Tennis Column #5 – Do we witness ATP Generation change now?

Alexander Zverev winning ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid, Juan Martin del Potro taking the title in Indian Wells, Dominic Thiem in French Open semifinals. Are we finally seeing the generation change in ATP tennis? Or are we still stuck with strong Nadal – Federer dominance? These questions are not easy to answer, but we give it a try.



Nadal and Federer G.O.A.T

First of all, we have to state that Nadal and Federer are just extraordinary tennis players and the synonym G.O.A.T (great of all times) are absolutely deserved for both of them. Currently, they hold first two places in ATP Singles Ranking for 8 months in a row.

They won last 5 Grand Slam titles (Federer: Australian Open 2017, 2018, Wimbledon 2017; Nadal: French Open 2017, US Open 2017) and the 6th one is pretty close with Nadal playing the quarterfinal match at Roland Garros right now. It is hard to find words to describe the dominance of 31 years old Nadal and 36 years old Federer. But still, the question if we see a new generation taking over men’s tennis remains. Are Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Dennis Shapovalov there yet?

ATP Top 10 2018, 2013, 2008

At first, we need to look at the ATP Singles Ranking now and in past. We took rankings 5 and 10 years ago for comparison.

 ATP SINGLES RANKING
(10 years ago)
as of 05/26/2008
 ATP SINGLES RANKING
(5 years ago)
as of 05/27/2013
 ATP SINGLES RANKING
(now)
as of 05/28/2018
AgePointsAgePointsAgePoints
1.Federer2666751.Djokovic26123101.Nadal318770
2.Nadal2155852.Murray2686702.Federer368670
3.Djokovic2152253.Federer3180003.Zverev A.215615
4.Davydenko2634254.Nadal2668954.Cilic294950
5.Ferrer2627305.Ferrer3167405.Dimitrov274870
6.Roddick2524106.Berdych2746856.del Potro294450
7.Nalbandian2621157.del Potro2443207.Anderson323635
8.Blake2819858.Tsonga2837958.Thiem243355
9.Gasquet2116309.Gasquet2630909.Goffin273020
10.Wawrinka23157510.Wawrinka28263010.Isner332980
average age24.3average age27.3average age28.9

There are just two players (not surprising that their names are Nadal and Federer) who are in ATP TOP 10 now and were also in 2013 and 2008. Just one another player Juan Martin del Potro was in top ten also in 2013 and is in top ten now too. At first sight, we see a substantial change in names which could sign a generation change in men’s tennis over last 10 years.

However, if we look more deeply, everything is different. The average age of ATP Top 10 players in 2008 was 24.3 years. In 2013, it was 27.3 years and now it stands at 28.9 years. In 2008, the oldest player in ATP Top 10 was James Blake (28 years old). In 2013, we had two 31 years old players in top 10 and now we have even four players over 30 in ATP Top 10.

There were three 21 years old players in top ten in 2008. Now, we see just one 21 years old player in top ten.



Strong years 1985  to 1991

We can draw two conclusions from the facts above.

  1. Current men’s tennis is dominated by older and more experienced players and the inflow of younger players to top positions are limited just to extraordinary talented ones. In past, the possibility to enter top 10 was higher for young players.
  2. Tennis players born between years 1985 and 1991 formed extremely strong generation which rules tennis for past 10 years and will rule for some time in future too.
  3. Federer and Nadal are really exceptional and can destroy any possible statistic in following years.

Federer and Nadal forever? or generation change? Dimitrov, Cilic, del Potro coming …

Overall, I would say that experience is one of the necessary prerequisites for the top 10 player now and will be in future. The ability to balance playing and rest will influence player ability to win also in later stages of a career. The longevity of tennis players increased in past 10 years substantially. Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem are probably first two representatives of a new generation in tennis. However, the generation change in men’s tennis is pretty slow and gradual. In other words, we should be prepared for more Nadal – Federer clashes in Grand Slam Finals with Cilic and Dimitrov and del Potro in semifinals.

Posted in BLOG, Tennis Column.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.