If someone were to say to you that the male winner of the U.S. Open would be Marin Cilic you may have quite likely scoffed. If someone were to tell you the Croatian beat Japanese youngster Kei Nishikori in the final you would of thought of them as ridiculous, and if you were told that the pair respectively you would have thought the world had gone mad, yet, that is exactly what happened at the recent U.S. Open.
So, with Cilic claiming his maiden title and Nishikori making it to the final, are we entering a new era of tennis?
It was the first time that none of tennis’ “Big Four” - Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Federer and Djokovic - made it to the final of a Grand Slam since 2005, so the Cilic and Nishikori final really was a seismic shock in the tennis world.
Before moving on to discuss each player we will quickly have a look at the tennis odds. to find the best tennis odds for next year’s Australian Open it seems that the bookmakers are not thinking much of Cilic’s success. Rather, they are favouring the traditional Big Four players as well as Stanislas Wawrinka, the defending Australian Open champion.
Of the Big Four the one that no tennis fan has any worries about is Djokovic. The Serbian, currently under the tutelage of Boris Becker, has won Wimbledon this year and reached the final of the French Open and the semi-final of the aforementioned U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows. At the age of 27 the world number one will taste plenty of success in the years to come.
However, Djokovic is one of four players and for the other three it is by no means clear-cut.
Federer, at the age of 33, is a veteran of the sport. Tennis is a young man’s sport and sadly for the Swiss ace he seems incapable of pulling off a victory in a five-set match, as witnessed with his final set collapse to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. History suggests that Federer’s Grand Slam days are behind him, since the turn of the millennium only three players have won a Grand Slam aged above 30: Federer himself, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. If Federer were to win Australia, which is highly unlikely, he would be the 6th oldest Grand Slam winner of the Open Era (1968-onwards). As much of a joy he is to watch Federer is entering his Indian summer.
It is a toss-up between Nadal and Djokovic when it comes to determining who the better player is. The Spaniard plays an extremely high-intensity game, and while it pulverizes the opponent it also absolutely destroys his back. Nadal is trying to alter his game in order to preserve his body, and though he is yet to find a remedy it would take a fool to write him off, especially when he is playing on the clay courts of Roland Garros.
Murray is an interesting one. After having the best year of his life, 2013, the current season has been not far short of disastrous. His quarter-final defeat at Wimbledon brought up a lot of questions; he looked sluggish and far more worryingly: unhappy. However, he has been coming back from a back injury and getting to grips with new coach Amelie Mauresmo.
In theory you cannot really say we are in a new era of tennis. Federer, the last bastion of the early 2000s, was already on his way out before a resurgence this year, Djokovic has been dominant this year while Nadal and Murray have performed to the best of their abilities considering they have been injured for large chunks of the season.
No it is not a new era but a widening of the talent pool. After years of nobody else having a sniff of success, hopefully, now, any player within the top-10 is capable of captivating the Grand Slam crowds and taking a trophy for themselves.