Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated world tennis for over a decade and don't want to know how to hang a racket on the nail. The Big 3 have won a total of 56 Slam titles, in addition to having shared the last 13.
The success of Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 US Open is in fact the last triumph of a player outside the usual suspects. During a long interview on Eurosport, former World number 2 Alex Corretja revealed what allows Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to still be favorites in Slam tournaments.
Corretja on the Big 3
"They are thinking like, 'Why can't I be the best in the history?', so that's what I think is giving them this sort of feeling...their passion and the love they have for the game - but also the fact that they can become the greatest, I believe," said Alex Corretja.
"When he first started on tour, you know, I played with Roger Federer several times, and I realized already that he can turn around and just go for it all of a sudden," Corretja said on the vodcast. Alex also recalled when he played with Rafael Nadal in Barcelona in 2 degrees when the latter had donned a sleeveless t-shirt.
“The first ball I threw to him, he went like boom and he was only 16-year-old. So I stopped the ball and said, ‘how can you hit so hard the first ball’. He said, ‘I am playing 100% full speed from the first ball to the last ball’.
And I said oh this guy is something special,” Corretja explained. “With Novak, I didn’t have the chance to hit with him when I was professional. But what I feel is like as the time went on they realized that they could do even better than people like Mats Wilander or Guga Kuerten or Boris Becker or Ivan Lendl.
They started to believe that they can be the best in history. “So I think all of them are creating a system where they need to improve their game an become a better player and at the same time looking ahead thinking like ‘why can’t I be the best in history’? That is what is giving them a feeling, the passion, and the love they have for the game but also the fact that they can become the greatest,” he concluded.
Tennis, like most sports, has been on hold since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The ATP and WTA tours are suspended at least until late July. The French Open’s start was pushed back from May until September. Wimbledon was canceled for the first time in 75 years.
A decision about the US Open is expected within weeks; the tournament’s main draw is scheduled to begin in New York on August 31st.