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Rafael Nadal believes a NextGen player will win a Grand Slam in 2020

Published 04 Jan 2020, 03:05 IST
04 Jan 2020, 03:05 IST

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

What's the story?

Rafael Nadal is currently in Australia in preparation for the Australian Open, where he goes in as one of the favourites. Interestingly though, the World No. 1 believes that in 2020, a younger player will win a Grand Slam - which is something that hasn't happened in a long time.

In case you didn't know...

Nadal played in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in December, an exhibition tournament held in Abu Dhabi, and defeated NextGen figurehead Stefanos Tsitsipas in a closely contested final. He has won five Majors in the last three years, with his fellow Big 3 members Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer cleaning up the other seven.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (L) and Rafael Nadal
Stefanos Tsitsipas (L) and Rafael Nadal

The heart of the matter

Whilst the NextGen has gained some ground on the Big 3 in the Masters 1000s and the ATP World Finals - the last two winners of the year-end championships were both from the NextGen - they have failed to make any kind of meaningful impact on the Grand Slam level.

A couple of semifinal appearances here and there notwithstanding, they haven't been able to translate their undeniable talent into success at the highest level.

Nadal, however, believes that that is going to change in 2020.

“I don’t think that the Big Three are going to win all four (in 2020)," Nadal said in a recent interview. A young player is going to arrive next year. ”

The 'King of Clay' didn't specify who exactly he thought would win a Grand Slam in 2020 or where it would happen, just that he believed it would.

What's next?

This debate remains at the very heart of the tennis narrative going into the new season. The rise of the NextGen has been talked about incessantly for nearly three years now, but the results in 2019 continued the trend of Big 3 dominance.

Djokovic and Federer ruled over Wimbledon again in 2019
Djokovic and Federer ruled over Wimbledon again in 2019

Yes, it seems fair to say that the changing of the guard appears nearer than ever, and for that reason alone Nadal's prediction could be correct. But the rise of the NextGen requires more than just a lone player winning a single Grand Slam in 2020; it needs a total upheaval of the social order in men's tennis.

There have been times in the last decade where someone outside of the Big 3 won a Grand Slam, but that eventually turned out to be a momentary blip in the Big 3 reign as opposed to the beginning of the end. The same rule applies to the NextGen if they truly want to usher in their era of dominance: they need to start winning the biggest titles on a consistent basis.

Modified 04 Jan 2020, 03:05 IST
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