Who among Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic has the best serve and the best return? Serving and returning are undoubtedly crucial weapons in tennis. Today's players spend a lot of time improving these two fundamental shots, through targeted training and a personalized athletic and mental preparation.
Martin Ingram, a University of Melbourne student, analyzed about 50 players, taking into account their effectiveness in the serve-return combination in the past three decades. The graphical representation shows how Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the best three, with a significant gap compared to all rivals.
The Swiss Maestro serves better than his two historical opponents, while Nadal and Djokovic take away around 50% of the points with their returns against other players. Federer has more difficulty from this point of view. It is no coincidence that Roger, Rafa and Nole dominate the Slams: Federer leads with 20 Majors, Nadal follows him with 19, while Djokovic has 17.
A domain that is unprecedented in the history of tennis. The model also suggests that Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro have suffered a lot from having lived in the same era as the Big 3. Both Murray and Del Potro have the same percentages of tennis players like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who respectively won eight and 14 Slams.
The Scot has won only three Majors (in 11 finals played), while the Argentinian won the US Open in 2009 against Federer (losing the 2018 final against Djokovic). Stan Wawrinka is placed half-way in this special rankings, despite being one of the few players able to undermine the three rulers of this tennis era.