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