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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the only men's majors champions of 2017 so far. 35 year old Federer won the Australian open and Wimbledon, and 31 year old Nadal won the French Open.

There has been this trade of dominance by older players in tennis in the recent years. Similarly, the women's side had been dominated by Serena Williams before her maternity leave.

The other male top seeds, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, and Stan Wawrinka are all 30 years of age or older. Murray and Djokovic are 30, Wawrinka is 32 years old.

If one of these top seeds wins the US open, then all grand slams of men's singles in 2017 will be won by players who are at least 30 years old. I'm wondering how many times has this ever happened in the men's and women's singles?

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Men's side

Since the Open Era began in 1968, and until 2013, this only happened in 1969.

That year, Rod Laver (born 1938) won the Grand Slam, which means he won all of them: Wimbledon, Australian Open, Roland Garros and US Open.

I got to this result by parsing the results in Age of Grand Slam Winners - Open Era and completing those with List of List of Grand Slam men's singles champions. I added an extra column which contains solely the age (without months) and then did some scripting with it:

$ awk -F"\t" '$6>=30{year[$3]++} END {for (y in year) print y, year[y]}' b | sort -k2 -rn
1969 4
2017 3
1975 2
1972 2

Which means that:

  • in 1968, all 4 Grand Slams were won by a player 30 or older (as explained above)
  • in 2017, 3 Grand Slams have been won by a 30+: Roger Federer in Wimbledon and Australian, Rafael Nadal in Roland Garros. So far.
  • in 1972, Andres Gimeno (34y 10m 1d) won in Roland Garros and Ken Rosewall (37y 2m 1d) won Australian.
  • in 1975, 2 of them were won by a 30+: John Newcombe (30y 7m 9d) won in Australian and Arthur Ashe (31y 11m 25d) in Wimbledon.

These are the other years were one player was 30+ when winning a Grand Slam tournament: 1968, 1970, 1971, 1982, 1983, 1990, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2015, 2016.

Women's side

Thanks to beta's comment I learnt about the GitHub repository WTA tennis rankings, results and stats. In there, we can find data of all WTA tournaments since its creation in 1968. It is beautifully put and has plenty of extra data. I just focused on the Grand Slams and found out that:

This only happened in 2015.

That year, Serena Williams (33) won Wimbledon, Roland Garros and Australian Open, while Flavia Pennetta (also 33) won US Open (and retiring just after that).

In these years, two winners were above 30:

  • In 1987, Martina Navratilova (30) won Wimbledon and US Open.

  • In 2012, Serena Williams (30) won Wimledon and US Open.

  • In 2013, Serena Williams (31) won Roland Garros and US Open.

  • In 2014, Serena Williams (32) won US Open and Na Li (31) Australian Open.

These are the other years were one player was 30+ when winning a Grand Slam tournament: 1985, 1986, 1990, 2016, 2017

This is the code I used to process the data:

awk -F, 'BEGINFILE{
          gs=0;
          match(FILENAME, /_([0-9]{4})\./, data);
          year=data[1]
         }
         $5=="G" && $30=="F" && ($15>=30) {gs++} # Grand Slam final
         ENDFILE {
            if (gs>0) print year, gs
         }' wta_matches_[0-9]*.csv  | sort -k2 -rn

Which returns:

2015 4
2014 2
2013 2
2012 2
1987 2
2017 1
2016 1
1990 1
1986 1
1985 1
  • How about the women's side? – alamoot Jul 20 '17 at 18:17
  • 1
    data is here: github.com/JeffSackmann/tennis_wta – beta Aug 8 '17 at 6:36
  • 1
    @beta oh, that's a great repo! Thanks a lot for it, I just edited my answer after using it. – fedorqui Aug 8 '17 at 9:06
  • 2
    yes, the dataset is a gold mine – beta Aug 8 '17 at 9:07
  • Exactly what I wanted as an answer – alamoot Aug 8 '17 at 15:16

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