In the decade 2010-2019 Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated the Slams. Few and rare exceptions: Andy Murray (3 Slams), Stan Wawrinka (3 Slams), Juan Martin del Potro (1 Major) and Marin Cilic (1 Major).
Out of a total of 40 Slams available Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won 32. Crazy numbers. But what we can admire of this incredible domain concerns another factor: in this decade, no tennis player born in the 90s was able to win in a Major.
In the past two years, Dominic Thiem reached two finals of the French Open, lost against Rafael Nadal, while in September Daniil Medvedev lost at the US Open against the Spaniard. The Big Three left no way for their opponents: are they too strong or are their rivals too inconsistent? In general there is a first factor to consider: the generational change proceeds slowly in the ATP Tour, much slower than in past decades.
The evolution of technology, diet and training lengthened the career of players up to over 35 years-old, bringing them in some cases playing until the age of 40 years-old. All this goes to the detriment of the younger generations, who struggle to impose themselves on the strongest and most experienced players.
Let's make a comparison with the decade 2000-2009. Marat Safin won nineteen years ago against Pete Sampras at the US Open. He was the first tennis player born in the 80s to win in that decade. After him, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro also succeeded.
A total of eight tennis players born in the 1980s won at least one Slam in the decade 2000-2009. In the following decade everything changed. The Big Three are certainly too much stronger than their rivals, with some exceptions such as Murray and Wawrinka, but it must be said that the level of their opponents in this decade has not been exceptional in the Slams.
Tennis players born in the 90s have not been able to create difficulties between 2010 and 2019, except perhaps in the last year and a half. A turnaround can be seen in the last three editions of the ATP Finals, won by tennis players born in the 90s: Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Now a new decade begins: in the next ten years those born in the 90s will certainly win in some Slams, as the Big Three will not be able to play forever, but the advent of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic has certainly slowed down the generational change.