Men’s tennis has always been the home of some great rivalries; Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Boris Becker, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. But the past ten to twelve years have given tennis fans another level of incredible rivalries.
Four greats emerged in the same era, which is extremely rare in a sport such as a tennis. As these greats enter their twilight years in the sport, many are wondering if the greatest era in men’s tennis is coming to an end.
Four Greats Emerge
Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam in 2003, winning Wimbledon. He then went on to completely dominate the tennis scene from 2004 to 2007, winning another 11 slams in that time!
Rafael Nadal captured his first Slam in 2005, winning the French Open. He won the next two, before extending his grip on tennis to Wimbledon in 2008. He went on to become world number one and one of the best players of his generation.
Novak Djokovic first emerged in 2007 as a serious threat, reaching two grand slam semifinals. He got his hands on the big prize in 2008, winning the Australian Open.
Andy Murray was long seen as an also ran; a contender, but not a winner. Perhaps it was his misfortune at being a tennis star in the era of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. But he eventually got his success, winning the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon twice in the following three four years!
Federer vs. Nadal
Most tennis fans will mention the Federer vs. Nadal rivalry when they are asked about this era of men’s tennis.
And it is understandable, given they are the two major names in the sport. They are neck and neck for Grand Slams won, with Federer still edging out Nadal. But neither is finished, despite their respective ages. They still have more to win.
While Federer has the most Grand Slams in tennis history, Nadal is the man who has beaten him more times than anyone else. Many of those wins came in Grand Slam finals, when Federer was at his peak. It is why the rivalry is considered so great.
Djokovic and Murray Elevate Their Level
What separates this era of men’s tennis from others is that it is not just a Federer vs. Nadal era. Yes, those two have more Slams than Djokovic and Murray. But to say they had their own way is disingenuous.
Djokovic has beaten both Nadal and Federer, in Grand Slams, on different surfaces and more than once. Murray has done the same. These two are the reason why so many tennis fans are wondering how men’s tennis will look when these four great players retire.
It is common to have a great rivalry in men’s and women’s tennis – a rivalry that shapes a few years’ worths of action. Two great players at their best, duking it out.
But from 2008 to 2018, men’s tennis fans were treated to something even more special; a decade-long era of FOUR great players, constantly battling against each other and forcing the others to step up their level even more.
When they eventually retire, men’s tennis may never be the same again.