“Why was it that Nadal could win his first major at the tender age of 19 — beating Federer in the 2005 French semis — that Federer could claim his first major at Wimbledon when he was 21, that Djokovic could grab his first major at the age of 20 in Australia, and all of these coming against some of the best in the business, yet the current younger generation can’t win any?” (Mark Wiedmer, 2019)
Despite there is no question mark on why Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are called as ‘The Big-3’, it has as a quite simple explanation with a striking fact! Since Nadal’s first Roland Garros triumph in 2005, only 8 of the last 57 grand slams have been won by players without Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic. What’s more, there were only 2 finals throughout the era that one of the Big-3 did not manage to reach. In this regard, tennis fans should enjoy this exceptional Big-3 while they are still on the court because they are not only the best of their generation but also the best of all time. It is obvious that we won’t ever watch a greater artist than Roger Federer, a more dauntless warrior than Rafael Nadal and a cooler iceman than Novak Djokovic.
However, time’s going by so fast and tennis should nurture the next heroes. Given Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are well into their thirties, there is a significant opportunity for the players next in line behind the Big-3. Indeed, I do not refer to Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic (who are all above their thirties) despite they are the only four players, winning a Grand Slam since 2005 Roland Garros. At this point, it should be reminded that there is not a single active player with a grand slam title below 30.
So who are the next, and how can they be nominated as probable heroes despite not holding a grand slam title?
I am indeed putting a plug in for Dominic Thiem (26), Alexander Zverev (22) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (21)! They are widely designated as the next banner-bearers in tennis.
According to Eurosport’s expert Mats Wilander, who is also a former World No. 1 Swedish tennis player with seven Grand Slam singles titles, it’s vital that the younger generation of players win Grand Slams before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic hang up their racquets.
“I think Dominic Thiem does have the potential to spoil the party here, beating Nadal in Barcelona – that was as good a performance as when he beat Federer in Indian Wells. Sometimes I feel like Thiem and Alex Zverev push the envelope so hard when they only have to be better than their opponent on the day. Tomorrow is a new day and you’re playing someone with a different style. I don’t think it’s too early for someone like Tstisipas, I really don’t. When I see him talk, when I see him play, he’s as mature as the other guys – he just hasn’t won as much. It’s so important to me that one of the younger guys win a Slam before Nadal, Federer and Djokovic leave the game.” (Mats Wilander, 2019)
Within the scope of the analysis, they are compared to the Big-3 over a couple of certain parameters, including wins, finals and titles in all ATP tournaments as well as grand slams.