Juan Carlos Ferrero recently claimed he wouldn't be surprised if Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic won more Grand Slams in 2021, but he expects the other players to provide them stiffer competition than before.
The 40-year-old Juan Carlos Ferrero is a former World No. 1, having won the US Open title in 2003 and reached two other Major finals. Ferrero retired from the sport in 2012, and is currently coaching the young Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the Majors for most of the last two decades, along with Roger Federer. The Swiss played only one event in 2020 due to a knee injury, but Nadal and Djokovic picked up one Slam each while Austria's Dominic Thiem broke through to win the US Open (the fourth Major, Wimbledon, was cancelled due to the pandemic).
Even though there is plenty of uncertainty around the exact fitness and comeback schedule of Federer in 2021, many pundits expect the likes of Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas to challenge Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal going forward. In a recent interview with Tennis Majors, Juan Carlos Ferrero shared a similar view.
"Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have shown us this year that they still have the ambition and the body to compete for the biggest titles in our sport," Ferrero said. " If they win some more Grand Slam titles it would not be a surprise, but I feel that in 2021 there will be other favorites, other players with increasingly good chances to win Slams, not just Djokovic and Nadal as it has been before. Dominic Thiem would be one of those guys for sure."
"I still consider them favorites, but not as much as before," the Spaniard added. "I think people see that players like Thiem, Tsitsipas or Zverev already have good chances of winning against them as well."
Rafael Nadal is the best player in the history of Roland Garros: Juan Carlos Ferrero
Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated Rafael Nadal in two of their nine career meetings, and also played alongside the Spanish great in the Davis Cup. Ferrero claimed in the interview that he is no longer surprised by his compatriot's overwhelming dominance at Roland Garros.
Nadal has won a record 13 French Open titles - the most singles tiles won by any player at a single Major in tennis history.
"Rafael Nadal is the best player in the history of Roland Garros, nobody has even come close, he has reached so many milestones in Paris," Ferrero said. "Therefore, I cannot be surprised with his superiority over anyone there."
The 40-year-old believes the top 5 at the end of the 2021 season will look pretty similar to the current year-end rankings. Novak Djokovic is No. 1 right now, followed by Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer.
That said, Ferrero does expect the race to be much tighter between them and the rest of the top 10 in 2021.