Rafa Nadal recently won his 16th Men’s Singles Grand Slam Title when he beat South African Kevin Anderson in the Final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows. By any standards this is an incredible achievement. Nadal becomes the 2nd most successful player in the history of the game and ranks behind only Roger Federer in terms of the number of Grand Slam titles won.
Between them, Nadal and Federer have now amassed 35 Grand Slams. This is made all the more remarkable given that they played in the same era and are still active. And that is not all. Joint 4th on the list is Novak Djokovic with 12 Grand Slams.
A quick look at the data shows just how unique a period of tennis this is. Taking the year of Federer’s first Grand Slam win in 2003 as a starting point, the trio have won 47 major titles in total. This is almost 80% of all those on offer during that time. That concentration of wins to majors is quite remarkable. At no other point in the Open Era or before, have all 4 majors been dominated by the same three players.
Even the great trio of Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe can’t compare to the current crop. Using Borg’s first win in 1974 as the starting point, and extending forward the same number of years as above (to 1988), this trio won a combined 26 Grand Slams. That is less than half of all on offer. During the 15-year period there were 19 major champions.
Since Federer’s first win at Wimbledon there have been just seven champions other side of Nadal and Djokovic. Only two, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, have been multiple champions. In fact, both are probably unlucky that they are playing in this era and have to compete against three of the greatest players of all time. In total, the 5 have won almost 90% of all Majors since 2003!
In 2006, Federer and Nadal shared all four majors. They did the same in 2007, 2010, and again this year. What remarkable players they are. There is nothing to suggest that 2018 won’t be the same.
Further reading in this area can be found here. The link provides access to a 2009 Journal of Sports Economics paper by Julio del Corral called "Competitive Balance and Match Uncertainty in Grand-Slam Tennis - Effects of Seeding System, Gender, and Court Surface".