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!

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20 Comments

  1. Nadal is the greatest player of tennis. Tell me what standards u want so that he becomes the greatest. I’m sure that if he surpasses that standards still u will not declare him the goat. But who cares He is the goat. And pretty soon next year he would have surpassed Federer

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    If Nadal has won the AO he would have been in my top tier, but he didn’t. He is too dependent on clay, his resume is too unbalanced, and he is too one-dimensional. He hasn’t spent enough weeks at #1 and he hasn’t won any WTF titles. Hell, he hasn’t even defended a title off of clay. Ever.

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    rk Reply:

    I mean he Was Just Three Games Away From The Title And That Too After playing a 5 hr Match And Having a Day Less.Unlike Federer And Djokovic Who Just Gave Up Their Fight In Olympics And Wim 13 Respectively.The Fact That He Is Just Suited Forclay And Still Manages To Other Tournaments Is Amazing And How Many Times He Had Injuries But He Never Gave Up.Federer And Djokovic are Talented And Born with Some Special Qualities But Nadal Isnt And Despite That He Manages To achieve What He Has He Is Definitely the Greatest.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nadal is definitely the greatest on clay but that’s as far as it goes. He was only three games away against someone he owned and he still couldn’t get it done. It’s not meant to be for him. His fans need to stop with the greed and appreciate the fact that he is the greatest on clay. It is a great achievement in its own right.

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    B.Jay Reply:

    Yeah we agree, but placing him behind Djokovic is a bit unfair.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right but I’m not doing that. I do think he will surpass Nadal, though.

    [Reply]

    B.Jay Reply:

    But Djokovic is yet to do the hard double in his career and has fewer career titles than Nadal. And Nadal has more AO finals than Djokovic has at RG. Neither of them can touch RF though but we can thank them for saving Tennis, especially Nadal.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I disagree. Djokovic can more than touch Federer. He is 3-1 in slam finals, 9-6 in slams, and 23-22 overall vs Federer. Can Federer touch Djokovic?

    [Reply]

    B.Jay Reply:

    This obsession with the use of H2H when assessing the greatness of a player (which Nadal fans are most guilty of to be honest) is getting a bit out of hand. You can beat a player a thousand times but if you can’t boast of the titles and records that player has then you’re inferior to that player in my book.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right but Djokovic is superior in titles and records. More Masters titles, personal slam, better record across all surfaces, etc.

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  2. Going by these metrics, lets take a look at Bjorn Borg:

    At the slam level on clay he has a 75% success rate and a 96.08% total win-loss %
    At the slam level on grass he has a 55.56% success rate and a 92.73% total win-loss %
    At the slam level on hard he has a 0% success rate and a 81.63% total win-loss %

    Therefore his numbers put him at a virtual tie with Nadal on clay, quite a bit ahead of Federer on grass, and behind both Federer and Djokovic on hard but close to Nadal.

    Borg is the real GOAT!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Not really. Too poor record on hard. That’s why I emphasize balance 👍

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  3. Just wondering? Do you not consider Sampras as a tier one due to missing French open. If so are there anymore guys besides 2 in the top tier? Sampras is always tricky to me because I feel like he’s hands down from the standpoint of just playing tennis one of the best seven or so ever. But he’s missing a French. Would have a matchup advantage against almost everyone today I think. Break even with select players. (Federer, Djokovic on non grass, Wawrinka and Kyrgios in many places)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No, I consider Sampras on the same level as Nadal which is tier two. They are similar in many ways although opposite game styles. Both very clutch mentally but both a bit one-dimensional. I have Federer, Djokovic, and Laver in my top tier.

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  4. “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.”

    Potential doesn’t count. I can agree that Djokovic might be a better hardcourt player than Federer though the latter won more HC Slams. Djokovic better than Federer on grass? No way, until Djokovic wins at least 4 more Wimbledons.

    I know that table takes into account the age, succes rate etc, but hardly anyone would consider Djokovic a better grass court player than Federer as things stand now.

    For me, Sampras and Federer are the best on grass. Sampras has the advantage that he won all his finals and has a 100% record in Wimbledon finals. On the other hand, losing in the second round is always worse than making it to the finals. No idea, who would be better between Federer and Sampras on grass.

    But Djokovic can definitely catch up to at least 5 Wimbledons. We’ll see.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    The part you quoted was about HC. No one in their right mind would put Djokovic above Federer on grass.

    [Reply]

    Eren Reply:

    “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.”

    Seeing as it how it’s written, it’s hard to think you were talking about HC all of sudden. You were comparing Grass results of Djoko vs. Nadal and Murray and then Djoko vs. Fed.

    Anyway, Federer is a better grass court player as things stands now. We both agree on that.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘Seeing as it how it’s written, it’s hard to think you were talking about HC all of sudden.’

    That’s because I was talking about the overall situation in that part. When I make a statement like that I assume people can figure out for themselves that I am not talking about grass. Like I said in my last reply I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks Djokovic is a better grass courter than Federer. Also, it is at the end of the first part and includes the phrase ‘in the end’. Anyway, sorry if that was confusing to you.

    [Reply]

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