Home favourite Jannik Sinner capped his brilliant run in the year-end tournament with a fine win over Daniil Medvedev which took the Italian start to the brink of ATP Finals glory on Saturday.
This year’s Laver Cup might turn out to be the last tournament, where tennis fans will witness the greatness of the Big-3 for one last time, that too while playing for the same team.
As their playing days are getting closer to the conclusion, fans around the world are curious to know who can take over their legacy.
Tennis has changed a lot since the beginning of the Open Era (1968). But the last two decades can be counted as the best period for tennis, especially for men’s singles games.
The game has become more competitive with the arrival of the Big-3 of tennis. Fans have been witnessing the greatness of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic since 2003. The trio has alone taken the popularity of tennis to newer heights with their superb performances and countless records.
But all good things must come to an end. A day will come when these GOATs will retire from the game, and with each passing day it’s expected to happen soon.
20 times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has not been seen on the tennis court since his defeat in the last Wimbledon (2021) quarterfinals. Though Federer has given a hint of his return to the tennis court, comeback of the 40-year-old Swiss legend might prove a different ball game for him.
His contemporary, Rafael Nadal, the 22 times Grand Slam Champion and the king of clay, has been participating in many tournaments despite a history of injuries. But an abdominal injury he got in this year’s Wimbledon quarterfinal while playing against Taylor Fritz might affect his future game. He could become more selective about his participation, especially for Grand Slams, not to forget that he has already turned 36 this year.
The 21 times Grand Slam champion and current Wimbledon winner, Novak Djokovic, has had most of the odds in his favour, except for his age. He is just a year younger than Rafael Nadal as is being said. Novak is still deemed by many as one of the fittest sportsperson.
We may witness the greatness of the aforementioned tennis legends for a couple of more years, but eventually, the new blood will overtake them. It is natural for any sports discipline.
So, here are the top 5 players who could be the Next-Gen greats.
The 19-year-old Spaniard has already shown his metal on big stages. An unknown name barely two years ago is now ranked #6th in the ATP men’s rankings. Though he has not given many impressive performances in grand slams events, many tennis pundits have reposed faith in him. Alcaraz has already beaten Nadal and Novak in this year’s Madrid Open. Typically considered a clay-court player, he will be a player to watch out for.
26-year-old Matteo, who comes from Italy, unlike other players, he has developed his game in such a way that it suits any surface. This sets him apart from other players. Since 2019, Matteo has been performing exceptionally well. Last year, he reached the first-ever Wimbledon final, but tasted defeat at the hands of Novak. Subsequently, he improved his game a lot. His sheer power and serve speed of 135mph makes him a real threat to his opponents. A long history of wrist injuries is his only concern. If everything goes fine, he will be able to lift some slams.
Last year, Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final. The 23-year-old has been in red hot form since 2019. He is currently ranked #5. Though he never reached the quarterfinals of the US Open and Wimbledon, he impressed everyone with his game style. His first serve speed, accuracy, and stylish backhand makes him a quality player.
Alexander “Sascha” Zverev, the 25-year-old Olympic gold medalist, comes from Germany. Zverev has carved a niche for himself by defeating many top seed players in Grand Slams. In 2021, Zverev became the third player after Murray and Dominic Thiem, who defeated Nadal on clay, Djokovic on hard, and Federer on grass. It’s his agility and speed while covering the court that makes him one of the most difficult opponents to face in recent times.
The present world #1 and last year’s US Open winner, Daniil Medvedev, has made it big defying all the odds. Typically considered a hard-court player, the Russian has become a force to reckon with. On his day, the 26-year-old tennis player can outclass anyone in no time, and even if he needs to play 5 sets to close a match, he will play with the same stamina that he displayed while playing his first set.