By: Aaron Xiong
Despite the recent surge in competition from the so called “Next Gen” tennis players such as Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Andrey Rublev, Tennis’ “Big 3” continues to rack up title after title. The Big 3 consists of tennis legends Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Of all the tennis players both men and women, the three are herald as the greatest tennis players to ever take to the court.
Starting from the 2003 Wimbledon Championships and up to the 2021 Australian Open, the Big 3 have won 58 out of the 70 Grand Slams played throughout that time span. Only a few others have been able to capture a Grand Slam title. Former world number one Andy Murray had captured 3 Grand Slam titles with Swiss phenom Stan Wawrinka also capturing three Slams. Three Grand Slams by those two players is the most captured by another player from 2003-2021 other than the Big 3.
With many regarding the Big 3 as the greatest trio of tennis players, many up and coming players continue to try and make a name for themselves amongst the talented trio. Players such as Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas are some of the other big names outside of the Big 3 who are trying to get a jumpstart on their young careers. However, despite beating the big 3 at certain tournaments, the big 3 are seemingly unbeatable at the Grand Slam level.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal lead the charge with 20 Grand Slams each which is a men’s tennis record. Djokovic has covered tons of ground and only trails the others by two slams with 18 total. Rafael Nadal also holds an astonishing 13-0 record in French Open finals with Novak Djokovic also holding an unbeaten record in Australian Open finals at 9-0. Federer also has his own impressive record of most Wimbledon Championships at 8 and most consecutive U.S Open titles from 2004-2008. The Big 3 have seemingly dominated the men’s tennis tour since the dawn of their careers and only time will tell if one of the Next Gen players will beat them in a Grand Slam final.
Much like Roger Federer from 2005-2008 and 2011, Dominic Thiem has run into Rafael Nadal in every final of the French Open he’s played in. Thiem has reached the final twice in Paris and has only managed to win one set off of Rafael Nadal in those finals. Although he’s proven to be a very talented and strong clay court player, Thiem has yet to hold the winner’s trophy in Paris. Other accomplishments of Dominic Thiem include a Grand Slam win at the 2020 U.S Open where he took down Alexander Zverev, and a finals run at the 2020 Australian Open where he met defending champion Novak Djokovic. Despite being up two sets to one against Djokovic, Thiem once again loss in a Grand Slam final to a member of the big 3.
During a breakout year in 2019, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev took the tennis world by storm during the North American swing which leads up to the U.S Open. Medvedev reached the finals of Washington D.C, the Montreal Masters, Cincinnati Masters, and the U.S Open. Medvedev would lose to Nick Kyrgios in D.C but take home his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. He loss to Rafael Nadal in both the Montreal Masters and U.S Open where he made a comeback after being down two sets to none. Medvedev would then win his second Masters 1000 title in Shanghai following the U.S Open. He also has a career high of world number 2 which marked the first time since 2005 that someone other than the Big 3 and Andy Murray was ranked number 2 in the world.
Despite the Next Gen players taking out the Big 3 in fourth round through semifinals of Grand Slams, no one has stood a chance against a member of the Big 3 in a Grand Slam final. As a whole, the Next Gen players are 0-5 against members of the Big 3 in Grand Slam finals. Despite the severe age gap between the Next Gen players and the Big 3, it’s the longevity of the Big 3 that has kept them above the others. From someone like Roger Federer whose career has spanned over 4 decades, to Rafael Nadal who has suffered every injury possible, and Novak Djokovic who has continued to show his dominance into 2021, longevity and experience is what’s kept them ahead of the pack.