According to numerous insiders, 2021 should have been the right year for the definitive changing of the guard at the top of men's tennis. With Roger Federer now almost out of the game (don't want the champion from Basel), the challenge of ousting Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal from the top seemed within reach given what happened at the ATP Finals last year.
The Australian Open 2021 was the ideal context to seal the rise of the Next Gen, after Thiem became the first player born in the 90s to win a Major at the US Open 2020. The triumph in Melbourne was instead Djokovic for the ninth time, inflicting a sound lesson on Daniil Medvedev in a one-way final.
The 33-year-old from Belgrade has thus risen to 18 Majors, further reducing the gap that separates him from eternal rivals in the all-time Grand Slam ranking. When Roland Garros is less than a month away, it is difficult not to hypothesize yet another victory for Nadal in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Speaking recently on an Indian podcast, former ATP number 1 Andre Agassi explained how Next Gen doesn't have to wait for the Big 3 to retire.
Andre Agassi on the Big 3
“You’ve watched three guys win 58 Grand Slams…14 years almost of Grand Slams, where only three guys are winning and are having to beat each other.
Can you imagine if one of these guys was playing tennis during an era when the other weren’t there, how many would they possibly have?” Andre Agassi said. He added that in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the tennis world has seen arguably the best ever on grass, clay and hard courts and to have them playing in the same generation is “like Wow!
The Next-Gen’s on its way, you see even last week with (Stefanos) Tsitsipas winning in Monte-Carlo, you look at (Daniil) Medvedev pushing, knocking on the door of all these Slams, you look at Zverev, you look at Thiem…I think they realize that they can’t afford to respect the Top 3,” Agassi said.
Daniil Medvedev produced plenty of drama against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round of the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday, but ended up winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Medvedev will next face Cristian Garin in the Round of 16; the Chilean beat Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 6-4 in his second-round match.
Playing his first post-COVID singles match, Medvedev initially struggled to find his footing on his least-favorite surface.