Rafael Nadal admits Big 3 are getting old, says it's "normal" for younger generation to take over eventually

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Rudra Biswas

Rafael Nadal recently spoke to an English daily ahead of his participation at the Barcelona Open Open. The Spaniard discussed various topics during the interaction, ranging from the Next Gen potentially taking over to the significance of the record for most Grand Slams in tennis.

le the younger generation have finally been able to make their breakthrough at the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, it remains to be seen if they can do the same at the Slams. As of now, the Big 3 - Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - are continuing to rule the roost in the best-of-five format.

In that context, Nadal was asked whether he was worried about the Big 3 losing their grip over the Slams in the near future. The Spaniard in response gave a tongue-in-cheek reply, before claiming that it was 'normal' for the older players to eventually make way for the new generation.

"For us, it’s not very important," Rafael Nadal said before laughing. "Well no, I'm just joking. That’s normal. We are getting old. It’s true. It's normal the young generation are coming and it’s true that now they are a great new generation of great tennis players. It’s super interesting now."

When probed about which young players were the best of the bunch, Rafael Nadal named Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. But the World No. 3 insisted that while there are a lot of youngsters brimming with potential, only those who constantly improve themselves will be able to win the big titles.

"Lots of players, young, with power, potential – let’s see what’s going on in the next couple of years," Nadal said. "The player who will be able to improve the most will be the player who has better chances to have better success."

When Pete Sampras reached 14, a lot of people thought, 'OK that’s going to be almost impossible to go beyond for the next few years': Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal was also asked to give his thoughts on the significance of the Grand Slam record in men's tennis. In response, the Spaniard first talked about how very few would have imagined Pete Sampras' then-record of 14 Majors to be overtaken by not only just player, but three.

"Of course, when Pete achieved that great number of 14 a lot of people in tennis thought, 'Okay that’s going to be almost impossible to go beyond that for the next years'," Nadal said. "But in a relatively short period there is three players that have more than 14 and in the same era."

The trio of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer share a mammoth 58 Majors between them. While their success seems difficult to emulate, Nadal shot a warning to fans about how the Big 3's tally could also be left behind by a young player in the future.

"That puts that in perspective about what we did in the last 15-20 years, it’s something difficult to equal," Nadal said. "But everyone thought the same about Pete and we did it better. And now, probably there’s going to come someone in the future who is going to do it better than us even if it’s not easy."

Edited by Prem Deshpande
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