I am a big fan of tennis. I have been watching and following tennis for 3 decades now. Today morning, I watched the finals of US Open 2017 between Rafael Nadal and Kevin Anderson. Nadal won. It was Nadal’s 16th Grand Slam victory. I was astonished about the dominance of a few players over the years when I did some number crunching.
There are four Grand Slam events in tennis every year; Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon & US Open. Since 2003, there were 60 Grand Slams played (4 every year for 15 years till 2017 season). Three players; Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic have won 47 of these Grand Slams between them in the last 15 years. That’s over 75%. Unbelievable! Isn’t it?
Hundreds of top class players competed in these events over the last 15 years. Yet, the result was almost identical each time. One of the 3 players took home the trophy a whopping 47 times out of 60. Federer leads the pack with 19 titles followed by Nadal at 16 and Djokovic at 12. Can such dominance be sheer luck? No way.
While these numbers could be startling for many, it is not for me and millions of other fans who have watched these players in action over the years. A game where the competition is so intense that a few points can turn the match either way; it is the consistency with which these players have performed that it comes as no surprise when you look at the numbers.
How did they do it? Without a doubt, it’s because of their mental strength, physical stamina and uncountable hours of practice off court. The way Federer hits a passing backend down the line while facing a match point against him is no fluke. It’s sheer practice for years for the big moment. Without the best serve in the game, when Nadal comes back from two sets to love down to win the match is not luck. It shows his mental strength which he developed over the years. The way Djokovic covers the court after 3 hours of grueling fight is not a God gift. It talks volumes about his physical fitness which he has maintained all through the years.
There is no substitute to hard work. You can’t win a grand slam (defeating 7 other world class players in a row over two weeks) without conceding the last drop of sweat during years of practice. The greatest boxer of all time, Md. Ali once said, ‘the fight is won or lost much before you enter the ring.’ So true.
Roger Federer –
French Open- 2009
U.S Open- 2004,2005,2006,2007,2008
Rafael Nadal –
French Open- 2005,2006,2007,2008,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2017
U.S Open- 2010,2013,2017
Novak Djokovic –
Australian Open- 2008,2011,2012,2013,2015,2016
French Open- 2016
U.S Open- 2011,2015