The Roar
The Roar


Tennis: Is the golden generation finally over?

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are two of the modern day greats. (AAP Image/Martin Philbey)
Roar Guru
24th December, 2014
1903 Reads

Is the golden generation in male tennis finally over? The question has been asked numerous times throughout the past few years, as the ages of the current crop of legends continue to rise like a released helium balloon.

When will the balloon reach so high in the atmosphere that it pops? The likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been floating in the dangerous territory of the atmosphere for quite a long time, as injury and form have been taking its toll.

Novak Djokovic has started hitting his straps, although at the age of 27, he and Andy Murray won’t have long left at the top before injury starts to curtail them, just like what has happened to Nadal. It is hard to stomach that Nadal is only 28, as his many injuries have limited us seeing his whipping forehand over the past few seasons.

As the rankings currently stand, Djokovic sits in first, followed by Federer, Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Murray. The surprising aspect of the rankings is that the top four is not what it used to be.

In the golden era where Federer and Nadal fought out majority of the slams, with Djokovic occasionally sneaking a look in, Federer or Nadal would sit first, with the other second, followed by Djokovic in third and Murray rounding out the four.

Then there were the likes of David Ferrer, who would always play second fiddle to Nadal and would never get a look in. The changing in the guard is slowly starting to occur in the rankings, as only a thousand points sit between Nadal and Wawrinka, with Nishikori pursuing closely.

In 2009, when Juan Martin del Potro blasted everyone off the court to claim the US Open, the media started to assume that the reign of the almighty four was starting to deflate, as no longer were the top four the last ones remaining in the semi-finals of the Grand Slams.

Yet they proved themselves, with the top four winning every Grand Slams until the 2014 Australian Open, where the debate was opened yet again. As Wawrinka downed Djokovic in the quarter-finals, the fans started to stir as Wawrinka overcame an injured yet brave Nadal in the final.

The debate raged into the French Open, where the world was corrected as Nadal won yet again and Djokovic overcame Federer in a thrilling Wimbledon final, as everyone rested back on their seats with satisfaction as the top four clicked at yet another slam. Just as the comfort levels were rising, the debate was flung open more viciously than ever before, as the 2014 US Open boil-over earmarked an amazing occasion in men’s open tennis.


With Wawrinka’s higher ranking than Murray, Djokovic had to play the Scot in the quarter finals, ending his campaign in four sets, as Wawrinka was beaten by Nishikori. In the other quarter finals, Marin Cilic overcame seventh seed and perennial quarter-finalist Tomas Berdych in straight sets, setting up a semi-final clash with Federer, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a five-set thriller with highlight machine Gael Monfils.

With Nadal out injured yet again, only two of the top four were in the semi-finals. In a changing of the guard moment, Nishikori blitzed Djokovic and Cilic steamrolled Federer, setting up two players with the lowest ranked seeds playing in a final since the 2002 US Open Final. Cilic duly won in straight sets, but that didn’t matter to anyone. The semi-finals may as well have been the final, as nobody even bothered to intensely watch the final. The game had changed.

But the question is now posed for the 2015 Australian Open. Will the top four right the ship, or will the likes of Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, Nishikori, Cilic, Berdych, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov put a cork on the ever-flowing champagne bottle that is the famed top four?

Will they change all of our pre-existing thoughts on men’s tennis, or will the pure willpower of the awesome foursome shine through in what could be the best Grand Slam win for one of them?

Whatever happens, it will surely be the most hyped men’s Grand Slam for a long time, as all eyes turn to Melbourne Park to see whether true champions show their worth, or whether young talent really is as threatening as they say.