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Big three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battle for supremacy at Wimbledon

For the triumvirate at the apex of the men’s game, there is more on the line this week than just the Wimbledon title.

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The All England Club is only the latest battleground in the tussle to decide who will be considered the greatest player of all time.

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are likely to stroll through Wednesday’s quarter-finals in a tournament which has so far seen them assert their crushing dominance over the men’s game once again.

Whichever one of them lifts the title on Sunday — and it surely will be one of them — it will feel like a significant blow in the race to top the mountain of Grand Slam titles. Federer currently is on 20, Nadal 18 and Djokovic 15.

The No 1 seed, Djokovic, sits comfortably on the opposite side of the draw to his two rivals. The 32-year-old’s opponent today is Belgian 21st seed David Goffin, a wonderful ball-striker but one who lacks the weapons to pierce the Serb’s defences.

Goffin won their last meeting, in Monte Carlo in 2017, but Djokovic took the five matches before that.

Federer also lost his previous match against Wednesday’s opponent, Kei Nishikori. But that was in the unpredictable round-robin format of the World Tour Finals and the 37-year-old Swiss leads their series 7-3 overall.

Wednesday afternoon’s most likely threat to the Big Three comes in the sturdy shape of world No 65 Sam Querrey.

The big-serving Californian has previously claimed the scalps of Andy Murray and Djokovic at the All England Club and if he can serve out of his skin, it is just possible he could add Nadal to that list.

But the Spaniard, helped by the unusually slow grass courts this year, is playing as well as he ever has at Wimbledon.

Nadal has dropped only one set this fortnight but cannot afford to be dragged into a long match against Querrey.

The 33-year-old’s body has shown a propensity to break down under pressure in majors and not since 2013 has he won a Grand Slam having contested a five-set match.

And then we have Roberto Bautista Agut and Guido Pella. The latter had never made the fourth round of a Grand Slam before but the 29-year-old Argentine has beaten two Wimbledon finalists in a row, Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic.

His Spanish opponent is a ruthless and bloody-minded competitor who will be favourite to make it through to his first major semi-final. For all the big boys’ dominance, it is Bautista Agut who remains the only player in either the men’s or women’s singles who is yet to drop a set.

The 31-year-old has beaten Djokovic twice already this year and is due to face him again in the semi-finals.

That is the thing about the Big Three, though; while you can get the odd win against them on the regular tour, when it comes to the Slams they are all but unstoppable.

 

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