Throughout the last 15 years, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have taken every Masters 1000 record by storm, standing as the most successful players of the premium ATP series established in 1990. Rafael Nadal had conquered the 33rd Masters 1000 crown in Toronto and Novak Djokovic added the 31st trophy in Cincinnati last summer, beating Roger Federer in the final to complete Career Golden Masters and write another chapter of the history at this level of competition.
Rafa, Roger and Novak have played twice as many Masters 1000 finals than any other player in the last 30 seasons and they will all reach more than 50 title matches at the premium ATP events almost certainly in 2019. Novak Djokovic has lost the ground to great rivals in this segment a little bit before bouncing back in 2018, adding three finals to his tally to stand on 47 (the first player behind him is Andy Murray on 22), leaving Nadal and Federer as the leaders of the race towards 50 Masters 1000 finals!
That Toronto final was the 49th for Rafa, needing just one more to become the first player with mind-blowing 50 finals at this level. The Spaniard had the opportunity to achieve that at Indian Wells although he was forced to withdraw before the semi-final clash against Roger Federer who has joined him on 49 Masters 1000 finals, losing the title match to Dominic Thiem.
Nadal was forced to withdraw from Miami, leaving Federer to fight for the title and that elusive 50th final which Roger achieved by beating Denis Shapovalov in the semi-final clash, passing the great rival and writing Masters 1000 history as the first player with 50 finals at that level!
Roger, the older of the two, had reached six Masters 1000 finals before 2005 when Nadal emerged on the scene in the most impressive way with no less than five finals at the age of 18 and 19. Federer extended the lead to 16-7 by the end of 2006, playing more impressive Masters 1000 season than Rafa while they both had reached five in 2007 to stay on the same distance.
Nadal started to melt the deficit in 2008, advancing into two finals more than Roger and having a clear lead in 2009 as well with five more title matches on his tally, standing just four behind Roger overall, 25-21. The next season gave a slim advantage to Federer although Nadal almost caught him with no less than five finals in 2011 in comparison to only one for the Swiss who lost the ground to Novak and Rafa that year.
Nadal became a clear leader of the pack in 2013, competing in a career-high six Masters 1000 finals while Roger entered only one, staying on just five finals in the last three years. Tables turned again in 2014 and 2015 when Federer forged an 8-4 lead and he missed a chance to outplay Rafa entirely in 2016 when the Spaniard managed to reach only one final at Masters 1000 level.
Struggling with an injury, Roger failed to enter a Masters 1000 final for the first time since 2001 that year, staying in touch with Nadal's pace in the last two seasons to keep himself within a chance of advancing into the milestone final number 50 before Rafa.
Competing on a high level during the 'Sunshine Double,' Roger has achieved an enormous record before the great rival and just in time, with Nadal chasing the 50th Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo where he already fought for the title on 12 occasions!