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Posts Tagged ‘Grand slam titles’

Rafael Nadal stands on the verge of making tennis history should he win the men’s final of the Australian Open tomorrow (26th of January). Not only will victory give him his 14th Majors title, but also he will become the first player in the Open era to have won each one of the Majors at least twice. As of now, Nadal has won the French Open 8 times, Wimbledon 2 times, the US Open 2 times and the Australian Open once.



By beating Federer to reach the Australian Open final, Nadal could become the first man in the Open era to win at least 2 of each of the 4 tennis Majors.

By beating Federer to reach the Australian Open final, Nadal could become the first man in the Open era to win at least 2 of each of the 4 tennis Majors.



There are two other players who have won at least 2 of the 4 tennis Majors, namely Roy Emerson and Rod Laver. But neither of them achieved this during the open era. When Emerson won most of his titles in the 1960s the majority of his major rivals (including Laver) were not competing as they had turned professional and were therefore barred from playing in the 4 Majors. Rod Laver won the Grand Slam (all 4 Majors in the same year) in 1961 and 1969, as well as some Majors in other years. But many of these titles were won before tennis went open.

As a big Federer fan I have often been reluctant to admit what an exceptional player Nadal is. When Nadal and Federer play each other I always want Federer to win. But should Nadal win in Australia tomorrow it will make him one of the truly great tennis players of all time.

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With the men’s and women’s finals of Wimbledon coming up this weekend, I thought I would share this interesting chart that I came across recently in “The Economist” magazine. It shows the number of Grand Slam (major) titles won by different players since tennis became “open” in 1968. It also breaks it down into which of the four majors each player has won.


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If we look at the top five grand slam winnners in both the men’s and women’s games in more detail it is interesting to see some of the differences between the men’s and women’s all-time best. Note: I have re-ordered the table so that it is in the order the tournaments are played during the year, with the Australian Open (January), followed by the French Open (June), then Wimbledon (July) and finally the US Open (September). I have also worked out the percentage of each player’s total wins in each tournament (rounded to the nearest percent).

The top five men’s grand slam winners


The top five men’s grand slam winners
Name Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open Total
Roger Federer 4 (24%) 1 (6%) 7 (41%) 5 (29%) 17
Pete Sampras 2 (14%) 0 (0%) 7 (50%) 5 (36%) 14
Rafael Nadal 1 (8%) 8 (67%) 2 (17%) 1 (8%) 12
Björn Borg 0 (0%) 6 (55%) 5 (45%) 0 (0%) 11
Jimmy Connors 1 (13%) 0 (0%) 2 (25%) 5 (63%) 8


The top five women’s grand slam winners


The top five women’s grand slam winners
Name Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open Total
Steffi Graf 4 (18%) 6 (27%) 7 (32%) 5 (23%) 22
Chris Evert 2 (11%) 7 (39%) 3 (17%) 6 (33%) 18
Martina Navratilova 3 (17%) 2 (11%) 9 (50%) 4 (22%) 18
Serena Williams 5 (31%) 2 (13%) 5 (31%) 4 (25%) 16
Margaret Court 4 (36%) 3 (27%) 1 (9%) 3 (27%) 11


What strikes me most about these two lists is that in the women’s game, all of the top five have won each of the major tournaments at least once. Apart from Margaret Court in fifth place, the top four women have actually won each of the majors at least twice. In the men’s game only two of the top five have won all four majors, namely Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and each of them has only won their “weakest” major once. In fact, since tennis became open in 1968 only four men have won all the majors. The third man is Andre Agassi (who won 8 majors in total). The fourth is Rod Laver, who is the only man to have also completed the “Grand Slam” of holding all four titles in the same calendar year (1969).

These differences are best illustrated with pie charts, as they are normalised to the number of majors won by each player (unlike the bar charts above). When the data are displayed like this it becomes more obvious how much more spread amongst the four majors some players are compared to others.


Pie charts for the top 5 men.

Pie charts for the top 5 men.



Pie charts for the top 5 women.

Pie charts for the top 5 women.


Remarkably, Björn Borg’s 11 titles came from dominating two majors; he is the only top five man or woman with this kind of profile. He won 5 successive Wimbledon titles and 6 successive French Open titles, but he never won either of the other two majors. He never even got close in the Australian Open, the furthest he got in this tournament was the 3rd round, which he accomplished on one occasion. He did, however, get to the final of the US Open on four occasions, but was defeated in the final each time.

Similarly Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras never managed to triumph at the French Open. Neither ever got to the final of the French Open. Sampras got to the semi-final on one occasion, and Connors got to the semi-final on four occasions.

The other thing which strikes me about these two tables is that Steffi Graf, with her 22 major titles, also shows the most even number of victories on the different surfaces. Her seven Wimbledon wins is nearly equalled by her six French Open wins, on the two surfaces which are most different. Nearly all the other names in the men’s and women’s list show a domination in one major or another, with Rafael Nadal’s eight French Open titles being the most extreme example.

The 2013 Wimbledon has certainly been a tournament of upsets. Nadal went out in the first round, and Federer in the second. On the women’s side, Sharapova went out in the second round and Serena got as far as the fourth round. With last year’s winners of both the men’s and women’s titles (Roger Federer and Serena Williams) both being eliminated, all we can say with certainlty is that the 2013 winners will not be the 2012 winners!

Today’s women’s final will be between Marion Bartoli of France and Sabine Lisicki of Germany, and so we will definitely have a new name on the Venus Rosewater Dish. Tomorrow’s men’s final will be between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Andy Murray of Scotland.

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