Novak Djokovic has reached the final of the 2021 Australian Open in trademark fashion, comprehensively beating his semifinals opponent in straight sets. Djokovic now awaits the winner of the second semifinal between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, and ahead of that match the Serb shot a warning to the entire 'Next Gen' of players.
While the younger generation have finally been able to make as breakthrough as far as rankings are concerned, they have continued to play second fiddle to the "Big 3" - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the Slams. In an interview with Eurosport Netherlands, Djokovic was asked by host Barbara Schett whether a Next Gen takeover was on the cards in 2021 - to which the World No. 1 replied in the negative.
"There's been a lot of talks about the new generation coming and taking over the three of us," Djokovic said. "But realistically that isn't happening still."
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, one of whom will meet Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final, have impressed a lot of fans over the last two years with their mentality and game. While Tsitsipas defeated Rafael Nadal in inspiring fashion this week, his Russian rival has won 11 consecutive matches against top 10 players.
However, Djokovic still insisted that they have 'a lot of work to do' in order to beat the top dogs when it matters the most.
"I mean, we can talk about it all day if you want. But with all my respect for the other guys, they still have a lot of work to do," the Serb said.
"Pressure is always there, it's part of what we do" - Novak Djokovic
The trio of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have won 13 of the last 14 Grand Slams, and share a mammoth 57 Majors between them. The rest of the men's tour has taken a backseat to the trichotomy of the Big 3, prompting several fans to question whether the young players are mentally equipped to take the proverbial next step
When asked about the delibilating pressure on the Next Gen to succeed, Novak Djokovic suggested that the younger players should consider themselves privileged to be in the position they are in.
"Pressure is always there, it’s part of what we do, but pressure is also a privilege," the World No. 1 said. "It means you are in the mix, that you’re still doing something that is important and valuable for you and the rest of the tennis world."
Novak Djokovic did also praise the next generation's skills, asserting that they could play 'very strong, high-quality tennis'. But at the end of the interview the Serb cautioned the Next Gen that their time was yet to come, and that he would not hand the top spot to them meekly.
"Certainly they will be the leaders of the future of tennis, without a doubt, but I’m not going to stand here and hand it over to them. I’m going to make them work their ass off for it,” Djokovic said.