It is inevitable that all sports stars will one day retire having peaked in their career performance, this will one day be the case for tennis superstars Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, also known as the Big Three.
Between 2003 and the current season, these three players have dominated all professional tennis tournaments and competitions. Together they have won 58 out of a possible 70 Grand Slam titles and 18 consecutive majors from the 2005 French Open to the 2009 Wimbledon games.
However, it appears that these three players may no longer be at the top of their game, as for the second year in a row, the final of the Nitto ATP will not feature Djokovic, Federer or Nadal.
As a new generation of tennis pros make themselves known on the court, a number of younger entrants are said to be the future champions of the sport. Included in this is Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, who recently won against Djokovic and Nadal (respectively), at the O2 Arena in London, UK.
So who are these up and coming players that are set to steal the spotlight from Djokovic, Federer and Nadal in the near future?
In the tennis world, all eyes are on Russian player Daniil Medvedev who recently reached a new career high after making it to the 2021 Australian Open final. Those who bet on tennis will be following him closely in upcoming games, as he is tipped to be the third favourite to win Wimbledon, quite the achievement for a player of his age.
Not only did Medvedev win his last ten matches last season, he has won all of his first ten matches in 2021, most of which were against top ten ranked opponents.
The 25 year old, who is no relation to the former world number four champion Andrei Medvedev, was raised in Moscow and first decided to take up tennis at the age of nine. He is also an avid PlayStation player and has even competed in national competitions for video gaming.
Danill’s playing style is that of a defensive baseliner who tries to mirror his opponents’ moves. He has stated that his dream opponent is Pete Sampras, a retired American pro with 14 Grand Slam singles titles to his name.
27 year old Austrian player Dominic Thiem is currently ranked fourth by the ATP Tour for singles. In 2020, he achieved a career high with a number three ranking and has stayed in the top ten since 2016.
Thiem defeated both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on his way to the 2019 championship ATP Finals match. Last year he also became the first player to win the US Open final from two sets down.
The player began playing tennis at the age of six, following in the footsteps of his older brother tennis pro Moritz Thiem. He entered the ITF junior circuit at the age of 14 in 2008 and ranked second, from there his career continued to progress at an impressive pace.
Outside of tennis, Thiem is a huge football fan and supports the English team Chelsea FC. He also enjoys participating in ski jump competitions and plays charity football matches with his friends.
Both the player’s father and mother are professional tennis coaches and he has in the past stated that his dream opponent would be Andre Agassi, a retired American player who is an eight time Grand Slam champion.
Another Big Three competitor in the next generation of tennis stars is Stefanos Tsitsipas, a Greek player who has been playing professionally since 2016. At just 22 years old, Tsitsipas is the youngest ATP top ten ranked player and is currently at fifth place in the table.
Stefanos is the first Greek player in the Open Era to win a junior Grand Slam men’s title. He has reached the Grand Slam semi-finals at the Australian Open in 2019, the French Open in 2020 and the 2021 Australian Open.
Both of his parents play and coach tennis and he started playing when he was just three years old. All of his siblings are also keen tennis players who compete in tournaments, while his footballer grandfather Sergei Salnikov won a gold Olympic medal in 1956.
Beyond tennis, Stefanos enjoys travelling, vlogging and photography and has his own podcast, named A Greek Abroad.
Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas have taken the world of professional tennis by storm in recent years and are certainly favourites to become the next Big Three. Other players such as German Alexander Zverev have also been tipped as a successor, with Rafael Nadal himself suggesting Zverev is likely to reach the number one ranking.
While Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have had to slow down in recent years, partly due to injuries, these players are not done yet. With so many Grand Slam titles under their belts, they are all keen to prove they are the best players ever in this era of tennis.