Even as the continents that represent two of the most dominant forces of world football battle for supremacy, tennis continues to be an European preserve. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have accounted for 35 of the last 40 Grand Slam singles titles and Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro is the only non-European to win one in this period. Serena Williams is the lone woman carrying the US flag and to find the last American men’s Grand Slam champion, one has to go back to 2003, when Andre Agassi nailed French Open.
Tennis fans are fortunate that this shift of power from America to Europe has coincided with a battle for eternal greatness between Federer and Nadal. With 17 and 14 Grand Slam titles in their bag, they are first and joint second on the all-time list. The silken touch of the Swiss makes him different from the Spaniard’s power, yet they are similar when it comes to respecting the craft of each other. Djokovic keeps them on their toes, as his seven titles would confirm. Federer’s fantastic and futile bid to capture an eighth Wimbledon was a reminder that this race is not over. Nadal is a serious contender to overtake him, but he is keen to raise the bar and SW19 is the place where he can do it. Grass brings the best out of his majestic repertoire and the fact that he stretched the Serbian to five sets suggests that at a month shy of 33 and after 16 summers on the pro circuit, he still has the hunger that characterises legends.
Because of his endurance, this rivalry passes the test of time. Djokovic is the silent operator, who reminds them this is not a two-horse race. He might not finish among the all-time greats in terms of numbers, but could have easily won more had he not competed against the two giants. He deserves praise for making this a trilogy that has few parallels in the world of sport. His quest for the elusive French Open adds intrigue to the clash of titans.