Dominic Thiem's success at the 2020 US Open has led many to believe the Next Gen is now ready to dominate tennis in the coming years. However, Roland Garros restored the previous hierarchy, ending with the umpteenth victory of Rafael Nadal in the final over Novak Djokovic.
Nadal and Roger Federer were absent in New York, while world number 1 Djokovic was disqualified in the round of 16 for accidentally hitting a touch judge. In the opinion of Ivan Lendl, former coach of Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev, the handover has not yet materialized, indeed the eight-time Grand Slam champion has highlighted some concern about the future of tennis after the retirement of the Big 3.
Lendl he is eager to see how the youngsters perform in the Grand Slams when they take the field as favorites.
Lendl on the Big 3
“I don’t really know, I think he clearly has some weaknesses in his game. He needs to improve,” Ivan Lendl said on Zverev.
“The other thing we don’t know what is going to happen now is this generation going to take over in 3-4 years when Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are done or somebody younger is going to come up there and just dominate,” Lendl said.
Lendl also said that the next-gen hasn’t played many crunch Grand Slam finals involving Roger, Rafa, and Novak; hence, judging them at the highest level is difficult. “We know they have won at certain levels, we know they have won the level below But until they get into the crunch in a major final we really do not know what’s in there.
We have seen that to some extent this year at the US Open,” Lendl said in Patrick McEnroe’s podcast- Holding Court. “We had semifinalists and the question was who is the favorite, what’s going to happen.
I was asked that question and well we have two points to make, we don’t know what’s going to happen because we have no record on to go on with the guy’s performance in this situation. They have not been in it and the two guys who have been in the major finals, Thiem and Medvedev have not been in this situation as favorites" - the former World number 1 finished.
Nadal’s record at the majors is nothing less than stupendous. In addition to his 13 Roland Garros titles, he has triumphed at the US Open four times and has come through twice at Wimbledon. That is why a second Australian Open championship run would matter so much to Nadal and his most ardent boosters.
It would balance the scales away from clay and add considerable luster to his record. It would set him apart once more from his peers.