With his recent win over Borna Coric at the 2020 Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Novak Djokovic has all but guaranteed the year-end No. 1 ranking for the 6th time in his career. But who will take over the top spot once Djokovic - and the rest of the Big 3 - retire?
In an era where young stars or ‘Next Gen’ members seem to crop up every month, it is often difficult to pinpoint any one name. But Novak Djokovic himself has very few doubts in that regard.
The World No. 1 singled out Jannik Sinner in no uncertain terms while speaking in his post-match press conference on Wednesday. For the Serb, the 19-year-old Italian is one to watch out for in the future.
“I definitely see a lot of quality in the young players,” said Djokovic. “But Sinner is one to watch.”
Jannik Sinner made headlines at the French Open earlier this month by making his first Slam quarterfinal appearance, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. Incidentally, Novak Djokovic was also of the same age when he made his first Major quarterfinal. And like Sinner, it was at the French Open too.
Novak Djokovic highlighted the power and skill in the Italian’s game, which on a good day is capable of giving the very best a run for their money.
“(Sinner) possesses a game that is powerful and is with a lot of quality, and you can say he has the potential to be a top player of the world,” Djokovic said.
The Serb did note that Sinner belongs to a group of players that is distinct from the Zverev-Tsitsipas generation, who are older. The Italian is three years younger than Tsitsipas, and four years younger than Zverev.
“Sinner is definitely, I would say, the leader of the guys younger than Zverev and Tsitsipas, who I think by many experts’ opinions [is] the next ‘top’ top player,” Djokovic went on.
'Can you endure for 3, 4, 5, 10, 15 years?' - Novak Djokovic gives some advice to the youngsters
Continuing on the topic of Next Gen players, Novak Djokovic remarked that despite being fairly young, the likes of Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas had already won some big titles in their career. As such, the Serb prefers to see them as established players rather than budding stars.
“These are the guys of the ‘next’ generation, so to speak,” said Djokovic. “They’re still very young, but they have a lot of titles. Both Zverev and Tsitsipas won the (Nitto ATP) Finals, which after Slams is the biggest event in our sport. So those guys are already established, top guys. I can’t speak of them as ‘potential’ in tennis, because they already have achieved some great heights in tennis… But let’s see.”
Novak Djokovic then mentioned that for a youngster to succeed, a lot of factors need to come together. The ability to endure the hardships of the tour year after year is something that the Serb gives quite a bit of importance to.
“Many things have to come together in a career and life of a tennis player for him to be able to find his best and maximize his potential and to thrive every single year,” Djokovic added. “And to endure, because I think you have a much better chance to have a great Grand Slam or a great season. But can you endure for three, four, five, 10 years? 15 years?”Published 29 Oct 2020, 17:00 IST