Rising Austrian star Jurij Rodionov has acknowledged that Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer can't be written off yet but noted that Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev are now legitimate contenders to win Grand Slam titles.
Last season, world No. 1 Djokovic won a record eighth Australian Open title, Nadal claimed a record 13th French Open title, while world No. 3 Thiem earned his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open. "It's very difficult to say," Rodionov told Tennisnet.
"One always has the feeling that the older the “Big Three” (note: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) get, the greater the chances for the youngsters. But the old hands are still doing very well for their age.
Federer is 39, Nadal is 34, Djokovic 33 - that's really amazing what the guys at the top of the world are doing. But I also think that Dominic (Thiem's note) is now always a potential candidate for a Grand Slam title because he is extremely fit, has an incredible game and has been very consistent over the past year or two - he really manages to bring his best tennis to the court week after week.
The same goes for Medvedev. I trained with him in Vienna. I find his game very unorthodox and very uncomfortable - he just has hits that you can't read, where you feel very uncomfortable as an opponent. The two have a very good chance of winning a Grand Slam tournament."
Rodionov aiming to break into the top-100
Rodionov, ranked at No. 144 in the world, achieved his career-high ranking of No. 141 late last year. "In any case, the top 100 is my big goal," Rodionov noted. "They have been for two or three years.
I was close two years ago, at that time - I think - I was in 170th place. And since then, in my opinion, I have matured in a playful and human way. The top 100 are such a magical barrier in tennis that I still want to break this year.
If I can do that, the next goal is to establish myself in the top 100 and just get consistent results and keep myself in the top 100."