Australian Open 2020: Most dominant grand-slam periods of 'Big Three' as Djokovic eyes fifth title in seven

By Sports Desk February 01, 2020

Novak Djokovic is aiming to win a fifth grand slam in seven at the Australian Open on Sunday.

The Serbian faces Dominic Thiem in the final in Melbourne looking to extend his record to eight titles in the tournament and repeat his 2019 triumph.

It is continuing another dominant period for the 16-time grand slam champion, a spell which began at Wimbledon in 2018.

But how does his recent run of success compare to his previous triumphs, as well as those enjoyed by his 'Big Three' rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?

Federer – 8 in 10, 2005-07

The Swiss great was almost unstoppable for a period beginning at Wimbledon in 2005. From 2003 at the All England Club to the 2010 Australian Open, Federer incredibly won 16 of 27 grand slams, with a couple of separate utterly stunning runs. From Wimbledon 2005 to the 2007 US Open, Federer won eight of the 10 majors and was beaten in the finals of the other two. Only Nadal at the French Open (2006 and 2007) could deny Federer, who enjoyed wins over Andy Roddick (twice), Andre Agassi, Marcos Baghdatis, Nadal (twice), Fernando Gonzalez and Djokovic in deciders during that period. Starting at Wimbledon 2004, Federer also won 10 of 14 majors, but he has just four grand slams since 2011.

Djokovic – 6 in 8, 2014-16

The Serbian star began to make the most of his opportunities, starting from midway through 2014. Heading into that tournament, Djokovic had made 13 grand slam finals but won just six. However, since the Wimbledon final six years ago, he has won 10 major deciders and lost just two. A thrilling five-set final against Federer started the run before he reclaimed his Australian Open title. Stan Wawrinka upset him in the decider in Paris before the beginning of the 'Nole Slam', Djokovic winning four straight majors to hold every grand slam trophy simultaneously. A shock third-round exit to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in 2016 ended a 30-match winning run at majors for Djokovic, who would have to wait until 2018 for his next grand slam title.

Nadal – 4 in 5, 2010-11

In an extraordinary career, Nadal has won just one Australian Open and two Wimbledon titles, impacting his runs. The Spaniard's best year in terms of major titles was 2010, when he claimed three before adding another at Roland Garros in 2011. Stunned by Robin Soderling in his first French Open loss in 2009, Nadal brushed the Swede aside in the final the following year, kick-starting a run of three straight major wins. Tomas Berdych and Djokovic were beaten in the Wimbledon and US Open deciders respectively, but his bid to hold all four at once was ended in the quarter-finals in Melbourne, where he suffered a hamstring injury and fell to David Ferrer. But, back in Paris, Nadal won a sixth French Open crown.

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  • UFC dream fights vol.4: Jon Jones v Stipe Miocic UFC dream fights vol.4: Jon Jones v Stipe Miocic

    Jon Jones' name will forever be mentioned among the pantheon of MMA greats but the chance to cement his legacy by beating heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is one that must be enticing.

    In a career that notes just one defeat, and even that has an asterisk next to it given it was a contentious disqualification loss to Matt Hamill back in December 2009, Jones has fair claims to call himself the greatest of all time.

    The UFC light heavyweight champion has defeated all before him in the division and many are now clamouring for him to step up in weight.

    That would present the intriguing possibility of a showdown with Miocic, a man who has forged his own reputation as a fearsome competitor in UFC.

    In the fourth edition of our UFC dream fights we would love to see series, we have profiled Jones and Miocic's records in the Octagon.


    WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE THIS FIGHT?

    Jones was not entirely convincing in his previous two title defences against Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes and rematches with either man, particularly the latter, should not be discounted.

    But in truth there is little else for 'Bones' to accomplish at light heavyweight and if the opportunity to fight for a second belt arises it is one he should grasp.

    Miocic, 37, has wins over the likes of Daniel Cormier, Francis Ngannou and Junior Dos Santos on his resume and would be a mouth-watering opponent for Jones.


    GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

    Where do you even start with Jones' achievements? He has simply dominated at light heavyweight and holds UFC records in the division for most title defences, most wins, longest win streak and most submission wins. There is little wonder Jones' name is at the top of most people's pound-for-pound greatest.

    Miocic is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, first winning the strap off Fabricio Werdum in May 2016 and defeating Cormier in a rematch for the belt last August. No other heavyweight has more consecutive title defences than Miocic's three.


    WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?

    Jones: 26-1-0

    Miocic: 19-3-0


    TALE OF THE TAPE

    Jones:

    Age: 32
    Height: 6'4" (193cm)
    Weight: 205lbs (93kg)
    Reach: 84"
    Leg Reach: 45"

    Miocic:

    Age: 37
    Height: 6'4" (193cm)
    Weight: 240lbs (109kg)
    Reach: 80"
    Leg Reach: 39"


    WHAT THEY'VE SAID ABOUT A POTENTIAL FIGHT

    Jones said in an interview with UFC in February: "If the UFC comes to me and offers me a big title fight against Stipe for big dollars, I'm obviously going to take that. I'm always getting thrown in with greatest fighters of all-time. I think the reason it's even an argument is because I haven't secured a second belt. Once I do that, it won't be much of an argument anymore."

    Miocic told FloCombat: "Listen, I'll fight anyone. If the UFC wants me to fight Jon, I'll fight him. I'm the baddest man on the planet for a reason. He can think what he wants, whatever. Listen, at the end of the day I am relevant."


    FIGHT STATS IN UFC

    Jones:

    - Jones has landed 1,463 of the 2,526 significant strikes he has attempted, giving him a success rate of 58 per cent.

    - The 32-year-old has attempted 95 takedowns, completing 44 per cent.

    - He has blocked a sensational 95 per cent of takedown attempts from his opponents, and guarded against 64 per cent of significant strikes.

    - Jones lands on average 4.3 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 2.22.

    Miocic:

    - Of the 1,621 significant strikes Miocic has attempted, 843 have landed (a 52 per cent success rate).

    - Miocic has defended 57 per cent of such strikes against him, and seen off 73 per cent of takedown attempts.

    - The majority of his strikes come from a standing position (576, 68 per cent).

    - In terms of grappling, Miocic has completed 25 of 66 takedowns.

  • Rennes star has time on his side – could Camavinga be Casemiro's deputy at Real Madrid? Rennes star has time on his side – could Camavinga be Casemiro's deputy at Real Madrid?

    With Real Madrid reportedly eyeing Eduardo Camavinga, could the Rennes midfielder prove a fine deputy to Casemiro?

    Camavinga, 17, is said to have attracted interest from Europe's biggest clubs, including Madrid.

    Marca reported on Sunday that the teenage midfielder was a preference for Madrid as coach Zinedine Zidane wants to avoid being too reliant on 28-year-old Casemiro.

    Camavinga would surely not be expected to match Casemiro immediately, but rather provide Zidane with a back-up option while learning from the 46-time Brazil international.

    Using Opta data, we take a look at how Camavinga and Casemiro compare in Ligue 1 and LaLiga respectively this season.

     

    Casemiro busy for busier Madrid

    Casemiro and Camavinga have each made 25 league appearances this season, although the former has played 108 more minutes.

    Yet, while Camavinga narrowly edges Casemiro for passing accuracy (87.7 to 83.8), including more notably in the opposition half (83.3 to 78.8), the Madridista has played 1,521 passes to the Angola-born midfielder's 975. That includes making 379 into the final third, compared to Camavinga's 141. Those numbers must also be put into perspective with Madrid averaging 58.2 per cent possession in LaLiga this season, while third-placed Rennes have averaged 49.7 per cent in Ligue 1.

    More to come from Camavinga in attack

    Goals from midfield are a bonus and Casemiro has struck three times in the league for Real Madrid this season, while Camavinga has netted once for a less prolific Rennes. Casemiro has also taken more shots (26 to 10) and had more 'big chances' (four to one), while creating two to Camavinga's one. Both players have provided two assists in the league this season.

    Plenty for Rennes' teenage star to learn

    Casemiro is widely regarded as one of the world's best midfielders, and Camavinga could learn plenty from the Brazilian. Casemiro has 218 recoveries in the league this season to Camavinga's 147, but Rennes man has a slight edge in duel success (57.5 to 55.7). Camavinga has won more tackles (64 to 55), Casemiro has a better success rate (66.3 to 61) and more interceptions (53 to 44), while neither has made an error leading to a shot this season. At 17, Camavinga is supremely talented, and he could thrive given the chance to develop alongside Casemiro.

  • No group stages, EFL Cup or Nations League? Suggestions for a post-coronavirus football 'reform' No group stages, EFL Cup or Nations League? Suggestions for a post-coronavirus football 'reform'

    Football will eventually return following the coronavirus pandemic, but it could look a little different.

    The sport's leading competitions have been suspended amid the global crisis, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino this week suggested the pause represented an opportunity to "reform football".

    "Perhaps we can reform football by taking a step backwards," Infantino told Gazzetta dello Sport. "[There would be] fewer but more interesting competitions, maybe fewer teams but for a better balance, fewer but more competitive matches to preserve players' health."

    But what could post-coronavirus football look like? What must remain? What should disappear?

    Five Stats Perform writers have put forward their suggestions for how the sport can move forward.


    NO MORE GROUP STAGES - Ben Spratt

    Those seemingly most frustrated by football's packed schedule are the coaches of leading European clubs. Therefore, there is a simple way to lose four games a season.

    The most exciting Champions League and Europa League matches - with greater scope for shocks - tend to occur in the knockout stages anyway, so why not play two tense legs instead of six pool fixtures to advance?

    A return to the format used in the European Cup and UEFA Cup might mean renaming the continental 'Leagues', but it is a price worth paying. Just keep the Champions League anthem!


    DITCH FA CUP REPLAYS - Chris Myson

    Even before the coronavirus pandemic caused a host of postponements and cancellations, fixture schedules were a particularly significant issue in England.

    The FA Cup initially got rid of replays from the quarter-finals onwards and has since extended that to the fifth round. But now they should go all the way.

    This would impact the one or two lower-league clubs each year who earn a dream replay against a top team in round three or four, but the competition has lost some of its lustre with big teams often resting their star names in the early rounds anyway.

    Often the additional fixture is an inconvenience, while a one-off tie increases the drama and actually boosts the chance of a lower-tier club achieving an upset.


    GET RID OF THE EFL CUP - Peter Hanson

    Another sure-fire way to ease pressure on the calendar in England is to ditch the EFL Cup.

    French football is ending the Coupe de la Ligue after this season, meaning English football will be the only one of the top-five European nations to have a second domestic cup competition.

    With early rounds dominated by second-string XIs and fringe players, and the 'bigger' clubs largely utilising the cup as a means to give minutes to expensive benches, there is little clamour for the continuation of the EFL Cup.


    AXE THE NATIONS LEAGUE - Liam Blackburn

    If we're looking to cut back, how about axing the newest competition, the one that has no history and remains a mystery to your Average Joe?

    The thought process behind UEFA's Nations League – to have more relevant fixtures and allow countries to play those they are more closely aligned with in the rankings – is commendable, yet it was undermined by the eventual absence of relegation from the inaugural edition.

    The format and its relationship with qualifying for the Euros continues to be something of a Rubik's Cube unless you're a rocket scientist.

    If something needs to go, can the convoluted.


    CUT THE CLUB WORLD CUP - Patric Ridge

    Infantino's calls to trim a bloated calendar are sensible, but actions speak louder than words. Perhaps proof of his desire for "reform" would come with an early end to an expanded Club World Cup.

    Although the new 24-team format would see the finals held every four years in lieu of the Confederation Cup, it still seems an unnecessary hindrance.

    The competition has been won by the Champions League holders on all but four occasions since its 2000 inception and provides little in the way of entertainment. 

    Given the first new-look Club World Cup was due to take place in 2021 and now the Euros, Copa America and Olympics have each been pushed back to next year, Infantino has the opportunity to disregard this particular folly once and for all.

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