Pete Sampras won his first Grand Slam at the 1990 US Open and eventually broke a long standing record for the most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis in 2000. Sampras added one more slam in 2002 to set his total at 14. Roger Federer broke Pete Sampras’ record in 2009 and tallied an additional major in 2010 and again in 2012 to currently place the all-time men’s record at 17 Grand Slam titles. Rafael Nadal just won his 13th major and amazingly Roger Federer’s record of 17 majors may be surpassed in the near future.
Bjorn Borg’s 11 Open Era majors led the pack of Open Era players until Sampras won his 11th major at Wimbledon 1998 and his 12th major at Wimbledon 1999. Sampras, Federer and Nadal have combined to win 44 of the previous 96 Grand Slam titles. Here is a numeric look at Sampras, Federer and Nadal’s strong showings at the Australian Open. Each of the next 3 installments will do the same for the remaining majors.
Australian Open Numbers
Champion: 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010
Semifinalist: 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013
Champion: 1994, 1997
Semifinalist: 1993, 2000
Quarterfinalist: 2007, 2010, 2011
These men have combined to win 7 Australian Open titles out of the previous 20 Australian Open tournaments. Winning 35% of the titles over a two decade period of time is not shabby. They have also combined for 3 runner-up finishes, 8 semifinal finishes, and 4 quarterfinal finishes. None of these three prolific champions would view the Australian Open as the event they owned, but none of them ignored the event either.
Bjorn Borg won 11 majors and never played the Australian Open. Different eras have different sensibilities, but Agassi, who played in the same era as Sampras, owned the Australian Open for several years but skipped the event from 1988-1994. Agassi could have been a factor, if not a contender, during his 7 years of skipping the Australian Open. Nadal missed the Australian Open in 2006 and 2013 with injuries. Sampras missed the 1991 and 1992 Australian Opens due to injuries and skipped the 1999 event due to feeling burnt out. Other than that, these three champions put themselves into positions to contend for this title quite frequently. It is astounding that the Australian Open is likely Federer’s 3rd best major even with Roger posting a 69-6 record over the past 10 years and reaching the semifinal round or better for 10 consecutive years.