Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have held the reins of the ATP World Tour for roughly the last seven years. The two have combined for 110 career singles titles and over $100 million in prize money. Their rivalry is already one of the most heralded in men's tennis history.
When both players enter their names into a draw, one of the two usual goes home with first place. Excluding the ATP World Tour Finals, the two have met 19 times—with all but two being in tournament finals.
A high-profile tournament rarely ends with both of these players being eliminated. What's even rarer, is when one player takes out both Federer and Nadal.
If a player plans to win a big tournament, they will likely face one of these two in the final. If they're lucky enough, the other is stunned before they make it deep in the draw.
Novak Djokovic did the near impossible this weekend when he swept both players off the court at Indian Wells. A three-set win over Federer in the semifinals was followed by a three-set, comeback triumph over Nadal in the finals.
An aggressive Djokovic stayed tight to the baseline, swinging freely from both wings while committing minimal errors in the match's final two sets. Djokovic committed few, if any, unforced errors to continue his 20-match winning streak and stay undefeated in 2011. He moved to No. 2 in the world, surpassing Federer.
Here's the last few times that both Federer and Nadal have fallen at the hands of the same player in a tournament.
**Does not include the ATP World Tour Finals because of Round Robin format
Andy Murray may be amidst the worst slump of his young career, but that's because of his immense success before the recent skid.
Last year, Murray was one of the most confident players on the tennis court. He took more chances without sacrificing his tremendous defensive ability. The young Scot never seemed to miss the court during his hot streak.
His skills looked most refined in Toronto before the US Open. Murray recorded straight-set wins over Nadal and Federer in the semifinals and finals, respectively. He was never forced into a tiebreaker while he defeated the world's two top players.
He was unable to turn his confidence into a Grand Slam title later that month, but he's shown the ability to beat the best. He's one of very few players who holds a winning record against Federer. He has also beat Nadal on four instances.
Murray's confidence will come back, and when it does he may be the next player to beat Nadal and Federer in a tournament.
Hopefully—for Murray's sake—it'll be a Grand Slam this time.
When Nikolay Davydenko is firing on all cylinders, he is compared to a machine. Davydenko will crowd the baseline, using his compact, yet strong swing to move his opponent from corner to corner. Utter precision and beautiful contact make him a terrifying player when he's at his best.
In his first tournament of 2010 in Qatar, Davydenko was playing as described above. He packed the confidence of an ATP World Tour Finals win in each shot. He dismissed Federer in the semifinals with a pair of 6-4 sets to advance to the final.
Guess who was waiting for him.
An in-form Nadal sent Davydenko a message by clobbering him in the first set, 6-0. He faced two match points in the next set, but was able to save both and win an exciting, 18-point tiebreaker. His swagger returned in the final set as he defeated Nadal.
Davydenko couldn't defeat Federer at the Australian Open that closely followed. A broken wrist a few tournaments later derailed Davydenko's surge late in his career. He has yet to return to the form that had him on pace to be a consistent top five player again.
If Davydenko was a few years younger, a Grand Slam wouldn't be out of the question for the Russian.
Juan Martin del Potro is the only person on the list to do the unthinkable in a Grand Slam.
The 6'6" Argentinian stormed onto the scene with thunderous groundstokes and impressive movement for a player his size. Del Potro shined in his first chance on a big stage, capturing a Grand Slam in a time where two players have hogged most major titles.
Del Potro suffered an embarrassing loss to Federer at the 2009 Australian Open, only winning three games in as many sets. He built confidence during the season, and really stepped up his play on the North American hard courts.
In the two tournaments previous to the US Open, del Potro registered wins over Rafael Nadal, Fernando Gonzalez and Andy Roddick (twice). He was in the final of both tournaments, taking home one title.
He showcased an all-court game in one of the most lopsided wins over Rafael Nadal in recent memory in the semifinals. Nadal was only able to win two games each set, as del Potro played arguably the best match of his career.
In the finals, Federer grabbed a two-sets-to-one lead. Most people wrote del Potro off, but the young competitor continued to fight. He played an awe-inspiring tiebreaker in the fourth set to force a fifth set. Federer was more error prone than he's ever been in a deciding set of a major, and del Potro won convincingly.
During the tournament, del Potro was blasting forehands regularly over 100 miles per hour. He simply refused to be beaten.
Del Potro has gotten a taste of the injury bug since 2009 but is steadily returning to form. He made it to the semifinals at Indian Wells this year but lost to the runner-up, Nadal.
David Nalbandian had one of the most impressive months in ATP history during the 2007 season.
As an unseeded player in Madrid in early October, Nalbandian saw his game rise to a new level. He had to fight from a set down in his first two matches of the tournament to advance. He met Nadal in the quarterfinals and crushed the Spaniard in his home country—dropping only three games.
In the semifinals, Nalbandian won a hard-fought, straight-set match over No. 3 Novak Djokovic. He was rewarded with a match in the finals against the top-ranked Federer. After Federer won the first set in seven games, Nalbandian looked to be out of gas and magic.
Instead, two 6-3 triumphs followed, and Nalbandian had his place in history. He became only the third player to beat the top three players in the world in the same tournament.
He was unseeded again two weeks later in France at the BNP Paribas Masters. Nalbandian took out Federer in the third round in straight sets. He's one of very few players to beat Federer in two straight matchups. He had to wait until the finals to compete with Nadal again.
Nadal was once again no match for the Argentinian, who won 6-4, 6-0.
Nalbandian's one-month stretch is an unparalleled streak of upset-ridden tennis.
The short list begins and ends with none other than Novak Djokovic.
This past weekend was not the first time Djokovic has beaten both Federer and Nadal in consecutive matches. Back in 2007, the No. 4 ranked Djokovic made a case for being the best in Montreal.
Consecutive wins over the top three players the tour had to offer made Novak Djokovic a household name. In the quarterfinals, he bested No. 3 Andy Roddick in two sets. He also didn't drop a set while battling No. 2 Nadal in the semifinals.
It took tiebreakers in the first and third sets for Djokovic to squeak by the Swiss legend in the finals. This was the high point of Djokovic's career at this point, and his play continued to improve after the fact. He made a run the US Open finals later that month but lost to Federer in three tight sets.
In his next Grand Slam, he finally broke through and captured the 2008 Australian Open championship.
If he lost any of three matches in Canada, Djokovic may have not had the soaring confidence to reach back-to-back Slam finals.
Up until 2011, Djokovic's most memorable stretch was the one discussed above.
Now, Djokovic has won 20 straight matches and added a second Australian Open to his trophy case. The ceiling is looking mighty high for the Serbian standout.
**Post a comment if you think I missed a player that accomplished this feat.