“It’s cool to see a new era,” Frances Tiafoe ushered in a new era of tennis after knocking Rafael Nadal out of the US Open, so is this the end of the golden generation?
Novak Djokovic and Nadal combined to win this year’s first three Grand Slam titles to make it 15 of the past 17 overall.
Add in Roger Federer, and it’s 20 of the last 22. Take it back further, and it’s an incredible 63 of the last 76.
The only other men with more than one Grand Slam in that era are Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, with three apiece.
Serena Williams, who played in what was expected to be her last match in professional tennis in New York, collected 23-Grand Slam titles spanning three decades.
“Some depart, others come and the world keeps going. It’s a natural cycle,” said Nadal. “It’s always the same. The same ones have been up there several years; others are coming and we will be leaving. It’s logical.”
I always think the best gauge of what’s going to happen in the future is the Masters 1000 events. That has been a massive change of the guard with Pablo Carreno Busta and Borna Coric winning in Montreal and Cincinnati respectively. You look at the likes of Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who we thought were the next ones to win a major, but it could now skip a generation.
Of the 16 singles quarter-finalists across the women’s and men’s draw, world No 1 Iga Swiatek was the only winner of a major title with two French Open titles to her name.
It’s been nearly 20 years since there were no previous Grand Slam champions in the quarter-finals of a major. The last time that happened was at Wimbledon in 2003 when a young Swiss by the name of Federer walked away with the first of his 20 major titles.
Federer, 41, hasn’t played since Wimbledon in July 2021, while Nadal says he doesn’t know when he will be back after suffering his first defeat at a Grand Slam since his loss to Djokovic in the semi-finals of the French Open last spring.
Murray, 35, is working his way back into contention with a metal hip, although Djokovic should remain a Slam contender for some time yet.
With Serena more of less giving up tennis it will help a really good crop of youngsters coming through. Iga Swiatek has been able to dominate, while Coco Gauff is a star. It looked the same when we had the ‘Big Four’ and many people thought it was going to be Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori, but it can skip a generation which is weird.
Before this generation, we lost another great generation but there will never be a Rafa or a Roger or a Serena. But there were great champions in the past and there will be again.
Look at the next generation: Emma Raducanu’s phenomenal run 12 months ago gave belief to every young player hoping to go big.
Coco Gauff is already a proven performer at 18, while Dane Clara Tauson and the Chinese triumvirate of Zheng Qinwen, Wang Xiyu and Wang Xinyu will all be names to look out for, along with 17-year-old Czech Linda Noskova.
Carlos Alcaraz of course leads the charge for the men, backed up by 21-year-old Jannik Sinner, 19-year-old Dane Holger Rune and Britain’s 20-year-old Jack Draper.
“I don’t think it will be a big three. It will be like a big 12. There’s a bunch of guys playing great tennis,” said Tiafoe.
“I think it’s good. For sure you’ll probably have someone who probably like will cement and be at the top. That’s still kind of happening. We’ll see who that person’s going to be.
“It’s cool to see a new era.”
“I’m not worried. It’s part of sports. It’s part of life,” said Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. “Great champions leave and others arrive. You have to give young players the time to get to the top of the game and get mature and everything. The fans have to be ready for a new generation, as well.”
“Unfortunately for all of us, the sport moves on,” said Murray.