World No. 1 in men’s tennis Novak Djokovic is narrowing in on Roger Federer’s ATP Big Titles record of 54. Djokovic could draw even with Federer if he wins the Italian Open this week and open another chapter in the Djokovic vs. Federer rivalry.
The Serbian won the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday to increase his Big Title tally to 53, and he also drew even with World No. 2 Rafael Nadal on ATP Masters 1000 Titles. Both hold 33 titles which contribute to their total Big Title count.
If Djokovic is victorious at the Italian Open, it would be the first time he or Nadal has tied with Federer. The two have been locked in a fierce battle for dominance in recent years with Federer, the elder statesmen of the trio.
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Federer is 37, and he has been at the top of his game since 2004 when he took the World No. 1 spot. The Swiss sensation held the No. 1 spot for a record-long period until Nadal stole the spot in 2008. Since then, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have traded the No. 1 title among themselves.
Nadal has held the No. 1 spot seven times, but Djokovic stepped into his fourth stint as World men’s No. 1 in November 2018 and is currently playing some of the best tennis in his life.
While Djokovic and Nadal will likely pass Federer’s ATP Big Titles record soon, they still have a way to go to reach Federer’s world record of Grand Slam Titles. Federer holds 20 Grand Slam Titles, while Nadal and Djokovic have 17 and 15, respectively.
Djokovic is currently in the best form of the top trio as he has won six of the past 12 ATP Big Titles. The Serbian also has a better win rate than his counterparts at big events and increased his lead at the top of the most recent ATP rankings.
The Serbian player is the most likely to take the ATP Big Titles crown from Federer. While he is about to turn 32, he is slightly younger than Nadal and should have more years left in the tank than Federer. It seems unlikely that Djokovic or Nadal will ever hold a period so dominant as Federer was from 2004-2008.
The trio of stars has collectively held the No. 1 title since 2004, aside from Andy Murray’s 41-week reign in 2017, but a new generation of young tennis stars is biting at their heels. Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, and Stefano Tsitsipas are fast approaching Roger Federer in the ATP rankings.
Tsitsipas is the youngest of the bunch at 20, and the Greek had the distinction of defeating Nadal on clay at the Madrid Open last week. The World No. 7 also beat Federer in March and has been climbing the ATP rankings.
Referring to the trio’s long dominance in tennis, Nadal said before the Italian Open, “Winning everything we have won in the last 14 or 15 years is something that does not happen much in the history of tennis, which means it’s complicated.”
When all three players’ careers are over, the man with the most ATP Big Titles and Grand Slams is likely to hold that record for many years to come. While Nadal has faltered recently, he and Djokovic look safe as the top two in world tennis for the foreseeable future.