Masters Of The Masters: 'Big Four' Riding Wave Of Dominance

Story courtesy ATPWorldTour.com

Nine tournaments, nine opportunities to test your talents at the highest level. There is no stronger barometer for success than the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. Tournaments that span the globe in the most scenic, world-class locales, they provide the ultimate challenge with significant Emirates ATP Rankings points at stake. This week, the first of the year is set to get underway at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

To be the best, you have to perform at the most elite events. For more than a decade, the quartet of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have done exactly that. The Big Four have tossed aside any notion of parity at the Masters 1000 level in recent years, maintaining a stunning stranglehold.

“A lot of the top guys have been in the latter stages of the Masters 1000s and often to win them, you have to defeat a couple of them which is not easy,” Murray said in Cincinnati last year. “It just goes to show the consistency of the top players over the last 10 years or so has been phenomenal.”

The Masters monopoly Murray spoke of has been nothing short of astounding. Since March 2008, the quartet has claimed 88 per cent (71 of 81) of titles, including 54 of the past 59 crowns. Their prolific run of sustained dominance at the highest level is jaw-dropping. Only Marin Cilic (Cincinnati 2016), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Toronto 2014), Stan Wawrinka (Monte-Carlo 2014), David Ferrer (Paris 2012) and Robin Soderling (Paris 2010) have crashed the party since April 2010. In fact, on clay, the Big Four have won 29 of 30 Masters 1000 events dating back more than a decade, with Wawrinka’s victory at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters the lone exception.

With the majority held over the course of just one week, Masters 1000 tournaments are grueling sprints that often feature multiple battles between Top 10 players. And with a best-of-three set format, anyone can catch fire on any given day and spring an upset, which further adds to the intrigue of the Big Four’s dominance.

Big Four's Masters 1000 Dominance

Player Titles Most Successful Event
Missing Trophies
Novak Djokovic
30 Miami (6 titles)
Cincinnati
Rafael Nadal
28 Monte-Carlo (9)
Miami, Shanghai, Paris
Roger Federer
24 Cincinnati (7)
Monte-Carlo, Rome
Andy Murray
14
Canada, Shanghai (3)
Indian Wells, Monte-Carlo

Djokovic has been at his very best here, amassing a record 30 titles since lifting his first trophy in Miami in 2007. Nadal sits in second place with 28 victories, while Federer resides in third with 24. Murray, meanwhile, is just three behind Andre Agassi with 14 crowns. To put this into further perspective, Agassi (17) and Pete Sampras (11) are the only players aside from the Big Four to win double-digit Masters 1000 titles.

"You value Grand Slams, but on the other hand, I've loved playing in Masters tournaments throughout my career," said Djokovic after winning in Toronto last year. "I have had plenty of success in this particular category of events and I'm very grateful for that because I always value them as much as I value Grand Slams."

Djokovic, Federer and Nadal own the longest win streaks in Masters 1000 history, with the Serbian having won 31 straight matches in 2011 and again accruing a streak of 30 in a row in 2014-15. Federer won 29 successive matches from 2005-06, with Nadal stringing together 23 straight in 2013. Moreover, Nadal is the only player to win a title in 10 straight seasons, having seized trophies in each campaign from 2005-14.

The world’s best will descend on Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open, with qualifying set to get underway on Tuesday and main draw action commencing on Thursday and running through the final on 19 March. World No. 1 Murray is seeking his first title in the California desert, while No. 2 Djokovic is eyeing a record sixth. Murray is bidding to extend his win streak at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level, having prevailed in Shanghai and Paris towards the end of the 2016 season. Including his title at the ATP Finals, the Scot is riding an impressive run of form in elite ATP World Tour events. In addition to Djokovic, other former champions in the field are Federer (2004-06, '12) and Nadal (2007, '09, '13).