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Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Big Three Have Been Reduced to Just Two. Who Will Guide the Next Generation of Tennis Players?

Judy Murray, a Scottish tennis coach and the mother of Andy Murray, one of Roger Federer’s greatest opponents, said on social media that it marks “the end of a fantastic era” after discovering that Roger Federer would retire after the 2022 Laver Cup. Judy Murray is also Andy Murray’s coach.

However, Federer’s impending retirement, which was announced on Thursday, also heralds the end of a bigger period that has been characterised by more than just him.

Many people believe that the current decade is the best ever for men’s tennis, thanks in large part to the unparalleled excellence of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Individually and together, the three helped define a transcendent and incredibly enduring moment in the history of tennis. This period also follows the career of Serena Williams, who only last month announced that she would be retiring from the sport after a decorated career.

Fans of men’s tennis were treated to a spectacular show during the combined reigns of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, which lasted for a combined total of twenty years. Their dogged perseverance also prevented many members of “future generations” from gaining visibility in the public eye.

Both Rafael Nadal, who is 36 years old, and Novak Djokovic, who is 35 years old and won Wimbledon this year, will probably continue to compete for some more time. But Federer’s declaration on Thursday served as a reminder to everyone in the tennis world that all three of them would ultimately reach the end of their careers. This opened the door for a slew of eager new players, some of whom have already made their way into the void left by the three of them.

A homage to Roger Federer was made on Twitter by the newly crowned winner of the United States Open, Carlos Alcaraz. In the message, Alcaraz said of Federer, “Roger has been one of my inspirations and a source of inspiration.” “I want to express my gratitude to you for all you’ve done to advance our sport! I’m still interested in playing with you. I want to use this opportunity to wish you the very best of success in all that lies ahead!”

The events that are about to take place provide a glimpse into a future in which men’s tennis will be played without one of its most prominent male players, and ultimately all three of them.

After winning the U.S. Open on Sunday at the age of just 19, Alcaraz set a record for becoming the youngest male player to ever reach No. 1. Others, such as Casper Ruud, whom Alcaraz defeated in the final match, Daniil Medvedev, who won the U.S. Open the previous year, Jannik Sinner, who is a promising 21-year-old from Italy, Nick Kyrgios, Frances Tiafoe, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Denis Shapovalov, can now all ponder the possibilities that tennis mortality presents to them.

To be able to play without him will be a unique chance as well as a new type of privilege.

On the other hand, Federer’s retirement will not result in a dramatic shift in the competitive scene on the court. Not at the age of 41, and not after spending three exasperating years attempting to find his footing, it seemed unlikely that Roger Federer would be able to come back and win further major championships, even if he had been able to restore his health. On the other side, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic continue to dominate the men’s singles competition in tennis.

Together, they have triumphed in 12 of the 15 main competitions that have been place since the year 2019. If Djokovic had not been prevented from entering the United States this year, he most likely would have been the favourite to win the U.S. Open. Furthermore, if he had won, it would have given him and Nadal a clean sweep of the majors for the year.

Two of the major three are still just as hazardous as they were when they were first discovered, and none of them has a predetermined end date. However, there are some causes for caution. Nadal has struggled with his health for a long time, and it showed at the 2016 U.S. Open when he was eliminated by Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round just after returning from an abdominal ailment that prompted him to withdraw from the Wimbledon tournament.

In the case of Djokovic, there is the problem of his reluctance to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, which resulted in his being excluded from competition at both the Australian Open and the U.S. Open this year. There is still at least some uncertainty over Djokovic’s participation in those competitions in the next year, which gives the younger stars even more reason to have faith.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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