Philipp Kohlschreiber talks about whether the NextGen can fill the void created when the Big 3 retire


17 Dec 2019, 18:39 IST

Philipp Kohlschreiber
Philipp Kohlschreiber

What’s the story?

In a recent interview with German tennis publication Tennis Magazin, Philipp Kohlschreiber discussed the continued dominance of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, and whether tennis will suffer when the three of them no longer play professionally.

In case you didn’t know…

There has been a sense of anxiety in recent years that tennis hasn’t yet produced the talents to challenge the Big 3 and continue the growth of the sport after their eventual retirements. In the last year or so, these anxieties have lessened somewhat with the arrival of several young talents who seem destined to keep the sport thriving.

Still, the last 12 Majors have been won by the Big 3, so the NextGen can’t claim to have truly broken through yet.

Novak Djokovic (L), Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic (L), Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

The heart of the matter

Kohlschreiber began by arguing that the dominance of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on the tour is because the other players are simply “worse.” He did admit, however, that this may change in the future.

“The younger guys can, if evolve, maybe go through the same steps,” Kohlschreiber said.

Nevertheless, the German expressed his doubts that the NextGen will ever truly eclipse the Big 3.

“For me, none of the new generations brings what Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have. For me, those three are the most complete and the best players, even at this age,” he added.

When asked if the Big 3 will leave a hole in tennis when they retire, Kohlschreiber responded:

“I always thought yes, but now I think someone can win a Major. If Sascha Zverev wins 10 titles in a row, everyone will be like, Oh, 10 Slams in a row have never been won. And then there are amazing guys. I think Stefanos Tsitsipas is extremely good for the tour. He is like a Greek God: short hair, monster athlete, he brings it all. That’s why I do not think there will be a hole.”

Alexander Zverev (L) and Stefanos Tsitsipas
Alexander Zverev (L) and Stefanos Tsitsipas

What’s next?

Tsitsipas and Zverev have started signaling they can take over tennis in the future, by winning the last two editions of the ATP Finals. It remains to be seen, however, if they can do the same at the Slams.

The Big 3 continue to dominate the biggest titles on tour, and it will take a big effort from the young players to dislodge them from their perch.

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