Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer remains Grand Slam king but Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are ready to beat him


Twelve years ago, which doesn’t make us any younger, we created a ranking on the historical scale of Grand Slam tournaments just for fun. With a simple principle. Bearing in mind that “week two” means and constitutes a break in a major tournament, we have rated each player from the last 16 rounds only, on the following scale:

  • 1 point for loss in the last 16
  • 2 points for a loss in the quarterfinals
  • 4 points for a loss in the semi-finals
  • 6 points for defeat in the final
  • 10 points for one final victory

We published this ranking for the first time after the 2010 Australian Open, which Roger Federer won. At the time, the Swiss were leading with 220 points ahead of Jimmy Connors (208), Pete Sampras (203), Ivan Lendl (202) and Roy Emerson (201). Rafael Nadal has 93 points. He wasn’t even in the top 25 in the rankings. Novak Djokovic scored 46 points. Not enough to flirt with the historic Top 50.

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2010: Roger Federer in Melbourne. He won his 16th Grand Slam title at the age of 28. Then he is alone in the world looking at history.

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Ranking after Australian Open 2010

1. Roger Federer – 220 points
2. Jimmy Connors – 208 points
3. Pete Sampras – 203 points
4. Ivan Lendl – 202 points
5. Roy Emerson – 201 points
6. Andre Agassi – 192 points
7. Ken Rosewall – 179 points
8. Rod Laver – 162 points
9. Björn Borg – 156 points
10. Bill Tilden – 152 points
26. Rafael Nadal – 93 points
54. Novak Djokovic – 46 points

We updated this ranking for the first time in 6 years and after 24 Grand Slam tournaments. The hierarchy subsequently developed considerably, giving the full measure of the impact “Big 3” had on tennis history. Roger Federer was still untouchable, reaching the Australian Open semi-finals to over 300 points. Then he dug incredible gaps. Had we stopped such a ranking at the end of 2002 after Pete Sampras retired, the top four would have been in a handkerchief: 208 for Connors, 203 for Sampras, 202 for Lendl, 201 for Emerson. At the beginning of 2016, Federer had brought the trio to nearly a hundred points.

But the revolution did not stop there. With his outstanding career in the Grand Slam since the early 2010s, Novak Djokovic has established himself as the new runner-up to the king. His final victory in Melbourne put him at 212 points, suddenly ahead of Lendl, Sampras and Connors. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have already occupied three of the top four places. As stunning proof of what the three tenors have accomplished over a great decade.

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Ranking after Australian Open 2016

1. Roger Federer – 302 points
2. Novak Djokovic – 212 points
3. Jimmy Connors – 208 points
4. Rafael Nadal – 204 points
5. Pete Sampras – 203 points
6. Ivan Lendl – 202 points
7. Roy Emerson – 201 points
8. Andre Agassi – 192 points
9. Ken Rosewall – 179 points
10. Rod Laver – 162 points

Now we are here after 6 and a half years and 26 major tournaments. It’s a much less favorable period for Roger Federer, despite its renewed flame in the 2017-2018 period. Basel remains the leader of this standings, however, but he can feel Novak Djokovic’s breath on his neck more than ever before. In the final period, Federer added 57 points to his opponent, which is 133 against the Serbian champion, so he is only 14 lengths away. Had he been able to play at the Australian Open and US Open this year, perhaps Djoker would have already surpassed Federer and therefore would have seen his opponent blocked forever after his retirement was announced on Thursday.

Novak Djokovic is the winner of the last four editions of Wimbledon.

Credit: Getty Images

The “Big 3” now monopolize the entire podium and crush the competition on the scale of history. Rafael Nadal also significantly narrowed the gap to Feder and even Djokovic by scoring 25 points in 2022. The top three had 24 points. If Roger Federer is still ahead, it’s largely because he’s the oldest of the three. But if Djokovic and Nadal extend their careers for another two or three years, it’s possible that they will overtake the Swiss icon who has led this standings since his final at the US Open in 2009 against Juan Martin Del Potro thirteen years ago.

Rafael Nadal, 22, who holds the record for Grand Slam titles against 21 and 20 for Djokovic and Federer, is still surpassed by the other two monsters of modern tennis, mainly due to less regularity and a much more repetitive career. injured more than his two rivals.

Finally, note that Andy Murray has climbed to 15th place since the Australian Open. A symbol of the Briton’s exceptional consistency at major tournaments: he is the only person in our top 20 to have less than six Grand Slam titles. “Only” won three. However, he appeared thirty-eight times in week two, including eight finals in addition to his three crowns. The scariest? Murray failed to reach the last 16 for more than five years (Wimbledon 2017) after his physical failings began. Without it, he could have taken anyone to Jimmy Connors. The “Big 3” will be the “Big 4” in our ranking.

Andy Murray

Credit: Getty Images

Ranking after US Open 2022

1. Roger Federer – 359 points
2. Novak Djokovic – 345 points
3. Rafael Nadal – 325 points
4. Jimmy Connors – 208 points
5. Pete Sampras – 203 points
6. Ivan Lendl – 202 points
7. Roy Emerson – 201 points
8. Andre Agassi – 192 points
9. Ken Rosewall – 179 points
10. Rod Laver – 162 points

11. Björn Borg – 156 points
12. Bill Tilden – 152 points
13. John McEnroe – 149 points
14. John Newcombe – 144 points
15. Andy Murray – 144 points
16. Stefan Edberg – 143 points
17. Jack Crawford – 137 points
18. Boris Becker – 134 points
19. Mats Wilander – 124 points
20. Henri Cochet – 117 points

It’s more to identify strong trends, not through that ranking, to identify a hierarchy of the best players in history. The limits of such a classification are clearly due to the decades-long whims of tennis.

Likewise, the number of Grand Slam titles is an unsatisfactory comparison for major champions who spent all or most of their careers before the start of the Open. Because (almost) all of them were pros, the major players who won before 1968 have deficits in major tournaments. For example, how many championships would Rod Laver have won if he hadn’t played 21 events in a row from 1963 to 1968?

Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall.

Credit: Getty Images

What about Ken Rosewall? He turned professional at the age of 22. He was 34 years old soon after when he played a Grand Slam again in 1968. Take a look at the records of Federer, Djokovic, Connors or Sampras and get all their major titles won between the ages of 22 and 34. What’s left? Nothing, or not much at best. Rosewall won the “French Pro” award 8 times (the equivalent of Roland-Garros for professionals, debated annually on clay in Paris) 8 times between 1958 and 1966, and notably beat Laver four times in the final.

The Australian also won the Wembley Pro 5 times and the US Pro twice. That’s a total of 15 championships that can be considered “professional Grand Slams”. If Rosewall had thus “only” 8 official Grand Slam titles, he would probably have come close to Federer’s record. At least. Despite these long brackets, Rosewall and Laver are ranked 9th and 10th in our ranking. So… But whatever happens, and without the slightest surprise, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are in the process of making an exceptional and completely original mark.

Djokovic, Federer, Nadal

Credit: Eurosport

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