Serena, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic Have Done Us a Disservice

OK, the headline is a bit clickbaity. The point is, those four players have made winning Slams look too easy. As a result, tennis fans and journalists have lost proper perspective.

Twenty Slams for Federer. The record before he broke it was 14. So Federer has 43 percent more Slams than the previous record-holder, Pete Sampras. From Wimbledon 2003 through the 2007 U.S. Open, Federer won 12 of the 18 Slams played. Serena won 11 Slams from 2012 to 2016. That’s more than two per year over five years. Djokovic won four in a row. Nadal has won one of the Slams 10 freaking times.

Those numbers and those players are not normal. They are historical anomalies. But those four have taken so much of the hardware over the past 15 years that if you’ve only been watching tennis for 15 years you would reasonably think that’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s not.

In the old days, way back in the 20th Century, Jim Courier was a big deal for winning four Slams in two years. Agassi, Becker and Edberg were considered all-time greats for winning eight, six and six Slams respectively. Six Slams is an awesome career. But it has somehow been downgraded to be merely the distance between Federer and Sampras, who had previously been considered the greatest male player ever.

So when Serena drops out of the French because of injury, and Djokovic loses to a scrub in the quarters, we really shouldn’t be that surprised. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Not every Slam, but yeah, a couple times a year even the greatest ever are supposed to succumb to injury or journeymen. That’s what’s normal. Slams are hard to win. You can’t just roll out of bed and lift the trophy — even if those four make it look that way.

We’re only shocked when these players don’t win because they have spoiled us with their abnormal greatness.   

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