W (2003F, 2004F, 2005F, 2006F, 2007F, 2008N, 2009F, 2010N, 2011D, 2012F, 2014D, 2015D, 2017F, 2018D), 2019TBD)|
|US Open||W (2004F, 2005F, 2006F, 2007F, 2008F, 2010N, 2011D, 2013N, 2015D, 2017N, 2018D)|
|Tour Finals||W (2003F, 2004F, 2006F, 2007F, 2008D, 2010F, 2011F, 2012D, 2013D, 2014D, 2015D)|
|Olympic Games||W (2008N)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||3R (2003F, 2004N, 2005N)|
|French Open||2R (2006D)|
|US Open||SF (2004N)|
|Other doubles tournaments|
|Olympic Games||W (2008F, 2016N)|
|Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results|
|Australian Open||2R (2006D)|
|Davis Cup||W (2004N, 2008N, 2009N, 2010D, 2011N, 2014F)|
|Hopman Cup||W (2001F, 2018F, 2019F)|
|Last updated on: 9 June 2019.|
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In tennis, the trio of men's singles players comprising Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are often referred to as the Big Three. These players are considered dominant in terms of ranking and tournament victories, including Grand Slam tournaments and ATP Masters 1000 events, as well as the ATP Finals, the ATP World Tour 500 series and Olympic Games, having dominated the sport among them from 2004 onwards.
Federer was the first to come to prominence after winning Wimbledon in 2003 and established himself as the world No. 1 after winning the Australian Open in 2004. Nadal followed in 2005 after a French Open triumph including a win over Federer, and they occupied the top two places in the ATP rankings for 211 consecutive weeks from July 2005 to August 2009. Djokovic, from 2007 onwards increasingly challenged Federer and Nadal's dominance with seasonal consistency. In 2011, Nadal declared that his and Federer's period of joint dominance had ended, owing to the ascent of other players, notably Djokovic and later Murray. Djokovic captured three of the four major tournaments in 2011. Despite occasional injury breaks by individual members of the Big Three, they have maintained their dominance as a group at the majors until the present. The emergence of other players has reduced their dominance at the ATP Finals and Masters 1000 tournaments starting in 2017.
They have regularly held the top two places in the year-end rankings between 2005 and 2019, with the exception of Andy Murray who's the only other player to have reached No.1 or No.2 in this time period. They have held the top two spots continuously since 25 July 2005, as well as the top ranking since 2 February 2004, meaning that no player outside the Big Three except Murray has ranked world No. 1 in more than 15 and a half years or even No. 2 in 14 years. All three have reached a career high No. 1; Federer has been world No. 1 for a record 310 weeks and Djokovic, the current No. 1, for 255 weeks (fifth since the inception of the ATP Rankings in 1973), Nadal for 196 weeks (6th since 1973). Federer and Djokovic lead among them with 5 year-end No. 1, followed by Nadal with 4.
Amongst them, they have won 52 of the last 61 men's major singles titles, from 2004 Wimbledon through to the 2019 Wimbledon, with at least one of them appearing in every major final during this period, the only exceptions being the 2005 Australian Open, and 2014 US Open. They have also won 11 of the last 16 ATP Finals, with Federer winning six and Djokovic winning five. Of the three, Federer leads with a record 20 major titles followed by Nadal (18) and Djokovic (15). They have all have completed a Career Grand Slam by winning each of the four Majors at least once, with Nadal also winning a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics for a Career Golden Slam. In the three Olympic Games between 2008 and 2016, the four won 3 gold medals (Nadal 2, Federer 1), a silver medal (Federer) and a bronze medal (Djokovic).
Furthermore, at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, they are all in the top-10 list (since 1970). Nadal leads with a record 34 titles, followed by Djokovic (33) then Federer (28). All three players have also played key roles in leading their countries to success in the Davis Cup. Djokovic and Federer helped Serbia (2010) and Switzerland (2014), respectively, win the competition for the first time, while Nadal has won four Davis Cup titles.
In addition to all of these achievements, the Big Three hold many records for having won individual tournament titles the greatest number of times, including 3 of the 4 majors (Australian Open: Djokovic, 7 titles; French Open: Nadal, 12 titles; Wimbledon: Federer, 8 titles), the ATP Finals (Federer, 6 titles), and 8 of the 9 ATP Masters 1000 events (Indian Wells: Djokovic and Federer, 5 titles each; Miami: Djokovic, 6 titles, shared with Andre Agassi; Monte Carlo: Nadal, 11 titles; Madrid: Nadal, 5 titles; Rome: Nadal, 9 titles; Cincinnati: Federer, 7 titles; Shanghai: Djokovic, 4 titles; Paris: Djokovic, 4 titles); Djokovic is the only player since 1990 to have won all nine Masters 1000 events at least once. Furthermore, Federer is the player that has won the most ATP 500 World Tour Tournaments with 23 titles, followed by Nadal with 20. Nadal remains the only player to have won any individual tournament 10 times during the Open Era. His extraordinary dominance on clay is exemplified by winning 3 of the most prestigious tournaments (Roland Garros, the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open) 11 or more times each.
In addition to the Big 3, Andy Murray is often grouped together with them as part of the Big Four (tennis).His consistency saw him remain at the top 4 position for many years and he remains the only non Big 3 World No.1 since 2004. He is also the only male player to win 2 Olympic singles gold medals.
2004–2007: Federer-Nadal dominance
Big Two: Federer and Nadal
The early 2000s were seen as a time of transition in tennis, with older players retiring and a few players breaking through at the very top of the game. Roger Federer had first played on the ATP Tour aged 17 in 1998, finishing his first full ATP season the following year before finishing 2002 ranked sixth in the world, his first year-end ranking in the top 8. His breakthrough came in 2003 when he won his first major tournament, and finished the year as world number 2 behind Andy Roddick. The following two years, he almost completely dominated, winning five of eight majors and losing just ten matches in 2004 and 2005. Between Wimbledon in 2005 and the US Open in 2007, Federer captured 8 of 10 majors with a record of 67–2 in those tournaments.
Nadal had won his first ATP Tour match aged 15 in April 2002, and he defeated Federer in their first meeting in 2004 at Miami. 2005 was Nadal's breakthrough year, in which he won 24 consecutive matches on clay, including his first French Open title, beating Federer in the semifinals, and he finished the year as world number 2, while Federer remained number 1 for a second straight year.
The period between 2005 and 2007 was subsequently dominated by the Federer–Nadal rivalry. They won 11 consecutive majors between them, meeting in every French Open and Wimbledon final from 2006–2008. Federer won 2 Grand Slam singles events in 2005 and 3 each in 2006 and 2007, reaching 10 consecutive finals from the 2005 Wimbledon Championships to the 2007 US Open final. During this period, Nadal won 3 consecutive Roland Garros championships.
From 2005 to 2010, they ended every year as the world's top two players.
Djokovic made his ATP tour debut in 2004 a time when many bright youngsters joined the ATP tour. He reached the world top 100 in 2005, and the world top 20 in 2006. He reached one major final and two semifinals in 2007 and began to challenge Federer and Nadal regularly. He also won two Masters tournament titles and 5 titles in total, finishing the year ranked number 3 in world.
2008–2010: Djokovic's first Slam and Federer-Nadal's continued dominance
Between 2008 and 2010, Novak Djokovic and later Andy Murray attempted to end the duopoly of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the summit of tennis. They did not break it but emerged ahead of the rest of the tour. At the 2008 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the semifinals, reaching his first Australian Open final and ending Federer's streak of ten consecutive Major finals, continuing his fine form at the end of the 2007 season which saw him reach his first major final. Djokovic went on to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who had eliminated Nadal in the semifinal) to win his first Major. Following his Australian Open win, Djokovic emerged as a clear world number three during the year, holding the ranking throughout 2008.
Federer and Nadal remained the lead rivalry, and the pair met in the final of both the French Open and Wimbledon. Nadal won both, with the latter described as one of the greatest tennis matches of all time. In August 2008, after winning the 2008 Summer Olympics gold medal, Nadal passed Federer to become world No. 1, after Federer had been at the top for a record 237 consecutive weeks.
The year's final Major, the US Open, saw all three players reach the semifinals of the same Major for the first time. Federer defeated Djokovic in the semifinals, while Murray won through to his first Grand Slam tournament final after upsetting the top-ranked Nadal in four sets. Federer then defeated Murray in the final to win his fifth consecutive US Open title, and win his 13th Major title overall.
At the Australian Open, Nadal won his first Australian Open title in another 5-set epic, obtaining a third consecutive Major final victory over Federer who cried during the ceremony, while Djokovic was eliminated earlier on. Nadal continued to dominate early in the season, however he lost to Federer in the Madrid Open Final. Nadal entered the French Open as the favourite however lost to Robin Soderling in the 4th round, allowing Federer to win his 1st French Open title defeating Soderling in the final.  Federer subsequently passed the record for most Grand Slam tournament wins, taking his 14th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, thus completing the Career Grand Slam after Nadal had prevented him from achieving this feat at the previous 4 French Open tournaments, and 15th title at Wimbledon respectively. Federer finished the season having reached all four Major finals for the third time in his career following 2006 and 2007.
Following Nadal's injuries, Murray and Djokovic made up further grounds in the rankings, although neither of them were able to make a Major final in 2009. During this time Murray reached world No. 2 in August ending the 211-week reign of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the top two players of the world in the process. His reign as the world No. 2 would not last long, as he was upset in the fourth round of the US Open by Croat Marin Čilić. There, Djokovic reached his first Grand Slam tournament semifinal of 2009, losing in straight sets to Federer while Nadal was defeated by eventual winner Juan Martín del Potro in the semifinal. Between 2005 Australian Open and 2012 US Open, this was the only Grand Slam event not won by a member of the Big Three. (Since then, Murray has won the 2012 US Open, 2013 Wimbledon,2016 Wimbledon, Wawrinka has won the 2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open while Čilić won the 2014 US Open).
During the 2010 season, the Big Three began to dominate the Tour as a group for the first time. The Big Three provided five of the eight Grand Slam tournament finalists. At the start of the year, Federer continued his dominance as world number one by winning the Australian Open, defeating Murray in the final, but his run of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals came to end at the French Open that year when he lost to Robin Söderling in 4 sets. He also then lost to Tomáš Berdych at Wimbledon ending his run of 7 consecutive Wimbledon finals. Nadal dominated the clay-court season again, winning all three clay-court Masters events and the French Open. Nadal also won at Wimbledon, although in both of these tournaments he didn't face any of the Big Three.
At the US Open, Djokovic beat Federer to reach his third Major final, although Nadal won once again to complete his Career Grand Slam. With this win, Nadal became the first and so far only male player in history to win 3 Majors on 3 different surface in a single calendar year.
2011–2013: Continued dominance of the Big Three
The 2011 season was dominated by Novak Djokovic. Djokovic won 10 titles in total, including three Grand Slam tournament titles (only the fifth man in the open era to do so) and five ATP Masters 1000 titles (a record), enjoyed a 41 match winning streak (ended by Federer in the semifinals of the 2011 French Open), amassed a record in prize money, and ascended to world No. 1 in for the first time in July. The season was described by many experts and former players as one of the best tennis seasons for a single player seen in history, with Tennis Magazine describing it as the third best tennis season ever, behind Roger Federer's 2006 season, and Rod Laver's in 1969. Pete Sampras described it as "one of the best achievements in all of sport."
Djokovic's dominance contributed to an overall control by the Big Three. They all reached the semifinals at two of the year's Grand Slam events, and amongst them won every Masters tournament. Nadal was clear in second place behind Djokovic, winning Roland Garros and losing in both the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open final. Nadal ended the season with a 0–6 losing record against Djokovic: every match they played was a championship final.
By his standards, Roger Federer had a weak season. He failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2002, losing to Nadal for the fourth time in a French Open final, and sixth time overall in major finals. He dropped to world No. 4 in November, the first time he had been ranked outside the top 3 since 2002. Federer's drop was caused by Murray's remarkable run of form in Asia in October, winning three successive titles. However, Federer rallied, winning his three final tournaments (a sign of things to come in subsequent season), including the World Tour Finals, which was enough to secure an end-of-season ranking of No. 3.
The dominance of the Big Three continued in 2012. Each player won one Grand Slam tournament: Djokovic won in Australia, Nadal in France, Federer at Wimbledon. Djokovic entered the season as world number 1, and remained there until July 2012, when he was overtaken by Federer, who reclaimed the top spot for the first time since June 2010. Federer subsequently overtook Sampras' record of 286 weeks at the top, and ultimately extended the record to 302 weeks. Federer relinquished his world No. 1 ranking on 5 November, Djokovic reclaiming the top spot and ending the year there for the second consecutive year. Djokovic was the only player to make at least the semifinals in all four Grand Slam events, defeating Nadal at the Australian Open final in what is considered one of the greatest men's tennis matches of all time, and was the losing finalist at Roland Garros and at the US Open. Both he and Federer won three Masters tournaments, seeing them dominate the season as a whole. Federer was also the silver medalist at the Olympics, where Djokovic finished fourth. Nadal, meanwhile, had his season cut short by an injury. Having won two clay court Masters tournaments and Roland Garros, he was eliminated in the second round at Wimbledon – his first defeat at such an early stage in a Grand Slam tournament since 2005. He later revealed that he had been injured going into the tournament, and he did not compete for the rest of the season, but still ended the year as world No. 4.
The 2013 season continued in similar fashion, with Djokovic and Federer occupying two of the four semifinal slots at the Australian Open, with Nadal still suffering from injury. Murray beat Federer in a five-set match in the semifinal subsequently losing to Djokovic in the final in four sets. As a result, Djokovic became the third man to win four Australian Open titles and the first to win three consecutively in the Modern Era. Nadal returned for the clay-court season, winning events in São Paulo, Mexico, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before becoming the only male player to win a Grand Slam tournament eight times by winning Roland Garros, defeating Djokovic in the semifinals. However, Djokovic did end Nadal's eight-year winning streak at the Monte-Carlo Masters.. Nadal and Federer lost early at Wimbledon in the first and second round respectively, thus ending Federer's 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournament quarter final appearance record, though he was most likely still feeling the effects of a recurring back injury he'd been managing since Indian Wells. Murray defeated Djokovic in the final to become the first British man to win the tournament in 77 years, extending his winning streak on grass to 18 matches. Leading up to the U.S. Open, Nadal won ATP Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati, his third hardcourt ATP Masters 1000 event of the year after winning at Indian Wells earlier in the year, extending his winning streak to 15–0 in hardcourts for the year. He went onto win the U.S. Open, defeating Djokovic in the final in four sets while Federer lost in the fourth round.
Overall, the season was about Nadal and Djokovic. Nadal won two Majors and five ATP Masters 1000 events. He was also runner-up at the ATP World Tour Finals. Djokovic won one Major, and reached two finals and a semifinal, and finished the year strongly on a 22-match winning streak, winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London. The 2013 head-to-head record of Nadal and Djokovic was tied at 3–3. Federer suffered his worst season in more than a decade. He reached just one Major semifinal, failed to win a single ATP Masters 1000 crown and finished the year sixth in the rankings with one title to his name, even if he too suffered from a recurring back injury throughout the season.
2014: Slam dominance halted
As 2013 came to a close, Roger Federer's fall in the rankings prompted many sources to debate whether or not the status of the Big Three had ended.[lower-alpha 1] This debate intensified in the wake of the Australian Open, which saw Stan Wawrinka defeat Djokovic in the quarter-final and Nadal in the final to win his first Slam title. Federer fell to eighth in the rankings, and after the tournament, several players expressed the opinion that they were now capable of challenging the Big Three. However, the Big Three occupied all four final spots of the first two Masters 1000 titles of the year in Indian Wells and Miami, with Djokovic winning his fourth and fifth consecutive Masters titles with tight victories over Federer and Nadal respectively. Nadal struggled early in the clay season at his traditional favorite tournaments of Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. A third loss, to Djokovic in the final of the Rome Masters, was the first time Nadal had lost more than two matches on clay in a season for a decade. He did, however, win the Madrid Masters after Nishikori got injured while dominating Nadal 6–2, 4–2 in that final. Nadal went on to defend his French Open title, defeating Murray in the semi-final and Djokovic in the final.
Nadal's loss to Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round, his third consecutive early-round loss at Wimbledon, led former players and experts, including Jimmy Connors, to express the opinion that the "aura" around the Big Three had faded. However, Djokovic defeated Dimitrov and Federer beat Raonic to make it an all-Big Three final. Djokovic defeated Federer in five sets to claim his second Wimbledon title, a result that left Djokovic, Nadal and Federer occupying the top three places in the rankings.
Federer continued his return to form reaching the finals of Toronto and winning his first Masters title since 2012 in Cincinnati. Later, he also won the Shanghai Masters, and returned to No. 2 in the rankings, overtaking Nadal, whose season had been curtailed by a wrist injury.The US Open 2014 saw the Big Three's collective grip on the major titles slip still further, however, as Kei Nishikori and Marin Čilić beat Djokovic and Federer in the semi-finals respectively to contest the first Slam final featuring none of the Big Three since the 2005 Australian Open, and the first time since 2003 that multiple first-time Grand Slam tournament winners have been crowned in a single season. The tournament as a whole further signalled the decline of the Big Three's dominance.
At the tour finals Federer and Djokovic both reached the final, but Federer withdrew citing injury following a brutal semifinal against Wawrinka. Federer recovered to win the Davis Cup as part of the Switzerland team for his, and the country's, first triumph in the competition, leading many people to say that his tennis career was now complete.. In the end-of-year rankings, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal held the top three spots.
2015–2016: Djokovic domination, Murray takes over as World No.1
Djokovic won the Australian Open title, as well as the first three Masters titles of the year in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo. In Madrid, Murray defeated Nadal in straight sets. The defeat saw Nadal slip to seventh in the rankings, his first time outside the Top 5 in more than a decade. Djokovic defeated Federer in the Rome final. Nadal suffered his worst European clay-court season in a decade, failing to win a single title and appearing in just one final, whereas Djokovic entered the second Grand Slam event of the year unbeaten on clay. Djokovic defeated Nadal for the first time at the French Open in a straight sets quarterfinal. This was only Nadal's second defeat at the French Open, seeing him drop to No. 10 in the rankings. Djokovic emerged victorious over Murray in a five set match that was spread over two days but succumbed to Wawrinka in the final in four sets.
Federer beat Murray in straight sets in the semifinals of Wimbledon. Djokovic claimed the other spot in the final, to set up a rematch of the previous year's final, and defeated Federer in four sets to win his second major of the year, denying Federer a record eighth Wimbledon title for the second year in a row. Murray and Federer shared the two North American hard court Masters titles, at Montreal and Cincinnati respectively, with Djokovic being the losing finalist on both occasions. The US Open final was contested by Djokovic and Federer. Djokovic won in four sets, giving him a third slam title of the season.
Djokovic then continued to dominate throughout the remainder of the year, winning in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and at the ATP World Tour Finals. Overall, Djokovic's 2015 season was one of the greatest in the history of the game, with him winning 11 titles (the most since Federer won 12 in 2006) including, for the second time, three majors. He also became the only man in the Open Era besides Federer and Rod Laver to reach all four major finals in the same year. He was dominant even against his fellow Big Three rivals, going 15–4 against them throughout the year. Federer was the only player on the tour to be consistently competitive against Djokovic, winning three of their seven matches, which made up half of Djokovic's total defeats in 2015. Nadal struggled against the Serb, with Nadal losing all four of his encounters in straight sets.
In 2016 Djokovic collected his sixth Australian Open title in a straight sets victory over Murray. He followed up this solid run of form with a record-setting fifth Indian Wells and record-equaling sixth Miami masters titles. Nadal won Monte Carlo for a record ninth time. Murray and Djokovic played in the finals of Madrid and Rome, and split the titles. At the 2016 French Open, Murray reached his first Paris final to complete his set of Grand Slam singles finals, but Djokovic again beat him in the final to become the final Big Three member after Federer and Nadal to complete a Career Grand Slam.
In the Wimbledon final Murray beat Milos Raonic in straight sets to win his second Wimbledon title, and third major title overall while Federer was knocked out in the semifinals by Raonic. Federer withdrew from the remainder of the 2016 season due to a knee injury, missing the Olympics and US Open.
In the Olympics, Djokovic was knocked out of the men's singles in the opening round by Juan Martín del Potro, in a repeat of the bronze medal match from four years earlier. Del Potro went on to defeat Nadal in an epic semifinal to set up a final meeting with Murray. Nadal lost the bronze medal match to Kei Nishikori, but won gold in the men's doubles event. Djokovic won Toronto against Nishikori. At the US Open, Djokovic reached the final but was defeated once again by Stan Wawrinka in a Grand Slam final.
Murray dominated the rest of the year. For the first time in 12 years, the tour was dominated by a player outside the Big Three. He won titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris. As a result, upon reaching the Paris final, Murray gained the number-one ranking, ending Djokovic's 122 consecutive weeks at the top of the rankings. Following an early loss at Shanghai, Nadal announced that he would skip the remainder of the 2016 season to recover fully from the wrist injury that troubled him earlier in the year. Thus, for the first time since 2001, neither Nadal nor Federer would be present at the year end championships. At the ATP World Tour Finals, Murray beat Djokovic 6–3 6–4, claiming the title and the No. 1 spot at the end of the year, and ending 2016 on a 24-match winning streak, the longest of his career. 2016 marked the first year since 2003 that neither Federer, Nadal or Djokovic finished the year as world number 1. Despite his struggles with form throughout the second half of the year, Djokovic still ended 2016 as world number 2. Having suffered from injury plagued seasons, Nadal and Federer ended the year at number 9 and number 16 respectively. For Nadal it was his lowest end of year ranking since 2004, while Federer's fall in the rankings meant that November 2016 marked his first time outside the top 10 since October 2002.
2017–2018 Wimbledon: Return and dominance of the Big Two
At the Australian Open, Djokovic suffered a defeat prior the quarterfinals. Nadal and Federer, meanwhile, both reached another Australian Open final; for Nadal it was the first time he had reached this stage since winning the 2014 French Open. Both came through tough five-set semi-final matches to make the final. In the Australian Open final, a second consecutive five-set match for both players, Federer triumphed over arch-rival Nadal, winning an 18th men's singles Grand Slam title. Federer went on to win a record-equalling fifth Indian Wells title, gaining another victory over Nadal in the 4th round. Federer and Nadal once again met in the 2017 Miami Open final, where Federer defeated Nadal, completing a sweep of Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami Open titles.
As the 2017 clay court swing commenced, Federer skipped the entire clay season to rest and focus on the grass and hard court seasons, as well as to prolong his career. Nadal claimed the Monte-Carlo Masters title, which saw him historically become the first male player to win a single tournament 10 times and simultaneously establish a new record for most clay court titles at 50, surpassing Guillermo Vilas' 49. Nadal also won in Madrid with Djokovic falling to Alexander Zverev in the Rome final. Nadal breezed through to the French Open final without dropping a set for the third time, defeating Wawrinka in the final. This win also ended a three-year drought of slam titles for the Spaniard, his last title coming at the French Open in 2014. Following the win, Nadal returned to world No. 2, his highest ranking since October 2014. Djokovic, who lost in the quarter-finals, fell to world No. 4, his lowest ranking since October 2009 and his first time outside the top two of the rankings since March 2011.
At Wimbledon, Nadal and Djokovic lost before the semifinals. Federer, however, won the title without dropping a set by beating Marin Čilić in the final. Federer's victory was a record-breaking eleventh Wimbledon final and eighth title win. Djokovic announced in late July that he would be skipping the rest of the 2017 season to recover from his elbow injury. Federer reached the final of the Montreal Masters but sustained a serious back injury in the final, which essentially took him out of contention for the US Open and the No. 1 ranking. Although Nadal did not reach the semifinals of either North American Masters events he managed to reach No. 1 over the inactive Murray. Nadal then defeated Kevin Anderson in the US Open final. This was the fourth time that Nadal and Federer had won all four of slams in the same year, following their sweeps in 2006, 2007, and 2010. Additionally, on 11 September 2017, Nadal and Federer were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, which was the first time since 20 March 2011 that they held the top two spots in the ATP rankings.
Federer returned at Shanghai, and won his second title there, defeating Nadal in straight sets in the final. This was his fourth win out of four meetings with Nadal in 2017, as well as his fifth consecutive. In 2017, Nadal had his best year since 2013, winning two majors and four other titles. Federer finished the year at world No. 2 behind Nadal, and overall had his best year since 2007, having his highest number of titles won since that year, winning two majors for the first time since 2009, and ending the year with a winning percentage of 91%, his highest since 2006. Djokovic finished with his lowest year-end rankings since 2006, at No. 12.
Djokovic and Nadal lost early at the Australian Open. Federer, however, went on to win the tournament in a five set final against Cilic, by doing so equaling Djokovic and Roy Emerson's record of six Australian Open titles, and becoming the first man to win 20 major titles. Soon after, by reaching the semi-finals in Rotterdam, Federer overtook Nadal to return to world No. 1. By doing this he became the oldest ATP No. 1 ranked player (since 1973).
Federer then reached the final of Indian Wells, losing to Juan Martin del Potro. Federer's early loss in Miami resulted in the loss of the No. 1 ranking with Nadal overtaking him by 100 points. Federer announced that he would again skip the entire clay court season. Nadal won his eleventh title in Monte Carlo, repeating the feat a week later for an 11th Barcelona title, winning both without dropping a set. Nadal's loss to Dominic Thiem in the Madrid quarterfinal handed the No.1 ranking back to Federer for 1 week, until Nadal won the title in Rome.
Following Djokovic's early exit from the Australian Open, the Serb underwent surgery for the wrist injury that had been causing him issues through the previous year. He returned to the tour at Indian Wells, and initially struggled greatly with form, failing to reach the quarter-finals of any of first five tournaments since his return to the tour. He showed promising signs by reaching the semi-finals of Rome where he was highly competitive in a match against Nadal, losing in two tight sets. He then reached the quarter-finals of the French Open but lost to unseeded Marco Cecchinato. Nadal went on to win the tournament, defeating Dominic Thiem in the final to claim a record-extending 11th French Open title and his 17th major overall.
Federer returned to the tour for Stuttgart, and won the title there which saw him return to the #1 ranking for a record 310th week.
2018 Wimbledon–Tour Finals: Djokovic returns and claims the top spot
At Wimbledon, Federer lost to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals after suffering a hand injury at the start of the grass season, despite holding a two sets to love lead and holding a match point in the third set. Djokovic and Nadal, meanwhile, made the semi-finals, where Djokovic defeated Nadal in a five-set epic to reach his first major final in nearly two years. He then defeated Anderson in the final to win his fourth Wimbledon title; his first major title in over two years.
At the US Open both Djokovic and Nadal made the semifinals where Nadal retired against Juan Martin Del Potro after being two sets down due to a knee injury he had been sustaining throughout the tournament. Djokovic on the other hand defeated Kei Nishikori in straight sets to make his 8th US Open final where he beat del Potro for his 14th Grand Slam title. He then followed this up with victory at the Shanghai Masters.
At Paris Masters, Nadal withdrew before his first match which meant that Djokovic took over as the World No.1, exactly two years since he was dethroned from that spot. Djokovic and Federer set up a clash in the semifinals where the Serb won a three-set encounter that lasted three hours. Djokovic was defeated in the final. Nadal then announced his withdrawal from the ATP Finals in order to undergo surgery for an ankle injury as well as recovering from the abdominal injury that caused him to withdraw from Paris. At the ATP Finals, Federer and Djokovic were both defeated by champion Alexander Zverev in the semifinals and final, respectively. The year ended with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer occupying the top three positions in the rankings.
At Doha, Djokovic made a run to the semifinals before being stopped by Roberto Bautista Agut who went on to win the tournament.
At the Australian Open, Federer was upset in the fourth round by 20 year old Stefanos Tsitsipas in a tight four-setter. In the final, Djokovic defeated Nadal in straight sets to claim a record-winning seventh Australian Open championship.
Federer rebounded from his early loss at the Australian Open by winning his 100th title in Dubai. He followed this up with a runner-up finish at Indian Wells, and a title in Miami.
After withdrawing from Indian Wells due to injury, Nadal initially struggled, relative to his normal dominant standards, upon returning for the European clay court season, losing in the semi-finals at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. However, he then returned to form in Rome, defeating Djokovic (who had won the title in Madrid the previous week) in the final.
At the French Open, Federer returned to play at the tournament for the first time since 2015, making it to the semifinals where he was defeated by Nadal in straight sets. Djokovic also made it to the semifinals, doing so without losing a set, but was beaten in 5 sets by Dominic Thiem in a match that was spread over two days due to rain. In the final, a rematch of the previous year's, Nadal prevailed over Thiem once again, winning the tournament for a record-extending twelfth time.
Federer won a record tenth title in Halle, making him the only player in the Open Era besides Nadal to win ten titles at a single event.
At Wimbledon, Nadal and Federer again faced off in the semi-finals; it was their first meeting at Wimbledon since the epic 2008 final which Nadal won. Federer defeated Nadal in four sets. He and Djokovic advanced to the final.
Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympics
Since the 2005 Australian Open the Big Three have won all but eight majors and all but four Tennis Masters Cups/ATP World Tour Finals/ATP Finals.
The dominance does not just consist of winning the events either, with all three members regularly making it to the latter stages of the tournament. Out of 58 majors between the 2005 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon, the only finals not to include any member of the Big Three was the final of the 2014 US Open and the 2016 Wimbledon final. Nadal and Federer have won two Olympic medals each.
The Big Three, along with Rod Laver, Tony Roche , Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray, are the only men in Open Era history to reach the semifinals at all four Majors in a single calendar year. Federer has achieved this a record five times in his career so far and Djokovic four times. However, this feat was accomplished many more times in the pre-Open Era. Similarly, the Big Three make up three of the seven players (along with Andy Murray, Andre Agassi, Ken Rosewall and Ivan Lendl) to have made the semi-finals three or more times at each of the four Majors. Additionally, the Big Three make up three of the ten players to have reached the final at each of the four Majors. Finally, prior to 2009, no man had made 20 Grand Slam singles finals, with Ivan Lendl leading the way with 19. However, since then, Federer (30), Nadal (26) and Djokovic (25) have each surpassed this mark.
Combined Grand Slam tournament singles performance timeline (best result)
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Australian Open||Q1F||3RF||3RF||4RF||4RF||WF||SFF||WF||WF||WD||WN||WF||WD||WD||WD||FN||WD||WD||WF||WF||WD||14 / 21|
|French Open||1RF||4RF||QFF||1RF||1RF||3RF||WN||WN||WN||WN||WF||WN||WN||WN||WN||WN||FD||WD||WN||WN||WN||14 / 21|
|Wimbledon||1RF||1RF||QFF||1RF||WF||WF||WF||WF||WF||WN||WF||WN||WD||WF||FD||WD||WD||SFF||WF||WD||WTBD||17 / 21|
|US Open||Q2F||3RF||4RF||4RF||4RF||WF||WF||WF||WF||WF||FF||WN||WD||FD||WN||SFDF||WD||FD||WN||WD||12 / 19|
Combined Olympic Games singles performance timeline (best result)
|Summer Olympics||NH||4thF||Not Held||2RF||Not Held||GN||Not Held||SF||Not Held||4thN||NH||3 / 5|
Big Three Head-to-Head Grand Slam finals: 23
Combined performance timeline (best result)
|ATP Finals||Did Not Qualify||SFF||WF||WF||FF||WF||WF||WD||SFF||WF||WF||WD||WD||WD||WD||FD||SFF||FD||11 / 16|
Big Three ATP Finals finals: 5
ATP Masters tournaments
Similarly, ATP Masters/ATP Masters 1000 events have been dominated by the Big Three. Nadal leads with a record 34 titles followed by Djokovic (33) and Federer (28) though Andy Murray has also won 14 titles in the same timespan. They have won a combined 95 titles. Between the 2005 Indian Wells Masters and 2017 Madrid Masters they collectively won 82 out of 112 events (73%).Since 2003 no other player except Murray(14) has won more than 3 titles. Federer (378), Nadal (377) and Djokovic (345) have won more matches than any other player (Jimmy Connors is a distant fourth with 261). Except in 2010 they have won more than half the Masters titles every year since 2004
Combined Masters performance timeline (best result)
|ATP World Tour Masters 1000|
|Indian Wells Masters||A||Q1||1RF||3RF||2RF||WF||WF||WF||WN||WD||WN||SFN||WD||WF||WN||WD||WD||WD||WF||FF||FF||13 / 19|
|Miami Open||1RF||2RF||QFF||FF||QFF||4RN||WF||WF||WD||FN||FD||SFN||WD||WD||4RD||WD||WD||WD||WF||2RDF||WF||12 / 21|
|Monte-Carlo Masters||1RF||1RF||QFF||2RF||3RN||A||WN||WN||WN||WN||WN||WN||WN||WN||WD||FF||WD||WN||WN||WN||SFN||13 / 20|
|Madrid Open1||A||1RF||1RF||WF||3RNF||WF||WF||2RMD||WF||WN||WF||WN||WD||WF||WN||WN||FN||WD||WN||QFN||WD||14 / 18|
|Italian Open||A||1RF||3RF||1RF||FF||2RF||WN||WN||WN||WD||WN||WN||WD||WN||WN||WD||WD||FD||FD||WN||WN||14 / 20|
|Canadian Open||A||1RF||A||1RF||SFF||WF||WN||WF||WD||WN||QFFND||FF||WD||WD||WN||FF||FD||WD||FF||WN||13 / 18|
|Cincinnati Masters||A||1RF||A||1RF||2RF||1RFN||WF||QFNM||WF||FD||WF||WF||FD||WF||WN||WF||WF||3RN||QFN||WD||11 / 16|
|Shanghai Masters2||A||2RF||2RF||QFF||SFF||2RN||WN||WF||FF||SFN||FN||FF||3RN||WD||WD||WF||WD||SFD||WF||WD||12 / 19|
|Paris Masters||A||1RF||2RF||QFF||QFF||A||3RD||3RM||FN||QFNFM||WD||SFF||WF||3RM||WD||WD||WD||QFD||QFN||FD||6 / 17|
1Held as Hamburg Masters until 2008, Madrid Masters (clay) 2009–present.
2Held as Stuttgart Masters until 2001, Madrid Masters (hardcourt) from 2002–08, and Shanghai Masters 2009–present.
Big Three Masters 1000 finals: 33
The three have met one another at least twice in Masters 1000 finals. Their head to head records are: Federer 5–7 Nadal; Federer 3–5 Djokovic; Nadal 6–7 Djokovic.
Other Big Three finals: 10
Top-level tournament records
The four Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP Finals, nine ATP Masters 1000s and the Summer Olympics, make up the 15 most coveted top-level tournaments in men's tennis. Although no player has won each of these 15 events in men's singles, Djokovic is the closest to achieve all 15 tournaments, missing only the Olympic title.
Federer and Nadal are two behind Djokovic. Nadal has also achieved a Career Grand Slam and a Career Golden Slam, but has thus far fallen short of winning the Tour Finals, the Miami Open and Paris Masters. Federer has also achieved a Career Grand Slam, but is missing the Olympic Gold in singles, the Monte-Carlo Masters and Italian Open.
Federer and Nadal have reached the final of each of the 15 elite tournaments. Djokovic has reached the final of all of them except the Olympics.
This table is current as of 10 September 2018
|Player||Grand Slams||ATP Finals||ATP World Tour Masters 1000||Olympics||SR||W–L (%)||Total|
|Novak Djokovic||W (7)*||W (1)||W (4)||W (3)||W (5)||W (5)*||W (6)*||W (2)||W (3)||W (4)||W (4)||W (1)||W (4)*||W (4)*||B (1)||14 / 15||621–128 (82.9%)||53 / 173 = 30.6%|
|Rafael Nadal||W (1)||W (12)*||W (2)||W (3)||F (2)||W (3)||F (5)||W (11)*||W (5)||W (9)*||W (4)||W (1)||W (1)||F (1)||G (1)||12 / 15||642–128 (84.1%)||53 / 177 = 29.9%|
|Roger Federer||W (6)||W (1)||W (8)*||W (5)*||W (6)*||W (5)*||W (4)||F (4)||W (6)*||F (4)||W (2)||W (7)*||W (3)||W (1)||S (1)||12 / 15||766–174 (81.5%)||54 / 224 = 24.1%|
1Held as Hamburg Masters until 2008, Madrid Masters (clay) 2009–present.
2Held as Stuttgart Masters until 2001, Madrid Masters (hardcourt) from 2002–08, and Shanghai Masters 2009–present. Murray and Djokovic both share the Open-era record of 3 wins, while Murray also won the tournament in 2008 when it was held as the Madrid Masters.
*Denotes open-era tournament record.
Grand Slam performances
|Titles||Finals||Match wins||Titles||Finals||Match wins||Titles||Finals||Match wins||Titles||Finals||Match wins|
Top Tier singles tournament standings since 1990
The biggest tournaments since the reorganization of the ATP World Tour in 1990 are the four Majors, ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, WTF/YEC and the Olympics. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the only players to have won 50+ tier 1 tournaments. Boldface indicates an Open era record.
Big Three vs the rest of the field
To date the Big Three have collectively won 53 Major titles (with Federer a record 20, Nadal 18 and Djokovic 15). The only other active players who have a Major title to their name are Juan Martín del Potro (2009 US Open), Andy Murray (2012 US Open, 2013 Wimbledon, 2016 Wimbledon), Stan Wawrinka (2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open, 2016 US Open) and Marin Čilić (2014 US Open). Moreover, only six times has a player outside the group beaten two of them in the same Grand Slam tournament (Safin at the 2005 Australian Open, Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open, del Potro at the 2009 US Open, Berdych at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships and Wawrinka at the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open). Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomáš Berdych are the only players to have beaten each member of the Big Three at a Grand Slam event.
Wins over each member of the Big Three at a Grand Slam event
- Andy Murray, 5 wins (defeated Nadal at the 2008 US Open,2010 Australian Open; Federer at the 2013 Australian Open; and Djokovic at the 2012 US Open, 2013 Wimbledon).
- Stan Wawrinka, 5 wins (defeated Nadal at the 2014 Australian Open; Federer at the 2015 French Open; and Djokovic at the 2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open).
- Tomas Berdych, 5 wins (def. Federer at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships and 2012 US Open; Djokovic at the 2010 and 2017 Wimbledon Championships; and Nadal at the 2015 Australian Open)
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 4 wins (defeated Nadal at the 2008 Australian Open; Djokovic at the 2010 Australian Open; and Federer at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships and at the 2013 French Open)
Only one player has defeated all 3 of the Big Three at the same tournament. They are:
- David Nalbandian (defeated Nadal in the quarter-finals, Djokovic in the semi-finals, and Federer in the finals to win the 2007 Madrid Masters)
Only three players have beaten a member of the Big Three in a major final. The first to do so was Juan Martin del Potro when he defeated Federer in the 2009 US Open final. Murray defeated Djokovic in the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon final. Wawrinka defeated Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open final, and Djokovic in the 2015 Roland Garros final and the 2016 US Open final. In all 6 cases they defeated the world No. 1 in the process.
Top-Level tournament records 2005–present
|Player||Grand Slam Tournaments||ATP World Tour Masters 1000||ATP Finals||Olympic
|Big Three||48 / 57||88 / 126||19 / 13||1 / 3||146 / 199 = 73.37%|
|Rest of the field||9 / 57||38 / 126||4 / 13||2 / 3||53 / 199 = 26.63%|
Grand Slam tournament performance comparison
Before 2005, Djokovic had not competed in a Grand Slam tournament. Nadal had made four appearances during 2003 and 2004, reaching the third round at 2003 Wimbledon and 2004 Australian Open. Federer had been competing in Grand Slam tournaments since 1999, and had won Wimbledon in 2003 and 2004, as well as the 2004 Australian Open and 2004 US Open. The last time a Grand Slam Semi Final didn't contain Federer, Nadal or Djokovic was The French Open 2004. Only 2 Grand Slam Finals since The Australian Open 2005 have been contested without any of the Big 3, they were US Open 2014 and Wimbledon 2016.
D indicates the player met Novak Djokovic at that tournament.
F indicates the player met Roger Federer at that tournament.
N indicates the player met Rafael Nadal at that tournament.
Grand Slam tournament performance comparison by age
|2016, 2021, 2022||2017, 2022, 2023||2018, 2023, 2024||2019, 2024, 2025|
D indicates the player met Novak Djokovic at that tournament.
F indicates the player met Roger Federer at that tournament.
N indicates the player met Rafael Nadal at that tournament.
All three have been world number one. Federer first reached number one in 2004 after winning his first Australian Open, whereas Nadal did in 2008 following his Olympics victory after three straight years of ending the year ranked world No. 2, behind Federer. Similarly, Djokovic achieved world No. 1 status following his Wimbledon victory in 2011, after four consecutive years at No. 3, in a season which is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.
They have held:
- With the exception of Andy Murray, the first two places in the ATP Rankings continuously since 25 July 2005 (exclusively by Federer and Nadal from July 2005 to August 2009). As of 15 April 2019 this represents 676 weeks.
ATP Year-end ranking timeline by year
ATP Year-end ranking timeline by age at end of season
|Year End Ranking||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25||26||27||28||29||30||31||32||33||34||35||36||37|
†Change in ranking from previous week.
Big Three ATP world No. 1 era
Updated Monday 10 June 2019.
Represents ATP rankings record.
Top 4 time spans
Updated 24 June 2019.
Weeks in Top 4
Updated 15 April 2019
1 Most weeks at No. 1 record
2 Most weeks at No. 2 record
3 Most weeks at No. 4 record
Only Andy Murray among contemporary players contemporary players comes close to these stats. His record is:
Career Grand Slam tournament 1st seedings
Federer has been seeded 1st in 24 Grand Slam tournaments, followed by Djokovic (21) and Nadal (14).
1 Nadal was seeded #1 but withdrew from the tournament after the draw was released.
2 Seeded first ahead of Nadal despite their world rankings being reversed, this was due to Wimbledon's grass seedings formula.
Bolded name indicates that the tournament was won by the top seed.
Main international tennis and sports awards
|ATP World Tour Awards|
|Player of the Year||F||F||F||F||N||F||N||D||D||N||D||D||N||D|
|Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year||F||N||D||F|
|ITF World Champions|
|ESPY Award 1|
|Best International Athlete||F|
|Best Male Tennis Player||F||F||F||F||F||F||N||D||D||N||D||D||D||F||F|
|BBC Sports Personality of the Year|
|Overseas Sports Personality of the Year||F||F||F||N||D||F|
|L'Équipe Champion of Champions|
|International||F||F||F||N||N||F / N|
|La Gazzetta dello Sport|
|World Sportsman of the Year||F||F||F||F|
|Laureus World Sports Awards1|
|Sportsman of the Year||F||F||F||F||N||D||D||D||F||D|
|Breakthrough of the Year||N|
|Comeback of the Year||N||F|
|Flag bearer at the Summer Olympics|
|Opening ceremony||F||Not held||F||Not held||D||Not held||M, N||NH|
1Award shown in year that was honored, not year the award was presented.
- The top three players of all time in terms of Grand Slam titles won.
- Won 50 of the last 58 Majors as of the 2019 Wimbledon, which is 86% of majors won since the French Open in 2005.
- Won 29 out of 30 Grand Slam events from the 2005 French Open up to and including Wimbledon 2012 which is 97% of majors won.
- Represented in 56 of 58 Major finals from the 2005 French Open up to and including the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.
- Won 13 of the last 14 Australian Open titles (represented in all 14 finals), as of 2019.
- Only three players in history to play 20 or more Major finals. Federer has reached 30 finals, Nadal has 26 finals and Djokovic 25.
- Only three players in history to play 32 or more Major semifinals.
- Only three players in the Open Era to reach the final of every Grand Slam tournament at least four times.
- Only three players in the Open Era to play 5 or more consecutive Grand Slam tournament finals.
- Consecutively held the world No. 1 ranking from February 2004 to November 2016 (13 years).
- Occupied the top 3 places in the year-end rankings for 7 years, 5 consecutively (2007–2011, 2014, 2018).
- The only era in men's tennis where three players have won double digit majors and the career grand slam while playing in the same time period (2003–present).
- Set or tied the Open Era record for most titles won in all four four Grand Slam events – Djokovic with 7 Australian Open titles, Federer with 8 Wimbledon titles and 5 US Open titles (tied), and Nadal with 12 French Open titles.
- Only three players in tennis history to simultaneously hold Major titles on grass, hard court, and clay. Nadal achieved this feat twice from 2008–2009 and in 2010, Federer in 2008/2009, and Djokovic from 2015–2016.
- All won ATP Player of the Year, ITF Men's Singles Champion, Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year and ESPY Award for Best Male Tennis player.
- Hold the all-time top 3 for match wins at the Australian Open/Australian Championships and the French Open/French Championships.
- Hold the Open Era top 3 for number of semifinals and quarterfinals reached at the French Open.
- Won 8 out of 9 Masters 1000 tournaments in 2012.
- Won 7 out of 9 Masters 1000 tournaments in 2007 and 2014 and were represented in every final both years.
- Hold the top three for match wins against top 10 ranked opponents.
- Hold the top 11 spots for winning top 10 ranked opponents wins in single season.
- Top three earliest to clinch year-end No. 1 leaders since the ATP Rankings started in 1973.
- Held the Year-End Number 1 ranking for 12 consecutive years (2004–2015). No other three players have held the year end number 1 ranking for 12 consecutive years.
- All three have simultaneously appeared in 13 Major semi-finals (Australian Open 2008, 2012; Roland Garros 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2019; Wimbledon 2007, 2019; US Open 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).
Legacy and recognition
Current and former professionals
Fellow top players, including David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Stan Wawrinka and Andy Roddick have all spoken about the dominance of the Big Three and Andy Murray and the challenge they face in matching them. Many former top professionals have also spoken about the topic, including Björn Borg, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic.
The presence of the Big Three as well as Murray is generally seen to have had a positive impact on tennis, making the sport more exciting and in turn attracting more attention. However, with all four members being from European countries, this may have had a potentially negative effect on interest in North America. It has also been argued that the dominance of the Big Three has made the game predictable or even boring.
Some, including Steffi Graf and John McEnroe, believe the presence of the Big Three (and Murray) has coincided with that of a new "Golden Era" in men's tennis since 2008, wherein depth, athleticism and quality have never been better. The era has been compared to that of Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe throughout the 1960s and that of Björn Borg and Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
While Novak Djokovic himself recognises it as a golden era, Roger Federer remains skeptical:
I'd say no, but I don't know. Just because you look back maybe 15 years, then you have Sampras, Edberg, Becker, and Agassi, I don't know who else. Those guys weren't good or what? You look back, a further back, 20 years, and you have the Connors and the Lendls. Those weren't good either? I mean, I don't know. So for me I think that's respectful.
It's just different times and definitely more athletic, there's no doubt about that. But then again we don't play doubles. We don't play mixed. Maybe we play less matches today because it's more taxing, but we do play less best of five set tennis than they used to play.
You can't compare really, but we have somewhat of a golden era right now. I feel that truly. It's nice to see Andy making his move at the Olympics, nice to see Novak having an absolutely ridiculous year last year, and then Rafa and myself still being around. It's definitely good times. Past that you still have great champions as well. It's very interesting at the top right now, and the depth I think has never been greater than right now. But then best ever? The four of us? That's a really difficult call.
Updated June 06, 2019. Federer, Djokovic, Nadal as well as Murray make up the top four prize money leaders of all time (not adjusted for inflation).
The respective rivalries between the Big Three are considered to be some of the greatest of all time. Amongst the four of them they have played 217 matches against each other, 65 of which were at Grand Slam events. This includes 30 Grand Slam tournament finals, as well as 26 Grand Slam semifinal meetings, more than any other group of four players. Currently, Djokovic leads the head-to-head record against all members of the Big Three. Djokovic has also won 20+ matches against all three of his peers, while Nadal has won 20+ matches against two of his peers. The Djokovic-Nadal rivalry is the only one in the Open Era to reach 50 matches.
Federer vs. Nadal
Federer and Nadal have been playing each other since 2004 and their rivalry is a significant part of both men's careers. It is also considered one of the greatest in history. They have played 38 times (third-highest in Open Era history), most recently in the semifinal of the 2019 Wimbledon tournament, and Nadal leads their fourteen-year-old rivalry 24–15.
They held the top two rankings on the ATP Tour from July 2005 until 14 September 2009, when Nadal fell to world No. 3 (Andy Murray became the new No. 2), and again since 11 September 2017. They are the only pair of men to have ever finished four consecutive calendar years at the top, eventually with 6 years from 2005 to 2010. Federer was ranked world No. 1 for a record 237 consecutive weeks beginning in February 2004. Nadal, who is five years younger, ascended to No. 2 in July 2005 and held this spot for a record 160 consecutive weeks before surpassing Federer in August 2008.
Sixteen of their 39 matches have been on clay which is statistically Nadal's best surface and Federer's worst, with 13 being in finals. Nadal has a winning record on outdoor hard courts (8–6) and clay (14–2), while Federer leads on grass (2–1) and indoor hard courts (5–1). Because tournament seedings are based on rankings, 24 of their matches have been in tournament finals which have included an all-time record 9 Grand Slam tournament finals. From 2006 to 2008 they played in every French Open and Wimbledon final. Nadal won six of the nine, losing the first two Wimbledon finals. Four of these finals were five set-matches (2007 and 2008 Wimbledon, 2009 and 2017 Australian Open), with the 2008 Wimbledon final being lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts. Thirteen of their 38 meetings have reached a deciding set. They have also played in 12 Masters Series finals, including their lone five-hour match at the 2006 Rome Masters which Nadal won in a fifth-set tie-break having saved two match points and at the 2005 Miami Masters where Federer came back from 2 sets down to win in nearly 4 hours. They also contested the final of the ATP World Tour Finals in 2010 with Federer winning in 3 sets.
Djokovic vs. Nadal
Djokovic and Nadal have the most head-to-head meetings in Open Era history with 54 meetings, which Djokovic leads 28–26. Prior to the Big Three, no Open Era men's rivalry had reached 40 matches, with Lendl vs. McEnroe meeting 37 times. Nadal leads on clay 17–7, while Djokovic leads on hard courts 19–7, and they are tied on grass 2–2. They have met a record 15 times in Grand Slam tournaments (tied with Djokovic–Federer) with Nadal leading 9–6, and they are tied 4–4 in finals. The rivalry is listed as the third greatest rivalry in the 2000s decade by ATPworldtour.com and is widely considered to be the greatest rivalry in the history of the sport. Djokovic is the first player to have at least ten match wins against Nadal and the only person to defeat Nadal seven times consecutively, which he did twice. He is also only the second player to have defeated Nadal in more than one Grand Slam tournament final (the other being Federer) and the first to beat Nadal in a final on a surface other than grass. Their 2012 Australian Open encounter is considered by many to be the greatest match ever played and their 2013 French Open semifinal is considered the best clay court match ever played.
Between 2011–12, they met in four consecutive Grand Slam tournament finals, just the second time in tennis history this has happened. In doing so, they also became the second pair in history, after Venus and Serena Williams, to meet in the finals of each of the four different Grand Slam events. Djokovic defeated Nadal in the first three (from Wimbledon to the Australian Open), making Nadal the first player in history to lose three consecutive Grand Slam event finals. However, Nadal defeated Djokovic in the French Open final, denying him a Career Grand Slam and the opportunity to become the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four Majors at once. The two also share the record for the longest Australian Open and Grand Slam tournament final match ever played (5 hours and 53 minutes), at the 2012 Australian Open final. This and the 2013 French Open semifinal they contested, are considered two of the greatest matches of all time. At ATP Masters 1000 level, they have met 26 times, 12 of which were in the final (a record), including the 2013 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where Djokovic ended Nadal's 46-match win streak and eight-year title streak at the event.
Djokovic vs. Federer
Djokovic and Federer have played each other 47 times with Djokovic leading 25–22. Djokovic leads on grass 2–1, 19–17 on hard courts and they are tied at 4–4 on clay. In terms of number of matches played, it ranks as the second largest rivalry in the Open Era. Djokovic vs. Federer is only the second Open Era rivalry to meet 40+ and 45+ times, trailing only the Nadal vs. Djokovic rivalry, which reached both milestones the previous year. The rivalry is the largest in Grand Slam tournament history (tied with Djokovic–Nadal) with 15 matches played, having won against each other matches at each of the four Majors. Djokovic leads this category 9–6 (they are tied 3–3 at the US Open, 1–1 at Roland Garros, and Djokovic leads 3–1 in Australia and 2–1 in Wimbledon). They have played in four Grand Slam tournament finals, the 2007 US Open, which Federer won in straight sets and at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015 and the 2015 US Open, won by Djokovic. They've also met in a record ten semifinals. The rivalry between Federer and Djokovic is considered one of the best in the Open Era.
Djokovic is the only player besides Nadal to defeat Federer in consecutive Grand Slam tournaments (2010 US Open and 2011 Australian Open), and the only player besides Nadal and Murray who has double-figure career wins over Federer. Djokovic is one of four players currently on tour to have defeated Federer in straight sets at a Major and the only player to do it three times. Between 2007–2011 they played a record five times at the US Open (tied with Lendl–McEnroe and Connors–Lendl), with Federer winning the first three and Djokovic the last two. This includes the 2010 and 2011 semifinals they contested, in both of which Djokovic saved two match points before going on to win the match. In contrast Federer is the only player beside Nadal to have achieved 20 career wins against Djokovic and ended Djokovic's 43-match winning streak and 41–0 start to the 2011 season, by defeating him in the French Open semifinals. These three matches have been classified among the greatest matches in tennis history by the ATP.
At ATP Masters 1000 level, they have met 20 times, Djokovic leads 11–9 overall and 4–3 in finals. The pair have also contested five matches at the ATP World Tour Finals, of which Djokovic won three, including both finals. The pair met four times in 2014, in the semifinal of the Dubai Tennis Championships, with Federer recording his first victory over Djokovic since 2012 and in the final of Indian Wells the following week, with this time Djokovic coming out on top, Monte-Carlo semifinal with Federer winning in straight sets, and at Wimbledon, with Djokovic winning in five sets. They met eight times in 2015, with Djokovic winning five.
This table lists end-of-season statistics for each member of the Big Three, allowing for comparison at the same age.
- () = active record (updated Monday 25 February 2019).
Bold = age leader in completed years.
|Current or former record of the Open Era|
The Big Three have played many notable matches. The 2008 Wimbledon final and the 2012 Australian Open finals are considered by some to be the greatest matches of all time. Novak Djokovic saved match points against Roger Federer at the 2010 and 2011 US Open semifinals, whereas Federer ended Djokovic's 43-match winning streak in the 2011 French Open semifinals. The 2012 Australian Open final was the longest Grand Slam tournament final in terms of time played, the 2012 French Open saw Rafael Nadal break the record for the most number of titles at the French Open, whereas Djokovic was attempting to become the first man to hold all four Majors since Rod Laver in 1969. The 2012 Wimbledon final saw Federer equal the record for most Wimbledon titles when he came out victorious against Murray.
2007 Wimbledon Championships final
The 2007 Wimbledon Gentlemen's singles final was the championship tennis match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2007 Wimbledon Championships. It pitted world No. 1 Roger Federer against world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in a Major final for the fourth time. This was a rematch of the Wimbledon final from the year before and would become the defining match of the Federer–Nadal rivalry up to that point. This was a historic match as Federer was trying to equal Björn Borg's record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles, while Nadal was attempting to be the first man since Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back (this achievement is colloquially known as the "Channel Slam").
Federer defeated Nadal in five compelling sets in three hours and forty-five minutes, for a fifth consecutive Wimbledon championship (equalling the feat achieved by Björn Borg). Borg himself returned to Wimbledon for the first time since losing the final in 1981, saying "I just feel that this is the right time for me to come back, to hopefully watch Roger winning his fifth title in a row to match my record." This match marked only the third time in the new century that a Major final had gone to five sets, and was the first time the technology Hawk-Eye was ever used in a Wimbledon final.
2008 Wimbledon Championships final
The 2008 Wimbledon Gentlemen's singles final was the championship tennis match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships. A part of the storied rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, it pitted the two players, then ranked world No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, against each other in a Major final for the sixth time (out of eight). After 4 hours and 48 minutes, Nadal defeated Federer in five sets in failing light. A number of tennis critics promptly lauded it as the greatest match in tennis history.
This was the longest Wimbledon men's singles final in history, clocking in at four hours and forty-eight minutes. The match also featured numerous rain delays which meant the match finished in near darkness, at 21:15 BST, almost seven hours since the match started at 14:35 BST. It was to be the last Wimbledon final to be significantly affected by rain, as a retractable roof was being installed at Centre Court and would be in place by the 2009 Wimbledon Championships.
2009 Australian Open final
The 2009 Australian Open Men's singles final was the championship tennis match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2009 Australian Open. It was contested between the world's top two players for much of the previous four years, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer then world number's 1 and 2 respectively. It was their seventh (out of nine) Grand Slam tournament final meeting and it was the same final match up as had been previously at both the 2008 Wimbledon Men's Singles final and 2008 French Men's Singles final, both of which Nadal won. However this was Rafael Nadal's first Major hardcourt final while it was Roger Federer's ninth and was yet to lose in a Major hardcourt final.
Nadal defeated Federer in 5 sets in 4 hours and 19 minutes, with the match finishing after midnight, to become the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open. The match was lauded as one of the greatest ever at the Australian Open and it was yet another high quality match between two of the greatest players of all time, only 6 months since their epic 2008 Wimbledon final. It was a match of huge significance as had Federer won the match he would have equalled the all-time Grand Slam tournament record of 14 by Pete Sampras and the open-era record for most Australian Open titles of 4 with Andre Agassi (he would go on to achieve these in the near future). However, as a result of Nadal winning he set his own records, holding 3 of the 4 slams at the same time for the first time in his career. Not only that but he became the first man in the open-era to hold three Grand Slam tournament titles on three different surfaces at the same time. This victory over Federer many believed brought about a change in the tennis standings as Nadal was now clearly the No. 1 player after Federer had that title for over 4 and a half years consecutively with Nadal deemed the second best for nearly 3 years of that. The defeat brought Federer to tears as he came to terms with his loss.
The match statistics followed a similar pattern to those at the 2008 Wimbledon Final, with Federer having a lower first serve percentage against Nadal (51% vs 64%) and he again couldn't be as clinical on break point opportunities with only 31% break points converted for Federer whereas Nadal converted 43% of his break points. However the total points by each player proved even closer than that at that Wimbledon final, as Federer won 1 more point than Nadal (174 vs 173) yet still lost this final.
2011 French Open semifinal
The 2011 French Open Men's singles semifinal between world No. 2 Novak Djokovic and world No. 3 Roger Federer was a historic encounter that brought about the end of the longest winning streak in almost 30 years. Djokovic entered the match undefeated for the first five months of the year having gone 41–0 with a total winning streak of 43 matches (his last loss had come against Federer at the World Tour Finals). It was the first Grand Slam tournament in which Djokovic had ever been seeded higher than Federer. Djokovic had defeated Federer in their three previous meetings in 2011, however, Federer took out the first two sets. Djokovic won the third set and as the fourth set went on the light began to fade and it was clear that if the match went to a fifth set it would have to be continued the next day. Djokovic served for the fourth set at 5–4 but was broken and Federer closed out the match in a tiebreaker.
2012 Australian Open final
The 2012 Australian Open Men's singles final was the championship tennis match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2012 Australian Open. It pitted the world's top two players, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, against each other in a Grand Slam tournament final for the fourth time (out of seven) and third consecutive time. Djokovic defeated Nadal in five sets to win the match. At five hours and fifty-three minutes, it was the Major final match with the longest duration in history. During the trophy ceremony, both Nadal and Djokovic required chairs, as they were both so tired that they couldn't stand.
It was lauded as one of the greatest matches ever by former players, legends, and analysts of the sport. John McEnroe claimed it surpassed the 2008 Wimbledon final as the best tennis match of all time, while legends Pete Sampras, Mats Wilander, and Björn Borg said it was the best match they saw in their lifetime. After the 2012 Australian Open, Rod Laver came out with his greatest in the amateur and Open Era lists, Djokovic was ranked 6th and Nadal 5th on the Open Era list. Laver said the 2012 Australian Open final was a main reason for including both players. Nadal called it the toughest loss of his career but the best match he ever played. Djokovic said it was the finest win in his career and also commented on the high level of tennis played. Not only was this the longest Grand Slam tournament final, but according to Tennis Channel and the Australian Open TV networks, this was one of the most-watched finals, despite ending late into the night locally. Soon after the conclusion of the 2012 Australian Open, there were sources claiming that Djokovic sealed his spot as a tennis great and in the Tennis Hall of Fame.
2012 French Open final
The 2012 French Open Men's singles final was the championship tennis match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2012 French Open. It pitted the world's top two players, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, against each other in a Grand Slam tournament final for the fifth time overall and fourth consecutive time. This match had historical proportions as Djokovic would have become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Majors simultaneously, whereas Nadal was looking to break Björn Borg's record of six French Open titles and equal Chris Evert's record of seven French Open titles held by a man or woman.
Nadal defeated Djokovic in a two-day final in four sets, to ultimately achieve his seventh French Open title and deny Djokovic a Career Grand Slam. With Nadal leading by two sets to one, and Djokovic leading 2–1 on serve in the fourth set, the match was suspended due to rain; it was initially thought that Djokovic had gained the momentum, having won eight consecutive games prior to the suspension of the match, however, Nadal was able to regroup and take the fourth set, and ultimately the match, after Djokovic double-faulted on championship point down.
2012 Wimbledon Championships final
The 2012 Wimbledon Gentlemen's singles final was the championship tennis match of the Gentlemen's Singles tournament at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. It pitted world No. 3 Roger Federer against world No. 4 Andy Murray in a Major final for a third time. This final snapped a streak of four consecutive Major finals reached by Djokovic and Nadal. Nadal was ousted in the second round while Federer defeated Djokovic in the semi-finals. In what was the most historic Major final of the year, Federer sought to win a record shattering seventeenth Major title and a record-tying seventh Wimbledon to match his idol Pete Sampras. Both of these records are amongst the most prestigious in all of tennis. Murray on the other hand had become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to reach the Wimbledon final, and was attempting to become the first Briton to win any Major title since Fred Perry in 1936.
Federer defeated Murray in four sets in three hours and 24 minutes, to capture a record equalling seventh Wimbledon championship, and a record breaking seventeenth Major title. The victory was also historic as it caused Federer to depose Djokovic as world No. 1 and break Sampras' record of 286 weeks at the summit of men's tennis (Federer had been just one week short when he lost the number one ranking in June 2010). At the beginning of the third set play was halted by rain and the roof which had been installed in 2009 was closed for the first time during the Wimbledon final.
2013 French Open semifinal
The 2013 French Open Men's singles semifinal was a rematch of the prior year's final between Nadal and Djokovic. Just weeks after that victory, Nadal went on a lengthy injury hiatus of over 7 months before his highly successful return, reaching the final of all 8 tournaments he entered and winning 6 titles. But one of those losses was to Djokovic in Monte Carlo, ending Nadal's record streak of 8 consecutive titles there. Djokovic was very motivated to win this match, having said winning his first French Open title was his highest priority of 2013, plus his desire to dedicate the title in honor of his recently deceased childhood tennis coach.
The match was a see-saw five setter with Nadal prevailing 9–7 in the fifth after 4 hours and 37 minutes. Analyst Steve Tignor summed it up: "This epic was a mirror image of their last one, in the 2012 Australian Open final. That day it had been Nadal who had survived a near-death experience in the fourth set, won it in a tiebreaker, and taken a 4–2 lead in the fifth before watching Djokovic storm back for the title. Today it was Nole who broke Rafa at 3–4 in the fourth and again at 5–6, grabbed that set in a tiebreaker, and led 4–2 in the fifth before watching Nadal take it all away. In each of those matches, the loser was haunted by a stunning, crucial lapse. In Australia, with a chance to go up 5–2 in the fifth, Nadal had missed the easiest of backhand passing shots. In Paris, serving at 4–3 in the final set, Djokovic gave away a point when he ran into the net after hitting what would have been a winning overhead."
Numerous tennis pundits and legends including Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, Björn Borg, Boris Becker, and John McEnroe claimed this was the greatest clay court match to ever take place in tennis history. ESPN commentator Chris Fowler and Patrick McEnroe even echoed this very remark during the broadcast of this match.
2014 Wimbledon Championships final
The 2014 Wimbledon Gentlemen's singles final was the championship match of the Men's Singles tournament at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. A significant part of the Djokovic–Federer rivalry, it pitted Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer against each other in a Grand Slam tournament final for the second time. After three hours and 56 minutes, top-seeded Djokovic defeated fourth-seeded Federer in five sets to win the match.
By winning the 2014 Wimbledon Championships, Djokovic not only won for the second time, but also reclaimed the world number one ranking from Rafael Nadal at the conclusion of the tournament. He also stopped a losing run in Grand Slam tournament finals having lost his last 3 and 5 of his last 6, Meanwhile, with his run to the final and showing in the final that he is still a major contender even at the age of 32, Federer returned to the top 3 ranking positions after a lengthy period in the ranks 5–8 range. Federer had been going for his 80th career tour title, 18th Major victory and his 8th Wimbledon title.
2017 Australian Open final
Federer and Nadal met in a major final for the first time since the French Open in 2011. The match between the perennial but aging archrivals was anticipated due to speculation of this possibly being their last contest in a major final, the potential tennis history made from either victory and subsequent implications on their respective legacies, and the match's relevance towards discussing either man as being 'the greatest tennis player of all time'. Federer triumphed in five sets despite being a break down early in the deciding 5th set. This was the first time Federer won a major since Wimbledon in 2012, the first time he defeated Nadal at a major since the Wimbledon final of 2007, and the first time that Federer defeated Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament match outside the grass courts of Wimbledon. With this win, Federer increased his all-time record to 18 major titles, became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam tournament, at age 35, since Ken Rosewall at the Australian Open in 1972, and became the first ever man to win at least 5 singles majors in 3 different Grand Slam tournaments each.
2018 Wimbledon semifinal
Nadal and Djokovic met in the semifinals of 2018 Wimbledon, their first meeting at a Grand Slam singles tournament in three years. This match up was significant as Djokovic had the opportunity to reach his first major final since 2016, after having struggled with form and an elbow injury for the past two years, while Nadal was looking to reach his first Wimbledon final since 2011, having not even passed the Fourth Round at Wimbledon since that year. Due to the six-and-half-hour long first semi-final between John Isner and Kevin Anderson, the match did not start until after 8:00pm local time, and was played over two days as a result of an 11:00pm curfew in force at Wimbledon. After 5 hours and 15 minutes, the second longest Wimbledon semi-final in history after the aforementioned Isner-Anderson match, Djokovic prevailed 10–8 in the fifth set.
Other articles of the topic Tennis : Outline of tennis, List of tennis male single players who reached the Quarter Final stage of all 4 Slams in the Open Era, Emma Raducanu, 2021 WTA Tour
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- ATP World Tour records
- Tennis records of the Open Era – Men's Singles
- Overall tennis records – Men's Singles
- List of ATP number 1 ranked singles players
- List of Grand Slam men's singles champions
- Individual career achievements
- List of career achievements by Roger Federer
- List of career achievements by Rafael Nadal
- List of career achievements by Novak Djokovic
- Individual career statistics
- Roger Federer career statistics
- Rafael Nadal career statistics
- Novak Djokovic career statistics
- List of tennis rivalries
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Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal. Time span: '04-present (18 matches). Head to head: Nadal 12, Federer 6. Major finals: Six; Nadal leads 4–2. Wimbledon: Three finals, 2006, 2007; 2008; Federer won first two, Nadal won Sunday's epic. After Sunday there can be no doubt these two now rank alongside the great tennis rivalries.
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