The Most Successful Member of the Big Four Across All Surfaces Is…

A while ago I made a post to Facebook concerning a very useful table a Nole fan on Twitter made about the competition faced by the big four at Masters and slam level over their careers. Here it is:

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As you can see Djokovic had by far the toughest competition while Federer had the easiest competition. Now the same Nole fan has come up with an even more telling table:

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As you can see, Djokovic is the most successful player across all surfaces. Djokovic is the most successful player on hard court, Nadal on clay, and Federer on grass. Although Federer has now won two more hard court slams than Djokovic, he is also six years older and has played many more hard court slams than Djokovic.

So the important thing to look at is success rate(slams won/slams played) where Djokovic leads Federer 32%-29.41%. He also leads Federer by more than 5% in win-loss percentage at hard court slams as well as in all categories across every type of event bar one(win-loss vs top 10 at slams).

So I think it is safe to say Djokovic is the more successful player on hard courts at this point.

On clay, Nadal is even more dominant as he leads in all the categories but that is to be expected. Nadal’s record is less balanced than both Djokovic and Federer because although he dominates clay completely he comes third and third/fourth on hard court and grass respectively.

The numbers on hard court and clay are clear. The results on grass are more ambiguous but the most important stats to look at overall win-loss percentage and success rate. If you look at those stats Nadal and Murray has the worst stats while Djokovic comes second.

Djokovic does not fare so well on the smaller grass court events but he hardly plays those and since there are no Masters on grass we have to go by slam results mostly. And if a tiebreaker is needed than Djokovic has won more Wimbledon titles than Murray or Nadal.

I think it is pretty close between Djokovic and Federer in the end but if you take into account the age difference, the overall win-loss records, and the success rate then Djokovic comes out on top.

If you take into account the first two tables about the competition then it also becomes clear who the better player is. Another indication is the fact that Djokovic has winning head-to-head records against all the big four members.

I don’t think there is any doubt that Djokovic is the greatest player across all surfaces. Not only does the numbers indicate it but it makes sense because he has the most complete game of the big four.

  • Djokovic Is Not Done

Djokovic is currently struggling not only with his form but with a recurring injury. It has not been a good stretch for him since Wimbledon last year but I think he will be back. He is too good and ambitious not to be back.

Federer is currently ahead in terms of slams and overall titles won but Djokovic is ahead in Masters titles while Federer has already passed 35 years of age and Djokovic has not even hit 30 yet. Federer is still winning slams at 35 and that should inspire Djokovic.

He has time to add to his resume and achieve more records like the double career slam to set himself even further apart from Federer. He has a better success rate than Federer and fares better against the field which should translate to some more great achievements.

The number of slam titles has traditionally been a very important measure of greatness and although I agree with that you’d have to be very ignorant to think it is the only measure of greatness.

Something that is even more important is balance in the resume and mastery of all surfaces and opponents. Or else a player can specialize in one surface like clay for instance and win let’s say 20 French Opens.

Would that player be the GOAT, despite spending no time at number one, winning no World Tour Finals titles, and winning only Masters on clay? Not a chance. That is almost what Nadal has done which is why he is not in my tier one of GOAT contenders.

Clearly, mastering all surfaces and being a complete player is extremely important. Djokovic is lethal both on serve and returns which make him probably the most difficult opponent in history to face.

Looking forward to seeing what the future holds in this golden era of tennis!

Goffin Scores His Biggest Win Yet Over Djokovic in Monte Carlo

Congrats to Goffin who scored his first win over a top-three player today when he defeated Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in a very entertaining match in Monte Carlo. Both players looked like they would win at different stages of the match which I always think is a prerequisite for a high-quality match.

Goffin took the early initiative with a pretty flawless first set. Then the third game of the second set was a big game where Djokovic was 15-40 down on his serve facing two breaks points. He did very well to hold on to his serve after which he was a transformed player.

Playing like the Djokovic of old, he won the second set and went a break up in the third. At this stage, you felt like Djokovic would be hard to stop which makes Goffin’s come back so good. He broke back at 3-4 with one of those perfectly placed backhand down-the-line winners which is a trademark shot for Goffin.

With Djokovic serving at 5-6, he was clutch as usual by saving five match points and Goffin had to paint the baseline with a groundstroke to eventually force Djokovic into error and get the win.

So if you are Djokovic you can’t really feel bad about the loss. It will hurt because he wanted to play Nadal and win the tournament but he didn’t lose the match. Goffin won it with superb tennis instead.

I think Djokovic did very well to get into a winning position after Goffin looked early on like he may get the job done in straight sets. I think he also tired at the end of the third set after a pretty brutal first week on clay.

There was a point at 5-6 and deuce where it was especially noticeable. It was another brutal baseline rally where Djokovic made some great defensive plays and got into a good position but hit a regulation forehand long out of sheer exhaustion.

It’s not really surprising after his third consecutive three-set match which included many brutal baseline rallies so there is no reason to be discouraged by this loss. If he was fresher he would probably have gotten the win and faced Nadal in the semis.

But maybe it is better this way because facing Nadal who looks to be close to his best again when he is tired could have cost him. At least his seven-match winning streak against one of his big rivals is still intact and if he faces him later in the clay court season he will have a better shot.

Djokovic looked extremely determined either way and gave it his all which is a good sign. He just ran out of steam in the end but given what has happened so far this year I think this week was as good as he could have hoped for.

He spent a lot of time on the court and got two important wins. It’s a shame we won’t have the Djokodal semi-final but if Djokovic keeps this up we will surely see them facing each other on clay soon.

Next for Djokovic is Madrid which gives him some more time to rest his elbow and I think with this start he could be in top form come the French Open. All in all, I think it was a very encouraging start to the clay court season and Djokovic fans have reason to have renewed hope.

  • Elsewhere in the Draw

It was nice to see Ramos-Vinolas continue his good form and make his first Masters semis by defeating Cilic 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-2. He now plays Pouille who defeated Cuevas in another three-setter 6-0, 3-6, 7-5.

Nadal defeated Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4. I just saw the first game where Schwarzman broke Nadal to love after which Nadal must have played well to win by that scoreline. I think Nadal will win the title now with relative ease.

It will be a good start to the clay court season for him but we will see what happens in Madrid ad Rome. If Nadal wins Monte Carlo I don’t think it makes him a lock for the French Open title. Madrid and Rome is a better indicator of who will be the French Open favorite.

  • Highlights

Murray Continues to Disappoint as World Number One with Monte Carlo Loss

I’m currently preparing for exams but I’m trying to keep up with posting. Today was an interesting day in Monte Carlo with Murray and Wawrinka both losing while Nadal and Djokovic continued to progress.

Murray lost 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to Ramos-Vinolas and not only lost from a set up but from 4-0 in the third set as well. Clearly, all Murray’s effort went into reaching the number one ranking at the end of last year and he now has nothing left.

There is no way he should be losing from 4-0 up in the third against Ramos and this is now his third early exit in a big tournament since the beginning of the year. He still has a sizeable lead in the rankings thanks to Djokovic’s slump but it’s been a very disappointing run for him as the world number one.

  • Djokovic Toughs Out Another Important Win

Djokovic, on the other hand, is not going to go down that easily. He toughed out another 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Carreno-Busta despite struggling again with his form. His lack of finishing power at the net, and in particular his overhead, is giving him nightmares but he is still finding a way around it.

He started very well as he went a set and a break up at 2-o in the second set but then slumped to 2-3. In the next game, he had two break back points at 40-15 on Busta’s serve but failed to put away an overhead and as a result failed to break back.

He also managed to dropped serve again to go down 2-5. He got one break back but at least but the damage was done. In the third set, the madness continued as Djokovic raised his game to break and take a 4-2 lead, only to lose the break right away with more disastrous finishing at the net.

At deuce, he missed an absolute sitter backhand volley wide and on break point, he hit another shocking overhead into the net. Then he came awfully close to getting broken himself while serving at 4-4 and 15-40.

Now he was flirting with disaster but came up with two clutch points to save himself and held serve. In the final game, he came back from 0-30 down to reel off four straight points for the victory. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective.

It was similar to Djokovic’s first round match. He is obviously still lacking confidence but these are the kinds of wins that will bring his confidence back. He now plays Goffin who defeated 6th seed Thiem 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3. The head-to-head is 5-0 in Djokovic’s favor but who knows what will happen with Djokovic in his current form.

Goffin is a very competent opponent but maybe Djokovic can raise his level from his first two matches. I hope he does because I’d love to see a Djokodal semi-final.

  • Nadal Raises His Game Against Zverev

Nadal easily defeated Zverev 6-1, 6-1 which was disappointing from Zverev but it seems Nadal means business. He wasn’t looking very convincing in his first match against Edmund but maybe he has now found his confidence on clay.

He next plays Schwartzman who is only 1.7 m tall but who has a very nice baseline game. Nadal shouldn’t have much trouble but we will see. Schwartzman is a tenacious player who moves very well and can come up with some surprisingly good groundstrokes.

Then Wawrinka lost 6-4, 6-4 to Cuevas whose game I’m a fan of. He has an especially nice-looking one-handed backhand. He totally outplayed Stan and will now play Pouille so he has a decent shot at making semis. Maybe he can even make the final because if he wins he will play the winner of Ramos and Cilic, who defeated Berdych in straight sets after his ex-coach Ivanisevic is now coaching Berdych!

So the top half is pretty open with the exit of Murray and Stan while the winner will probably come from the bottom half. Talk soon!

  • Highlights