Are Federer and Nadal going to break their own record of dominance?

The last five Grand Slams have all been won by one of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal; a feat deemed unobtainable, with the Swiss national going four years without a Grand Slam, until 2017’s Australian Open victory, whilst the Spaniard had gone three years before last year’s French Open triumph.

At five Grand Slams in a row, the current streak sits third in the duo’s longest period of dominance – if either of the pair emerge victorious at Roland Garros in June, it will equal their second-best ever run of back-to-back Grand Slams.

Consecutive Grand Slam Wins For Nadal Or Federer

Looking further afield, to equal their longest ever period of dominance over all four Opens(11), Federer and Nadal would need to win the next two French Opens, two Wimbledons, plus one each of the Australian and American Opens.

But can two of tennis’ greatest ever players achieve that during the twilight years of their careers?

Grand Slam Wins

The pair currently have 36 Grand Slam titles between them – Federer’s 20 would be 26 titles if Nadal didn’t exist, whilst Nadal’s would jump from 16 to 19. However, only four of Federer’s titles have come after 2010, with Nadal winning almost half of his career Grand Slams (7) post-2010.

The French Open is where Nadal dominates – from 2005 to 2014, Nadal won all the titles at Roland Garros, minus one in 2009, with, yep, you’ve guessed it, Roger Federer taking his only French Open crown – the Spaniard remains the only player to have won 10 Grand Slams at the same tournament.

As you’d expect, the pair dominated during the early and peak years of their careers, but Federer, around the age of 30, his ability to dominant the Grand Slams wained. Federer’s resurgence again, in his mid-30s, highlights a player who has understood the demands of his ageing body and picks his battles carefully – the 36-year-old skipped the French Open last year, despite being fully fit, with a desire to focus on Wimbledon; a Grand Slam Federer has won just once in his career, with the Swiss clearly accepting that the clay court is Nadal’s turf and one that doesn’t suit his game.

With Federer focusing on his beloved Wimbledon and clearly having a rejuvenated love affair with the Australian Open, Nadal’s continued dominance of the French Open, coupled with a surprising US Open victory last year, can the current streak of five Grand Slams continue?

French Open 2017

Nadal’s game has always favoured the clay court of Roland Garros, and despite winning a total of seven more French Opens that his second-most won Grand Slam, the US Open (3), Nadal’s average sets and games lost en route to lifting the big four is, remarkably, the best in the French Open – despite the large amount of extra games played due to lifting the trophy 10 times.

The odds look good for Nadal to lift the French Open again, this year, with the Spaniard’s best ever performance coming in 2017’s victory, dropping no sets and losing just 35 games – he also dropped no sets in 2008 and 2010, but dropped 41 games in the former, and 67 in the latter.

Average Sets & Games Lost By Nadal En Route To A French Open Grand Slam Win

If Nadal is able to repeat the feat without losing a set, he’ll overtake Bjorn Borg as the stand alone male tennis player with the most Grand Slam victories without dropping a set.

Interestingly, Federer also turned in a near perfect performance at Wimbledon in 2017 – notching his second no-sets-dropped Grand Slam victory – a tournament that produces the Swiss’ finest Grand Slam victory performances.

Average Sets & Games Lost By Federer En Route To A Wimbledon Grand Slam Win

For 2018, Wimbledon and the French Open look to remain in the familiar hands of Nadal and Federer. But what about the final Grand Slam, the US Open?

The pair have eight US Opens between them, but despite having five of the eight to his name, Federer, on average, drops more sets and games en route to lifting the trophy at Flushing Meadows, compared to Nadal.

Average Sets & Games Lost By Federer And Nadal En Route To A Wimbledon Grand Slam Win

Federer’s last triumph in the United States came in 2008, whilst Nadal’s came just last year. So if anyone is going to complete the pair’s domination of 2018’s tennis world, then it looks like the burden will fall on Nadal on September 10th.

However, in the Open era, not since Federer’s five back-to-back wins from 2004-2008, has anyone retained their US Open crown – it last happened at Wimbledon in 2015, Australian Open in 2018 and the French Open in 2014.

Furthermore, the US Open has only been won back-to-back by seven different players, the least of all four Grand Slams – it’s clearly a landscape, tournament and approach that changes on a yearly basis; there’s no hidden method in dominating Flushing Meadows.

The Contenders

With the Australian Open already in safe hands, and the Wimbledon and French Open Grand Slams seemingly set to remain in the familiar clutches of Nadal and Federer, the US Open remains the prize most up for grabs for the rest of the pack.

In between Rafael Nadal’s 2013 and 2017 US Open victories, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Marian Cilic lifted the trophy, and the trio remain viable candidates for the 2018 Flushing Meadows crown – we won’t even consider Andy Murray, here, despite his pedigree, the Brit hasn’t made a semi-final since winning the title in 2012 – one 4th Round exit, three quarter-final defeats and, in 2017, Murray withdrew with injury.

Wawrinka, Cilic and Djokovic’s US Open record

Given Cilic’s penchant for a Third Round exit at Flushing Meadows, Cilic’s performance at the US Open in 2014, was clearly just one of those moments where the stars align and everything went in the Croat’s favour, and 2018 won’t be so kind to him.

Djokovic and Wawrinka represent credible threats to the dominance of Nadal and Federer, especially with Fed’s fellow countryman starting to find his groove in the US, and on an upwards trajectory of consistency at the US Open.

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