the “Next Gen” dethroned before even reigning?

Carlos Alcaraz was consecrated by Alexander Zverev as

The sentence, professed by Novak Djokovic, dates back to February 2021. “There was a lot of talk about the new generation coming in and taking over the three of us. [Federer, Nadal et Djokovic], affirmed the Serb in Melbourne, future winner at the expense of Daniil Medvedev. But realistically, that still hasn’t happened. With all due respect, they still have a lot of work to do. »

Six months later, the world number one was deprived of a calendar Grand Slam – winning all four lifts in the same year – by the 26-year-old Russian, who even fleetingly sat on his throne in February 2022. In Melbourne, this year, the tall échalas (1.98 m) failed to double the bet, unfortunate finalist against Rafael Nadal, who had already stolen the trophy from him at the US Open 2019.

Even younger rivals

With the exception of Daniil Medvedev, the players embodying the new generation of world tennis – the German Alexander Zverev, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas or the Russian Andrey Rublev – have so far all failed to conquer the “Grail” in Grand Slam . A “Next Gen”, thus proclaimed in 2016 by the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP, the body managing the interests of the men’s circuit), which imagined him taking over from the three sacred monsters of the beginning of the 21st century.e century. The first “promotion” of these players born from 1995 also included in its ranks the Australian Nick Kyrgios, the Croatian Borna Coric or the Frenchman Quentin Halys.

And now those who were predicted the leading roles are seeing in their rear view rivals even younger than them, and at least as starved: the Italian Jannik Sinner, 20, and two gifted generation 2003, the Dane Holger Rune and, above all, the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. “Today you are the best player in the worldpraised 25-year-old Alexander Zverev after losing the final to the Iberian Tornado in Madrid on May 8. Even if you are only 5 years old, you kick ass all of us, and it’s good for tennis to see a big star like you emerge. You’re going to win lots of Grand Slam tournaments and be number one in the world. »

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Roland-Garros: Carlos Alcaraz, new conqueror of world tennis

Semi-finalist in Melbourne at the end of January, finalist at Porte d’Auteuil in 2021 against Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas is back on the Parisian clay court “very hungry”, as he put it before the tournament. Without being as complimentary as Alexander Zverev, the 23-year-old Greek can only bow to the trajectory of Carlos Alcaraz, without ever naming this player “under 20, who plays neither for money nor for fame, but simply for the love of this sport”. The Spaniard beat him in all three of their meetings, the last of which came in the quarter-finals at Barcelona on April 22.

Daniil Medvedev, on the other hand, wears a small smirk when it comes to discussing the “famous Carlos Alcaraz”. A few suspicions of jealousy would have arisen in the locker room? “I don’t think so, it’s not a feeling you can afford to have when you’re a tennis player., sweeps Camille Pin, consultant for Amazon Prime Video. It’s such an individual sport that others push you to be better. »

Announced since the juniors as the future nugget of Canadian tennis alongside his friend Félix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov (23) was knocked out in the first round of Roland-Garros on May 24 by Holger Rune, 19 year. Winner of the junior tournament in 2019, the Dane, who will face Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday in the round of 16 after eliminating Hugo Gaston in the third round, won the first title of his career in Munich on 1er May, eliminating Alexander Zverev in the process. “Holger plays incredible tennis, he stimulates the very best players”, said Denis Shapovalov, seeded No. 14, admitting to having himself “a few small things to improve, but [être] ready for the Grand Slams ».

The strength of the “Big 3”

Former player Arnaud Clément draws a severe conclusion on these young wolves who could well be grilled politeness: “The Zverevs, Tsitsipas… failed to take power over the three. They will pass them when age has caught up with these players, not because they have succeeded in dominating them in tennis, estimates the former tenth global. Result, they put themselves at the mercy of those who arrive behind. »

Back in Geneva in mid-May, after having been operated on for a hernia in March, Daniil Medvedev recalled a few fundamental truths: “To maintain a very high level is very difficult, and this is where the ‘Big 3’ is very strong. When Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are in a tournament, we know that they always have a very good chance of winning it. But these are exceptions. For others, it doesn’t work that way., said the world number two, quoted by the Swiss daily Time.

“This generation stamped “Next Gen” is solid, but it is being corrected by younger than it. And that’s going to push them to get back on track”, Guy Forget

If he was not officially part of this “Next Gen”, Dominic Thiem, born in 1993, embodies better than anyone the patience necessary to successfully climb Everest in tennis. The Austrian had to wait for his fourth Grand Slam final, at the age of 27, to finally triumph at the US Open, in 2020, in a table stripped of his three giants.

Patron of Roland-Garros until last year, Guy Forget considers these new rivalries as enticing. “This generation stamped “Next Gen” is solid, but it is being corrected by younger than it. And that’s going to tickle them, push them to put the collar back on. »

It remains to be seen if Carlos Alcaraz manages to succeed where his young predecessors still block: “In Grand Slam, where it really mattersinsists Arnaud Clément. We’ll see if he has the guns or not. Even if he passes the stages very quickly, he will have to manage additional pressure, the sequence of matches in five sets, permanent solicitations. We will have to see over time. »

Read also: Roland-Garros: Holger Rune, the other nugget in the shadow of Carlos Alcaraz

The Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, 21, considers this little game of comparisons between the younger generations a bit futile: ““Next Gen”, “new Next Gen”… We have to stop putting ourselves into categories. In the end, we are the age we are, we do our best”, he let go, on May 27, after qualifying for the knockout stages. While noting that last season, “there were only young people against Novak in the final” at the majors, and that they competed in all the Masters 1000, with the exception of Rome (Nadal) and Bercy (Djokovic). “It’s true that Rafa and Novak have had a lot of success in recent years and remain difficult to beat. But, in the next few years, that will change, that’s for sure. »

Despite a fierce battle in five rounds, the panache of the Canadian was not enough for him, Sunday, to overthrow the Mallorcan, who will find his best Serbian enemy Tuesday in the quarterfinals. A defeat which reminds us that before sharing the cake between new generations, they will first have to send the two indestructible to retirement.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here