After painful losses in three grand slam finals, Austrian Dominic Thiem could be forgiven for hoping to soon see the back of the Big Three.
He suffered a gripping five-set Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic which followed two French Open defeats by clay court king Nadal.
But 26-year-old Thiem said it would mean much more to win a major while the ageing trio of the super Serb, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were still playing.
Thiem, who will overtake Russian Daniil Medvedev to become world No.4 on Monday, said he was happy to keep chasing the grand slam greats, who have won the last 13 major titles.
"I think it's pretty unique in the history of sports that you just need to look at the success that they had - what they're still having," said Thiem, who got some revenge by ousting Nadal in the quarter-finals.
"Of course, it would be easier for sure in a different era to win big titles, that's 100 per cent.
"You have to beat at least two of them to win a big title and almost all players fail to do that and that's what makes it so tough.
"But I'm happy I can compete with these guys on the best level and I really hope also that I win my maiden slam when they're still around because it just counts more."
The Melbourne Park loss meant Thiem joined a select company of misery with four players, led by Andy Murray, who have lost three grand slam finals before a breakthrough victory.
That includes Goran Ivanisevic and Murray's former coach Ivan Lendl.
Thiem said there's little he would change about the Djokovic match despite appearing in control after blitzing the third set in the 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 result.
After spending six more hours on court than Djokovic through the tournament, he said he was physically spent.
"In the last two sets, I definitely gave everything I had so I don't really regret anything," Thiem said.
"Maybe I could have converted the break point in the fourth set where I could have the lead 2-1 and I may be sitting here as a winner.
"Of course, there were some small mistakes here and there, but at the end was a super close five-setter."
While he felt "empty" as he did after his Roland Garros defeats, he also felt motivated to continue to go after his first grand slam title.
With 17 majors to his name, Djokovic believed it wouldn't be far off for Thiem.
"Even though he hasn't won a grand slam title yet, he deserves to be called as one of the best players in the world," Djokovic said of Thiem.
"He has improved tremendously in the last 15 months I think on the hard courses because obviously clay court is his favourite.
"And I think he is going to have much more success on the hard court and I think going to win one of these for sure."