Playing a Grand Slam event is different from everything else: champions like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic know it. It is therefore true that matches played as best-of-five sets cannot be compared with others.
So it is inevitable that matches won in the Slams have a different value and meaning than those of the ATP Masters 1000 or other men's and women's Tour tournaments. They also have a different charm: duels that almost always go beyond three hours of play, tennis players who seem to have no mental or physical strength but who then manage to resurrect and overturn the match in their favor.
According to data collected by Tennis Abstract, in the current top-10 there are curious statistics and surprising records, but even more interesting is the analysis of the Big Three. At the moment if we analyze all the matches in which Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have reached the fifth set, the statistics tell us that the Serb has won 31 times and lost 10 times with an average victory equal to 75.6%.
Nadal is in second place with 22 wins and 12 defeats (65%) and in third place we can find Federer with 32 wins and 23 defeats (58.2%). In this case, the numbers don't lie: when the fifth set becomes a decisive factor, Novak Djokovic is the player with the highest percentage of wins.
Novak Djokovic better than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the 5th set
A percentage of 75.6% explained on the basis of the Serb's impressive recovery and mental integrity in solving complicated scoring situations.
Another element that demonstrates his ability to play under pressure is his balance in the Slam finals: he won four times at the fifth set (Australian Open 2012 final against Nadal, Wimbledon 2014 final against Federer, Wimbledon 2019 final still against Federer and Australian Open 2020 final against Dominic Thiem).
He only lost once, against Andy Murray in the 2012 US Open final. Rafael Nadal's numbers are also very good, above 60% and show a special record on clay-courts. On this surface only four times he was forced to recover and win at the fifth set, with two absolutely epic duels in the 2005 and 2006 Rome finals.
It is curious to see how many of his defeats have come against players other than the Big Three, or among others such as Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka: Lucas Pouille and Fabio Fognini at the US Open, or Gilles Müller at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer is the one put worse in comparison. Despite having the most victories, also justified by the fact that being the oldest of the three, he is the one who played the most matches, the age and the decline in physical condition could be the reasons why the Swiss is behind his opponents.
Federer racked up six straight wins in matches that went to the fifth set between the Australian Open 2017 and 2018 (Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic in Australia; Frances Tiafoe and Mikhail Youzhny at the US Open), but only against Novak Djokovic, for example, Roger Federer lost four out of four matches at the fifth set.