The big four
Over the past nine years, tennis has been absolutely dominated by the Big Four. Rafael Nadal, Rodger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray had combined to win 34 of 35 majors before this year's Australian Open.
Stanislas Wawrinka shocked the world by taking home the 2014 Australian Open title.
Wawrinka played great on the way to the title and it may seem like a shifting of the guard in tennis. However, that will not be the case at the top.
He was even shocked himself. After the match, he acknowledged just how dominant the Big Four have been, per ausopen.com:
“I saw Roger winning so many Grand Slam in the past, so now it's my turn to win one. If you look the past 10 years, it’s only the top four guys who was winning all the Grand Slams. So, yeah, I will need time to realize what I did in these two weeks.”
The current rankings (below) look quite a bit different to say the least. Wawrinka has moved all the way up to No. 3, while Murray and Federer have dropped all the way down to No. 7 and No. 8.
|5||Juan Martin Del Potro||4,960|
The Big Four will still be the toughest outs at the Grand Slams.
While Federer may not be the dominant player he once was, he is already playing far better this year than a year ago. He is off to a 9-2 start this season, but without the consistent Grand Slam success, it is reasonable to knock him out of the Big Four.
The other three members of the Big Four are all still in their prime. Murray's ranking is down because of his season-ending back surgery. He is currently only contributing 11 tournaments, instead of the allowed 18 to his ranking (or 19 including the ATP World Tour Finals).
With Murray's injury, Nadal and Djokovic have separated themselves from the other two members of the Big Four and also from the rest of the world.
Even after Wawrinka's big win, he has only a little over half of Djokovic's ranking points. Nadal and Djokovic have won 12 of the last 17 Grand Slams.
Wawrinka played an unbelievable week of tennis, but let us see him do it on a consistent basis before putting him up there with the best.
It is not an easy task to keep up a consistent level of greatness.
Remember when Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 U.S. Open? He was the popular pick to break up the Big Four, but he has failed to even reach a Grand Slam final since.
Nadal was clearly not the same player in the final. His back made him just a shell of his normal spectacular self (video above). Wawrinka knew he was playing a hampered Nadal; here is what he said after the match, according to ausopen.com:
Again, to be really honest, it's a final of Grand Slam, so I'm really happy to win it. But it's not the way a tennis player wants to win a match, because the opponent is injury...so was strange to play him in the final. But I was really sad for him. I really hope that it's not too bad for him because he was already injury last year, and he came back the better player in the world.
Still the Big Four?
Federer has begun his decline and is no longer a consistent threat to win Grand Slams. It is unlikely that he will win another one, but it would not surprise me to see him win one before he retires.
He is still a feared player, but not like he used to be. It is safe to say he is no longer in the elite group after only reaching two of the last 16 Grand Slam finals.
Are Murray and Federer still part of the Big Four?
Is there a Big Three?
Nadal and Djokovic obviously belong, but what about Murray? Has he done enough to be in this elite group?
Murray's recent Grand Slam performances have indeed placed him in the company of Nadal and Djokovic. He has made it to the finals or won four of the last six Grand Slams he has played in (missed 2013 French Open). His ranking is down due to injury. He will be back in the top three by the end of the year.
The Big Three will showcase their dominance by combining to win the rest of the Grand Slams this year.
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