After the Big Three, three generations compete in men’s tennis | Tech Rasta


Now that Roger Federer has finally retired from men’s tennis and the era of the Big Three (Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) is officially over, what’s next for men’s tennis? Well, after an extraordinary weekend of indoor tennis in Vienna and Basel which set the stage perfectly for the last Masters event of the year in Paris, everything indicates that The Big Three will be replaced by a remarkable battle between three Different Generations, in which the big winners (and big contenders) whose age is divided by almost two decades will compete for the biggest prizes in sport. And even if this era will inevitably be much shorter than that of the Big Three, it should still be spectacular.

The old “Next Gen”

The first of three different generations currently facing off is what might be called The Old “Next Gen” – the cohort of players in their twenties who, some 18 months ago, were slated to be the hottest replacements. likely from Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at the top of the game. They are led by Daniil Medvedev (26), the only one of them to win a Major so far, but they also include Stefanos Tsitsipas (24) and Andrey Rublev (25).

This weekend, Medvedev reminded everyone why he was ahead of his same-age peers. After a sort of stoppage-start in 2022, which included being banned (along with all other Russian and Belarusian players) from Wimbledon, he failed to build on his spectacular victory at the 2021 US Open, when he stopped Novak Djokovic from winning the Calendar Slam at the very last hurdle. However, after becoming a father for the first time earlier this month, Medvedev celebrated by triumphing at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna in lavish style.

After knocking out Jannik Sinner and Grigor Dimitrov relatively easily in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, Medvedev faced much tougher competition in the final against Denis Shapovalov, who won the first set and tied Medvedev for a long time. part of the second set. That was until the Russian returned to his inspired, almost spider-like best, upping his game, extending those amazing limbs and returning balls that were seemingly impossible to hit. And after the initial problems with his serve in the first set, he also reminded everyone that at his best he is the fastest, if not the fastest, server since Federer at his best.

Medvedev has won a Major before, but after losing three other major finals (including, of course, the Australian Open final this year when he had two sets to love against Rafael Nadal), he’s not sure. will surely not be satisfied with this only triumph in Slam. At least he will want to win at least one more Major for his new daughter, as other new tennis fathers like Boris Becker have done in the past.

On the other hand, it no longer seems certain that Tsitsipas and Rublev will win Majors or even compete for them in the final. It’s safe to say they’ve both plateaued in the last year or so, staying in the top 10 but being passed by Carlos Alcaraz, both for a first Major and for the world No. 1 spot. And with Alcaraz joined by a number of other rising stars, it’s possible that Tsitsipas and Rublev (along with Alexander Zverev when he finally returns from injury) will find that after waiting so long for The Big Three to go, new stars emerge to take their place. And these stars will come from the second generation of men’s tennis.

The new “new generation”

This second generation could be called the next new generation, because it has already greatly exceeded the older next generation. It is led, of course, by Carlos Alcaraz, who was not only the breakthrough men’s player of 2022, but arguably the best men’s player. of 2022 (despite Rafael Nadal’s two major victories in Melbourne and Paris). Alcaraz has already won his first Major and became world No. 1 at the ridiculously young age of 19, making him the first teenager to reach such heights since fellow countryman Nadal nearly two decades ago.

Like The Big Three before him, especially Federer, Alcaraz seems to force all other male players on tour, especially those in his own age bracket (late teens and early twenties), to raise their game if they want to have a chance to compete with him. This was already evident earlier this year in the outstanding victories over him in the finals in Hamburg and Croatia by Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner respectively. However, it is possible that Alcaraz’s main rival at the Majors of his own tennis generation will come from another quarterback.

That direct rival may well be 22-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has emerged almost as spectacularly this fall on Europe’s indoor courts as Alcaraz himself did on the hard and clay courts of Italy. North America and Europe in spring. After beating Holger Rune in straight sets in the Basel Open final, Auger-Aliassime has now won three titles in a row, having previously triumphed in Florence and Antwerp. More importantly, he actually looked like a brand new player, never more so than in his semi-final win over Alcaraz in Basel. If that wasn’t quite a beatdown, it was certainly a complete straight-sets victory, as F2A beat the brilliant Spaniard for the second time in a row, having already gotten the better of him in the Davis Cup in September. .

The greatest generation of all

Of course, what makes men’s tennis so unique right now is that two-thirds of the Big Three – Nadal and Djokovic – are still around and still vying for the biggest prizes in tennis: indeed, between them two , they won three of the four Majors. this year (Djokovic triumphing at Wimbledon after Nadal’s victories in Australia and France). Although Nadal has generally seen the second half of 2022 cut short by injuries and Djokovic has been banned from two of the four Majors this year due to his refusal to take a Covid shot, the two remaining titans of men’s tennis remain the men. the hardest to beat. the circuit, in particular over five sets at the Majors.

They also both have huge goals to achieve. As well as competing to see who finishes his career with the most Majors overall, next year (if allowed) Djokovic will feature in a 10th Australian Open in Melbourne while Nadal will compete for a 15th. Hardly believable French Open. in Paris. These two stats (or quasi-stats) speak volumes about the enduring greatness of Nadal and Djokovic, and they won’t be easily replaced by younger players.

An unprecedented three-way battle for supremacy

Having four major winners (Nadal, Djokovic, Medvedev and Alcaraz) from three different generations, with other players from at least two of those generations (Tsitsipas, Rublev, Sinner, Musetti and Auger-Aliassime) also determined to take the plunge in Grand Slam, is absolutely unprecedented in the history of tennis and even in the history of sport in general. Having champions spanning an age range of 17, from Nadal at 36 to Alcaraz at 19, has never happened before and arguably will never happen again, as the remarkable longevity of the Big Three ( or the Big Two, as they are now) will not be easily replicated by a future generation.

Just to give an idea of ​​the originality of this battle of three generations, it is worth comparing it to previous periods in the history of men’s tennis. Simply put, it would be as if Bjorn Borg hadn’t retired in 1981 but instead continued playing for another 15 or 16 years when he met a young Federer taking his first steps into the professional game. Or to give another scenario from another sport, it would be as if Pelé continued to play at international level for Brazil until his late thirties and met young Diego Maradona during one of his first internationals for Argentina.

Those scenarios didn’t happen, and for good reason: Sport is an almost unique and unforgiving profession in which longevity of more than a few years is a rarity. To have, as men’s tennis has now, two veteran champions in Nadal and Djokovic who are still at or near their peak battling players not just a decade younger than them (like Medvedev) but almost two decades younger than them (as like Alcaraz) is extraordinary. Indeed, in its own way, it is every bit as extraordinary as the era of the Big Three, when the three greatest male players faced each other for over 15 years. Now, the era of the Big Three is over, but the era of the Three Generations has replaced it, starting in Paris this week, when all of the aforementioned players will face off as major winners for the very first time.

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