The Big Three’s Nemeses
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are 3 of the most successful players to ever play the game. Not only do they hit some of the best shots on tour, they have won countless titles, and have a mental strength that make them hard to beat. So much so, that very few players do actually beat them. All 3 of them have played over 1000 matches in their careers, and have all won at least 80% of their matches, Federer with 82.08%, Djokovic with 82.66%, and Nadal with the best win rate of all time, at 83.17%. Federer and Djokovic come in 4th and 3rd respectively.
Obviously with those sort of stats there are very few players who have one, managed to beat the Big 3, but two, never lose to the Big 3. Well don’t worry, we have looked through their match history and found the players who have beaten, and never been beaten, by the Big 3.
The King of Clay, he has won 974 of his 1171 matches, and went on an 81 match win streak on clay, the longest on a single surface. So who is his Nemesis?
Retired – Àlex Corretja
Former world number 2 and runner up at the French Open in 1998 and 2001. He has beaten Nadal twice, back in 2003, once in the 1st round of the Madrid Masters, and once at the Barcelona Open, surprisingly on clay, however, Nadal was only 17. Those were the only meetings between these two, with Corretja retiring 2 years later.
Current – Dustin Brown
The trick shot king, Dustin Brown has faced Nadal twice in his career, beating the Spaniard both times. The first was in 2014 at the Halle Open in the 2nd round. Nadal, the #1 seed faced Brown after he received a wildcard entry and won his 1st round match. The German won in straight sets, 6-4 6-1 to a stunned crowd. A year later, Wimbledon 2015, they met again. Nadal had dropped to 10th seed, whilst Brown had made it through qualifying. Again in the 2nd round, the German was triumphant, winning in 4 sets to claim a 2-0 record against Rafa. Whilst still on tour, the two have not played again, and with Brown ranked 206 in the world, the chance of them meeting is currently unlikely.
893 wins for the Serb, 187 losses, puts him 3rd on the ATP singles win ratio list. He also holds dozens of records for consecutive titles, match victories and finals appearances, yet there are still some players who have managed to claim multiple victories without a loss.
Retired – Marat Safin
A former world number 1, Marat Safin retired in 2009, having claimed 2 Grand Slam titles, one at the US Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 2005. Safin and Djokovics first meeting was actually at this event, in the 1st round before Safin eventually claimed the title. It wasn’t Novaks best performance, losing 6-0 6-2 6-1. Three years later, they met again, this time at Wimbledon. Safin won, again in straight sets, however this was a closer affair. With Safin retiring the next year, these two never played again, meaning that Djokovic will unfortunately always have a 0-2 record against the big Russian.
Current – Nick Kyrgios
Of all the players you want to beat, Nick Kyrgios is certainly high up on the list. Yet somehow the ‘bad boy’ of tennis, has managed to defeat Novak not once, but twice, with no reply. The first was in the quarter finals at Acapulco back in 2017, in a tightly contested straight sets win for the Australian. The next meeting was in the very next tournament, Indian Wells. This time in the 4th round, but was again another close straight sets victory for Kyrgios. During this period, it is one of the rare occasions in Djokovic’s career where you could say he was in a slump, but take nothing away from Kyrgios, as he certainly took advantage of the situation. They were set to play at the 2018 Laver Cup, but Europe secured the victory before they got the chance. Don’t worry though Novak, hopefully you’ll have a chance soon to even it up.
When you have been playing tennis over 21 year, 3 decades, and have played over 1500 singles matches, you will have played pretty much everyone on tour. When you then win over 1200 of those matches, make 157 finals and win 103 titles, it is simply legendary. The only player to best Federer in all those categories, Jimmy Connors. Sadly, those two never competed against each other, but there are some other who have chalked up winning records against the G.O.A.T.
Retired – Pat Rafter
If there is anyone that Roger Federer has nightmares about, it is most likely Pat Rafter. A former world number 1 and 2 time US Open winner, Pat Rafter had an accomplished career. One of his best achievements however, was that he has defeated Roger Federer in all 3 of their singles meetings. The first meeting was in the first round at the French Open in 1999. The Australian 3rd seed defeated Roger in 4 sets, having lost the first. This was actually Federer’s first ever Grand slam appearance. The second meeting was 2 years later the Miami Masters. This time in the Quarterfinals, Rafter, the 8th seed, defeated the Swiss again, who was the 24th seed, this time in straight sets. The final meeting was at Halle Open, again in the Quarterfinals, this time going the distance, with Rafter winning the final 2 sets both on tiebreaks. Now we did say Rafter beat Federer 3 times, however, they have actually played each other in doubles as well. At the 3rd round of Wimbledon in 1999, Quarterfinals of Halle in 2000, and the 2nd round of Indian Wells in 2001. All three matches, Rafter won, so in total its Rafter 6, Roger 0. To be honest though, compared to everything else he has achieved, Federer can probably live with that.
Current – Thanasi Kokkinakis & Andrey Rublev
We have gone for two names here, as quite impressively we might add, there is no one who is currently playing on the tour that has not lost to Federer and beaten him twice. Kokkinakis played Federer in the 2nd round of the Miami Open, having made it through the qualifying rounds previous. Federer was the defending champion at the time, and number 1 seed. The young Australian stunned Federer, having lost the first set, came out to win the next two and take the match, subsequently losing in the next round. With Kokkinakis ranked 200 in the world, and currently playing mainly ATP Challenger tours and ATP 250 events, it is highly unlikely they will ever play each other again. The second person, Andrey Rublev, played Federer at this years Cincinnati Masters. This was a 3rd Round match, with Federer the number 3 seed, and Rublev having to come through the qualifying rounds. What makes this straight sets victory more impressive, is firstly, Rublev was 21 at the time, 17 years younger than Federer, but also, he had to defeat 15th seed Basilashvili and Federer’s compatriot, Wawrinka, in the opening two rounds. After defeating Federer, Rublev played fellow countrymen Medvedev, who eventually went on to win the tournament. With Rublev now ranked 23rd in the world, there is a good possibility they will play each other again, the only question is, how much longer will Roger keep going?