What does the future hold for Tennis as the top seeds fall in Melbourne?

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20: Ball kids dry the court as rain start to fall during the third round match between Mona Barthel of Germany and Ashleigh Barty of Australia on day five of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

With Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic on the ATP side and Angelique Kerber on the WTA side failing to make deep runs at the first grand slam of the year, does this mean a changing of the guard?

I don’t see the big four on the men’s side in any danger. Murray and Djokovic have quite a cushion from the next ranked player, with Murray having nothing to defend in February (he skipped February last year as his daughter was born), he can make even more gains.

Djokovic has points to defend at the first part of the year, but didn’t progress far enough in later tournaments after Wimbledon where he went out in the third round.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (the other members of the big four, although their rankings have slipped due to injury) are on the way back up. Order should be restored this year, with those four occupying the top four spots.

Going forward, as these players age, the opportunity for younger players to win the big events including the Grand Slams will pop up. Watching Alexander Zverev push Nadal to five sets was enthralling.

Alexander (or Sascha) is definitely a talent for the future. I see in him what I saw when I first glimpsed Murray. A star of the future, I knew it then and it’s still the case now.

We have to accept that as the big four age, their “shock” losses may come more often.

However, as it stands, I don’t see much to worry about. Djokovic losing to Denis Istomin in the second round, and Murray to Mischa Zverev in round four should not be that much of a concern.

With Murray, the run at the end of the season would eventually catch up with him, better now than later in the year when he has all those points to defend.

Djokovic has been “out of sorts” since Wimbledon really and no one seems to be able to put a finger on it.

Nadal, well he was out with injury a lot of last year, so he is just finding his way back to fitness. Fighting in a five set match and winning it will have helped his confidence.

Federer is also on his way back, although he is the oldest member of the big four, and is likely to be the first to retire (but don’t quote me on that).

The draw at the Australian Open on the ATP side, is wide open, although people are still picking Federer and Nadal to make the final. It would be good for the sport to have a first time slam winner here.

Perhaps Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Milos Raonic or even Gael Monfils could breakthrough to claim a maiden slam title.

On the ladies side, the world number one Kerber also fell at the fourth round stage. This leaves Serena Williams as the favourite to claim another Slam.

There is more scope on the ladies side for a challenger to Williams, but doubtful that anyone will.

The biggest thing that could happen to the ladies side, would be a first time winner. The field is open like the men’s side, barring Williams.

What would be great would be if say Johanna Konta could go one step further than last year and make the final.

The Brit, who has been storming up the rankings and is seeded at the event, has won some titles but never a slam. The last female British winner of any Grand Slam was Virginia Wade back in 1977.

Since then the Brits have not done very well on the ladies side. Mind you the men’s side had to wait even longer, as prior to Murray the last winner of a Grand Slam for Britain was Fred Perry.

With Konta moving steadily up the rankings, Heather Watson making progress – going one round further than the year before, plus all the other players who are starting to break through the dominance of Williams, it shouldn’t be long before other woman win the slams regularly.

The future of the sport is secure in terms of players coming through. Making things interesting with different winners cropping up at the majors.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Nothing to worry about really, Novak has not been in the greatest form, Andy I can say was not 100%. And,the less known players are not just going to roll around and accept being beaten by big names, they are there with nothing to lose so with nothing to lose, everything to win and that`s what they are trying to do, beat the big guy.
    As for Konta making finals……….nothing is impossible but that will be pushing it too far although I must admit she`s quite improved this year.
    On men`s first time winner, that will be hard, I don’t see the older guys just letting them walk away with it, although there is still a full week to go, there are still enough old guys out there to take the title.Supporter or not,I hope Nadal can win it,the guy has suffered too many injuries but always work his way up.
    Wonder where he will be if he never had to fight injuries

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