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Are the Big Three in their twilight years – and who could replace them?
Monday, 10/17/2022
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Stefanos Tsitsipas (Photo: Christopher Putnam / FiledIMAGE Photography / de...

As with any sport, tennis can sometimes be dominated by certain players and this is certainly true for the men’s side of the game in recent years. It is without doubt that the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have swept up most of the major titles in the last decade or two.
But are these players now in their twilight years – and who could replace them?
Time waits for no one in sports
As you might expect, time constantly marches on in pro sports and catches up with everyone eventually. This can be seen in something like the NFL, where even the best players like Jerry Rice or Walter Payton had to call it a day eventually!
This is also true for teams in the NFL, where franchises that are on top for a few years ultimately have to make way for others. This is not just something that is interesting to know as a fan – for those who like to bet on NFL games, it is something to keep in mind too. If you click here for the best NFL betting picks, as well as knowing which top players play for the best teams, then you’ll be in a much better position to bet from.
Tennis is no different and even the most iconic players such as Djokovic, Federer and Nadal cannot go on forever. But are they now starting to show signs of slowing down?
Are the Big Three in men’s tennis starting to fade?
If you compare their current form and fitness to the past, you would certainly have to say two of the Big Three seem to be heading towards the end of their careers. Federer, for example, has been plagued by knee injuries recently and has actually been out of the game since 2021, as a result. Due to this, he has been unable to pick up any ranking points or tournament wins.
Nadal had been looking as strong as ever, but he too has been beset by injuries recently, which could be the sign of a career in its twilight stages. He first had to cut the whole 2021 season short due to an issue with his foot. When that was sorted, he suffered a torn abdominal muscle at Wimbledon 2022. The latest news in tennis saw Nadal make an early exit at the Cincinnati Masters on his return from injury and this has left many wondering if he is starting to fade.
What about Djokovic?
Of the Big Three, perhaps Novak Djokovic is the one who is still looking the best. Although he hit a rocky patch in 2017/18 due to surgery on an elbow injury and a change in his coaching team, he has been on fire since then. Perhaps the only thing that could curtail his career is the impact his decision not to have the Covid-19 vaccine might have on his ability to enter tournaments.
You also have to factor in that age is a major factor for all three major male tennis stars, and none are spring chickens any longer. Their bodies may soon simply be unable to cope with playing at the top level and they’ll have to call it a day. This is also true in women’s tennis, where Serena Williams’ Wimbledon 2022 performance suggested that age is finally catching up with her.
Who could be about to challenge the Big Three?
One name you could certainly see in the mix is Daniil Medvedev. He has not only shown that he can beat people like Djokovic but also that he possesses the talent to dominate the game for years to come. A win at the US Open in 2021 also shows he has what it takes to play well in pressure situations.
Another player who looks to have the game, character and skills to replace the Big Three is Alexander Zverev. He has been a regular at the semifinals and finals of major tournaments in recent years, which shows his blossoming status in tennis. There are also players like the emerging young Spanish player Carlos Alcaraz (many believe him to be Nadal’s natural heir) and the powerful Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas to consider.
Are the Big Three in men’s tennis looking to slow down?
When you look at the current situation with the top three players in male tennis, you can certainly see how injuries have started to impact on Federer and Nadal’s careers. You can also see how the Covid-19 vaccine situation could make it difficult for Djokovic, moving ahead. It is, however, by no means certain these players are facing a career twilight, as all seem keen to play on the ATP circuit. If any or all do retire, though, there seem to be enough young guns ready to come through to replace them.