Who is the future of tennis?
Posted on January 28 2016
Djokovic beat Federer today 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3. Let’s face it; ever since 2003 when Federer, baby faced and teary eyed, lifted that golden trophy on the regal grass of Wimbledon, tennis fans have been living in a dream world, emphatically created by Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray.
But as I sat and watched the latest saga in a now 45 match rivalry between Djokovic and Federer, I couldn’t escape the sad feeling the dream is almost over. After Djokovic’s dominance, who is going to take the mantle at the top; and how are they ever going to live up to the past three number 1’s? The simple answer is, nobody can.
Federer set the world a light in 2003 with his majestic play, and extreme chivalry that made his opening grand slam at Wimbledon somewhat of a fairytale. He then went on to win another 17 grand slams, and had six years of extreme dominance nobody thought could be matched.
Forward a few more years and we have seen years of preponderance from Rafael Nadal and now, Novak Djokovic who seems hell bent on eclipsing Federer as the greatest player to have ever lived.
Not only has the tennis been scintillating, the rivalries ferocious, but the manor in which these players conduct themselves on and off the court, every match, every tournament and every year, has been nothing less than astonishing.
Yes, we’ve had it good over the past 13 years! So good in fact we’ve come to expect it. But once 28 year old Djokovic’s imperialism comes to an end and the likes of tenacious Murray (28), majestic Federer (34) and the already wearying Nadal (29), who is there to steer the ship as an ambassador for tennis both on and off the court?
Steering the ship
Milos Raonic, has made remarkable improvement it seems this year. He has clearly worked on his return game and his performances beating Federer in the final of Brisbane and beating Stan the man in his last round, seem to have cemented him as a force to be reckoned with.
But as much as I admire the 25-year-old Canadian’s improvement and the way he handles himself off court, his on court character is as interesting as his one serve, one forehand style of play. Unfortunately his on court character and presence begins and ends with the sleeve! He’s hardly going to set the world alight.
The complete opposite of Raonic is the wild, young Australian, Kyrgios. I recently wrote an article on how I have become a fan, but I don’t have blinkers on, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Some of the shots he comes out with are barely believable but his character is in your face and trouble follows him round like a bad smell. He and his Aussie compatriots, Bernard Tomic, and Thanasi Kokkinakis, remind me more of the local gang hanging outside the Co-op after school than professional tennis players.
Another hopeful is twenty four year old, Grigor Dimitrov. Nicknamed baby Fed when he first came on the scene, we were all told he was to be the next big thing. But unfortunately,currently sitting at 28 in the world, he hasn’t been able to live up to the hype.
There are a few youngsters coming through, Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung (who put on a great display in the opening round of this year’s Australian Open against Djokovic), but for the moment, the future seems bleak.
It will no doubt be very interesting as to who takes up the number 1 role after Djokovic and exciting to see it unfold, but for the moment I will be trying to make the most of this golden era. I hope you will too!