“But the other day I saw some statistics: of the 34 most recent majors, there has been just one winner outside the rankings’ top four (Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open), the rest went to Federer, Djokovic, Murray or me,” Nadal said.
Jason Bernstein, senior director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, feels the ratings held up for the last Grand Slam of the year for tennis.
“Audiences were up across the board. We extended our reach to new people, and increased the minutes consumed. There were good stories that we told and covered, and the tournament had a good conclusion, with most of the top players still in it,” noted Bernstein.
But are tennis fans happy with the same four men claiming the major tournaments. And the winner pool has been getting smaller recently. Andy Murray is in the mix with his Wimbledon victory and last year’s U.S. Open, but is he really a consistent threat?
And sadly, Federer looks to be dropping after his worst year in which the Swiss champion failed to make of the Grand Slam finals and only has one title for the 2013.
Perhaps out of respect, Nadal is not counting Federer down and out just yet.
“I don’t think his main goal is to return to the world number one spot. That is my feeling,”Nadal noted. “His goal is to stay competitive to win tournaments that he really wants to win, more than being world number one,”
So tennis has almost become a two man show. Nadal, who won two of the four Grand Slams and unfortunate Djokovic who has made all four Grand Slam finals but won only the Australian Open.
There have always been rivalries in tennis from Borg and McEnroe to Sampras and Agassi. But those earlier match ups at least had the contrasting style of serve and volley against base liners.
Not so today where Nadal and Djokovic are putting on incredible physical displays of defense and endurance. After seeing them play each other so much, the matches, although very intense, do not show much variety.
But tennis is not suffering. Since 2000, reports indicate that tennis has grown at the local level by 11%, one of the biggest increases among traditional sports.The Tennis Industry Association has released a report placing tennis as a 5.5 billion dollar business.
Have the Big Four created a “Golden Age” of tennis? Yes, only time can answer that question, but in the meantime, enjoy the show.