When you clicked on this article, a name must have popped in your head. Keep it to yourself. The two most burning questions in tennis currently are :
- Who will end up with the most majors amongst the men?
- Who will be the next first time slam winner?
The second one, is a lot more unpredictable.
The last first time slam winner in tennis was Marin Cilic, at the Flushing Meadows, 2014. Not really someone who’d fit the ‘NextGen’ category. Since then, the upcoming players have been shown their level and place time and again by the Big 3 at the majors. With only Stan Wawrinka able to make inroads. Andy won one in 2016 too.
The recent crop of ‘NextGen’ has shown promising signs. But they are yet to clear the final hurdle. Will 2020 be the year where we’d witness another first time major winner in tennis?
Who are the potential prospects to lift the major apart from the Big 3? Dominic, Zverev, Tsitsipas and Medvedev. Nick? Iffy.
Daniil Medvedev took Rafa Nadal to 5 sets at USO last year. Close, yet far. Thiem did the same to Novak in Melbourne. Some would argue he even let it slip. That’s an exaggeration though. Both Novak and Rafa did what the Big 3 have done over the years in tennis, shown that taking away THAT one final set off them, or even THAT one point in majors, still remains a task too big.
Heading into the clay season, Dominic remains the best bet and the leader of the pack trying to dismantle the old guard. His task- just like other 126 men- will be to beat Rafa Nadal. A bit more difficult than what he was confronted with in Melbourne. A favorable draw might help him. But he would most likely have to beat both Nole and Rafa to clinch the title. The odds of that happening? Not in Thiem’s favor. A fully fit Rafa should still run through him in 4 sets on clay. We’ll see how it goes.
Wimbledon is the slam where the chances of one of these four players winning are the least. Djokovic and Federer look the clear favorites for The Championships. A big server or a rejuvenated Nick-with a good draw of course- might cause some trouble. But Thiem, Daniil and Stef are not yet too dangerous on grass. Zverev, if he can have the best 2 serving weeks of his life, may at best make the semis again. Anything more than that would be stretching things a bit.
The USO will again open better opportunities for these players. Stef looks the weakest of the three currently. It’ll be Thiem and Daniil again, who’d be considered the most prominent of threats. And considering how Melbourne played out, the Flushing Meadows is the likeliest of the three majors left this year, where we might see IT happening. A lot again depends on how the Big 3 feels physically during the last major and the conditions during the fortnight.
Medvedev will also need to get in tune for the American hardcourt swing, while Thiem would look to continue developing his hardcourt game under a new coach. Sascha will look for a deep run but won’t really fancy his chances to go all the way in New York.
By the time you read THIS sentence, you might think Thiem is the most probable next slam winner. Now while he has done enough to earn your trust, being the most consistent threat at THREE OF THE FOUR MAJORS, doesn’t necessarily mean he’d beat his fellow challengers to a major. He’d also need to beat the PEAK version of his young competitors, if any.
The Big 3 have looked the most susceptible to upsets at the USO. It’s also the hardest major to defend. And a certain Russian, Daniil Medvedev, did enough last year, to prove he will head to NYC as the biggest threat. He might need to find a thing that he has lost, his form. The last thing you’d want is for Thiem and Daniil to meet at the Flushing Meadows.
Two names must have settled in your head by now, of an Austrian and that of a Russian. Who reaches the finish line first? Toss a coin. Keep the result to yourself.
Watches tennis, cricket and football. Mostly tennis.