In a span between 2005 and 2013, the Big Four Tennis Era of Men’s singles won 34 of 35 Grand Slams. And just who are these Big Four? Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray; and they have ruled tennis. But in 2014 the landscape of the sport is changing. The group was only 2 for 4 in major events this year. Federer is aging, Nadal’s injuries are mounting, and Murray simply hasn’t been the same since finally conquering Wimbledon in 2013. Only Djokovic appears to be in fine form. Is this era coming to a close amongst the fading stars and rising new class of tennis hopefuls?
In short, that is exactly what is occurring. Federer may be the greatest tennis player the world has ever seen, but at 33 is clearly not the same dominant player he once was. While he continues to win smaller tournaments and make deep Grand Slam runs, the fact is he hasn’t claimed a big title since Wimbledon 2012, now two years ago. He appears physically unable to go the distance at long events that require 8 5-set matches. Father time remains undefeated.
Meanwhile, Nadal’s extremely physical play has now seen him accumulate an endless frustration of injuries. While he continues to play very well when healthy, it seems that more often than not he is facing some sort of ailment or another. Right now it’s surprisingly appendicitis. His year is over. Nevertheless, he continues to champion the French Open, with 9 titles to his name. How long that run remains in tact is anyone’s guess.
And then there’s Andy Murray, who has fallen mightily since reaching the summit of his career last year at “>Wimbledon. His struggles have been strange and seem to do more with his head than anything else. He looks to be on his way back having recently won the Valencia Open 500 and Erste Bank Open, but still has yet to play that well in recent major tournaments. Perhaps a solid outing at the ATP World Tour Finals will set his career straight. Still young, I think Murray can win more Grand Slams.
The only member of the Big Four who looks well is Djokovic, and his top ranking is far beyond that of anyone else. Winning Wimbledon was his 2014 highlight, and his energetic play remains a delight to watch. He is the current king of tennis. However, the reason he hasn’t been quite as dominant as he’d like isn’t due to any of the other “Big Four” players, it’s due to a rising crop of new stars.
2014 brought quite a bit of change to Men’s tennis. Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic both claimed their first Grand Slam titles (at the Australian Open and US Open respectively), while several youngsters also have begun to blossom. Milos Raonic looks to be a future star and Kei Nishikori has already made history in tennis as an Asian man. A major title seems likely to follow. These players are the real future of Men’s tennis. And so while perhaps this current era of the “Big Four” looks to be closing, maybe there will be a new big group of superstars that dominate the sport of tennis over the next decade…
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