"It's time to kick out Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer, and let the younger generation take over" - Lloyd Harris

Lloyd Harris believes Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer are on the decline
Lloyd Harris believes Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer are on the decline

Lloyd Harris believes Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer are on the decline, and that the time is ripe for the younger players to start making their presence felt on the tour.

Even though Novak Djokovic won three of the four Slams on offer this year, the Serb showed plenty of weaknesses during the Tokyo Olympics as well as the US Open. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, on the other hand, have been battling long-term physical problems, which is why their future is under the scanner.

During a recent online media briefing, Lloyd Harris was asked whether he felt that Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal were slowing down. The South African responded in the affirmative.

However, he was quick to point out that Djokovic was nearly unbeatable at Slams this year and that only a huge effort from Daniil Medvedev could stop the Serb.

"Absolutely, it's (cracks in Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal's stranglehold) been coming for a while," Harris said. "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."
Novak Djokovic after losing the 2021 US Open final to Daniil Medvedev
Novak Djokovic after losing the 2021 US Open final to Daniil Medvedev

The 24-year-old cited the example of Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev's recent successes to further his point that the younger generation is gaining ground on the Big 3.

"There was Zverev winning the gold medal, Medvedev winning the other (Canadian) Masters in the summer... so this young generation is really coming through," Harris said. "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."

The South African claimed that it is "nice to see" the youngsters progressing so well and declared that it is time for his generation to put an end to the domination of Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.

"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.

There's that little extra motivation when you are playing against Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal: Lloyd Harris

Rafael Nadal in action against Lloyd Harris at the Citi Open
Rafael Nadal in action against Lloyd Harris at the Citi Open

Lloyd Harris has made giant strides on the ATP Tour this season. The South African has scored big wins over the likes of Reilly Opelka, Karen Khachanov, and Denis Shapovalov recently, which, he believes, has given him the confidence that he can beat the Big 3.

"And also now with my recent wins, having more belief, even if you go up against a Rafa, Roger or Novak... you've got to have the belief to beat them and I know I can... so why not, you know it's going to be an extremely difficult match and you've got to be ready for a challenge that's for sure," said the South African.

Harris explained how facing legends such as Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer in the big stadiums is what players like him cherish.

"But that's what we love, we love going out in front of fans, in new stadiums and getting those goosebump moments competing against one of those legends," he added. "If you can pull off a win against one of [them], it always feels amazing, there's almost just like that little bit of extra motivation when you are playing against them."

Harris recently scored a win over Nadal at the 2021 Citi Open, beating the Spaniard in three sets. However, he suffered a defeat to Roger Federer in their only career meeting at Wimbledon in 2019. Harris is yet to face Novak Djokovic in a competitive match.

Edited by Arvind Sriram


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