Ranking of the members of the Big Four in order for each category – Serve, Return, Forehand, Backhand, Volley, Speed, Tennis IQ and Mental Strength. 1 is the best, 4 being the worst in these rankings.
Big Four Rankings
Federer is easily the best server of the bunch, so he’s the clear cut #1. Murray has a better first serve than Djokovic, but Djokovic’s far superior second serve gives him the edge for me. Nadal simply doesn’t use the shot as a weapon (outside of 2010). While he has impressive numbers for backing up his serve (particularly the second serve), I think it’s less about the position the serve puts him in and more that he’s an amazing player.
Djokovic returns from the baseline, can get a racquet on just about anything. He has an amazing ability to put the server on the defensive from the first ball. Murray has a similar approach to Djokovic. But I feel like he doesn’t take control of the point with the same frequency. Nadal is a great returner, but his positioning to return often makes it difficult for him to go on the attack from the first ball. Federer’s biggest strength is that he’s quite adept at putting the ball in play, but he doesn’t look to attack.
I feel like Federer’s stroke is a little more versatile than Nadal, so I gave him a slight edge. Djokovic is above Murray, though. I feel like the latter can still get tentative on this wing.
Djokovic is the easy choice for me here, followed closely by Murray and Nadal. Federer lags a little bit since the stroke did have a tendency to disappear for stretches during his career.
Federer has the best hands at net of . He is the most willing of the Big Four to get there to end a point. Nadal is an extremely good volleyer and has great touch on drop volleys. Murray has also shown prowess when playing doubles and usually finishes the point fine. But he isn’t always looking to attack the net. Djokovic seems to be the least comfortable at net (particularly on overheads) and get into a funk there if he misses a few.
Murray chases down EVERYTHING. Not only does he get to balls, but his defensive lobs are otherworldly. I gave Djokovic the edge over Nadal since I think he has the best recovery from having to stop following a full-on sprint in one direction. Teenage Nadal was like a videogame character, but, over the course of his career, was slowed by injuries. Federer had very good top end speed during his prime, but definitely attempts to chase down far fewer balls than the other three and often relies on amazing footwork and anticipation to get into position for his next shot.
This was the most difficult category for me. I kind of just interpreted it as “which player do I think would do the best job analyzing the game for me as a color commentator?” In my opinion, Murray really understands point construction and opponent’s tendencies and would be fun to listen to. I wouldn’t put much stock in my responses here.
Nadal gets a clear nod here from me. He is probably the single greatest fighter I’ve seen. This guy that could will himself to a victory if he brought his D game to the court. Djokovic’s ability to beat his main rivals for stretches at a time and the work he did with Boris Becker gives him the edge over Federer, who has disappeared from big stages in his career. I also think his stubbornness in waiting so long to switch racquets was costly for him. Murray is last because it seemed, for so long, that he was mentally beaten by the time he stepped on court against his main rivals (in big events).
So, have at it with these responses.
Written By: bthompson04