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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday April 6, 2021

19-year-old Jannik Sinner is already knocking on the door of the elite. The Italian reached his first Masters 1000 final last week at the Miami Open and became the second-youngest finalist in tournament history. It was an impressive run for a young gun who has been rapidly vaulting his way up the rankings for the last two seasons.

Tennis Express

Sinner, who was outside of the Top 300 this time two years ago, is now not just the youngest player inside the Top 50, he’s also considered a real threat to the former NextGen players that currently reside in the Top 10.

But Sinner doesn’t see himself, or any of the NextGen ATP players, making big strides against the Big 3—at least not at the moment.

“The next generation still has to show that they can beat the big three, you know, because obviously maybe they lose one or two matches, but the next generation that what I see is not ready yet to win against them consistently,” he said on Sunday after falling to Hubert Hurkacz in the Miami final.

Miami was an interesting litmus test for the rest of the ATP, without a single member of the Big 3—Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal—present in a Masters 1000 draw for the first time since 2004.

Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev were considered by many to be the most likely to take advantage of the watered down draw in Miami, but in the end it was Hurkacz who became the lowest-ranked Masters 1000 champion since 2005.

Rublev, who reached he semifinals before losing to Hurkacz in straight sets, feels that the sport will be in good hands in the future.

“I think the future of tennis looks great because the generation is changing,” he said. “The NextGen players, they are different. I don't know. They look different compare previous ones. I think they have charisma. I don't know. We'll see. But all of them, they have really great game. So we'll see what's gonna happen with the time. Time will show.”

Charisma is not the issue. Nor talent. But will the NextGen (or a select few from the group) rise to a level that is even close to what has been achieved by the Big 3? If the favorites weren’t able to capitalize on their golden opportunity in Miami, does it mean men’s tennis is set to enter an age of parity, where anybody can win on any given day?

And furthermore, how long will it take before a force emerges that is strong enough to consistently beat Djokovic and Nadal? Will it even happen before the legendary pair retire, or will the Grand Slam door stay closed until both Djokovic and Nadal have hung up their racquets?

Sinner believes the process might take some time. Maybe even a lot of time.

“Obviously it's good to see the new generation what's coming after them, because at some point there will be the moment,” he said. “I don't know when. It can be two years or five years, I don't know. But the moment will come, and then after is going to be other players. So let's see.”


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