“They’re Not Superheroes”: Former World No. 3 Reveals Secret of Success Against Federer, Nadal and Djokovic

Published 02/26/2021, 1:17 AM EST
Roger Federer of Switzerland gestures to the spectators before hitting signed tennis balls into the stands during day two of the 2019 Hopman Cup at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)


Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic won an unprecedented ninth Australian Open title this year, not only taking his career tally of Grand Slam championship victories to 18 but also reinforcing the Big Three’s hold on Majors. However, as some results in the recent past have shown, the Big Three – combined nickname for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Djokovic – can be beaten.

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Now, former Argentine star David Nalbandian has taken the argument forward, saying that the recent defeats suffered by the ‘Big Three’ form a template on how more success could be achieved against them in marquee tournaments, including the Grand Slams.

Nalbandian beat Nadal, Djokovic, and Roger Federer to win Mutua Madrid Open in 2007

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The former World Number 3 cited the recent run of success that current World Number 3 Daniil Medvedev has had against Nadal and Djokovic to rest his case.

The Russian beat Nadal, Djokovic, and then World Number 3 Dominic Thiem on the way to clinching his maiden ATP Finals title last year. His incredible run at the prestigious event also placed him on an elite list of players to have beaten the Top-3 in the singles rankings in the same tournament.

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)

Nalbandian would know a thing or two about beating the Big Three as he was the last man before Medvedev to attain the feat.

The Argentine beat Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer in consecutive matches on his way to lifting the Mutua Madrid Open title in 2007. Continuing with his remarkable form, he recorded two more wins over Federer and Nadal in his title run at the prestigious Rolex Paris Masters that year.

Nalbandian in awe of how Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are still “inspired to keep going”

Urging the next lot of stars to start “believing in themselves,” Nalbandian said, “They’re (Big Three) are incredible players, but they’re not superheroes.”

The Argentine, who won a combined 11 matches against the Big Three, said that most players in the contemporary men’s circuit are still waiting for Big Three “to retire” before they start coming into their own.

“I was already waiting in my time and they’re still around! Let’s stop waiting and beat them,” Nalbandian said.

However, he did pay a glowing tribute to the longevity of the Big Three, marveling at how they are “still focused” and “inspired to keep going”.

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“It’s Roger, Rafa, and Nole. The others can’t do that. Nobody,” the Argentine said. He added that it was remarkable how age hasn’t slowed them down, and, in fact, enabled them to make subtle changes to their game to adapt to the younger lot.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

863 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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