No one thinks it’s time to write down off Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal — and even Roger Federer — simply but. Well, they shouldn’t, anyway.
Still, the season-ending ATP Finals set the stage for an intriguing 2021 in males’s tennis with the emergence of Daniil Medvedev and the continued excellence of Dominic Thiem, a pair of 20-somethings who look able to proceed their climbs to the game’s apex.
They’re a part of a bunch of up-and-coming males that additionally consists of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev, all of whom are exhibiting indicators they’re for actual and able to take the subsequent steps. It offers everybody fodder for thought till motion resumes in Australia in January, if the coronavirus pandemic permits.
“We proved that we can play with the legends, that we can also beat them, that we can also win the biggest tournaments,” mentioned Thiem, whose title on the U.S. Open in September gave him his first Grand Slam trophy.
“The next few years, the Big Three still will play for every big title, but I guess there’s still going to be a time when those guys will retire — I don’t know, in three, four, five years,” Thiem mentioned. “And then, I guess, we will be the favorites for all the big titles. For tennis, some exciting times are coming ahead.” He mentioned this Sunday night time in London after shedding to Medvedev 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 on the ATP Finals within the final tour match of the yr.
They reached the championship match with stirring three-set semifinal victories that felt a bit portentous: No. 3 Thiem knocked off No. 1 Djokovic, and No. 4 Medvedev eradicated No. 2 Nadal.
“An amazing accomplishment for a new generation,” Medvedev known as it.
“It’s super for tennis. We are starting to … (make) our marks,” mentioned Medvedev, who additionally beat Djokovic within the spherical-robin portion of the event and have become the primary man within the 50-yr historical past of the ATP Finals to defeat every of the gamers ranked 1-3 on the occasion.
Austria’s Thiem, 27, has appeared in 4 Grand Slam finals — shedding twice to Nadal on the French Open, as soon as to Djokovic on the Australian Open — and is now a two-time finalist on the ATP Finals (Tsitsipas beat him in 2019). Thiem’s highly effective baseline recreation is terrific, however he wants so as to add some selection and mid-match adaptability.
Russia’s Medvedev, 24, was the runner-as much as Nadal on the 2019 U.S. Open and misplaced to Thiem within the semifinals there this yr. His capacity to assume his approach by means of a match may be unmatched — he shifted techniques to rework his matches in opposition to Nadal and Thiem in London — and his exhausting-court docket success is plain, however to essentially attain the higher echelon and keep there, he’ll need to enhance on clay (0-4 on the French Open) and grass (by no means previous the third spherical at Wimbledon).
Greece’s Tsitsipas, Germany’s Zverev (who not too long ago denied allegations of home violence made by a former girlfriend) and Russia’s Rublev are all underneath 24 and ranked within the Top 10.
None has received a serious, though Zverev got here fairly shut, holding a two-set lead earlier than permitting Thiem to return again within the U.S. Open remaining.
It can be foolhardy to consider Djokovic, 33, and Nadal, 34, can’t add to their Grand Slam totals; even Federer, 39, shouldn’t be discounted after lacking a lot of the yr following two operations on his proper knee.
They’ve mixed to win 53 of the final 62 main championships and 57 in all: 20 apiece for Federer and Nadal, 17 for Djokovic.
And in 2020, they received two of three (Wimbledon was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak).
But after years of domination, they could lastly have some worthy competitors.
“Roger, Rafa, (Novak), and also Andy (Murray) — they did so much for the sport. They brought so many people to tennis. So many new fans to tennis. … There’s going to be a time when they’re not around anymore,” Thiem mentioned. “Then it’s going to be so important to keep all the tennis fans, to keep them with this great sport. And I think that’s our challenge.”