That Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are three of the strongest players in the history of our sport is now well established. Winners of all Grand Slam events, the Big 3 have all held the top position in the ATP rankings, have won at least one edition of the Davis Cup and won something like 267 tournaments in total.
Today all over the age of 30, Roger, Rafa and Nole still occupy the top of the world rankings and continue to be the main favorites for victory in the Majors. In a recent chat with the Colombian Tennis Federation, uncle Toni explained why his nephew, along with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, have been able to dominate the game for so long.
Toni Nadal on the Big 3
"Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have stayed because they have not met people who have the same commitment as them. When they play well, they win; when they don't play well, they fight and usually win" - Uncle Toni said.
Toni Nadal believes that this inconsistency is the reason as to why Next Gen players can’t take down the Big 3 from their throne. "And there is the difference, because those of this new generation can have a good day and be very good, but the day things don't work out they lose their way, they get out of focus."
The resilience and fighting spirit that Rafael Nadal displays is exemplary. “I am almost sure that I will never train a boy like Rafael again, but it still motivates me to keep setting goals and fight for new challenges, even if they are smaller”.
The Big Three are the top three players of all-time in terms of Grand Slam titles won, as well as the top three players in terms of Major finals reached. Federer has reached 31 finals, Nadal 27, and Djokovic 26. They are the only three male players in history to win eight or more singles titles at the same Grand Slam: Nadal with 12 French Open titles, Federer with eight Wimbledon titles, and Djokovic with eight Australian Open titles.
(On the women's side, Martina Navratilova won nine times at Wimbledon, while Molla Mallory won eight US Championships, a predecessor of the US Open). The Big Three monopolized the top spot in the ATP men's singles rankings from 2 February 2004 to 6 November 2016 and again from 21 August 2017 to the present, for a total of 800 weeks (equivalent to over 15 years) as of 9 March 2020.
Federer was ranked number 1 for a record 310 weeks, Djokovic, the current number 1, for 281 weeks, and Nadal for 209 weeks. Each player has occupied the top position at the end of the year five times.