Excellence : The best male quartet of all-time?
A week of great tennis and the Indian Wells 2016 tournament duly wrapped up. Major storylines - Andy Murray knocked out early, Rafa Nadal’s fight, Alexander Zverev’s promising performance, the triumph of Victoria Azarenka and the anticipated glory of Novak Djokovic. All have been reported in great detail.
In yet another nostalgic spell - I miss the days of the Big Four - I will capture yet another interesting theme in 2011, from the US Open again.
The top four male players in the draw “Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray” were at it again - in the semi-finals of a major championship at the 2011 US Open. This power quartet had made it to the semi-finals earlier that year at the French Open which begs the question.
This was not only the first time at the US Open since 1992, but also only the second time in the Open era history that the same top four seeds repeated this feat in the same year.
The last, and the only other, time the top seeds made it that far in a Grand Slam tournament twice in the same year was in 1985, according to Phil Ploquin, who runs the sports statistics website Scoreshelf.com. John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Mats Wilander were the dominant force then, and in 2011, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray rightfully staked out their place in history.
Also per Scoreshelf.com, the US Open specifically had the top players in the semi-finals only three other times in the Open era history. Last in 1992 when Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang achieved this distinction.
It was a joint feather in the Big Four’s cap and a sign of exciting tennis times for us fans — with some excellent, consistent performance by the champions at the top of their game. Notwithstanding the individual accomplishments of these stalwarts, I hope Novak, Rafa, Roger and Andy took a moment to acknowledge their shared glory. The Big 4 peaked in 2012, with each Grand Slam won by each of the foursome.
Circling back to my headline query — I personally consider the prior quartets, the legends now, superior. I base this on the fact that Murray was a distant fourth behind the top trio. I would love to hear your thoughts..