Sam Querrey Reveals What Created Great Rivalries Among Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

Published 10/21/2020, 2:33 AM EDT
Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerlan wait to go on stage during the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf=Astoria on in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

One of the biggest challenges in tennis is trying to be better than the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic over five-set battles. That is what makes their consistency and record unmatched at the Grand Slam level. Opponents usually highlight that as the biggest hurdle in overcoming the Big 3 at the Majors.


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One of those opponents is the big-serving, towering American Sam Querrey. Querrey is one of the tougher competitors on the tennis court with his serve that many players struggle against. However, just like many others, he feels three-set matches at Grand Slams would benefit him more.

At the same time, Querrey also sees the positives that the five-set matches offer since they have produced some of the greatest matches of all time that have involved Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic.


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Why Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic are the ‘Big 3’

To elaborate his point on the five-set matches, Querrey said, “Without three-out-of-five, we would have not had, on the men’s side, some of these amazing finals that we have had over the years. And the rivalries between Federer and Nadal and Federer-Djokovic and Djokovic-Nadal wouldn’t have been great as they are with two-out-of-three sets.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France -Runner up Novak Djokovic of Serbia alongside French Open winner Rafael Nadal of Spain as they are presented with their trophies after the final REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Querrey also mentioned the names of Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray, who have won the most Slams after the ‘Big 3’ in the last 16 years.

That’s the beauty of Grand Slam tennis. They’re three-out-of-five. In order to get through them, it’s harder. What makes Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka so good is that they really just dominated those majors over the last 15 years,” Querrey further expressed.

One of the other points that makes Grand Slams so tough to conquer is the ‘no tie-break’ rule in the fifth set. However, the French Open is the only remaining Grand Slam that does not have a fifth-set tie-break. Querrey believes that’s how it should be.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 07: Roger Federer of Switzerland during the Match in Africa between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Cape Town Stadium on February 07, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

What makes Grand Slam matches memorable?

Two of the matches that saw all-time fifth-set classics took place at Wimbledon. Both featured Querrey’s country mate, John Isner. One of those was the famous 70-68 fifth-set scoreline against Nicolas Mahut. It still stands as the longest tennis match ever.

Querrey himself was involved in a Wimbledon classic. He lost to Marin Cilic 15-17 after a five-and-a-half-hour battle. Querrey remembers such matches the most. He feels Wimbledon overreacted after those two Isner matches, by introducing a fifth-set tie-break at 12-12.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 15, 2020 Sam Querrey of the U.S. in action during his first round match against Spain’s Pedro Martinez Portero Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill

Those are the matches that I remember most, those ones that go past 6-6. They’re fun in a way. They’re memorable, win, or lose. Those are kind of the matches you always seem to talk about. I’m still playing and I still talk about them. When you’re done you talk about them,” Querrey said.


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This is where the ‘Big 3’ excel. The longer and deeper the match goes, the tougher it becomes to break through them. But what makes their achievement even more stunning is their ability to win those exhausting battles time and time again.


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Aayush Majumdar

945 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.