This stat about tennis dominance of Federer, Nadal, etc. is the most amazing in sports
There are all sorts of mind-boggling stat about the Big Three in men's tennis (or Big Four if you want to count Andy Murray, who has two Olympic gold medals and a No. 1 ranking, but also has the same amount of Grand Slam titles as Stan Wawrinka). You have the fact that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic won 18 straight Slams and 28 of 29 from 2005-2012. And how when you throw in Murray to the mix it extends to 36 of 38. In the second-tier of men's events – the Masters, which has a field that's as good at the top as any Slam – the foursome won 76 of 90 tournaments over the past 10 years and faced off in 40 finals. It's been dominant stretch of tennis from players all pushing 30 (or older). But while the Grand Slam dominance is at least understandable, the Masters 1000 events, contested nine times per year, figured to have a smattering of random winners. They're played best-of-three. The top players are in a constant state of exhaustion from playing deep into tournaments every week. Surely some young kids break through to get a huge victory, right? NOPE!
No Grand Slam, Masters 1000 or Olympic tournament has ever been won by somebody born after Jan. 1, 1989.
That's insane. Not like – “oh wow, that's something I wouldn't have thought” or “huh, interesting stat!” – but actually unbelievable. Now that the 2016 season is over, we're looking at no 27-year-old (or younger) player who's had any win of consequence on the ATP.
Bryce Harper has an MVP at 24. Mike Trout has two at 25. Anthony Davis was born in 1993, Kyrie Irving in 1992 and James Harden in 1989. Katie Ledecky is the best athlete in the world and hasn't even hit her 20s. And those athletes, with the exception of Ledecky, are excelling in games where one's prime goes from about 27 to 31. Tennis is a sport that used to see teenagers winning Slams and world No. 1s barely into their 20s.
Up until 20 years ago, age 27 was way on the other side of the hill for anyone seeking Grand Slam titles. McEnroe won his last Slam at 25. Borg retired at 25. This is good news for Big Four, who theoretically can keep on winning due to the lost generation and for the players 21 and under who will soon benefit from the same.
None born after 1989. When it was 2013 and players under 24 hadn't won, it was one of many signs that men's tennis has become an older man's game. In 2014, it showed that the younger generation was taking longer to development. In 2015, it spoke to the overall dominance of the Big Four and how the players they've faced in the juniors and pros for the past 15 years have clearly benefitted from the competition. In 2016, it's just cray.
The youngest player to win a Slam is Marin Cilic, who was born on Sept. 28, 1988, five days after Juan Martin Del Potro. Cilic is also the (current) youngest to win a Masters event. But Del Potro was 20 when he won his lone Slam at the 2009 U.S. Open, which was older than Nadal at his first major win (had just turned 19) and Djokovic (who was a few months younger than Del Potro).
Thus it becomes a chicken and egg question: Have middle-aged pros failed to win because the Big Four is so good or is the Big Four so consistent because the middle-aged pros are unable to string together five, six or seven victories?