When will next generation of tennis overtake the Big Three?


The subsequent technology of males’s tennis stays a jumble of unrealized potential. With Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer skipping the Miami Open, the match was anticipated to convey the sport’s new faces into sharper focus. Instead, the outlook stays fuzzy because the clay season begins.

Sunday’s match between No. 37-ranked Hubert Hurkacz and No. 31 Jannik Sinner was the primary ATP Masters 1000 closing since 2003 with two gamers ranked outdoors the highest 30. Hurkacz turned the lowest-ranked champion within the ATP’s top-level collection since 2005.

Meanwhile, for gamers touted as future Grand Slam champions, Miami represented a chance missed. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev didn’t make it even to the semifinals.

“With the Big Three absent, I think all the NextGen guys were trying their best to play their best game, to compete as hard as they can,” Hurkacz stated. “Hopefully the spectators enjoyed it.”

But what ought to followers make of it? Twenty-somethings have been attempting to overhaul the Big Three for years, and no front-runner for 2021 emerged in Miami.

Medvedev, seeded No. 1 at a Masters 1000 occasion for the primary time, was upset within the fourth spherical by Roberto Bautista Agut. No. 2 Tsitsipas exited in the identical spherical with a loss to Hurkacz.

“I felt like it was my opportunity,” Tsitsipas stated. “There was more space for me to show something greater.”

No. 3 Zverev flopped worst of all, double-faulting 3 times on break level in a loss to No. 83-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori. No. 4 Andrey Rublev, a Russian who leads the tour with 20 wins this yr, reached the semifinals earlier than Hurkacz upset him.

This all got here after Nadal and Federer withdrew earlier than the match began attributable to accidents, whereas Djokovic determined to remain residence in Serbia amid the pandemic.

For Hurkacz, 24, the title is by far the largest of his profession, and the primary for a Polish participant in a Masters 1000 occasion. But he received’t be among the many favorites on the French Open.

In sum, no 20-something seems poised to wrest the mantle from the 30-somethings who’ve dominated the game for thus lengthy. Dominic Thiem received his first main title on the U.S. Open in September, however he’s simply 5-4 this yr and skipped Miami.

“The next generation still has to show they can beat the Big Three,” Sinner stated. “The next generation is not ready yet to win against them consistently. At some point there will be the moment; I don’t know when. It can be two years or five years, I don’t know. But the moment will come.”

Perhaps Grand Slam greatness will skip a technology, and it is going to be somebody now a young person who supplants the Big Three. Sinner, a 19-year-old baseline basher from Italy, took a large leap in Miami, simply his third Masters 1000 occasion.

Also making a splash was unseeded 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda, who reached the quarterfinals earlier than dropping to Rublev. Korda, the son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda, is broadly thought of one of the best hope to finish an 18-year drought in main titles for U.S. males.

He sounds extra affected person than some followers.

“My parents are super big on baby steps,” Korda stated. “You can play tennis for thus lengthy when you keep wholesome — for 15-plus years. Guys now are taking part in till 40; it’s unimaginable. There are a variety of years forward of me.

“I’ll always put my head down and keep working, and hopefully one day I could achieve something like what my dad achieved.”

Korda and Sinner have appreciable aptitude and star enchantment, as do Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Zverev and Rublev.

“The future of tennis looks great, because the generation is changing,” Rublev stated. “The NextGen players, they are different. They look different compared with previous ones. I think they have charisma.”

Charisma, sure, however not but many trophies.



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