Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer have dominated men's tennis for more than a decade now. The trio have captivated all the fans of the sport with their brilliance, and have undoubtedly established themselves among the best players in the history of tennis.
The fabled 'Big 3' lead the charts in terms of Grand Slam wins, having won 56 of the last 67 Majors. Roger Federer has the most with 20, followed by Rafael Nadal at 19 and Novak Djokovic at 17.
The trio have dominated the biggest stage to such an extent that between 2004 and 2020, there have only been six other players to have won a Grand Slam title.
Now that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are presumably in the latter stages of their career, many fans and experts have attempted to decode the secret to their success. And tennis data analyst Fabric Sbarro has done his best to try and get to the bottom of what is undoubtedly men's tennis's golden era.
Speaking to Ubitennis recently, Fabric Sbarro spelled out the difference between Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and the rest through the vehicle of statistics.
1% is not a tiny difference: Fabrice Sbarro on dominance of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Talking about the famous '1% difference' between elite athletes and the rest, Sbarro emphasized that a 1 or 2 percent difference can completely change the dynamic between tennis players - and that the margins are in fact even slimmer than 1%.
"1% is not a tiny difference," Sbarro said. "Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in their careers scored a percentage of points won around 54%. Maybe people think that these great champions, because of their successes, have simply wiped out their opponents. But the reality is different and even for them the margins are narrow, they won around 54% of points played in their career."
"I’ll tell you more: Gasquet in his career won around 52% of the points," Sbarro continued. "On one hand, the Big 3 has won dozens of Slam titles, while the Frenchman has only reached the semi-finals in a Major. In short, my idea is to help athletes to reach that 1%, to provide a competitive advantage that can allow them to step up a gear and reach new heights."
Elaborating further about the extremely slim margins in tennis, the Italian took the example of former colleague Daniil Medvedev. Sbarro worked with Medvedev during his brilliant 2019 summer hardcourt season, where he won the Cincinnati Masters and reached the finals at both the Rogers Cup and the US Open (losing to Rafael Nadal in both finals).
"From an outside perspective, it seemed that after Shanghai Medvedev had lost the magic that had led him to sniff victory against Rafael Nadal, in one of the most dramatic Grand Slam victories of the Spaniard. And quickly Daniil was going back to the level he had at the beginning of 2019. Once again tennis proved to be a sport in which climbing to the top is a process made of steps that costs time and effort; progress that can be reverted very quickly," said Sbarro.