In a recent interview with Metro, Rafael Nadal explained how the Big 3 records are destined to be broken one day. "When Pete Sampras hit the frightening 14 Grand Slams, almost everyone thought that record would not be broken for decades and decades.
Contrary to expectations, in a relatively short period of time, there were three players (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) capable of winning more than 14 Majors," declared the 13-time Roland Garros champion.
"This shows what Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and I have been able to achieve over the past 15-20 years. It won't be easy to match our numbers. Everyone thought the same about Pete, so never take anything for granted.
Probably someone will come in the future who will do better than us," he added. Nadal, who left the stage prematurely in Monte Carlo last week, will immediately try to redeem himself in front of the Barcelona public. Then he will fly to Madrid and Rome for the two Masters 1000, with Roland Garros (postponed by a week) in the background.
The Big 3 made tennis history by monopolizing the men's circuit for a decade and a half. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are currently paired at 20 Grand Slams each, with the Spaniard intending to overtake in just over a month at Roland Garros.
Novak Djokovic is closely following them at 18 Majors, having won his ninth Australian Open last February. The world number 1 also broke the all-time record of weeks at the top of the ATP ranking, also facilitated by the new system introduced to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.
In the last two seasons, the gap between the three sacred monsters and the Next Gen has narrowed more and more, but the real handover is still slow in coming. Numerous insiders expected Daniil Medvedev to triumph in Melbourne, before the Russian suffered a real blow from Nole in the final.
Nadal: "Me, Federer and Djokovic always talk after a defeat"
Away from the Grand Slam tournaments, the generational change in men's tennis has already begun a few years ago. What happened in the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo is a further confirmation of this.
Novak Djokovic left the scene already in the second round at the hands of the revelation Daniel Evans, who took advantage of the bad day of the number 1 ATP from every point of view. The Belgrade champion himself admitted at a press conference that he had played one of the worst matches of his career on clay.
The next day Rafael Nadal, eleven times champion in the Principality, left the tournament, surrendering in three sets to a wild Andrey Rublev. The Spaniard also paid dearly for a return well below the sufficiency, especially in the serve and with the backhand.
However, some clarifications must be made: both Nole and Rafa were returning to the circuit after more than two months, as both had played their last tournament at the Australian Open. Speaking to reporters after the marathon with Rublev ended in the spotlight, the 34-year-old from Manacor pointed out how too much emphasis is placed in the face of the defeats of the Big 3 (Roger Federer, the same Rafa and Djokovic).
"Me, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have lost so little for so many years, that every time a stumbling block happens, it immediately becomes sensational news" - explained the 20-time Grand Slam champion, whose goal is to reach 100% in Paris.
We must never forget that in tennis there is only one player who wins every week, so everyone else loses," he added. Nadal commented clearly on his performance: "You can't expect to beat a top player like Rublev by serving so badly.
I don't even remember how many breaks I suffered, six or seven I think. When the first shot is a disaster, the whole game suffers. I think the backhand was also not up to par, it was often short and I couldn't open the field as I usually do."