Life After the Big 3

At the moment we have Federer, Rafa and Djokovic in postions 1, 2 and 4 on the all time slam winners list. I don't think any of us truly appreciate how lucky we are to be seeing this or how it is going to be once they are all retired.

I think over the last decade we have gotten used to Roger pushing the slam record forward, Rafa chasing after him and Novak chasing them both. They have pushed each other to greatness.

Is there going to be the same passion in the game once they all retire? I know there will be new stars, new slam winners and most likely a great level of tennis still on display but the dynamic of three all time greats racking up slams and competing with each other for all time greatness is something that will be missing and it may feel like there is quite a void in the game because of it.

Thoughts?
 

Neil_Fedfan

Rookie
Tennis is way bigger than any individual player or any group of players. It survived Laver/Rosewall's dominance in 60's/70's, Borg's in late 70's, Sampras in 90's and so on, so I am pretty sure we'll get another dominiant champion in future once these three players are retired
 
Tennis is way bigger than any individual player or any group of players. It survived Laver/Rosewall's dominance in 60's/70's, Borg's in late 70's, Sampras in 90's and so on, so I am pretty sure we'll get another dominiant champion in future once these three players are retired

True! I guess I was more refering to the dynamic of having three guys at the very top of the all time list at the same time.
 

every7

Hall of Fame
Nice thread. I think interesting narratives will emerge, and the next ten years already looks like it will contain some very high level tennis and great characters at the top.

But like you mention, we have been VERY lucky to have such a historically great dynamic at the top through the last 15 years, with 3-4 players who have all been consistently brilliant. It's almost been scriptwritten the way they have wrestled power from each other, and fought and comeback multiple times, while also ushering in a new era of gentility at the top of the game. The rivalry has been amazing but quite aside from that, the tennis in isolation has been of stratospheric quality.

I definitely think there will be a grieving period, but most tennis fans secretly love the democratic idea of no one player being bigger than the game, and when the new stars emerge we will love that maybe they bring a new contrast. So the game will continue to thrive in terms of having the talent.

I worry more about administrators and elements like broadcasters and the tournament organisers damaging the game going forward more than being concerned about no good players / narratives / rivalries coming through.

Putting that to one side, I will genuinely shed a tear when Stan goes. The bittersweet quality of his late career surge and the way he plays and his persona. He really is a one in a million. I hope he doesn't get lost in the shuffle of history.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I am pretty sure we'll get another dominiant champion in future once these three players are retired

I agree, but....

Tennis...survived Laver/Rosewall's dominance in 60's/70's, Borg's in late 70's, Sampras in 90's and so on

... There's a difference with these examples and The Big 3

As veterans, these guys were challeneged and/or superceded by the next generation of at the time future greats

The Big 3 are at a stage when a group of players should have done so, as per historical pattern.... but haven't (Federer aside, to be fair - he's transcended the sub-generation between him and the other 2 to a large extent)

We're looking at a huge sub-generational gap opening up here

Say Zverev or Thiem become future great champions ... anyone who watched Big 3 will not give them respect

Than a younger generation of viewers will come up who didn't see Big 3, love their favourites and argue against the above view passionately

This pattern is not new. You can see it with Sampras-Agassi generation relative to Big 3 now

But the extent to which Big 3 have shut out potential next generation stars will I think, lead to this effect being multiplied to a never before seen level

If Zverev completes a Grand Slam in 2025 or even wins 5 in a row, won't most of us who are followed the Big 3 in real time remain sceptical of his worthiness to be classed alongside them?
 

Neil_Fedfan

Rookie
I agree, but....



... There's a difference with these examples and The Big 3

As veterans, these guys were challeneged and/or superceded by the next generation of at the time future greats

The Big 3 are at a stage when a group of players should have done so, as per historical pattern.... but haven't (Federer aside, to be fair - he's transcended the sub-generation between him and the other 2 to a large extent)

We're looking at a huge sub-generational gap opening up here

Say Zverev or Thiem become future great champions ... anyone who watched Big 3 will not give them respect

Than a younger generation of viewers will come up who didn't see Big 3, love their favourites and argue against the above view passionately

This pattern is not new. You can see it with Sampras-Agassi generation relative to Big 3 now

But the extent to which Big 3 have shut out potential next generation stars will I think, lead to this effect being multiplied to a never before seen level

If Zverev completes a Grand Slam in 2025 or even wins 5 in a row, won't most of us who are followed the Big 3 in real time remain sceptical of his worthiness to be classed alongside them?
Well I said "in future", not in near future ;)

It may not turn out Thiem or any of the guys older than him to be super dominant. Zverev is the odd one out here. He is 20 and won a masters beating one of the big 3, has beaten Federer before and has lots of time to improve. Federer had a subpar year in 2002 after winning his 1st Masters and Fed in 2002 was older than Zverev is now. FYI, Fed also lost in R1 of RG and Wimbledon that same year.
 

smoledman

G.O.A.T.
What they all have in common is supreme athleticism and speed. Even many tout Alex Z but he doesn't have the speed of those greats. So Thiem? He's 24 and still hasn't won a slam, so no.
 

JMR

Hall of Fame
Subjective "he was the greatest ever!" convictions can be hard to combat, but when the new generation has the numbers, they can at least make an objective case for themselves that even nostalgic skeptics must respect. Sampras had the numbers at Wimbledon to challenge the legend of Borg. Agassi won as many slams as Connors and Lendl, plus the CGS. Then Federer and Nadal both passed Sampras, with Djokovic way up there as well, and with the NCYGS to boot.

The problem is that up-and-coming generations of champions, assuming they eventually arrive, are unlikely to have these kinds of numbers. Establishing their credibility as all-time greats thus may be difficult. We may have reached a point at which any champ with less than a dozen slam titles will be regarded as a pretender -- as just another in an endless series of "transitional champions." Who's going to come close to 10 FO titles?! Will there be three CGS holders competing at the same time again? Old-timers will be able to scoff, "Not only do I think Federer was better than any of your tennis heroes, sonny, I KNOW he was, because he won three times as many slams as the best of these chumps today!"

After the current era, the past will loom large -- perhaps too large.
 
After all three are done, I can see the slams being won by guys we would have never expected and to be honest it may feel like quite a few 'cheap' slams will be won.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
(Zverev) is 20 and won a masters beating one of the big 3, has beaten Federer before and has lots of time to improve. Federer had a subpar year in 2002 after winning his 1st Masters and Fed in 2002 was older than Zverev is now. FYI, Fed also lost in R1 of RG and Wimbledon that same year.

True, but Nadal was well ahead at the same stage and able to challenge a peak level GOATish type while he was at it

Between the 3 of them, they've covered all bases

Nadal as a prodigy
Federer as a veteran (a work still in progress)
Federer as a stylist

For clay-heavy style, Nadal. To outdo him in that approach, I think a future champions best opening is to do better than him off clay while also dominating on it to a lesser extent than Rafa has/is (I think his clay records will probably never be broken)

For non-clay style, Federer. To outdo him, a future champion would have to do a Djokovic plus maybe 2-3 more Frenches (it's less unlikely than Nadal's Frenches but still not at all likely)

When the easiest thing to match is Djokovic's 4 in a row:eek: - that is a staggeringly high bar!

btw, I favour Zverev to complete a career Grand Slam and I'm sure he'll get better... but I also think whatever he achieves will stay in the shadow of his predecessors.

Even if he matches their statistics, big questions will remain about his level of play if as a young pup he's unable to clearly supercede them in their veteran years

Well I said "in future", not in near future ;)

haha - I agree with you!:)

My main point is that the exploits of the Big 3 will create a huge generational gap in how people see future champions - bigger than any we've seen yet (and the one's we have aren't small):cool:

It's good to see you, btw, though I admit I preferred the older, more playful username

(Apparently, I'm already a "in my day everything was better" fuddy-duddy:oops: - future champions are only going to see A LOT of that!)
 

ibbi

G.O.A.T.
i don't really know what's so wonderful about seeing a handful of guys racking up all significant tournaments for a decade or more? The way the game is now it is likely to be more like this, so if that's your thing I don't think you'll be that let down :D but personally I've had about enough of this now, and I'm super excited to see where the game will go next. I will miss Nadal's absurd forehand, and Federer's game in general, but enough is enough.

Them winning everything has helped create big rivalries, but big rivalries have existed in tennis for multiple generations, and they will continue to do so. A few guys don't have to monopolize the game for that to happen.
 

xFullCourtTenniSx

Hall of Fame
I feel like we're nearing where the WTA was at a decade ago with the ATP. A ton of champions that show true consistency that would be great in any era, followed by a sudden retirement as all semblance of competition disappears and titles become nothing more than lottery prizes and the tour falls to the dirt with the poor quality of play.
 

Rago

Hall of Fame
Roland-Garros-third-round-preview-Thiem-Vs-Zverev.jpeg
 
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JMR

Hall of Fame
i don't really know what's so wonderful about seeing a handful of guys racking up all significant tournaments for a decade or more?

It doesn't have to be "wonderful" to shape perceptions for years to come. See my post above. Even fans who welcome more balanced competition may find themselves judging everyone according to standards set in a past age of giants.
 
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