Novak Djokovic making an early exit, Rafael Nadal getting injured before his semifinal against Roger Federer who then goes on to lose in the title clash against Dominic Thiem. Things are happening in the world of tennis. Could this be the year when the younger generation of players who have been threatening to take over from “The Big Three’’ finally achieve their objective? They have been snapping at the heels of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal for a couple of years now but it is the senior trio that is still winning the Grand Slams or occupying the top spots in the ATP rankings.
However some of the players who are in the top 10 have also been registering notable victories. Late last year Alexander Zverev won the season ending Masters defeating Federer in the semifinals and Djokovic in the final a feat which catapulted him to No 3 in the rankings. Stefanos Tsitsipas the fast rising Greek has been making waves defeating Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open, making the semifinals there and then entering the final of the Dubai Open before losing to – Federer. The prodigiously gifted 20-year-old has made it to the top ten while the others in the top eight like Juan Martin del Potro, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson have either won a Grand Slam or made the title clash. And now after his performance in the just concluded BNP Paribas Masters event at Indian Wells Thiem has joined the list of serious Grand Slam contenders and a challenger for ending the supremacy of “The Big Three.’’
The 25-year-old Austrian has been around for some time but his performances at the Grand Slams have been below par, his best being finalist at the French Open last year. But in the Californian desert he at last gave proof that he is right up there with the other challengers. Federer was on the verge of creating history in Indian Wells a match away from becoming the first player to capture six titles there. But Thiem made Federer wait for the historic moment with a three set victory that gave him his first ATP Masters 1000 title. The major triumph saw Thiem climb from No 8 to a career high of No 4 in the latest ATP rankings while Federer is now No 5. So things are hotting up and the challengers to “The Big Three’’ are getting closer. But will the take over happen this year remains to be seen. It must not be forgotten that the only Grand Slam of the year has been won by Djokovic.