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5 male players who won 3 Grand Slams in a year in the Open Era ft. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Dr. Balraj Shukla

The tennis calendar is designed in such a way that the four Grand Slams are spaced at regular intervals. Given the physical demands of the modern game, one of the most important aspects for a player is to maintain high levels of fitness throughout the season and stay competitive at every Slam.

The four Majors are played across three surfaces; the Australian Open and US Open on hardcourt, the French Open on clay and the Wimbledon Championships on grass. Thus, players find it difficult to win more than a couple of Slams a year.

Till date, 56 men have won at least one Major title in the Open Era. In 1969, Rod Laver became the first -- and only -- player in the Open Era to win all four Slams in a single year. Over the years, a number of players have come close to emulating Laver's feat, but they have stumbled at at least one of the Slams.

Here's a look at five male players who won three Grand Slams in a year.

#1 Jimmy Connors

In 1974, Jimmy Connors had a mind-boggling win-loss record of 99-4. He won the Australian Open by defeating Phil Dent in the final. At the Wimbledon Championships and US Open, Connors defeated Ken Rosewall in the final.

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Connors was not allowed to enter the French Open that year due to a ban imposed on him and Evonne Goolagong Cawley for signing up for the inaugural World Team Tennis that clashed with the French Open.

#2 Mats Wilander

2018 World Tennis Challenge - Day 2
2018 World Tennis Challenge - Day 2

Former World No. 1 Mats Wilander won three of the four Majors held in 1988. He won his third Australian Open title by defeating Pat Cash in five sets in the final.

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Wilander won his second Slam of the year at Roland Garros, defeating Henri Leconte in straight sets in the title clash.

Wilander suffered a hiccup at Wimbledon as he lost to ninth seed Miloslav Mecir in the quarterfinals. But he returned to winning ways at the US Open, where he defeated Ivan Lendl in a marathon contest to claim the No. 1 ranking.

His triumph in New York marked his final Grand Slam victory.

#3 Roger Federer

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Men's Giant Slalom
Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Men's Giant Slalom

Roger Federer first reached the summit of the ATP rankings in 2004. The Swiss maestro had a stellar campaign, winning 75 of the 82 matches he played that season.

Federer won the Australian Open by defeating Marat Safin in straight sets in the final. He defeated Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final and Lleyton Hewitt in the US Open title clash to take his Slam tally to four.

Federer's only loss at a Slam that year was to Gustavo Kuerten at Roland Garros.

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Federer repeated the feat in 2006. He reached the final of all four Majors, winning three of them. The 20-time Slam champion's only loss at a Slam in 2006 came against Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

The Swiss won three Slams in 2007 as well. He lifted his third Australian Open title after defeating Fernando Gonzalez in the final. The Swiss maestro proceeded to win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title (defeating Nadal) and his fourth consecutive US Open title (defeating Novak Djokovic) that year. Yet again, it was at the French Open where Federer stumbled, losing in the final to Nadal.

#4 Rafael Nadal

2022 French Open - Previews
2022 French Open - Previews

Rafael Nadal has won three Grand Slams in a year just once in his career, in 2010. The Spaniard was the defending champion at the Australian Open, but lost in the quarterfinals to Andy Murray. He was trailing by two sets and a break when he decided to retire due to a chronic knee injury.

Nadal regained his form during the European clay season as he won titles in Monte-Carlo, Rome and Madrid. A favorite to win the French Open, the Spaniard did not disappoint as he defeated Robin Soderling in straight sets in the final to avenge his loss to the Swede the previous year.

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Nadal once again faced Soderling at Wimbledon, beating the Swede in four sets. The King of Clay defeated Murray and Tomas Berdych in the semifinals and finals respectively to win his second Wimbledon title.

The former World No. 1 would go on to win his maiden US Open title later that year, defeating Djokovic in the final.

#5 Novak Djokovic

Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2022 - Day Eight
Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2022 - Day Eight

Novak Djokovic has won three Grand Slams in a single year on three different occasions.

In 2011, Djokovic defeated Andy Murray to win his second Australian Open title. He defeated Rafael Nadal in the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open. But at the French Open, the Serb lost in four sets in the semifinals to Federer.

2015 marked yet another season of Djokovic's dominance. He made the final at each Slam, winning three of them but losing to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open.

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In 2021, Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final. At Roland Garros, he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the title clash after trailing by two sets. In the process, he became the first player in the Open Era to complete a double Career Slam.

Djokovic defeated Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final and looked in prime position to complete the Calendar Slam. However, he lost to Medvedev in the US Open final in straight sets.


Edited by Arvind Sriram

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