Last night Grigor Dimitrov won his first masters title after defeating Nick Kyrgios in straights sets in the Cincinnati Masters final. It made me start thinking if the era of the big four is over…
So who are the big four? Well, if you’ve been living under a rock, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are often referred to as the “Big Four” in tennis. Sometimes we Stan Wawrinka gets included as well and the quartet expands to the “Big Five”. These players have simply dominated tennis massively over the last decade and the only slams won outside the big five during these ten years was when Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 and Marin Cilic the US Open in 2014. This is proof of an almost incredible domination of the game.
You could argue that not much has changed in 2017. Federer and Nadal has surged back, claiming the three slams so far and all masters titles but two while Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka has all been plagued by injury problems. But with Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov winning the last two ATP 1000 titles in Montreal and Cincinnati, I can’t help but feel that 2017 will be when the new generation of players breaks through and shatters the domination of the Big Four.
This is just a feeling of course and something that is highly open for discussion. It’s really nice to see Federer and Rafa back winning big titles, but can it go on forever? Isn’t it good for tennis that some new stars are born and start accomplishing bigger things on bigger courts? There are quite a few fearless next generation players out there now, ready to throw over the established royalty of tennis. Who will get there first? Alexander Zverev is a good bet, since he already has two masters titles this year (and three others) and is ranked number six in the world at the moment.
So Zverev is definitely getting there. What about the rest? Dominic Thiem is a bit up and down at the moment. David Goffin is still getting his game back from his injury time-out. Nick Kyrgios? Too cocky? Too much of a head case? We all know he has the game to thrill the crowd and the sport desperately need guys like Kyrgios. Then we have Frances Tiafoe who shows great promise. Possibly Alexander Bublik. Can Borna Coric make strides? What about Jared Donaldson, Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov? There are plenty of players with promise, in 2018 it’s time for them to start taking their chances and winning some more titles.
We have the “older” guys as well. Can the guy once called “Baby Federer”, Grigor Dimitrov, start being a real threat for slams? He reached the semi-finals in Melbourne and now he’s won his first masters title. Will this create the confidence to lead him towards greater things? Who knows. Sometimes one title, one moment, can define your career journey. Maybe this was the moment in Cincinnati last night?
Or will we see more of the same in 2018 with the return of a healthy Djokovic, a Federer who knows he has more slams in him and a Rafa that still can dominate on clay? Would be interesting to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Whatever the outcome, I think tennis is in good shape for years to come…