What Can The Combined Record of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic And Murray's Opponents Tell Us About Tennis' Greatest Era?
Having watched Stanislas Wawrinka unexpectedly push Novak Djokovic all the way in the 4th Round of the Australian Open, Federer summarily dispatch two of the game’s next hottest talents in Raonic and Tomic, and watched Andy Murray move to 39 wins and 1 losses against French players in the last few years, I was struck by the notion at how good the top four players in the world – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, have been at dispatching their nearest competition on a consistent basis.
I decided to take a closer look at their records against ten of the best players whom they have faced – five of them current players, and five who were at their peak in the past.
I recognise that whether one includes Andy Murray within a group containing three of the greatest players of all time is controversial given his meagre success in comparison, but have included him as it has felt for the last couple of years that he truly has earned status as the fourth force. While not as celebrated as the other three, and the numbers tell this story, he has elevated himself from the chasing pack to be a significant factor in tennis’s greatest era.
With the Australian Open, tennis' first Grand Slam in 2013, taking place from Jan. 14 to 27th, in Melbourne's Melbourne Park, the top female seeds will be: 1) Victoria Azarenka, 2) Maria Sharapova, 3) Serena Williams, 4) Agnieszka Radwanska, and 5) Angelique Kerber, matching the WTA world rankings. Although, seeding based on ranking is all the Slams' policy except Wimbledon, Serena should be the top seed as she is almost a lock to win her sixth Australian Open Women's Singles Title.
Serena captured her 47th career title this past week when she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-1 in 50 minutes at the Brisbane International, a warm-up to the Open. Serena has won 35 of her past 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the U.S. Open, and the season-ending WTA Tour Championships.
Continuing to be healthy, injury-free, and calm, there is no reason that she will not be holding up the winner's trophy in a fortnight. Serena might even be able to re-create her Serena-slam of 2002, where she held all four Grand Slam Titles at one time.
Last year's Australian Open saw Novak Djokovic capture the crown over Rafael Nadal in what was one of many iconic showdown's between two of tennis' heavyweights. This year's Open will look much different, with Rafa out with plaguing knee injuries and an aging Roger Federer who is looking to show everyone he still is as good as ever. Djokovic will have the "easier" route to the finals if he were to make it that far. Andy Murray landed in the other half of the draw with Roger Federer and a healthy Juan Martin del Potro.
The men's seeds of the Australian Open, Jan. 14 to 27th, in Melbourne's Melbourne Park coincide with the ATP rankings: 1) Novak Djokovic (two time defending Australian Open champ), 2) Roger Federer with 4 Aussie Titles, and 3) Andy Murray. Murray the # 3 seed will meet Federer in the semifinals. Realistically if all things including the seeds hold true, the aforementioned three men should be vying for the men's singles title.
Rafael Nadal, World # 4, and Mardy Fish, World #26, have withdrawn from the men’s side of the tournament. The absence of Nadal from the tournament (who has not played since Wimbledon last year) has left the men’s draws lopsided. Nadal's replacement # 4 David Ferrer is pretty much only a threat to the seeds above him if the surface is clay, however, the #5 seed Tomas Berdych likes to play on hard courts.
Murray having won his last best-of-five match against Djokovic (in the U.S. Open final) and Federer (in the Olympic final), retained his Brisbane Open title this past week downing Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, (7-0) 6-4, for his 25th title. He is looking to win the Open for the first time after finishing runner-up in 2010 and 2011.
Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3 in 89 minutes in the WTA Tour Championship this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey, while Venus Williams beat Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-3 last weekend to win her only title this year, the Luxembourg Cup in Luxembourg. Venus winning her 44th singles title puts her second only to her little sister Serena who holds 46, among active players. Serena finishes the year with a world ranking of No. 3 and Venus finishes at No. 24. Either sister would have more titles if they had not played each other in 8 Grand Slam and 3 other finals, with a career head to head record of 13-10.
Serena defeated all the top players this weekend again, however, she could only finish as high as No. 3 on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Rankings because of WTA rules based on her amount of play. According to the WTA, Serena has won 48 out of 50 of her last matches, winning all 18 of her last matches against the top players in the world: 1) Victoria Azarenka, 2) Maria Sharapova, 4) Agnieska Radwanska, 5) Angelique Kerber, 6) Sara Errani, 7) Li Na, 8) Petra Kvitova, and 10) Caroline Wozniacki.