Tennis fans were treated to some fantastic tennis last weekend as Serena Williams and Roger Federer added to their already historic resumes. Williams won her 14th major title, while Federer added to his own record by winning his 17th Grand Slam singles title. Both singles finals were well-played and competitive and both of the runners-up, Agnieszka Radwańska and Andy Murray, earned praise in losing efforts.
All of this is great for tennis fans. Or is it? Speaking of the men's side of professional tennis, is it such a great thing that the Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic continue to dominate the Grand Slams?
Let's take a look at just how dominant those three players have been in the sport's spotlight events. Since the French Open of 2005, Rafael Nadal's first major title, 30 Grand Slam championships have been contested. Exactly one time out of those 30 did someone other that Federer, Djokovic or Nadal win the title. If not for Juan Martin Del Potro's upset of Federer in the final of the 2009 U.S. Open that number would be zero.
I know the counter arguments very well. Tennis fans are enjoying historic runs by three of the greatest players ever. Federer may have just cemented his spot as the greatest player of all time with his win Sunday. Just a month before turning 31 he won his seventh Wimbledon title and now sits back atop the world rankings.
Rafael Nadal is just a month removed from winning a record 7th French Open title, his 11th Grand Slam victory, tied for fourth best all-time. Novak Djokovic produced a season for the record books in 2011 when he won three Grand Slam titles and ten tournaments overall on the way to a phenomenal match record of 70-6.
Yes, we are in a great era of men's tennis. I have two young daughters, and I hope they become tennis fans. I'll tell them of watching these three men play tennis and how fortunate I was to see them, just as I felt about watching Joe Montana play quarterback or Michael Jordan play basketball.
But a little part of me feels badly for the Andy Murray fans, the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fans, the Andy Roddick fans. Might Roddick have won more than his single Grand Slam, the 2003 U.S. Open, if he had not had the bad timing of playing at the same time as Federer?
Still, I come back to the reality that tennis is the ultimate meritocracy. If you want the title, it's pretty simple. Beat the guy on the other side of the net. Of course, when it comes to beating Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic there's nothing simple about it at all.Brad Boeker has been a fan of professional tennis for over 30 years. He coaches high school tennis in Illinois.
- Sports & Recreation
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal
- Novak Djokovic
- Serena Williams
- Andy Murray