Can the likes of Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev script a story of their own success at the US Open 2019?
Men’s singles tennis has found itself in a bit of stranglehold. That has been the story for quite a while now as the next generation of players have barely impressed so far in their pursuit to be crowned as the Grand Slam champions.
While the ‘big 3’ of men’s tennis Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic not only have decimated the players of their generation like Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Stan Wawrinka and so on but also have dominated the next gen stars like Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and many more thus far.
While we cherish, adore and admire the domination, resilience and undiminishing passion of the ‘Big 3', we wonder when and where the likes of Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, Alexander Zverev, just to name a few, will rise to the challenge to script their own story of the grandest success on the bigger stages of the game.
It is unfair to compare players between generations. However the fact that the likes of Nadal, Federer from the current lot and Bjorn Bjorg, John McEnroe and many more players from the past started winning multiple Grand Slam titles right since their late teens or early 20s cannot be overlooked.
But, the same is so not true considering the perspective of today’s tennis and the next gen stars seem to have no or very little answers not only against the skill set of ‘Big 3’, but also against their relentless style of play that demonstrates their unadulterated love for the game and their willingness to model their game to cater the changing demands of their own body and modern tennis as well.
Since the Australian Open 2017, the trio have combined together to win all the 11 Slams within this time period and no one else has even come closer to realistically stand a chance of winning a Grand Slam title for themselves.
It was three years back, at the US Open 2016, when Stan Wawrinka, someone apart from the ‘Big 3’, won a Grand Slam Major. As we approach US Open 2019, here is a look at the chances of three promising players who slumped to shocking first round exits at the Wimbledon this year, but just might rise from the debacle to their first ever Grand Slam triumph at the Flushing Meadows, New York.
#1 Dominic Thiem
While Dominic Thiem has struggled to create any prominent impact on any other Grand Slam Majors, the Austrian has been consistent for last four years on the red dirt of Paris, being a runner-up for two successive years in 2018 and 2019 as well.
The 25-year old has been having a successful year so far in spite of being stunned by Sam Querrey in the first round at the All England Club and won his first ever Masters 1000 event when he upset Roger Federer to clinch Indian Wells Masters earlier this march.
At last year’s US Open, Thiem almost beat Rafael Nadal in his five set epic quarterfinal at the Arthur Ashe Stadium and having won a hard court Masters now, the Austrian would definitely fancy his chances at this year’s US Open.
Moreover, at last year’s US Open, the hard courts of Flushing Meadows played slower and bounced higher than normal, imitating the clay courts to a certain extent. If the conditions of courts remain anywhere same as that of last year, they will definitely aid Thiem in his quest towards his first Grand Slam Major.
Dominic Thiem is a big match player and has already beat Nadal, Djokovic and Federer each at least once this year. The Austrian certainly has tremendous potential and hunger to go the distance at New York this year. However, he needs to be wary of indifferent form and sudden drop of intensity if he targets winning the US Open title this year.
#2 Stefanos Tsitsipas
Ever since he beat Novak Djokovic at the Toronto Masters 1000 last year, the 2018 Next Gen ATP finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas has increased his stature manifold with each passing tournament.
The Greek young sensation defeated his idol Roger Federer at the Australian Open earlier this year and ended his run down under as a proud semi-finalist before he upset Nadal at the Madrid Masters.
Though he went off the boil in hard court season earlier this year after losing to Federer in the finals at the Dubai Open, one can expect the exuberant Tsistsipas to make a roaring comeback in the upcoming hard court season in the lead up to the US Open.
After having suffered a sensational first round exit at Wimbledon, the young Greek would aim to perform like a cornered tiger in a bid to replicate his heroics of down under and at New York, he is definitely one of the likely contenders to win the last Slam of the year.
#3 Alexander Zverev
Germany’s Alexander Zverev is one of the acutely curious cases of men’s tennis for about a year now. While there is no doubt about his potential, the young German has time and again failed to transcend his talent into something substantial.
His latest casualty was his choking at the recently concluded Hamburg Open where he squandered match points in the semi-final to eventually crumble against Nikoloz Basilashvili. The irony about Zverev’s career so far is the fact that while experts and the people who follow the game expect him to beat the best of the best, he falls to shocking losses.
That has been Zverev’s story so far as he has failed to reach even the semi-finals of any Grand Slam Major, let alone winning the Slam title.
Can Zverev, who emerged as an unlikely winner at the Nitto ATP finals last year, rise from his extended slump and poor form to be crowned as the Grand Slam champion for the first time ever at New York?
Well, his numbers in 2019 are against him barring the Mexican Open at Acapulco where he was the runner-up and Zverev’s record on the hard courts has been dismal so far this year as well.
However, if he can control his frustrations and negative emotions on the courts, he certainly can be a much improved player and the North American hard court season including the US Open presents a great opportunity for the 22-year old German to embrace his resurgence.