The changing of the guard in men’s tennis may have already started in terms of who comprises the top 10 in the latest Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Rankings 2022 list.
But anyone from the “Big Three” of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer continues to dominate the majors this year, with Nadal taking the Australian Open and French Open trophies and he is still in the hunt for a third title in Wimbledon.
Let’s check out why the “Big Three” continues to click and if who among the young guns is ripe to take over in the near future.
MEDVEDEV, ZVEREV, AND TSITSIPAS COULD BE NEW ‘BIG THREE’
Based on the current ATP rankings, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev leads the list with 7,955 points followed by German Alexander Zverev (7,030) and Djokovic settling for No.3 with 6,770 points.
Nadal takes the fourth spot with 6,525 points followed by Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece with 5,150 points and Casper Rudd of Norway (5,050).
Surgery for his knee injury forced Federer to drop out of the top 100 after his last match was a straight-set loss to Hubert Kurkacz of Poland in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in mid-August last year.
If the rankings will be used as the basis, world No.1 Medvedev, world No.2 Zverev and No.5 Tsitsipas loom as the top candidates to take over the “Big Three.”
MAJORS STILL THE YARDSTICK FOR SUCCESS
Medvedev and Zverev would have removed Djokovic and Nadal from the top two positions but the old guard continues to impose a big shadow in men’s tennis.
Since 2004, either Djokovic, Nadal or Federer have won all of the four majors – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open – save for 12 occasions.
Sure, Medvedev prevented Djokovic from sweeping all four majors by topping the US Open last year but Nadal restored order for the “Big Three” so far this year by winning Down Under and at Roland Garros.
RETIREMENT TALKS LOOM FOR FEDERER, NADAL
Federer might be close to hang it up as injuries continue to hound the Swiss maestro that forced him to miss time for almost a year.
The announcement of Federer that he intends to play in Wimbledon “one more time” in 2023 brings cheers to his fans. But it does give hints that the end of the road may come sooner or later for the 40-year-old Basel native.
Nadal also admitted that “a couple of weeks ago, I was close to it (retirement)” before the start of the French Open, as he was hounded by chronic foot pain caused by Mueller-Weiss syndrome.
But his twin major victories have doused off retirement talks for now, while the 35-year-old Djokovic, the youngest of the “Big Three,” is hardly showing any signs of slowing down.
YOUNG GUNS BREAKTHROUGH SEEN IN 2023
Any of the younger players can still salvage some major championships through the ongoing Wimbledon 2022 and the US Open in August. Nadal’s exploits so far, however, ensured that the “Big Three” is still around this year.
But 2023 could be the year that Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsippas, and even guys like Rudd, Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, Russian Andrei Rublev, and Canadian Felix Auger-Allasima could claim most of the major trophies.
With injuries taking a toll on Federer and Nadal, only Djokovic is expected to carry the “old guard” consistently in 2023 and beyond. But no one is counting out the Serbian superstar from sweeping all four majors anew after nearly getting it done last year.