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.
The five current players I chose were the mightily consistent World number 5 David Ferrer, Wimbledon 2009 Runner Up Tomas Berdych, US Open 2010 Winner Juan Martin Del Potro, Australian Open 2008 Runner Up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and two-time French Open runner up Robin Soderling. With the greatest respect to other highly talented players such as Marin Cilic, I limited the selection to the five whom have made the biggest impact in the grand slams for the longest period.
The five older players I chose were former World number 1s Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin, and former ATP Tour finals winners David Nalbandian and Nikolay Davydenko. Again, with the greatest of respect to competitors such as Tommy Haas, Andre Agassi, and Fernando Gonzales, I limited the selection to these five both because of a lack of matchup data in some cases, and for subjective reasons.
Top 4 Records against Modern Players & Legacy Players
Top 4 Rec. vs:
Player Win %
Of the Modern players, Tsonga has performed best against the top four, though strangely, incredibly poorly against Murray, and Soderling has performed the poorest, but arguably holds the most notable win – being the only man to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros. The record that jumps off the page is Roger Federer’s incredible 14-0 record against a competitor as talented and ferocious as David Ferrer, which best exemplifies the depth of his dominance over the years.
Of the Legacy players, Nalbandian comes out on top, and Roddick has the worst record. This segment is difficult to take firm conclusions from, because some of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray’s losses to the legacy players were when they were very young and inexperienced – but equally, many of the legacy players losses themselves to all four players were when they had already peaked and weren’t as good as they once were. Highlighted in yellow are the losing records owned by the top four, but perhaps the most interesting thing is the eight wins apiece owned by Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian against Roger Federer – tied for the most wins by any competitor against the top four players.
Comparison between Modern & Legacy Records
When we look at the records against the five Modern players and five Legacy players; each player has a higher winning percentage against the Modern players – perhaps because they are now in their peak and not inexperienced – save for Murray, who is more or less as successful against each. Roger Federer dominates in both categories, demonstrating the fear and star power he has exemplified for a decade of greatness.
Record between Top Four Players
When we compare the records of the top four players against each other; Rafael Nadal’s dominance against his three rivals is absolutely startling – he owns the head to head record by at least five wins against every opponent. Competition between Federer, Djokovic, and Murray is relatively close, with each winning and losing a head to head against another, but it is Nadal’s record against the others that really stands out.
Combination of Total Records.
This table, combining each players record against Modern, Legacy, and other Top 4 players, shows where each player is in his career – both the longetivity and consistency of Federer are evident, as he owns the most wins, and the highest winning percentage. It is interesting that there seems to be a correlation between number of matches played, and higher winning percentage.
This document isn’t intended to prove that one player is better than another; but to serve to highlight what the top four players, individually, and as a unit, have done so well in this special eta.