For many years now, the next generation of tennis has been attempting to topple the more experienced pillars of the sport, but it finally seems that the old guard are being usurped by the pretenders to the throne. Although Novak Djokovic has enjoyed yet another stellar year in the sport, at the age of 34, the Serb is single-handedly holding off the crop of youngsters looking to establish themselves as the player to beat. The best tennis betting sites are keeping a close eye on the developments of the NextGen to see who can dethrone the Serb.
Djokovic, along with legends of the sport Rafael Nadal (35), Roger Federer (40) and even Andy Murray (34) went through a long period of swapping open titles between themselves. Many came to conquer and fell by the wayside. It is remarkable to note that the age gap between Djokovic and the next oldest player at the season ending Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Daniil Medvedev, is a staggering nine years. Within that near decade gap, players such as Kei Nishikori (31), Milos Raonic (30) and David Goffin (30) have attempted to bridge the waves of talent emerging in the tennis world. But testament to the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, they maintained such a high and consistent level of performance that they seemed impervious to any challenge.
But that might be starting to change. Over 2021, the momentum has been building for the likes of Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Matteo Berrettini. With the older statesmen managing their tournaments more, as a result of the pandemic and injuries, the opportunity presented itself for the next group of tennis stars to get some titles under their belts and more importantly, build up confidence to take the fight to anyone standing on the other side of the court.
Current world number 2, Medvedev, perhaps made the most telling breakthrough, defeating Djokovic in the US Open Final 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to deny the Serb the Grand Slam of Open titles. And this was just a month after Zverev had claimed the Olympics gold medal, with Djokovic eventually finishing in 4th place after being beaten by Zverev in the semi-finals. This defeat was particularly agonising for Djokovic as it denied him the chance to claim the Golden Slam and become the first player in history to win every major honour. However, the undisputed current number one did claim his 6th Wimbledon title back in June, defeating Berrettini 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 but June was in fact a breakout month for the Italian as he beat home favourite Cameron Norrie to win the Queen’s Club Championship.
Further mentions and players to watch out for in 2022 are Casper Ruud, who has added multiple ATP Tour 250 titles to his personal trophy cabinet in 2021, Cameron Norrie, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem, who despite not having played much tennis in 2021 due to a wrist injury suffered at the Mallorca Open in June, can still look back at his own US Open triumph in 2020.
We can expect Nadal, Federer and Murray to return in 2022, but how much longer can those sturdy pillars of tennis hold strong against the wave of new talent looking to etch their names into tennis history?