Photograph: Getty Images
It’s been an incredible ride for tennis fans over the past 20 years watching three of the greatest of all time together in the one era.
Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have built amazing rivalries and given us incredible unforgettable matches on the biggest stages. They have broken so many records along the way.
I often hear people say what’s it going to be like when these three are gone. The casual tennis fan would say that tennis might not be as interesting, and even some in tennis circles might agree, but I for one don't subscribe to this theory. I don't think there's a bigger (‘Big 3’) fan out there than myself. I have spent many nights climbing out of bed in the middle of the night to watch the trio play each other at all the big events over the years and loved every minute of these amazing matchups.
It seems like for a while now, maybe more than a while we have been asking when the next-gen group of Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev and the like are going to take over from the ‘Big 3’. Besides Medvedev’s one slam, we are still waiting. It also seems that maybe these guys have already missed a big chance to break through.
With the arrival of recently turned 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, already number six in the world and winning Masters 1000 level events, defeating Nadal and Djokovic in back to back matches is something the others have never been able to accomplish, I think tennis is in good hands, powerful and deft hands in Carlos’ case.
The tennis world already knows how good the young Spaniard is and even the casual tennis fan now has heard of him and what he is doing. The hype is real and to think that Nadal Djokovic and Federer's numbers could ever be matched or bettered at any stage was probably unrealistic, well maybe not now.
Tennis fans can now enjoy the chase and all that Carlos can achieve.
Let's take a look at some of the other young guys out there that are coming but haven't reached Carlos’ unbelievable level just yet, but these guys could be his rivals.
Two that come to mind straight away have already been established in the top 20 for some time now and have shown that their best tennis is good enough to trouble anyone. Jannik Sinner and Felix Auger-Aliassime are only 20 and 21 years old respectively.
Both showed in the first major of the year the Australian open, that they are not far away with Sinner’s quarter-final appearance and Felix’s epic quarter-final match vs Medvedev where he took the first two sets and had a match point before going down in five sets to the eventual runners up.
Holgar Rune is another young gun who has had a rapid rise up the rankings, now up to 40 after being just outside the top 100 in January this year. He has recently turned 19 and claimed his first ATP title and had a victory over Zverev already this year show’s the talent is there with the young Dane.
Sebastian Korda, son of former Australian open champion Peter Korda is another young gun with a big game that is going to be a rival for Alcaraz. The former world number 1 junior who is now only 21 years of age is already up to number 30 in the world and is the only man to beat Alcaraz on clay this year. They will meet again in the third round of Roland Garros.
Sebastian Baez is another young gun on the rise and another former world number 1 junior who is now up to world number 36 at the age of 21. The little man from Argentina could follow in another well established little man from Argentina's footsteps in Diego Schwartzman and reach the top 10 in the rankings and possibly more with his baseline game that packs a punch!
Lorenzo Musetti is another young gun and yet another former junior world number 1 who over the last couple of years has shown us what he is capable of by getting some big wins at the Masters 1000 level. He reached the fourth round of the 2021 French Open, leading Djokovic by two sets to love before running out of steam. A beautiful shot maker with the most elegant one-hand backhand, the game is there for the talented Italian if he can figure out how to put all the pieces together.
These are just some of the young guys that are knocking on Carlos Alcaraz's door to hopefully join him at the very top end of the game in the near future.
For Alcaraz, the future is now, as he sits alongside Nadal and Djokovic at the top of the ATP summit and all of us tennis fans and casual fans can enjoy the ride.
The kids are alright!