Roger Federer’s stunning win at this year’s Australian Open was a magnificent and unexpected addition to his legacy.
However at 35 years of age and with Rafael Nadal turning 31 – and Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray turning 30 this year – there’s no denying that we are in the twilight of the greatest era in men’s tennis.
The stats reflecting this unrivalled era of dominance by these four players are as jaw dropping as they are definitive.
Since Wimbledon 2003, when Federer broke through with his maiden title against Mark Philippoussis, to 2017, with his triumph at the Australian Open, 55 majors (the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open) have been played.
Out of these 55 majors, 47 were won by Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray.
I include Murray over Warwinka because over this period of time Murray has contested eleven grand slam finals, while Warwinka contested three – albeit winning each time he made the final which is an impressive feat on its own.
And just in case you need any further confirmation of the dominance of this era, from the 55 major finals played in that period, only three of those finals didn’t involve one of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray.
For the record, the scraps left behind were picked up by Roddick (US Open 2003), Gaston Gaudio (French Open 2004), Marat Safin (Australian Open 2005) Juan Martin del Potro (US Open 2009) Marin Cilic (US Open 2014) and Stan Warwinka (Australian Open 2014, French Open 2015 and US Open 2016).
For nearly 15 years Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have dominated the game in a way that is unlikely to be repeated. Or is it?
From what was on show during the recent Australian summer of tennis, my contention is that if the cards fall the right way, we may be on the cusp of ushering in the next big four in men’s tennis.
This potentially could light up a new wave of rivalries and dominance that just might help fill the huge hole that will be left by the exit of the current big four.
Yes, there’s a long way to go and yes a lot of stars need to align, but imagine if the following four players all ‘kicked’ over the next 12 months at the same time and maintained their level and consistency over the next five years.
Dominic Thiem (age 23, current ATP ranking 8)
Grigor Dimitrov (age 25, current ATP ranking 13)
Nick Kyrios (age 21, current ATP ranking 15)
Alexander Zverev (age 19, current ATP ranking 22)
Within this group, there’s a wonderful mix here of playing styles, raw energy and larger-than-life personalities that just could ignite a second golden era.
What do you think?