Tennis: Will the Europeans stay on top?

20. The absolute record for a Grand Slam title (one of the four major tennis tournaments played annually) won by a single player is 20 and has been achieved by three athletes in history. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic also from July 11. First general point: all three have achieved this feat in the 21st century. Second general point: Swiss, Spanish and Serbian come from the same continent, Europe. The third point is common: they are in their thirties and certainly closer to the end of their careers than they are at the beginning. Even though it’s hard to know when they’ll stop serving for a winning set given their exceptional longevity.

All in all, every story has an end, and for many years the question of a “sequel” of theirs has been raised in tennis. This sport, or in any case its male version, is currently at a crossroads. All eyes are now on a younger generation eager to be dubbed “NextGen” by the press. Will it be European too?

American and Australian in History

Historically, the genius of the discipline has been found on different continents. If modern tennis has its roots in Europe, Americans and Australians in particular have distinguished themselves in the past. Rod Laver (Australia, active 1962–1979), Pete Sampras (USA, 1988–2002), John Newcomb (Australia, 1968–1981), Jimmy Connors (USA, 1972–1996), Roy Emerson (USA, 1972–1996) Australia, 1953–1983) or Arthur Ashe (United States, 1968–1980) are some of these recognized players with impressive records.

1 tennis players in the “Open Era” (the era of modern tennis, which began in 1968) is a reminder that Americans generally dominated in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Don’t become untouchable before Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (from February 2004 to July 2011 both players succeeded each other at the No. 1 position). The same goes for the list of women, where for example the Australian Margaret Smith (1959–1977), the American Billie Jean King (née Moffitt, 1959–1990), the Australian Chris Evert (1972–1989) and Evonne Goolgong-Kawley (1970). -1985) and where several records were set by Serena Williams, who is still active today, as well as her sister Venus.

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young nuggets from the old continent

In recent years, observers of the sport have seen some emerging talent as a generation capable of surpassing the great Djokovic-Federer-Nadal trio. However, this “NextGen” struggles to confirm and grow in the shadow of three players. Journalist Vincent Soubre nevertheless wrote it in August, according to him, the coming year will belong to this new generation. It regularly takes stock of the latest performances of tennis players ranked in this category.

“Alexander Zverev eventually plays without complexes regardless of his opponent and was rewarded with the Olympic title by defeating Djokovic. Stefanos Tsitsipas had a great tournament at Roland Garros and actually went on to defeat the world number one in the final. had come close.

Matteo Berrettini has turned a corner as he makes the Wimbledon final after fighting a big fight against the Serbian at Port d’Autuil this year. World number two Daniil Medvedev hasn’t cemented himself in the main tournament yet, but he has a winning potential in the years to come. Dominic Thiem is in bad shape and Andrey Rublev, still very tender, is behind but in ambush. “

Alexander Zverev (German, 24), Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greek, 23), Matteo Berrettini (Italian, 25), Daniil Medvedev (Russian, 25), Dominic Thiem (Austrian, 27) and Andrey Rublev (Russian, 23 years old). All from the old continent. To some extent, it is also possible to add Karen Khachanov (Russian, 25 years old), Hubert Herkaz (Polish, 24 years old), Jannik Papi (Italian, 20 years old), Kaspar Rudd (Norwegian) to this list. 22 years old)) Felix Auger-Aliassim (Canadian, 21) or Alex de Minor (Australian, 22). With rare exceptions, it is the Europeans who are leading the youth of world tennis … behind the three giants of Switzerland, Spain and Serbia.

Indeed, when these young athletes manage to reach the finals of the tournament, they regularly miss the final stage when they face Federer, Djokovic or Nadal. ” Presumably they have a hard time “killing the father” in some way. His respect for these giants certainly outweighs his desire to win and therefore allow the three-headed monster to dominate world tennis forever. », in June Auguste Amar wrote in a very thorough topic published on the WeSport site. that he concludes in these words: ” The moment of liberation draws near. The three stalwarts continue to be primary sources of inspiration for newcomers.

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Tournament, Academies, Federation, Europe as a Model

You have to understand that Europe is also a conducive framework for the development of players. In addition to the two Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon in the United Kingdom and Roland-Garros in France are several competitions. Four ATP 1000 tournaments (out of nine) are played on European soil, seven also ATP 500 (out of 13). As for the year-end Masters or ATP Finals, it was played in London over the years and now resides in Turin.

In addition to tournaments, there are also important training centers in Europe. The largest tennis academy on the continent is located in Nice. This is the Mouratoglu Academy with 35 tennis courts, an innovation by world-renowned instructor Patrick Mouratoglu. But it is also possible to cite the top team of the Bruguera Tennis Academy, which was founded in 1986 and based in Barcelona, ​​or the creations of European pride: the Rafa Nadal Academy, opened in 2016 in Manacor, Rafael Nadal’s hometown, and Justin Henin . The academy is intended for women, and is named after the former Belgian player who founded it in 2007.

And the game is specially structured in Europe. Tennis Europe (formerly known as the European Tennis Association) is the largest regional tennis association, bringing together 50 European member states, 37,500 clubs, 112,000 coaches and over 25 million players in a single federation. [1]. Founded in Rome in 1975, the organization is now based in Basel, Switzerland. The structure and its members are thus developing a long-term strategy, with the final global plan drawn up for the period 2018-2023. And the association also awards a symbolic trophy, the European Tennis Trophy, to the country with the most points in various criteria (development among juniors, results in competition, success in wheelchair tennis, etc.).

Another parameter can be taken into account when studying the development of tennis in Europe: a greater proximity to Russia exists and the easier reception in Europe for Russian citizens can be seen by watching “NextGen”. Alexander Zverev, who won an Olympic gold medal for Germany, has two parents who played tennis for the Soviet Union… Alexander Mikhailovich Zverev and Irina Zvereva. And Julia Apostoli, the mother of Stefanos Tsitsipas, was called Yulia Sergeyevna Salnikova at birth, one of the most promising Soviet players of her generation. She is now Greek by nature. Another example: Spanish player Alejandro Davydovich Fokina is the son of a Russian-Swedish boxer and mother of Russian nationality.

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later start

Finally, Europe also plays “as a team” with the Laver Cup, and finds itself in opposition to “the rest of the world”. There couldn’t be a better way to weld the best athletes from the old continent! In three editions, Europe has won the competition three times. This year an appointment has been made for the fourth edition in Boston from September 24 to 26. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Kasper Rudd make up the European selection. So it covers a good chunk of “NextGen” while Federer was forced to back down. He is not the only one struggling with his injuries.

Geraldine Catalano, editor-in-chief of Equip magazine, spoke about Nadal’s long absence on 28 August, “a little before that”. ” It’s starting to feel like a twilight and definitely the end of an era, of the Big Three. The extraordinary longevity of this magical trio (…), whose reign began in 2007 (…), leaves the way for the next generation, the splendid, embodied by the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Russians Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev, and the German Alexander . Zverev. She didn’t know it then, but a few days later Medvedev denied Djokovic the calendar Grand Slam and 21st major career title. The Russian won his first Masters success after a Masters final on 12 September. The “after” may begin at the end.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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