Rafael Nadal, the undisputed king of clay has just won the French Open and tennis fans cannot get enough of him. With an unorthodox style and a fierce determination to win, Nadal has won the hearts of fans all over the world. A few months before this tournament, Nadal already won 3 out of 4 major clay court tournaments this year. Similarly, Federer came back from a long 6 months break to win the Australian Open and 2 Masters 1000 series this year itself. So, what brought about this miraculous revival for these great players of all time and what does it mean for the game itself?
Era of Federer and Nadal
For any tennis fan, the term ‘big four’ is obvious. Though, for those who are not such ardent followers, the big four refers to four dominant players in tennis, namely Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The dominance on the ATP tour started with Roger Federer, when he won his Wimbledon title way back in 2003. Since then, these 4 have shared 49 Grand Slam titles between them. Soon after Federer, Nadal made his way into the trophies and mostly dominated the clay surface, losing only 2 matches in the French Open for over a decade. His lacklustre performance on other surfaces has somewhat raised a debate whether he could be counted as one of the greatest players of all time.
Rise of Djokovic and Murray
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray share their birth week and year. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they also shared some luck as well. For the early part of 21st century, Nadal and Federer dominated the scene and Djokovic-Murray were always the unlucky runner ups. Though, Djokovic’s true dominance came in the year 2011 where he won 41 matches in a row before losing to Federer in French Open semi-final. And the following year, Andy Murray won his maiden Grand Slam title. Though Djokovic did challenge the Federer-Nadal duo at number of occasions, Murray could not make the same impact. But after a lot of hard work, Murray has finally become the no. 1 player in the world and continues to challenge the other three.
The 30+ club
It has been more than 14 years since these four players have dominated tennis and now all of them are above the age of thirty, 35 in case of Federer. And somehow their fitness is at a level which would put teenagers to shame. After some disappointing seasons, Federer and Nadal have resurfaced phenomenally to win 2 grand slams and 4 masters titles this year. Even Murray and Djokovic are recuperating and almost at full fitness now. With half the season over, it will be interesting once the hard court seasons starts. Also, with Wimbledon around the corner, it will be an interesting fight for these four against upcoming contenders like Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka etc. And with the form Federer and Nadal are in, tennis is about to get a lot more interesting.