An astonishing streak for the ‘Big Three’ of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer was prolonged at the 2023 ATP Finals on Thursday.
Novak Djokovic defeated alternate Hubert Hurkacz, in place of Stefanos Tsitsipas, in his final round-robin match at the ATP Finals on Thursday afternoon.
Jannik Sinner then triumphed over Holger Rune in and finished the group phase with a perfect 3-0 record, clinching their progression to the semi-final stage.
Djokovic’s entry to the knockout stage extended the remarkable record of at least one of the ‘Big Three’ reaching the last four at the ATP Finals every year since 2002.
The streak also stands when considering just Djokovic and Federer, with all of Nadal’s semi-final appearances alongside at least one of his two great rivals.
Federer originated the stretch by making the last four for the first time at the year-end championships in 2002, where he succumbed to Lleyton Hewitt at that stage.
The great Swiss then won the ATP Finals in 2003 and 2004, defeating Andre Agassi and Leyton Hewitt in the respective title matches before falling in the final to David Nalbandian in 2005.
In 2006, Federer triumphed over Nadal in the semi-finals in the Spaniard’s inaugural event, then vanquished James Blake in the final. The following year, he overcame Nadal at the same stage and defeated David Ferrer to secure his fourth ATP Finals crown.
Djokovic was the only member of the ‘Big Three’ to reach the semi-finals in 2008 and secured his first title at the year-end championships with a final victory over Nikolay Davydenko.
— OptaAce (@OptaAce) November 16, 2023
In 2009, Federer was defeated by eventual winner Davydenko in the last four, with Nadal and Djokovic both eliminated in the group stage.
The iconic trio all advanced to the semi-finals together for the first time in 2010, with Federer prevailing over Djokovic and Nadal in the final.
With Djokovic and Nadal both exiting at the round-robin phase in 2011, Federer secured his sixth and final title at the ATP Finals with a triumph over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
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Djokovic won four straight titles between 2012-2015, defeating Federer in the 2012 and 2015 finals, earning a walkover when the Swiss withdrew in 2014, and beating Nadal in 2013. In all four of these years, Federer advanced past the group stage, while Nadal did in 2013 and 2015.
The Serbian was the only representative of the ‘Big 3’ at the 2016 ATP Finals, where he succumbed to Andy Murray in the final, then Federer was the sole semi-finalist in 2017, losing to David Goffin.
Djokovic was a runner-up again in 2018, when he lost to Alexander Zverev, who had also downed Federer in the last four. Only Federer made it past the round-robin stage in 2019, before losing in the semi-finals for the third straight year in his last ATP Finals appearance – this time to eventual champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.
In 2020, both Nadal and Djokovic were beaten semi-finalists, as they lost to Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, respectively.
Djokovic fell in the last four again in 2021, losing to eventual winner Zverev, before he overcame Casper Ruud to capture a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title in 2022, matching Federer.
The 36-year-old Serbian will learn his semi-final opponent in the 2023 ATP Finals after the conclusion of the Red Group on Friday, with Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz as potential opponents.
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