Could Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, and Others Bring ‘Big Three Dominance’ Curtains Down in 2021?

November 29, 2020 8:12 pm

The hint of a new order in men’s tennis, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and others threatening to manifest themselves over the last few seasons may finally be a reality in 2021.

That there is the next generation of superstars seeking to alter the status quo in men’s tennis was known even before season 2020 rolled. However, what stood out this season was the way the ‘next generation’  sought to assert itself on the ‘old guard’ and largely succeeded.

2020 saw emergence of the Next-Gen

Over the last two seasons, the ‘Big Three’ – combined nickname for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – had a virtual monopoly on Grand Slam events.

None apart from the ‘Big Three’ could have his name inscribed on a Major title over the last couple of years.

‘Big Three’ monopoly on Grand Slam

In 2019, it was Nadal and Djokovic who, between themselves, won all four Grand Slam titles. While the Serb lifted the Wimbledon and Australian Open crowns, Nadal took home the French Open and US Open titles.

The year before saw all three champions go up on the Grand Slam honors board. While Nadal won at his beloved Roland-Garros, Djokovic won Wimbledon and the US Open and Federer got his hands on the Australian Open crown.

However, this season, an attempt was made to shake the ‘Big Three’ monopoly in Majors. In a rarity, the US Open, this year, crowned a champion outside the ‘Big Three’.

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in action during his final match against Austria’s Dominic Thiem REUTERS/Toby Melville

Dominic Thiem’s US Open challenges hegemony of old

Yes, Federer and Nadal skipped the Slam, and Djokovic was disqualified for accidentally striking a line judge with a tennis ball in his fourth-round tie.

Could the outcome have been different if the ‘Big Three’ was there in the business-end? Possibly. 

But, then again, ifs and buts have no place in tennis. It’s what goes in the record book that matters.

Crowned the new men’s champion at the Flushing Meadows, Dominic Thiem emerged as the one to challenge the hegemony of the old.

Almost on cue, Daniil Medvedev, another superstar in the making, shook the entrenched order a bit more as he got the better of Nadal and Djokovic to win his maiden ATP Finals title.

Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 20, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during his group stage match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Toby Melville

New-season to see a fierce face-off between old and new

And just to put more context to the story, the Spaniard also exited the Paris Masters in the semifinal, as did Djokovic fall in the quarters of the Erste Bank Open.

So, as the new season unfolds, expect the new line of superstars, the Thiems, Medvedevs, and Zverevs, to knock the ‘Big Three’ off its perch and establish their own era of dominance.

The challenge for the ‘Big Three’ would be to hold its own and not cede ground to the Next-Gen.

Priyabrata Chowdhury

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports from New Delhi. He holds a Masters degree in Journalism and has been in this profession for close to 11 years now. He takes an avid interest in sports in general and tennis in particular and holds a special place for Roger Federer when it comes to tennis but doesn't let his bias filter into his work.

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