Tennis: The past, present and future

Young guns are vying for newly vacant top spots...

Elena Photiadou
27th April 2023
Image: Twitter @carlosalcaraz
Tennis has a long history, one of the most expensive and popular sports around the world, known for diversity of tournament host nations and a range of people fanatically travelling the world to not miss a beat. It would be almost impossible for the sport to not have produced some of the biggest names in the sporting history, not only legends of the game but also legends of general sporting history. As the years go by, the old guard are slowly moving out, making room for new talents to thrive on the biggest stage.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, and Ash Barty are some of the most decorated names in the industry. Its no secret that on the mens side of things the three legends are still going strong, with Djokovic and Nadal still being the main stars of every tournament they compete in battling out in Grand Slam competitions in order to break their own records and establish themselves as the best players in the sport. Both are almost unstoppable, and are currently tied with 22 Grand Slams each with Federer just behind in  3rd place with 20. Djokovic is still going strong, and has won the majority of the finals he has ever been in, with always having impressive flawless runs in competitions, seems like he hasn’t yet lost form and is not planning to retire any time soon. On the other hand, Nadal has been one of a kind, earning the nickname “the King of Clay.” Every tennis player dreams of beating Nadal on clay. The French Open is Nadal’s home, as he has an astonishing record of winning 14 titles on clay, more than any other player in the history of the competition.

Nadal has been one of a kind, earning the nickname 'King of the Clay'

It’s hard to follow such legends, especially when having to live up to the expectations and standards set by such athletes, the “next gen” as it has been named is a category of young athletes in the industry that have broke through in recent years, gaining a spot in the fans’ hearts with the fresh air they provided and the excitement and potential for years to come. Carlos Alcaraz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Matteo Berrettini, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz and the well-established Daniil Medvedev are only some of the big name players that have risen in the past years, having big boots to fill, all of them have won big tournaments and have already gone head to head with the legends of the game, most times falling short but always providing an entertaining and competitive game.

Carlos Alcaraz is just 19 years of age and has already won 7 ATP tour titles including the 2022 US Open and has been already called the next Nadal by sone pundits. Medvedev, the current world number 7, has been around for longer as the 27 year old has spent 16 weeks as number 1 and has reached the Australian Open final twice, won the US Open in 2021 and reached the Quarter Finals of the Olympic games in 2021, and has already defeated Djokovic in a major final. Last but not least, Berrettini, Felix, Taylor and Tsitsipas are young, ready to battle each other for spots among the top 5. Even though they have yet to win major titles, they have been so close, and will certainly do in the near future.

Williams has become a point of reference, with 23 grand slams and a total of 319 weeks as world number one

In the women’s game, all-time great Serena Williams has captured the headlines for many years. She has become a point of reference for the sport with 23, and has spent a total of 319 weeks as the world No 1.

After the American’s retirement, a handful of players have stood out in the WTA tours. Current number 1 Iga Swiatek is only 21 years old and seems to be the next big name, having already won 3 grand slams, and looks like she has a bright future ahead of her. The rest of the top 10 includes the likes of Sabalenka, Pegula, Jabeur, Garcia and Sakkari. All athletes have provided entertainment and shocks and upsets, as the women’s side of the sport has been full of surprises, with the rankings always changing, all of them writing history for their country and themselves, the WTA tour is an easy watch, and it can be easily followed by people that have never been that much into tennis.

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