In the last two decades, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have established themselves as legends in the sport of tennis. During their careers, the four Superstars have amassed a staggering 83 Grand Slam wins.
While Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have 20 Grand Slams each, Williams is only with 23 Grand Slam titles. However, each of them is well into their thirties, and Federer has just entered his forties. Therefore, fans around the world may wonder if the time has come to look at the next generation of tennis stars.
The ongoing US Open produced several bright spots, which can reassure fans that the future of the sport is in good hands. If there is any indication that the US Open could have given for the future, it is the emergence of teenagers.
Carlos Alcaraz, 18, made a big impact in New York, surprising third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the quarterfinals. Felix Auger-Aliassime, the 21-year-old Canadian, ended his career to advance to his first Grand Slam semi-final.
Nadal has been plagued by multiple injuries
Tennis stars are not born overnight; they have to perform at their best week in and week out. Amazingly, the 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez played the best tennis of her young career throughout the US Open 2021 campaign.
And as a result, she outclassed many big names on the way to her maiden Grand Slam final. Unsurprisingly, she once looked up to Rafael Nadal as the inspiration behind her competitiveness. “He was training as if he was playing a match,” Fernandez began.
“He was so intense out there. There was a crowd watching, so I wanted to impress them, too, and it put so much pressure on me. There were so many unknowns for me at that point and I didn’t know how I was going to play [throughout the season], but seeing him out there inspired me to play like that in my trainings, too, and step it up.
It was definitely one of those surreal moments,” Fernandez concluded. Nadal's career, although covered in glory for the most part, has also been plagued by multiple injuries. During the prime of his career, the King of Clay had to fight long bouts of chronic knee ailments which made him miss multiple important tournaments.
Nadal has also suffered major injuries to his back, shoulder and left wrist that have deprived him of playing time. There's a widespread belief that Rafael Nadal's numerous injuries throughout his career are a result of his physical playing style.