After a fortnight of excitement and upsets, the US Open comes to a close. Two upstart teens made a legendary run through the women’s side, captivating fans worldwide. For the men, a legend in the making got put on pause while the first chapter is penned for a new champion. Competition is fierce on both sides, and there is a recurring trend: these players are young. Among the top 5 ATP players, 3 are 25 years old or younger. All of the current top 5 WTA players are 25 years old or younger. Whether we realize it or not, we’re already in the next generation of tennis. The era of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams near-exclusively dominating tennis news is fading away. Prepare to see fresh new faces populate headlines sooner than later.
The New Generation
Tennis is unpredictable; it’s what makes the sport exciting. This recent US Open showed why that statement rings true. Emma Raducanu, a teen from Britain, took the world by storm when she won the championship. Not only did Raducanu go all the way from qualifying rounds to the championships, but she also did it without dropping a single set. Furthermore, this was only her second major appearance in a major tournament. Winning the US Open with any one of these feats would already be legendary enough. But Raducanu pulled off all three at once. Her final opponent, Leylah Fernandez, had an equally impressive run. Fernandez toppled many high-ranking players throughout her journey to the grand finals. Such players included No.2 Aryna Sabalenka and No.3 Naomi Osaka. Raducanu vs. Fernandez earned its spot in the history books and will surely be remembered for ages to come.
The men’s side of the competition showed a great wealth of talent as well. Of note, Danish player Holger Rune and American Jenson Brooksby each took the first set of their respective matches against No.1 Djokovic. Spain’s rising star, Carlos Alcaraz, upset No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the quarterfinals. Earlier this year, Alexander Zverev took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. More recently Daniil Medvedev overcame Djokovic at the US Open grand finals to reel in the championship. Long have The Big Three -Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic- dominated the highest levels of tennis. But in doing so, they may have trained the new generation of tennis players to become their biggest obstacles yet.
The Future of Players’ Wellbeing
Mental health has increasingly become a major topic concerning athletes. Too often we impose high expectations on our favorite players because we want to see them do the impossible. But it’s easy to forget that tennis stars are people too. It’s natural for players to crumble under pressure when they carry the world’s hopes and dreams on their shoulders. And when they do, it’s important that we as fans offer support rather than spew criticism.
Player equity is another issue worth seeking solutions for. Access to resources plays a huge role in allowing players to compete at a high level. Unfortunately, the distribution of said resources isn’t equal. The formation of the PTPA, co-founded by Novak Djokovic himself, hopes to address this issue. By increasing revenue and promoting revenue sharing, the PTPA hopes to create equity for all tennis players. There have been hiccups with their formation, but their goal is admirable. Hopefully, the PTPA can work together with the ATP and WTA to create a better future for tennis.
Towards the Future
The future of tennis looks bright. With rising young stars and prospects for better treatment, there is much to look forward to. The old records are bound to be broken eventually, and whether that’s thanks to one of the Big Three or someone else, it’ll be an exciting day in sports history. Even if the records are kept safe, it’ll hopefully because competition becomes fiercer and more exciting than ever. After all, tennis can be unpredictable, and that’s when tennis is at its best. Be sure to visit us at TennisExpress.com and join us on our journey venturing into the new generation of tennis.