Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic making life tough for NextGen: Felix Auger-Aliassime
- Felix Auger-Aliassime talked about how Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have made life tough for NextGen.
- The Canadian applauded the commitment shown by the Big 3, who are still going strong despite being in their 30s.
Despite the emergence of a talented young crop of ATP players, the men's Grand Slams are still being dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Big 3 have accounted for 56 of the last 67 Majors, with this year's Australian Open going to Djokovic.
Their supremacy at the highest level has made it difficult for the NextGen to lay their hands on the sport's biggest trophies. And the latest to share his thoughts on this is World No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic pushing barriers of age and longevity
In an interview with Mats Wilander and Boris Becker on Eurosport's Tennis Legends programme, the 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime spoke extensively on why he thinks the famed Big 3 are still ruling the sport. He believes their ability to push beyond the age of 30 is greatly enhanced by their hunger and commitment to play at the highest level of the sport.
The Canadian also talked about how their willingness to reinvent their games as the years progressed, has had a lot to do with their success.
"For sure, we have to push, but I think the tough part is the level that the top three guys still play at, and I think with the commitment and the knowledge and the high level, now they are pushing the limits in terms of how long they can sustain that level. I am young, but I feel like there is something new to see [with the top three], and I think they are always pushing barriers in terms of playing well at their older age."
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have stood like an impenetrable wall at the Slams, making the biggest trophies nearly out of bounds for others. Auger-Aliassime pointed out how their persistence is a big reason why even a fabulous player like Stan Wawrinka could taste Major glory for the first time only when he was nearing 30 years of age.
"You saw a top player like Stan [Wawrinka], who won his first Grand Slam at 29 or almost 30 years old."
Having admitted how good the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still are, Auger-Aliassime did also acknowledge that tennis is dying to see new faces at the top. He himself is part of a generation that is expected to take over the reins once Roger Federer & Co. start waning.
The Montreal-born teenager has been touted as the next big thing ever since he made his breakthrough on the Challenger circuit in 2017. That year he became the second-youngest player to capture two Challenger titles, which brought him into the spotlight.
Since then, Auger-Aliassime has been quietly making his way up. He had his best season on the ATP tour last year; with runner-up finishes in Stuttgart, Lyon and Rio de Janeiro, he rocketed up to a career-high ranking of 17.
The Canadian carried that impeccable form into the new year, making it to the finals at Rotterdam and Marseille before tennis got halted due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The NextGen has started making an impact through the likes of Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, but that is still not enough. Right now, Djokovic and Nadal are still ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, with Roger Federer just a little behind at No. 4.
Auger-Aliassime said he does understand that the new generation needs to try harder to supplant Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the top.
"People need to see new faces win big tournaments. I'm a part of that and there are players that are a bit older than me that are getting much closer, with [Daniil] Medvedev and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas and [Alexander] Zverev and Dominic [Thiem]."
Wilander and Becker also asked Auger-Aliassime to name the best tennis match he has ever seen. The self-confessed Roger Federer fan interestingly chose the marathon 2012 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
"I think one of the highest level of tennis I've ever seen," said Auger-Aliassime on the match.