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.