Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray cannot dominate the sport forever, and we are already starting to see tennis’ titanic quartet submerge, as a new crop of talent bid to take over their reign.
Arguably the greatest player the game has seen, Federer is now 33 and, although he continues lift trophies here and there, it is highly probable his record-breaking Grand Slam haul of 17 will forever stand still.
Spaniard Nadal, meanwhile, has once again had to take time off from the tour – this time due to appendicitis – meaning he misses the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. He should be back for the Australian Open in January, though, and is a 7/2 chance with Coral bookmakers to claim his 15th Grand Slam, as he is so determined to break Federer’s record.
Murray and Djokovic’s achievements in tennis’ four biggest tournaments have declined this season too, with the former not reaching a final for the first time since 2009, and the latter falling shorter than expected at the Australian and US Opens.
Prior to this year, just one man, Juan Martin Del Potro, was able to break the Grand Slam dominance of the ‘big four’ in the previous 35 tournaments, but 2014 saw Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic claim maiden titles.
While Wawrinka, aged 29, is soon to pass his peak, 26-year-old Croatian Cilic has the potential to cause a few more upsets, after defeating another up-and-coming star Kei Nishikori, 24, in the recent US Open final. The trio can be backed at 12/1, 14/1 and 20/1 respectively to win on the hard surface at the Australian Open in early 2015.
Other names who could potentially push the ‘big four’ all the way next year, include Murray’s US Open conqueror Grigor Dmitrov and Wimbledon semi-finalist Milos Raonic, who are both 23. Both players have highly impressed in tournaments leading up to the upcoming Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena, and can certainly push on and take confidence in Cilic and Nishikori’s exploits.
The era of the sport’s top four most-talented players is, of course, not over, with Djokovic, Murray (both 27) and Nadal (28) still supposedly in their prime. But a new wave of talent is emerging, and they can continue to usurp their falling giants.