Don’t expect a changing of guard in Paris | Ralph-Lauren

Must Read


Forgive Novak Djokovic if he’s just a little bit tired of being asked to address how much longer he, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer can stay at the top of tennis.

Or, put another way, whether a younger generation of men finally is poised to consistently win grand slam titles.

“I mean, I said it a thousand times,” Djokovic said.

“I don’t know how many times people want me to repeat it.

“Of course the ‘Next Gen”‘ – a marketing slogan pushed by the ATP – ‘is there, is coming, whatever.

“But here we are, still winning the biggest tournaments and slams. I don’t know what to tell you other than that.”

With the French Open beginning in Paris on Sunday, it feel in some ways like order is being restored after the 2020 edition was altered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only 1,000 spectators were let into Roland Garros per day, and competition started in September instead of May.

Back in its rightful spot on the calendar and with about 5,300 fans allowed in each of the first 10 days, then 10,000 or more each of the last five days, could the clay-court championship serve as the setting for a symbolic changing of the guard?

Or, to Djokovic’s point, will the elders remain in charge?

“A lot of people underestimate the time and the era we are playing in, with by far the three best players in the history of the game,” said Dominic Thiem, whose US Open title last September makes him the only first-time major men’s champion since 2014.

“It’s more than clear that it’s incredibly tough to win grand slam tournaments, having to beat, most of the times, two of them.”

A glimpse at the dominance:

– 15 of the past 16 grand slam tournaments were won by the Big Three;

– starting with the 2005 French Open, they collected 54 of the past 63 major titles;

– in that same span, 23 major finals involved one of these match-ups: Djokovic versus Nadal, Djokovic versus Federer, or Nadal versus Federer.

That can’t happen at Roland Garros because they are in the same half of the bracket for the first time at a grand slam tournament.

World No.1 Djokovic could face No.8 Federer in the quarter-finals; one of them could meet No.3 Nadal in the semi-finals.

The other half includes No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No.6 Alexander Zverev, who are among the 20-something men considered contenders to grab a first major trophy.

As in any sport eventually there is turnover.

The guessing game in tennis has been about both who will break through and when.

With Federer turning 40 in August, Nadal turning 35 next week and Djokovic now 34, there did seem to be some recent evidence that such a shift might be happening, including in the rankings, where Medvedev is the first man other than the Big Three or Andy Murray to be ranked in the top two in 15 years.

Thiem’s triumph in New York at age 27 made him the first man born in the 1990s to win a grand slam title.

Runner-up Zverev and the other semi-finalists at Flushing Meadows also belong to that decade – and the 2020 US Open was the first major since 2004 without at least one of Djokovic, Nadal or Federer in the semi-finals.

A caveat, though: neither Federer (coming off two knee operations that sidelined him for more than a year) nor Nadal entered the US Open, and Djokovic was disqualified in the fourth round.

Three recent Masters 1000 finals featured match-ups between up-and-comers, including Tsitsipas versus Rublev in Monte Carlo.

But at the last Masters 1000, on clay at the Italian Open this month, Djokovic faced Nadal in the final (Nadal won, perfect preparation for his bid for a 14th French Open title and 21st grand slam trophy overall).

After beating Tsitsipas in the semi-finals in Rome, Djokovic ran into Nadal in the locker room.

“We kind of joked around,” Djokovic said, “that the old guys are still not giving up.”



Source link

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Stajcic poised for Mariners A-League exit | Ralph-Lauren

Alen Stajcic's exit as Central Coast coach is expected to be confirmed on Thursday, just days after taking...

More Articles Like This