Big Four: Then and Now

Published 10/16/2015, 11:22 AM EDT

Since 2009, four names have effectively dominated and redefined men’s tennis, giving this period a distinguished status of being called as the  ‘Golden Era’. You’d remember how Federer saw his dominance crumble on the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon in 2008, by Nadal, followed by Novak who crushed Rafa in 2011 and the constant threat to these three Andy Murray. Since then the outliers of the men’s tennis are Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who have contributed in raising the bar of the game in more than one way.

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They are clearly the most successful and consistent players in the circuit with a total of 39 out of 43 Grand Slam titles and 10 out of 12 ATP World Tour Finals, along with a barrage of other titles since 2005 French Open. They have regularly claimed the top four rankings since 2008. The term big four was first coined in 2009 when they held the top 4 rankings for a whole calendar year for the first time.

With a career record of 3004-696 (81.2%) their dominance is axiomatic. Their career prize money equals to about $295,552,295. Since 2003, all the Wimbledon titles have been won by either of the big four. And in the French Open, nine titles since 2005 (barring 2015) have been won by Rafael Nadal, with Roger Federer emerging as the winner once in 2009. Roger Federer has a total of 87 career singles titles while Nadal has a total of 67. Djokovic and Murray follow behind with 56 and 35 titles respectively. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal each have a career grand slam to their name while Rafael Nadal has an addition of a career golden slam.

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There are only three players out of the big four that have managed to win grand slams since 2005 French Open. Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 US Open and has remained absent in recent times due to his recurring battle with injuries. 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open was won by Stan Wawrinka whose career bloomed only at a later stage in life, and the one time wonder Marin Cilic won the 2014 US Open.

In recent times many questions have been raised regarding the longevity of the big four; pertaining to the constant drop in Nadal’s ranking and the grand slam drought for Federer and Murray since 2012 and 2013 respectively. Does this mean that the era of the big four is over?

No. The big four still remains strong and unperturbed. Many would argue that Novak Djokovic is the only one standing tall right now, and the other three have faded away,  Rafa due to his injuries, Federer lacks in the mental approach against Novak at the biggest stages while Andy has never really got the better of Djokovic in about 2 years. But the fact remains that the rest of the tennis world is miles behind these greats, Wawrinka might be the only one knocking at the door, while the likes of Nishikori, Kyrgios, Dimitrov have a long way to go.

The current masters at Shanghai has once again proved the consistency these four possess, with Rafa ,Nole and Muzza making the last 4 yet again, Federer being the only one to have failed before the semis.

Let’s rewind the clock again. At least one of the four has consistently made the semi-finals of each grand slam since 2005. Also, none of the other players have posed a major threat to subvert the paramountcy of the big four. As far as Nadal’s declining form is concerned, he still remains a threat on clay even on his bad day. At the age of 34, Roger Federer was the runner up at Wimbledon and US Open, also celebrating 1000+ career wins, a squelch to those who feel that Federer should now bow out of professional tennis. Andy Murray has improved his game at clay (his main weakness) by leaps and bounds whereas Djokovic remains undisputedly the no.1 player after his recent win at 3 majors. There is no answer to their dominance.

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Shivanjali Kumar

87 articles

I am pursuing B.Sc.(Hons.

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