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Step aside, ‘Big 4’, now is the time for the Next Gen to take over

This year’s US Open has proven to be one for the ‘Next Generation’ on the men’s side of the draw. Tennis Majors takes a look at the players set to take over the mantle from the ‘Big 4’.

Despite the obvious omissions of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to the 2020 US Open draw, due to surgery and concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic respectively, this most intriguing of men’s singles tournaments has taught us one thing. The ‘Next Generation’ of young players have stepped up to the plate and it will no longer be an easy ride for the ‘Big 4’ of the men’s game, who have dominated for the past two decades.

Of course, few would be foolish enough to argue that there are not more majors in at least two of those players. King of Clay Nadal is surely not done adding to his ludicrous haul of 12 French Open titles at Roland Garros and Novak Djokovic is still the world No 1 and will be determined to prove his doubters wrong and rise like a phoenix from the flames after his dramatic exit from this year’s tournament.

The chances of Federer and Andy Murray adding to their grand slam hauls seems less likely, the rigours of the tour limiting their time on court with trips to the surgery slab more frequent than visits to the tennis court in recent years.

So, who are the so-called ‘Next Generation’ tennis stars who first came to prominence in that very ATP Next Gen initiative for players Under 21, and what can we expect in the years to come?


Stefanos Tsitsipas

DOB: 12/8/1998

World ranking: 6

Career titles: 5

Why the big deal?

Tsitsipas came to prominence when defeating the great Federer in four sets in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open en route to the semi-finals. It was a breakthrough year, which he ended by beating Dominic Thiem to claim the prestigious end-of-season ATP Tour Finals. His attractive all-court game has won him many fans, and his combustible temperament seems his only flaw.



Daniil Medvedev

DOB: 11/2/1996

World ranking: 5

Career titles: 7

Why the big deal?

The rangy Russian has come a long way since losing to British journeyman Marcus Willis in the 2016 Wimbledon qualifiers and, having pushed Nadal all the way to five sets in last year’s US Open final, it is surely only a matter of time before he gets his hands on one of the big trophies himself.

Alexander Zverev

DOB: 20/4/1997

World ranking: 5

Career titles: 11

Why the big deal?

A semi-finalist at this year’s US Open, Alexander Zverev is already no stranger to winning on the biggest stage of all, having triumphed in the prestigious ATP Tour finals by beating Djokovic in the 2018 final. If he can somehow find a way of ironing out those troublesome double faults, his first major surely can’t be too far away.

Alexander Zverev

Andrey Rublev

DOB: 20/10/1997

World ranking: 14

Career titles: 4

Why the big deal?

The volatile Russian is a consistent performer in major championships, his highlight being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2017 US Open, a feat he has repeated in 2020. With a booming serve and fierce groundstrokes off either flank, if he doesn’t get too down on himself so often, things are bound to improve in no time.

Andrey Rublev at US Open against Matteo Berrettini

Denis Shapovalov

DOB: 15/4/1999

World ranking: 17

Career titles: 1

Why the big deal?

It seems a big surprise that Canadian Shapovalov’s best run in a major tournament to date is this year’s quarter-final run at the US Open, and some even tipped him to go all the way before his five-set loss to Pablo Carreno Busta. That experience will stand him in good stead and he is worth watching for that huge single-handed backhand alone.

Denis Shapovalov, US Open 2019

Felix Auger-Aliassime

DOB: 8/8/2000

World ranking: 21

Career titles: 0

Why the big deal?

Having swept aside the returning Murray in three rapid sets in the second round, Auger-Aliassime dropped just five games in his demolition of Corentin Moutet before running out of steam against Thiem. But with a sound temperament and huge all-court game, he is bound to turn the tables on the Austrian in the years to come.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, US Open, September 2020

Alex de Minaur

DOB: 17/2/1999

World ranking: 28

Career titles: 3

Why the big deal?

It is no surprise that Aussie Alex de Minaur is one of the quickest players around the court on tour, purely because he has Lleyton Hewitt at his mentor. There are other aspects of his game that are reminiscent of Hewitt, particularly his solid two-handed backhand, dangerous whipped forehand and consistent serve. A surprise quarter-finalist at this year’s US Open, it will be no surprise to see him back in the years to come.

Alex De Minaur

Matteo Berrettini

DOB: 12/4/1996

World ranking: 8

Career titles: 3

Why the big deal?

A beast of a man standing 6ft 5in (1.96m) and weighing 95 kilos (209lbs), Matteo Berrettini possesses a sledgehammer of a serve and arguably the biggest forehand in the men’s game. A semi-finalist at last year’s US Open, the Italian was beaten by Rublev in the fourth round this year. A winner in Patrick Mouratoglou’s innovative Ultimate Tennis Showdown, Berrettini proved that he has the adaptability to win anytime, anywhere.

Matteo Berrettini, US Open 2020

Frances Tiafoe

DOB: 20/1/1998

World ranking: 82

Career titles: 1

Why the big deal?

With just one Grand Slam quarter-final to his name at the 2019 US Open, it is something of a surprise that the talented American has only one career title to his credit after a massively promising junior career. But with youth on his side and a good run to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, expect further improvements to come.

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