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Roger Federer Novak Djokovic Rafa Nadal

Analysis: The ATP Finals records of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic


We analyse Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals, the end-of-season event, including their head-to-heads and the impact of the conditions.

 

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic first all competed at the ATP World Tour Finals in 2007. Twelve years on, it’s possible that the 2019 edition of the tournament will be the last one to feature all three of tennis’ greatest players.

The trio have played 16 matches and 32 sets against each other at the season-ending event. Between them, they have delivered 11 titles, and helped to transform the tournament from an end-of-season hit into one of the sport’s most prestigious titles.

We broke down their head-to-head numbers and analysed whether they have dominated the Tour Finals like they dominate grand slams.

atp-finals-graphic

HEAD TO HEAD

Federer, the oldest of the trio, had three attempts at winning the ATP Tour Finals (winning twice) before either Djokovic or Nadal were involved, so it is no surprise the Swiss has won it most often.

The 38-year-old has played this event 14 times overall, winning on six of those attempts (42.9 per cent).

Djokovic’s numbers are even better, winning the title on five of 11 attempts (45.5 percent).

All of those victories came when Federer was competing, though Nadal only featured in two of them.

Nadal, surprisingly, has not won the event in eight attempts, although he has never competed in one when either of the other two have been missing.

Federer has won three of the six Tour Finals that the trio have all played in, with Nikolay Davydenko winning the other in 2009.

Djokovic’s head-to-head record stacks up for individual matches as well.

The Serb leads Federer 4-2 in match-ups at this event, though one of those was the 2014 final when the Swiss pulled out beforehand because of injury.

Djokovic also beats Nadal on head-to-head, 3-2 in this instance, and has won both of their meetings since 2010.

Taking all of this into account, Djokovic should be considered the greatest of the three in the Tour Finals.

 

CONDITIONS

Djokovic also boasts a superior head-to-head record against both Federer and Nadal in hard-court majors, suggesting that suitability to the surface is the biggest deciding factor in winning the Tour Finals.

The Serb leads Federer 6-4 in head-to-heads at the US Open and Australian Open combined, and is beating Nadal 3-2 across the same events.

The impact of the Tour Finals being an indoor tournament is proved by Federer’s head-to-head record against Nadal, though.

The Swiss is renowned for his indoor record. The lack of wind ensures that conditions remain consistent, so hitting through the line of the ball and hand-eye co-ordination are attributes that flourish.

It explains why he is trailing 3-1 to Nadal in hard-court majors but beating him 4-1 in the Tour Finals.

It also seems that Nadal, who has also struggled with injuries most of the three, is the one most affected by the Tour Finals being an end-of-season event.

The Spaniard suffers from a disorder called Kohler’s feet – an irregularity in growth and development of the tarsal navicular bone in the foot – as well as suffering from chronic knee issues. He also underwent ankle surgery in November 2018.

At the end of a long season, those issues are exacerbated. That explains why he has only competed in eight Tour Finals – Federer has played in 14 and Djokovic in 11 – and not won any of them.

 

DOMINATION

The domination that Federer and Djokovic have enjoyed in this competition since 2003 is shown by comparing it to the 16 years beforehand.

In the period between 2003-2018, just seven players won the Tour finals, with David Nalbandian, Davydenko, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev winning one each.

Federer and Djokovic’s superiority was even more impressive after the 2015 edition, when they had won 11 of the last 13 available titles.

In the previous 16 years between 1987-2002, there were nine different champions. Pete Sampras won it five times, but defended it just once, while Boris Becker won three of them.

Four players won it in five years between 1998-2002, but it took another seven years for another four – Federer, David Nalbandian, Djokovic and Davydenko – to lift the title.

Data analysis courtesy of Betway Tennis

Look ahead to the rest of the tennis year with our guides to every tournament on the ATP Tour and WTA Tour. Can’t visit the tournaments you love? Read our guide on how to watch all the ATP Tour matches on TV. For more news, explore Tennishead magazine here or subscribe to our free email newsletter here


Roger Federer Novak Djokovic Rafa Nadal
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