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Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are ridiculously good, but are the Big 3 better than every other era in tennis history?

Modified 07 Mar 2018, 19:53 IST

(From left to right): Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
(From left to right): Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make up the Big 3 of tennis, and that has come to define the current generation of the sport. In the Open Era have we ever seen a group of players dominate tennis the way this group has?

The three make for by far the most dominant group ever in tennis. They have held a virtual monopoly on the big-name tournaments; their performance at Grand Slams, Masters, ATP 500s and ATP Finals is unparalleled.

But just how dominant has the Big 3 been? Let's look at the breakdown of the stats and compare them with previous 'golden generations' in the Open Era - Jimmy Connors / Bjorn Borg / John McEnroe, Mats Wilander / Ivan Lendl / Boris Becker / Stefan Edberg and Jim Courier / Pete Sampras / Andre Agassi.

Grand Slam dominance

The Gran
The Grand Slams of Tennis

Federer won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003. There have been 58 Grand Slam tournaments after that, including the 2018 Australian Open.

The Big 3 have won an astonishing 48 of the last 59, for a winning percentage of 81.4%. The breakup of those wins is in the table below.

Enter caption

In the last 15 years, only seven other people have won Grand Slams, and only two of them have won multiple Slams. Andy Roddick (US Open 2003), Gaston Gaudio (French Open 2004), Marat Safin (Australian Open 2005), Juan Martin Del Potro (US Open 2009) and Marin Cilic (US Open 2014) have won a single Grand Slam each, while Andy Murray (US Open 2012 and Wimbledon 2013, 2016) and Stan Wawrinka (Australian Open 2014, French Open 2015 and US Open 2016) have won three each.

These seven are the fortunate ones outside the Big 3 to have won a Grand Slam. Even more astonishing is the fact that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have occupied 72 of the 118 spots available in the 59 Grand Slam finals (for a success rate of 61%).


The Big 3 have played against each other in 19 of the 59 Grand Slam finals, and there have been only 5 Grand Slam finals without a member of the Big 3.

If we compare previous groups of dominant players using the same logic (from first Grand Slam win to the last), then it is clear how dominant the current Big 3 have been.

Comparison of Grand Slam success between generations

(L:-R) Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg
(L-R) Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg

It has to be noted that during the era of Connors, Borg and McEnroe, the Australian Open was not very popular and these three did not make many trips Down Under.The same is true for the early career of Lendl.

(L-R) Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander

Additionally, the Big 3 have all won a Career Slam, joining Agassi and Rod Laver as the only five players to achieve the feat in the Open Era.

(L-R) Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker

The Big 3 have won 13 of 15 Australian Opens since 2004, 13 of 14 French Opens since 2005, 12 of 14 Wimbledon titles since 2003, and 10 of 14 US Opens since 2004.

(L - R) Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi
(L - R) Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras,

This type of Grand Slam dominance has not been witnessed before.

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Published 07 Mar 2018, 19:53 IST
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