The 8 Grand Slam finals since 2003 Wimbledon without one of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer
Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev have joined a unique list as the 2024 Australian Open final is only the eighth time since Wimbledon 2003 that a Grand Slam final will not feature one of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.
The 2003 Wimbledon final marked the first time that one of the Big Three won a major as Federer defeated Mark Philippoussis in the final at the All England Club.
Messrs Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have since dominated the majors as they have won 66 Grand Slams between them.
And even more incredible, they have featured in 74 of the 81 finals since Wimbledon 2003, although it will be 74 from 82 after Sunday’s showpiece between Sinner and Medvedev at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic featured in all four Grand Slam finals last year as he won three and finished runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon, but Sinner ended his latest streak with a four-set win in the semi-final of the Australian Open.
List of Grand Slam finals without the Big Three since Wimbledon 2003
2003 US Open – Andy Roddick v Juan Carlos Ferrero
Fresh from winning his maiden Grand Slam at Wimbledon, Federer was seeded second at Flushing Meadows but he lost in the fourth round against David Nalbandian.
Nadal, meanwhile, was still in the infancy of his career as he made his US Open main draw debut and lost in the second round.
Roddick won the match 6–3, 7–6 (7–2), 6–3 for his maiden Grand Slam and it turned out to be his only major as he more than others would find out just how difficult it was to crack the Big Three nut as he lost three Wimbledon finals against Federer.
2004 French Open final – Gaston Gaudio v Guillermo Coria
This was the last French Open not to feature the great Nadal for 18 years as he withdrew from the tournament due to injury. Nadal’s 18-year streak at Roland Garros came to an end in 2023 when he also missed the tournament due to injury.
Federer was the world No 1 and top seed, but he lost in the third round and it turned into an all-Argentine final with Gaudio defeating Coria 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6 for his one and only Grand Slam.
2005 Australian Open – Marat Safin v Lleyton Hewitt
This was the first Grand Slam to feature the Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic as the latter made his main draw debut at a major.
But top seed Federer was beaten in the semi-final by Marat Safin, Nadal lost in the fourth round against Hewitt while Safin also accounted for qualifier Djokovic’s exit in the first round.
Safin ended up breaking Australian hearts as he defeated local hero Hewitt 1–6, 6–3, 6–4, 6–4 in the final for the second of his two majors.
2014 US Open – Marin Cilic v Kei Nishikori
It would take almost another decade before there was another major final not to feature one of the Big Three.
Reigning champion Nadal missed the 2014 US Open due to injury, but Djokovic and Federer were at their peaks as they played in the Wimbledon final a few months earlier.
But Cilic and Nishikori caused some of the biggest upsets as the former stunned Federer in three sets in the semi-final while Japanese star Nishikori accounted for top seed Djokovic’s exit in four sets, also in the last four.
Cilic won the title with a 6–3, 6–3, 6–3 victory.
2016 Wimbledon – Andy Murray v Milos Raonic
Just under two years later there was another final without a member of the Big Three as Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title with a 6–4, 7–6 (7–3), 7–6 (7–2) win over first-time finalist Milos Raonic.
What happened to the Big Three?
Nadal once again missed the tournament due to injury, top seed and two-time defending champion Djokovic was stunned by Sam Querrey in the third round and Federer was beaten in five sets by Raonic in the semi-final.
2020 US Open – Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev
It would take another four and a bit years before there was another final that didn’t feature a Big Three member and this time there were some bizarre circumstances.
In case you forgot, the 2020 US Open was the second Grand Slam of the year as Wimbledon was cancelled and the French Open took place after the US Open due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nadal skipped the tournament due to Covid-19 while Federer was absent as he was recovering from knee surgery.
That left Djokovic as the only member of the Big Three in the main draw, but his tournament ended in peculiar fashion as he was disqualified in the fourth round after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball that he tried to return to a ball kid.
Second seed Thiem ended up winning the title as he defeated Zverev 2–6, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6 (8–6) in the final.
2022 US Open – Carlos Alcaraz v Casper Ruud
Two years after the Thiem-Zverev final, a Big Three player was again absent from the final and once again it was at the US Open (the fourth time on this list).
Federer was close to retirement, Djokovic missed the tournament due to US restrictions on unvaccinated foreign travellers while Nadal lost in the fourth round.
And it was left to the new generation to entertain the fans and rising star Carlos Alcaraz delivered as he won his maiden Grand Slam with a 6–4, 2–6, 7–6 (7–1), 6–3 victory over Casper Ruud.
2024 Australian Open – Jannik Sinner v Daniil Medvedev
With Federer retired and Nadal missing due to injury, Djokovic was the sole Big Three representative at the season-opening Grand Slam and he was upset in the semi-final by Sinner.
And Sinner went on to win his maiden major as he defeated Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.
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