South African tennis player Lloyd Harris has predicted a changing of the guard at the top of the men’s game.
Harris believes Daniil Medvedev’s US Open final win over Novak Djokovic was an indication that the younger generation is starting take over from the “Big 3” of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Before Djokovic lost the US Open final, the trio had combined to win 60 of 72 Grand Slam titles.
The only other players who could muster Grand Slam wins in this period were Andy Murray (3), Stan Wawrinka (3), Andy Roddick (1), Gaston Gaudio (1), Marat Safin (1), Juan Martin del Potro (1), Marin Cilic (1) and Dominic Thiem (1).
Harris, who has climbed to a career-high world No 31 after reaching the US Open quarter-finals, believes the Big 3’s time may be coming to an end.
He was speaking to reporters virtually from New York on Tuesday where he was preparing to represent his country in a Davis Cup World Group II tie against Venezuela at the West Side Tennis Club.
When asked whether he felt there are finally some cracks starting to appear in the armory of the Big 3, Harris responded: “Absolutely, it’s been coming for a while. It’s been hard for the younger generation to just crack into those Grand Slams. Novak’s just been unstoppable until this very last match… I just think he came up against an extremely difficult opponent on the day. Daniil played some really good tennis throughout the whole summer and [he] just kind of reflects this newer generation.”
Harris referenced Medvedev’s success, and Alexander Zverev winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics, as examples that the legends of the game’s time at the top was coming to an end.
“There was Zverev winning the gold medal, Medvedev winning the other (Canadian) Masters in the summer… so this young generation is really coming through. If you look at the top 50 now, I think there are more young guys in there than there’s been in the last 20 years.
“It just shows you… Felix (Auger-Aliassime) had a tremendous run as well as (Hubert) Hurkacz got a Masters win in Miami, (Casper) Ruud winning three titles… so this new generation is really coming through nicely and these are all the guys that I grew up with. It’s incredible how we’re all within one year from each other, [born] between 1996 to 1998 almost, which is pretty incredible.
“So, yes, I’ve known these guys for a long time, we’ve been competitive in the juniors already and it’s nice to see all of us progressing and now I think it’s time to kick out that ‘Big 3’ and let the younger generation take over,” Harris said.
Picture: Lloyd Harris – Twitter/US Open