After Federer and Serena Williams, who is in charge?
wunderkind! In November 2022, during the ATP (International Professional Tennis Federation) year-end finals, the 19-year-old Spanish boy Carlos Alcaraz won the year-end world ranking of the annual tennis men’s singles player. As early as two months ago in September, he had become the youngest player in history to be number one in the world after beating Norwegian player Kasper Rudd 3:1 and winning the US Open.
This victory has a more symbolic meaning. Alcaraz is the first “post-00” to win a Grand Slam.
Men’s tennis has not seen such a high-spirited teenager for a long time. Shortly after Alcaraz crowned the US Open, on September 15, 41-year-old Roger Federer announced the end of his career. In 2004, at the age of 23, Federer became the year-end world number one for the first time. The 17-year-long “Big Four” monopoly of the first place at the end of the year has officially begun.
The men’s tennis world has been waiting for a long time for the alternation of the old and new royal powers.
The so-called Big Four men’s singles are Switzerland’s Federer (20 Grand Slam champions, born in 1981), Spain’s Rafael Nadal (22 Grand Slam champions, born in 1986), Serbia’s Noah Vack Djokovic (21 Grand Slam champions, born in 1987), Andy Murray of Great Britain (3 Grand Slam champions, born in 1987).
Among them, Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer are the top three in the number of singles Grand Slams in the history of men’s tennis, and they have become superstars that define the era. Although Murray’s number of championships is significantly different from the other three, he also ranks among the top four by virtue of his stability in reaching the semi-finals and even the finals of the Grand Slam.
To measure a player’s achievements, ranking first in the world reflects stability, while the four Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open) symbolize the highest honor. Since Federer won the year-end world number one in 2004, the Big Four have shared the year-end number one title until 2021. Since Federer won three Grand Slam titles in a single year in 2004, in 75 Grand Slam events, only eight players other than the Big Four have won the championship, and the number of victories is only ten times.
The dominance of the Big Four is so tyrannical that there is a “lost generation” in men’s tennis – “post-90s” players.
Players born in the 1990s were “oppressed” in all directions by the “post-80s” predecessors.
Players born in the 1990s were “oppressed” in all directions by the “post-80s” predecessors. It was not until Wimbledon in 2016 that Canadian player Milos Raonic became the first “post-90s” to break into the Grand Slam final. Raonic was 26 at the time. In contrast, Federer set foot in the Grand Slam final for the first time at the age of 22, and was already the oldest player in the Big Four’s debut final.
The first Grand Slam victory of the “post-90s” will not appear until 2020. Austrian Dominic Thiem won the US Open in a “post-90s” civil war with German Alexander Zverev. However, the game was not seen as a turning point in the rise of a new generation. First of all, Tim is 27 years old, and there is not much time left for him to create an era. More importantly, the new crown pneumonia epidemic led to a complete suspension of tennis events. The elderly Federer and Nadal did not participate, and Djokovic was disqualified for hitting the ball boy by mistake. In other words, the “post-90s” did not repel the giants through direct “confrontation” to achieve a breakthrough in the Grand Slam championship.
In the 2021 US Open, Daniel Medvedev, born in 1996, finally represented the “post-90s” and successfully defeated the giants in the Grand Slam final. He beat Djokovic 3-0 in the final. Djokovic was the champion of the other three Grand Slams that year, maintaining a momentum of 27 consecutive Grand Slam victories. Medvedev overwhelmed his seniors like autumn leaves, and his symbolic meaning was far more prominent than that of Tim.
However, the giants have not fully given way. In 2021, Djokovic will occupy the No. 1 ranking in the world throughout the year, and will not be replaced by Medvedev until March 2022.
In terms of Grand Slam, Nadal will win the Australian Open and French Open in 2022, and Djokovic will dominate Wimbledon. In addition, Alcaraz, who won the US Open, was born in 2003, and the “post-90s” will once again fail in the 2022 Grand Slam.
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal
“Post-90s” tennis player Daniel Medvedev
Can’t make up for lack of diligence?
The tennis industry has done a lot of analysis on why the “post-90s” “disappeared”.
Some people think that the “post-90s” are unlucky to meet the three superstars who will never be born. In their early 20s, when they were full of potential, they were swept away by the giants in the sky, their hearts were extinguished, and they ended up living in the shadow of the giants for most of their careers.
The famous Swedish coach Frederick Rosengren once described young people’s “fear” of giants in an interview in 2018: “I often propose a week before the start of the Monte Carlo Masters: ‘Should we go to Find Nadal and practice with him on the clay court?’ But I think the younger generation is afraid of doing this.”
Some people think that the “post-90s” are purely lacking in strength. Like most sports, the golden age of tennis is generally 25-30 years old. In this age group, the Big Four have been broken by Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and other “post-80s” players who have broken the monopoly.
And when Djokovic, the youngest of the giants, has entered his thirties, starting from the 2017 Australian Open, the giants have won 14 consecutive Grand Slam championships. Theoretically speaking, at that time, the “post-90s” were gradually entering their prime and should have risen, but in reality they were firmly suppressed by the giants. It can be seen that the gap between “post-90s” and “post-80s” is not only reflected in courage, but also in the level of realism.
Others believe that the limited strength of the “post-90s” is just a “fruit”, and the “cause” is that they are not as focused on tennis as the “post-80s”. In the era when the “post-80s” grew up, material comforts were relatively less abundant, and there were not too many external temptations to draw attention. This generation of players will integrate hard work and self-discipline into their genes. For example, Djokovic does not pursue appetite and insists on a “gluten-free diet” to ensure that his physical condition remains at the top level. Nadal is known for his enthusiasm for long-term training. When he was young, he trained on the court for 4 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the gym in the afternoon. He was called a “devil muscle man”.
2020 Australian Open tennis tournament
In contrast, “post-90s” golfers have entertainment such as car beauties and video games. The same comment from Rosengren is: “The new generation of players is generally not as active in tennis training as the old generation.”
No matter what causes the “post-90s” to fade away, there is no time left for them to write their own era. many.
“Post-00s” are more expected
The giants have ruled for too long, and the “post-90s” were suppressed by the peak “post-80s” at the beginning of their debut. After the “post-80s” get old, the more energetic “post-00s” will also come to grab the new kingship. Since the “post-90s” do not have the rich experience of the “post-80s”, the “post-90s” may not have much advantage in the face of the “post-00s” who are not afraid of tigers.
The industry generally believes that after the giants go downhill, the “post-90s” have a chance to win some more Grand Slam championships. But the “post-00s” will soon take over, so the “post-90s” can only play a transitional role when the old and new royal powers alternate.
In recent years, the vitality of the “post-00s” has been very prominent. Alcaraz is the first “post-00” to reach the Grand Slam final. Like Federer and Nadal, the two “best in history” candidates, he became the winner in his first Grand Slam final appearance.
Other rising “post-00s” include Canadian Felix Auger-Aliasim (born in 2000), who has reached the semi-finals of the 2021 US Open. The Danish Holger Lune (born in 2003) reached the quarter-finals of the French Open in 2022; Italy’s Yannick Sinner (born in 2001) made three appearances in the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam in 2022. He and Alcaraz played in the US Open The five-game battle, which lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes, is a declaration for the “post-00s” to fully display their talents.
Alcaraz has already won the first post-00 championship, but he also did not win the title through direct dialogue with the giants. In the 2022 US Open, Nadal stopped in the top sixteen, and Federer and Djokovic did not participate. As far as the industry expects, it is more symbolic to use a “post-00s” battle against giants to present the alternation of old and new. This is like Wimbledon in 2001, when the fledgling Federer beat the “King of the Grass” and American legend Pete Sampras 3:2. Later, Federer recalled that defeating his idol made him realize his potential. Since then, his confidence has greatly increased, and he won his first Grand Slam title in the same arena two years later.
Sampras was born in 1971, compared to Federer, it is still two generations of adjacent generations. The “post-00s” and “post-80s” belong to a different generation, reflecting the long era of giant rule.
To this day, if the “post-00s” want to become the overlord, it is indeed possible to win the royal battle with the “post-80s”. Although Federer has retired, Nadal has won the French Open five times in six years and has always been the unshakable king of clay. Djokovic has maintained four consecutive Wimbledon victories. He did not participate in the 2022 Australian Open and the US Open. In 2023, the two are expected to attack in all four Grand Slams, and the newcomer will realize that the old king’s strength is still there.
“Superstar Story” new chapter to be continued
No matter how long the era of giants lasts, the time for the tennis world to turn this page is getting closer and closer. Discussing how the next generation will take over is actually discussing how the men’s tennis world can maintain its influence and commercial benefits by continuing to create stars.
The outstanding achievements of tennis “best in history” superstars Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have driven the commercial value of tennis to rise. Taking the US Open as an example, the total bonus has increased from US$18.21 million in 2004 to US$60 million in 2022, an increase of more than three times.
In addition to men’s singles, the US Open also includes women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles, wheelchair tennis and other events. Men’s singles and women’s singles are the focus, so the increase in US Open prize money is actually the result of the combined effect of men’s and women’s tennis.
Obviously, the source of men’s singles power is closely related to the giants. The industry is not without concern that after the giants retire, if no one takes over the title of superstar, will the temporary attractiveness of the tennis world decline.
Women’s tennis has no similar concerns. The American Williams sisters are also evergreens of the “post-80s generation”. The 42-year-old sister Venus has not yet hung up the auction; the 41-year-old sister Serena announced “finding a new world” on the eve of the 2022 US Open, and said after more than a month that she “has not quit”. But they are just the exception of players of the same generation, and they have not won a Grand Slam in five years.
Alcaraz has already won the first post-00 championship, but he also did not win the title through direct dialogue with the giants.
2022 Wimbledon Tennis Championship match scene, Latvian tennis player Yelena Ostapenko
In fact, the upgrading of women’s tennis is far more “efficient” than men’s. In 2011, Czech Petra Kvitova won Wimbledon and became the first person in the “post-90s” women’s Grand Slam. In 2017, Latvia’s Yelena Ostapenko won the French Open and was the first “post-95” women’s Grand Slam champion. After that, the women’s tennis world entered the era of melee, “post-80s” Angelique Kerber, “post-90s” Simone Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, “post-95s” Naomi Osaka, “post-00s” “Bianca Andreescu was in charge. The current popular female player is the Polish Iga Swiatek born in 2001, who has won three Grand Slams.
The men’s tennis world enjoys the eyeball effect and commercial assistance brought by the giants. The more legendary the deeds of the giants, the more it can encourage fans to rush to buy tickets, TV stations to introduce broadcasting rights, and sponsors to seek exposure opportunities for events. But this superstar role will disappear with the withdrawal of giants.
Therefore, men’s tennis is looking forward to the transition of the old and new kings. The sooner Alcaraz takes over, the sooner the men’s tennis world will recover the “production machine” of wealth.