Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are set for another big showdown. Such is their domination in men's tennis that they have hardly allowed a third player to win a Grand Slam. Between the two, they have claimed 12 of the 15 majors since Wimbledon 2003, Federer's first Grand Slam. That is somewhat misleading as Federer has won 10 of these titles.
The three others who won a Slam in this period are Andy Roddick of the US (US Open 2003), Argentina's Gaston Gaudio (French Open 2004) and Russian Marat Safin (Australian Open 2005).
Nadal and Federer have left only 20 per cent of the total Grand Slams for others. Now that one of them will win the French Open, the percentage is down to 16.66.
Let's compare this with the other modern eras (the 70s onwards), when two or three players ruled.
Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were the eminent players from 1974 to 1984.
Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Mats Wilander called the shots from 1985 till 1993, when the Pete Sampras era started. Becker and Edberg were around till the late Nineties, but they weren't dominant. An important part of the Sampras regime was Andre Agassi, and their phase continued till 2002, when Sampras won his 14th and last Grand Slam at the US Open.
Starting with the Borg-McEnroe-Connors period of 11 years, out of 44 Grand Slams, the trio claimed 26 (Borg 11, McEnroe 7, Connors 8); 18 Slams were won by others — or 41 per cent. Guillermo Vilas, Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah, Adriano Panatta, Manuel Orantes, John Newcombe, Roscoe Tanner, Vitas Gerulaitis, Brian Teacher, Mark Edmondson and Johan Kriek were the players who won majors in this period.
In the Lendl-Edberg-Becker-Wilander prime time, there were some other gifted players who did well. Pat Cash, Michael Chang, Andres Gomez, a young Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Stich and Agassi were the others who tasted Slam glory in this phase.
Out of 32 Grand Slam tournaments in this eight-year spell, 22 were won by either Lendl, Edberg, Becker or Wilander. That left ten for others — or 31 per cent.
Between 1993 to 2002, Sampras won 14 Grand Slams, Agassi claimed six. That is 20 out of 40. So 20 majors — 50 per cent — were up for grabs for others.
Clearly, the Federer-Nadal domination is much greater than that of their predecessors. Conversely, you could say that there isn't as much depth in men's tennis.
The law of averages must catch up with the two, but it won’t happen just now.