The Shanghai Masters 2019 will likely be remembered as a transition event between two eras of men's tennis. It was the first Masters 1000 event since the 1999 Hamburg Open where all the semifinalists were 23 or below.
But it was more than just numbers. For the first time in years, the younger generation outplayed the experienced champions, and not just in terms of skills.
Nobody had any doubt about the abilities and skills of the NextGen players. But last week they showed that they can be mentally strong as well.
Of course Daniil Medvedev has shown time and time that he is a fortress when it comes to mental strength. But even the other NextGen stars, who used to struggle earlier in pressure situations, exhibited a lot of maturity and professionalism in Shanghai.
For instance, Stefanos Tsitsipas in his match against Novak Djokovic was down by three games after as many games. But after that he didn't allow arguably the greatest returner the game has ever seen, a single chance to reach break point.
Let's talk about Alexander Zverev, who is often labeled a choker. In his match against Roger Federer he had five match points in the second set which he went on to lose, but he maintained his composure and won the match anyway.
Now let's focus on the Italian big guy Matteo Berrettini. The way he built the points in his match against Dominic Thiem was just outstanding. Thiem looked helpless against him; the Austrian couldn't even touch Berrettini's serves on most occasions, and was overpowered by the Italian.
Last but certainly not the least there was Medvedev, who has been playing otherworldly tennis in recent times. His current stats read: six finals in a row, 18 sets in a row and counting, and three titles in the last six tournaments (out of which two - Cincinnati and Shanghai - have been Masters 1000 titles).
Actually a lot of the credit for this resistance by the younger players should go to the Russian. He has proved in the last couple of months that it's not impossible for the NextGen to be consistent and win big titles.
The ATP Finals in London is not too far away, and this time it looks likely to have a good balance of the old and the young. And with the inauguration of the ATP Cup in January next year, things are looking more exciting than ever for tennis fans.
So let's hope that this clash of generations brings the best out of everybody, and we witness an even higher level of competition in the near future.Published 15 Oct 2019, 00:41 IST