The second half of 2021 was full of twists and turns and provided some clues for the future. Novak Djokovic has shown that he can still play at very high levels, having won three majors this year and having almost reached the 'Calendar Grand Slam'
The world number 1 also made it to the final at the US Open, but unfortunately he was unable to complete the job. The Serbian champion finished the season at the top of the ATP ranking for the seventh time in his career, a record that allowed him to break Pete Sampras.
At the same time, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev confirmed that they had reduced the gap that separated them from the 20-time Grand Slam champion, especially on hard courts. The German beat Djokovic at both the Tokyo Olympics and the ATP Finals, while the Russian prevented Nole from winning the US Open.
The next season will be steeped in meaning. Fans are hoping that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be able to treat themselves to one last ride in 2022. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Patrick McEnroe explained how Next Gen are still far behind the Big 3 in terms of attractiveness.
Patrick McEnroe on the Big 3
“The biggest problem with tennis, if I put on my old USTA cap, is that, let's be honest, these young people don't advance tennis the way their elders did. They don't sell as many tickets in the first week of the US Open as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic,” the ESPN consultant assured, in comments reported by The New York Times.
The end of the 2021 season saw many old and few new faces in the year-end Top 10 ATP Rankings. Notably, Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz, and young Jannik Sinner found themselves in this group for the first of many times to come.
Besides these names, the other seven players were in the Top 10 last year as well. Interestingly, even Rafael Nadal managed to keep his place despite an injury-plagued season. After a successful clay-court season, Nadal injured his foot during the French Open semifinal against Djokovic.
From then on, the 35-year-old Spaniard struggled on the court and ended his season in August at Washington Open. However, his sensational results allowed him to finish the season as sixth in the world. Besides, Nadal is the oldest tennis player in the 2021 year-ending Top 10 ATP Rankings.