In a recent conversation with Ben Rothenberg and Simon Cambers on Tennis Majors, Marion Bartoli opined that tennis is not prepared to handle the void that will be left when Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic call it a day.
To support her claim, Bartoli cited the viewership numbers of the recently-contested Miami Open final between Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz. The Sinner-Hurkacz match, Bartoli claimed, saw a 72% dip from the 2019 final - which was contested by Roger Federer and John Isner.
"Not yet at all, and the numbers are showing it," Bartoli replied when asked whether men's tennis was ready for life after the Big 3). "The final of the Miami Open this year between Sinner and Hurkacz lost 72% of the viewers on the ratings on the TV compared to the 2019 final between Roger and John Isner. So that's just showing in itself that (the sport is not ready for life post Big 3)."
Marion Bartoli further suggested that it is difficult for a tennis player to be popular if their name isn't Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic. The former Wimbledon champion believes not many casual tennis watchers would have bothered to keep themselves informed about the proceedings at the Miami Open, given that none of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal were part of the field.
"And probably if you go out into the streets and ask who won the Miami Open, even in Miami, I don't think a lot of people would be able to answer that question unless you are a tennis fanatic and you know what's exactly going on," Bartoli added.
When a young guy wins a Grand Slam final over one of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, that moment will be big for the sport: Ben Rothenberg
Noted New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg also gave his two cents on the topic. Rothenberg argued that Hurkacz's Miami Open victory has paved the way for the post-Big 3 rebuilding phase in men's tennis.
The American pointed out that Hubert Hurkacz, with his Miami win, will be a more prominent name in Slams going forward. Rothenberg believes that any further deep runs from the Pole will not be met with surprise.
"I think these are going to be some rebuilding years for the ATP," Rothenberg explained. "But construction is already underway. Once you get someone like Hurkacz winning Miami, now for the rest of his time entering draws, Hurkacz will be Miami champion... and when he makes a Roland-Garros quarterfinal or something if he does, it won't be as random."
But Rothenberg did agree, however, that the younger generation will continue to face a tough time trying to take over the mantle from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The renowned journalist believes that one of the younger players needs to emulate Naomi Osaka's 2018 US Open win by defeating one of Federer, Nadal or Djokovic in a Slam final.
"But there will be some rough times as that transition happens because the men really haven't had a big torch-passing moment, like the women did when Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams in the US Open final... where a young guy wins a Grand Slam final over one of the Big 3 and that moment will be big for the sport, until then the gap does really look big," added Rothenberg.