By winning the Australian Open for a third consecutive time, Novak Djokovic put himself on a very prestigious list of men’s tennis players who won at a Grand Slam competition at least three time, previously inhabited by Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl.
Rafael Nadal, 3&4 Consecutive French Opens
Rafael Nadal is a a seven time champion at the Roland Garros, but he had a mini-break, forced upon him by his first and only loss to the date at the tournament, losing to Robin Soderling in the 4th round of the 2009 tournament.
Nadal won his first in 2005, beating the forgotten Mariano Puerta in the final. In 2006 it was Roger Federer beaten by Nadal, despite taking the first set 6-1. In 2007 it was once again Federer, losing in four sets. In 2008 Nadal needed only three sets, including a 6-0 third, to claim the title for the fourth consecutive time.
In 2010, it was the year of Nadal, winning the title for a fifth time, one of this three Grand Slam titles that year. He came in as the second seed and beat Robin Soderling in straight sets to begin a new streak. In 2011 it was Roger Federer for the fourth time waiting for him on the final match, with Nadal victorious again. In 2012 it was Novak Djokovic who lost in the final.
Pete Sampras – 3&4 titles at Wimbledon
There wasn’t a place on earth that felt more comfortable for Pete Sampras quite like the grass at the All-England’s club. Sampras won the title there 7 times, with his string of titles interrupted in 1996, losing in the quarterfinals to Richard Krajicek, the eventual winner.
Sampras was already a Grand Slam champion when he won his first title at Wimbledon, claiming the 1990 US Open. He began his streak on grass in 1993 coming in as the number one seed and beating Jim Courier in the final. His streak continued with a three set win over Goran Ivanisevic, and stopped at three with a memorable match against Boris Becker.
In 1997 he began a four-titles streak at the Championships; He crushed Cedric Pioline, a stunning finalists in three sets. In 1998 it was Goran Ivanesivic once again, pulling Sampras to a five set match, as Sampras equaled Bjorn Borg’s five Wimbledon championships. In 1999 he beat Andre Agassi in what is probably the most memorable of his victories. His last triumph at Wimbledon came in 2000, beating Patrick Rafter in four sets.
Ivan Lendl – 3 Consecutive US Open Titles
A player with 8 Grand Slam titles that is probably a tad underrated when it comes to the history books because he never won Wimbledon, losing in two finals. He won three times at the Roland Garros, but not in a row like he did in Queens.
Lendl won his first US Open in 1985, beating the number one seed, John McEnroe, in straight sets. In 1986 it was forgotten Miloslav Mečíř that lost to him in the short final. A year later Lendl beat his greatest rival, Mats Wilander, in four sets.
Bjorn Borg – 4 in a row at the French, 5 in a row at Wimbledon
Borg won a total of 11 Grand Slam titles, holding the record for most major titles until Pete Sampras came along, later pushed down by Roger Federer and possibly soon by Rafael Nadal.
He won six times in Paris, the last four of them consecutively In 1978 Borg had no problem beating Guillermo Villas in the final. A year later, it was the shocking appearance of Victor Pecci Sr. that didn’t give Borg too much problems in the final. Borg’s first Grand Slam title of the new decade came against American Vitas Gerulaitis, and his final French Open title, in 1981, came after beating a young Ivan Lendl in a grueling five set final.
Wimbledon – Borg won all his grass titles consecutively. His first came in 1976, coming in as the 4th seed to beat the Ilie Năstase in the final. A year later Borg beat Jimmy Connors in a classic five set final. In 1978 it was Connors again, this time in three sets. 1979 – another American, Roscoe Tanner, carrying the game to five sets. His final London triumph came in 1980, beating John McEnroe in five sets, which included one of the most famous tiebreaks in tennis history; one which McEnroe took 18-16.
Roger Federer – 5 times Wimbledon, 5 times US Open
The only player with five consecutive titles in two different Grand Slam tournaments, Roger Federer also has more major titles than any other tennis player in the Open Era with 17.
He won Wimbledon seven times, including five in a row between 2003 and 2007. He was the fourth seed in that tournament, beating Mark Philippoussis in the final. The next one came against Andy Roddick, who managed to take the first set. In 2005 it was Andy Roddick again, putting up less of a fight. In 2006 it was Rafael Nadal who made his first final in London. A year later it was Nadal again, taking Federer to five sets before losing the match.
Federer had his streak at the US Open between 2004 and 2008, not winning the tournament since. He was already the world’s number one going into the 2004 tournament, destroying Lleyton Hewitt in the final, including two bagels in a three-set match. Andre Agassi reached the final in 2005, losing to Federer in four sets. Andy Roddick managed to take a set from Federer a year later in another final between the two players. In 2007 it was Novak Djokovic making himself known for the first time, losing in three sets. In 2008 it was Andy Murray in the final, losing in three sets.