Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have created an incredible rivalry over the past decade and a half. In addition to having won a total of 59 Grand Slams, the Big 3 have monopolized the circuit as never before in the history of this sport.
Novak Djokovic's recent triumph at Roland Garros 2021 has rekindled the long-standing debate on the greatest ever, as the number 1 ATP has now moved within one length of his eternal rivals in the all-time rankings of the Majors.
Wimbledon and the US Open could be decisive in this regard, even if the Next Gen are more than ever willing to overturn the hierarchies. Nadal has announced that he will not participate in either Wimbledon or the Tokyo Olympic Games, while King Roger's state of form is still far from 100% (as evidenced by the bad defeat in Halle).
Roger, Rafa and Novak have also contributed to increasing the popularity of tennis outside the narrow circle of fans and insiders. On the eve of the French Grand Prix, which will be staged this weekend at 'Le Castellet', Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner used the Big 3 to describe the rivalry between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Horner on Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic
Christian Horner said, “As a Formula 1 fan, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I want to see the two of them compete at eye level on the racetrack and find out who is really the best.
It’s like Roger Federer against Novak Djokovic. Max forces Lewis to get the most out of himself. And vice versa. Both got better again. You are above all others”. (Quotes translated from Google) Roger Federer's return to grasscourt tennis did not go as planned, as he lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round of the 2021 Noventi Open in Halle.
The Swiss has struggled to win matches lately and faces a battle to rediscover his best form heading into Wimbledon. Roger Federer sported a similar outfit a decade ago at the French Open. The Swiss spent the start of the 2011 season in the shadow of rival Novak Djokovic, but he produced his best tennis at Roland Garros, snapping the Serb's 43-match winning streak in a scintillating four-set semifinal.
It is important to note that Federer was sponsored by Nike back then. The Swiss' contract with the sportswear giant expired in March 2018, after which he signed a lucrative deal with Uniqlo.