Men’s Tennis Is Turning Into The Women’s Tour

Men’s Tennis Is Turning Into The Women’s Tour

Men’s tennis seems to be turning into the women’s WTA and ITF tours.

Or rather, the recent history of the women’s circuit. Flashback to the 2010s and women’s tennis revolved around a single figurehead in the form of Serena Williams.

She was the only player to consistently win Grand Slams over multiple seasons, while other ‘satellite’ winners claimed a maximum of two, maybe three Grand Slams if they were lucky , then returned to relative darkness.

Apart from Williams, Naomi Osaka is the only other player to have won at least four major tournaments in the last ten years, although she is now taking a break from the sport due to her pregnancy.

Now, with Roger Federer out of sight and Rafael Nadal more often plagued by injuries in 2022 and 2023, Djokovic is set to echo Williams in becoming the sole figurehead on the men’s circuit.

This does not mean that Nadal will never be able to win a slam again. After all, Roland-Garros is fast approaching. But as the passage of time and physical difficulties catch up with Nadal’s intense style of play, I think it’s very likely that Djokovic will be the only member of the ‘big three’ who plays major tournaments seriously, with younger players as challengers.

Apart from Carlos Alcaraz, as in the 2010s women’s circuit with Williams, none of the younger players appear to pose a serious threat to Djokovic’s figurehead.

Around this time last year, I predicted the rise of the “new three” – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev – who would slowly replace the big three.

As Medvedev beat Djokovic in the 2021 US Open final, the Serb quickly reasserted his authority, winning all four of his encounters since then, on a range of indoor and outdoor hard courts, where both specialize.

The others don’t have the best record either, with Tsitsipas twice facing Djokovic in a Grand Slam final and being demolished in both cases, most recently this Sunday at the Australian Open 2023. Zverev has also struggled to reach a Grand Slam final after his 2020 US Open clash with Dominic Thiem.

Simply put, NextGen dominance has not materialized. Players like Medvedev and Thiem echo the “satellite” winners who picked up Grand Slam victories alongside Williams in the same season but failed to produce consistent results in major finals.

To complicate matters further for players like Tsitsipas and Medvedev, the generations below them are fiercely competitive.

Players like Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud and Holger Rune have all proven to win big games against high ranked players.

At the start of this year’s Australian Open, in the third round, Medvedev was knocked out by young American Sebastian Korda. In turn, in the next round, Tsitsipas defeated Sinner. The NextGen and the younger generations cancel each other out.

Another problem for Slam contenders is that the power of the big three has caused a virtually unsolvable problem for the rest of the field.

Their rule meant no one was able to win tournaments against them consistently. This consolidated the gains of the big three and diminished the confidence of the rest of the peloton.

The more the big three won and the more other players lost, with little or no experience to win a slam, the less they thought they could beat the sports giants.

The upshot is that any finalist (apart from Nadal) who faces Djokovic lacks the track record and mental conviction to beat him through multiple finals.

Unless a player figures out how to win the mental battle against Djokovic, the Serbian looks set to achieve a new Grand Slam record for men’s play and in the history of tennis itself this year.

Do you think men’s tennis is heading towards a repeat of the women’s circuit in the 2010s? Will Djokovic emerge as the sole figurehead? And could any player consistently steal Grand Slams from the restored world number one? Leave your comments below.

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