Rafael Nadal was the author of a start to the season that left everyone speechless. After being out for a long time with injury, the former world number 1 turned up in Australia without great expectations. His success in Melbourne (ATP 250) gave him the confidence to accomplish one of the greatest feats of his career.
The Spanish phenomenon has in fact won the Australian Open against all odds, recovering two sets to Daniil Medvedev in the final. Thanks to that triumph, Rafa overtook Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings of the Majors.
The 35-year-old from Manacor has also become the fourth man in history to have won all Grand Slams at least twice (along with Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson). Nadal's streak of winning streak ended against Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final, also due to a fractured rib.
None of the Big 3 therefore took part in the Miami Open. At the press conference, Frances Tiafoe stressed that the Next Gen today have a better chance of winning the big tournaments.
Tiafoe opens up on Rafa Nadal
"There is a little opening in tennis," Tiafoe said.
"The big guys don't play every Masters, for example, this one. Big guys, you know what I mean, the big three. So there is a little space for guys," he added. "I mean, there was a while there where you go deep in an event, and you'd run into Rafael Nadal and them, I was, like, Yeah, I'm probably going home.
But now guys can win it." Tiafoe also spoke about the resurgence of American men's tennis. He highlighted how he and Taylor Fritz were the first to break through among the crop of American youngsters. "Yeah, yeah. I think it's been interesting," Frances Tiafoe said.
"Like, I mean, Fritz, we're kind of the first guys to break top 100. Fritz made final of a 250 when we were super young. I made quarterfinal of Australia really young. Top 30, 20 years old, 21 years old. Me and Fritz kind of going.
Reilly's kind of figured out, Reilly breaks through, Tommy starts to break through. You have Korda, these guys. I think seeing guys that you grew up with doing well, you're like, Well, f***, this guy can do it. I grew up with him," Tiafoe added.
"I've beaten him how many times. Why not? But it's all good blow. We genuinely want to see each other do well. It's good."