Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As I gaze into my crystal ball for 2013 I
can't help but see members of the "Big Four" combining to win all four major
titles ... again.
Twenty-twelve marked the first season in nine years in which four different
men corralled Grand Slam titles. But, of course, those four men just happened
to be the top-four players in the world, both heading into and out of the
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had a stranglehold on all the
major titles over the last seven or eight years, with a lone exception being
imposing Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who surprised the all-time great
Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open finale, before Andy Murray officially turned the
"Big Three" into the "Big Four" by winning the U.S. Open, not to mention
Olympic gold, this year.
Since 2003, the incomparable Federer has amassed a men's-record 17 Grand Slam
titles, while Nadal has piled up 11, and Djokovic five of his own. Federer has
also been a runner-up at seven Slams, while Nadal is a five-time major runner-
up, Djokovic is four-time Grand Slam bridesmaid, and Murray is also a four-
time major runner-up. Do the math. The Big Four have combined to appear in a
staggering 53 Grand Slam finals altogether.
The last player outside the Big Four to win an Aussie Open title was Marat
Safin back in 2005. The last player outside the Big Four to win a French Open
title was Gaston Gaudio back in 2004. The last player outside the Big Four to
win Wimbledon was Lleyton Hewitt way back in 2002. And the Big Four has
combined to win eight of the last nine U.S. Opens.
This isn't even funny.
The currently seventh-ranked and former world No. 4 del Potro came on strong
at the end of 2012, including two straight wins over the mighty Federer (at a
final in Federer's native Basel and in the round-robin portion of the season-
ending ATP World Tour Finals), this after losing seven in a row against the
formidable Swiss, including six straight setbacks at one point during this
past season. Lest we not forget that "DelPo" also beat Federer in back-to-back
matches back in 2009, only to drop his next seven encounters against the
former No. 1 artiste. So perhaps we shouldn't jump on the del Potro return to
the Grand Slam winners' circle bandwagon just yet.
By the way, the only other guy in the Top 5 not named Djokovic, Federer,
Murray or Nadal is David Ferrer, who would just appear to have no shot at
breaking up the Big Four's Grand Slam party, considering he's a combined 14-45
lifetime against the fearsome foursome, including an almost-laughable 4-30
combined record versus the career Grand Slam legends that are Federer and
You would think that Ferrer's best chance at a major title would have to come
on clay -- which would leave only the French Open -- but Nadal and Federer
have combined to win no less than the last eight titles there, including an
Open Era-record seven such championships for Rafa. And for the record, Ferrer
is a dismal 4-16 all-time against his fellow Spaniard Nadal, and he's even
worse against the seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer, going winless in 14
lifetime matches against the splendid Swiss.
Maybe Ferrer could beat a Djokovic or a Murray at the Aussie or U.S. Opens,
considering he's at least an improved 10-15 combined against those two ... or
am I just being generous here? I'm sure I'm just being generous here,
considering he's a combined 1-6 against Djokovic and Murray at the majors.
Ferrer, however, did upset Murray in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros back
The 30-year-old Ferrer, who quietly led the tour with seven overall titles in
2012, just isn't going to win a major title as long as the Big Four are still
rolling along. Sorry, David.
Note: Ferrer and Federer were two of five men aged 30 or over to title on the
ATP circuit in 2012, joined by Tommy Haas, Jurgen Melzer and Jarkko Nieminen.
The reigning world No. 1 Djokovic, Federer, Murray, and the former top-ranked
superstar Nadal have combined to win the last 12 Slams, and it would appear as
though there's no end in sight to that stretch, considering Djokovic isn't
going anywhere anytime soon; the 31-year-old Federer is still obviously
capable of winning the big one; the determined Murray just continues to
improve; and Nadal, despite missing the last five months of this past season
with a knee injury, will likely return to his dominant form and likely be the
favorite at Roland Garros once again.
Did You Know?: Only Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (15) have won more Grand
Slam titles than Nadal (11) in the Open Era. And if Nadal can win another
major in 2013, he would set a new record by capturing at least one Grand Slam
singles title for a ninth consecutive year. He currently shares the record of
eight straight years with Bjorn Borg, Sampras and Federer.
The first Grand Slam event of 2013 will commence in less than a month in
Melbourne, with Djokovic as your reigning two-time champ. The super Serb
outlasted Nadal in the longest-ever Grand Slam final at last year's Aussie
Open, an epic that lasted 5 hours, 53 minutes.
Can anyone -- Del Potro, Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, etc. -- break-up the Big
Four's run in 2013?
Of course not.
The Sports Network