Sport Tennis' five stars who may knock Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal off perch
'Situation is different' Roger Federer admits spending time with wife Mirka has changed
ROGER FEDERER has praised his wife Mirka in a new interview, in which he shares that the latter has played a significant role in helping him become one of the best tennis players in the world.Mirka, 43, has always prioritised making sure that she and their four kids travel with their dad whenever they can, though it hasn't always been easy.
and have spent much of the year on the and their futures within the sport are uncertain. With the 2022 season approaching, the while the 40-year-old is looking at a .
Their absences have leftas the sole member of the Big Three on tour this year, and he became the man to beat after winning the first three Grand Slam titles of the year. However, even the world No 1 has been knocked off his perch at times this season, losing in the US Open and the ATP Finals as the young guys make their mark.
Novak Djokovic left out of Federer and Nadal friendship - 'Not the same admiration'
EXCLUSIVE: Former British No 1 Greg Rusedski believes Novak Djokovic has a "mutual respect" with world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, something he hasn't fully experienced with his Big Three rivals.Djokovic is currently competing in the final event of the season - the Nitto ATP Finals.
The ATP Tour has seen a shift in recent years, as some of the younger players begin to reach the upper echelons of the game and push for the biggest titles in the sport.
For years, the Big Three dominated the game, along with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who were often dubbed the Big Four and Big Five as a collective.
The five players won every single Grand Slam from the 2015 Australian Open to the 2020 US Open - and more before and after.
While an era of players including the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic were able to challenge the top guys and make it into the top end of the rankings, they were unable to win the biggest titles at Grand Slam level and failed to maintain consistency in the top ten each year.
Novak Djokovic's father claims he is being 'blackmailed' over Australian Open
REIGNING Australian Open champion and world number one Novak Djokovic appears unlikely to travel to Melbourne to defend his title over the rules around vaccination for players.The Serbian has regularly declined to reveal whether or not he has had the jab, while the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were also keen on keeping quiet.
But now, 20-time Grand Slam champions Federer and Nadal have barely been seen on the tour this year after suffering with their own respective injuries, causing them both to end their seasons ahead of the US Open - and leading to questions being asked about their dominance.
The Swiss tennis star is set to remain on the sidelines for several months while Nadal is eyeing a comeback at the upcoming Australian Open, though many are in doubt over how successful his return will be now he is 35 years of age.
Even Djokovic who has been the stellar player of 2021 - coming within one match of the Calendar Grand Slam and a record 21st Major title, reaching a record number of weeks at world No 1 and securing the- has found himself on the losing end of matches at some of the biggest tournaments against the top young players.
Emma Raducanu downplays SPOTY chances as Novak Djokovic set to miss Australian Open
WEEKLY TENNIS ROUND-UP: Emma Raducanu played her first match on home soil since becoming a Grand Slam champion last week as Novak Djokovic's father said his son would not play January's Australian Open over "blackmail".The world No 19 took to London's Royal Albert Hall 78 days after becoming a Grand Slam champion, playing a light-hearted exhibition match against her friend, world No 85 Elena-Gabriela Ruse for her homecoming match.
With the era of the Big Three's supreme dominance in every tournament coming to an end,takes a look at the five players who can knock Djokovic off his perch and make life tough for Federer and Nadal in their respective comebacks.
Often heralded as the best player of the current generation in their early-to-mid 20s making waves on the ATP Tour, Medvedev proved he was a cut above the rest by becoming the first of his era of players to
Not only did he win a Major title - he also became the man to deny Djokovic his dream of being the first male player in 52 years to achieve the Calendar Grand Slam.
He was close to winning a Major as early as 2019, when he came from two-sets-down against Nadal in the US Open final that year to force a fifth set, narrowly losing in the decider, but he still enjoyed a successful year with two Masters 1000 titles, and followed it up with a Masters 1000 and the prestigious ATP Finals title in the shortened 2020 season.
Novak Djokovic 'owes Daniil Medvedev dinner' after Russia keep Serbia alive in Davis Cup
DANIIL MEDVEDEV'S friendship with main rival and world Novak Djokovic is continuing to blossom after the Russian hinted that the world No 1 was sending him text messages during his team's Davis Cup tie against Spain.Djokovic and Medvedev have been the most successful players this year, ending 2021 holding the top two spots of the rankings, and have enjoyed a competitive rivalry this season.
As the world No 2, four-time title winner including the US Open, and the Australian Open runner-up in 2021, the 25-year-old is definitely set to come for Djokovic's world No 1 crown next season.
Another player who has enjoyed spoiling Djokovic's party multiple times in 2021, Zverev was two points away from winning the US Open in 2020 and could have pipped both Medvedev and Dominic Thiem to the post of becoming the first new Grand Slam champion in six years.
The German- winning all four Majors plus an Olympic gold medal in a single year - in Tokyo this summer, coming from a set down to defeat the world No 1 in the semi-final stage and deny him a chance to compete in the gold-medal match.
He backed up the win by becoming the Olympic champion - just one of his six titles in 2021, with the others coming at the Masters 1000s in Cincinnati and Madrid, the Vienna ATP 500, the Acapulco ATP 250, and the prestigious year-end finals - where he ended Djokovic's season.
The world No 3and was once again able to back up his impressive win over the world No 1 - his second ATP Finals crown.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal comeback goals outlined with 21st Grand Slams in sight
EXCLUSIVE: Greg Rusedski has given his verdict on Roger Federer's and Rafael Nadal's respective comebacks from injury, and predicted their aims to add to their Grand Slam tallies.Nadal is gearing up to return to competition at the season-opening Australian Open.
While the Austrian has spent even more of 2021 sidelined than Federer and Nadal, he was arguably the first young player to really start threatening the Big Three dominance at the biggest events over the last few years.
Now 28 years old, Thiem made his first Grand Slam final all the way back in 2018 when he lost to Nadal at Roland Garros, and made two more - the 2019 French Open and 2020 Australian Open - before winning his first Major at the 2020 US Open, becoming the first new Major champion in six years and the first male player born in the 1990s ever to win a Slam.
He had already come close at the Australian Open that year when he took a two-sets-to-one lead in the final over Djokovic but lost in a narrow final set, though he had managed to stop the Serb in his tracks at Grand Slam level before, including in a shock quarter-final loss at the 2017 French Open for the Serb who was then the defending champion.
Thiem has also proven his ability to beat the top players in some of tennis' other biggest events and toughest conditions - he won his maiden Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells in 2019 when he came back from a set-and-a-break down against Federer, and defeated King of Clay Nadal on the surface in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The Greek made a name for himself by beating some of the games top players - defeating Djokovic at the Montreal Masters 1000 back in 2018 while just 19 years old and ranked down at world No 27.
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NOVAK DJOKOVIC has been tipped to claim the record for most career Grand Slam title wins by rival Rafael Nadal.Nadal and Federer had a lead of three Grand Slam titles over Djokovic at the start of 2021, but he levelled things up by winning three of the four on offer this year.
He made more waves by defeating defending champion Federer 6-7(11) 7-6(3) 7-5 7-6(5) just months later at the 2019 Australian Open while he was 20 years old and the 14th seed, and later beat Nadal on the clay courts at the Madrid Masters 1000, before going on to end the 2019 season as the ATP Finals champion.
This year, the world No 4 won his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo before making his first Grand Slam final at the French Open, where he was two-sets-to-love up on Djokovic, ultimately losing in five.
Whilst he is yet to reach the latter stages of a Grand Slam, with his best showing a quarter-final appearance at the 2020 French Open, the young Italian has achieved more success than Djokovic did at his age and was one of the players of 2021.
The 20-year-old reached his first Masters 1000 final at an age younger than the Serb was when he did the same, becoming the runner-up at this year's Miami Masters. He was also the youngest quarter-finalist at Roland Garros since Djokovic himself back in 2006, and the youngest player to have five ATP titles since Djokovic in 2007.
The Italian has also enjoyed a rapid rise and, if he continues his trajectory, will be making a big impact on the tour next season to stun even the likes of the world No 1.
He made his tour debut in 2019 and ended the year at world No 78, making him the youngest player in the year-end top 80 since Nadal in 2003, and after the tour returned from a hiatus during the pandemic in 2020, he reached the French Open quarter-final and won his maiden title at the Sofia ATP 250, breaking into the top 40.
His success continued this year, as he won four titles including ATP 250s in Melbourne, Washington, Sofia and Antwerp, and his biggest yet at the Washington ATP 500. He also cracked the top ten, reaching a career-high of world No 9 at the beginning of November and becoming the first man born in the 2000s to crack the top ten. He then ended the year as world No 10 after making his ATP Finals debut as the first alternate, winning his first match at the season-ending championships before losing his second to defending champion Medvedev 10-8 in the final set tiebreak.
Novak Djokovic fired warning by Australian Open chief - 'No exemptions' .
Novak Djokovic has been issued a warning by Australian Open boss Craig Tiley despite appearing on the entry list ahead for the 2022 edition of the tournament.The 59-year-old reiterated that players will not be allowed to participate in tennis' first grand slam of the year if they have not been inoculated.