Speaking exclusively to Tennis365’s Kevin Palmer, top Amazon Prime analyst Mark Petchey says we are closing in on a ‘tipping point’ in the men’s game that could see the next generation of champions end the era of dominance for Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, but he admits the young guns are still playing catch-up to the icons of the modern game for now.
The last four of the Shanghai Masters last month saw Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Alexander Zverev and eventual champion Daniil Medvedev go head-to-head in what was viewed by many viewed a changing of the guard at the top of the men’s game.
Yet in a year that saw Djokovic and Nadal win two Grand Slams each, the next generation stars are still waiting for their breakthrough moment in the tournaments that matter most and while respected Amazon Prime analyst Petchey believes that dominance may soon be tested, he admits the young guns still have to overcome the final hurdle.
“I believe we are getting towards that tipping point where we are going to start seeing the next generation knocking on the door a little more frequently,” declared Petchey, in an exclusive interview with Tennis365.
“The younger players are getting closer to that breakthrough, but not yet. What we have seen over the course of 2019 has confirmed that when Rafa, Roger and Novak are on top of the game, they are still the best.
“They might not see it this way right now, but I think it is great for the next generation guys to have a chance to get out there and take on these legends. The more they can get out there and test themselves against the best players in the world, the more they will get a feel for what they need to improve about their game in the off-season and maybe we will see them start to challenge the established elite in 2020.”
Petchey coached Andy Murray as he made his breakthrough on the ATP Tour and he recalls a story from as he highlights the benefits for rising stars taking on the game’s established elite.
“When Andy played against Roger in Bangkok, the first thing he said to me as he came off the court was that he felt Federer would have hit the ball a lot harder,” recalls Petchey, who will be commentating on all eight days of the ATP Finals for Amazon Prime.
“It meant that the next time he played him, one layer of that fear factor had been removed that that is what Zverev, Medvedev and Tsitsipas have to do every time they play these guys.
Getting another chance to try and work out what they need to do to reach the level of Rafa, Roger and Novak is the perfect way to work out what is needed and that is why this year’s ATP Finals should be so compelling. Two generations colliding and the battle for the younger guys to find a way to the top.
“Medvedev and Tsitsipas relish the challenge against the top three. Stefanos has had some big wins against them, but he has yet to add the consistency to his game while Daniil is a bit more of a machine out there. He understands a little better than Tsitsipas what is needed against these guys.
Tsitsipas has more to his game, some great variety and he just needs to find the balance that will allow him to win against these top players consistently.
“Zverev is under huge pressure to defend the points he collected after winning the ATP Finals last year, but all credit to him for making it through to the end of year event against after a difficult year on a number of levels.
“Medvedev has this great 5-0 record against Tsitsipas that will play in his favour when those two clash, but it is great that we have the three icons of the sport on their way to London to headline the ATP Finals and they will be taking on the players who will take over their mantle for the next decade.
“Zverev showed he was capable of beating the big guys at the 02 Arena last year and now we wait to see whether guys like Medvedev and Tsitsipas can follow that lead this year.
“We have some great talent coming through in men’s tennis, but when it comes to it right now in these upcoming ATP Finals, will anyone challenge Novak, Roger and possibly Rafa if he can get himself fit? The answer to that question has to be that the big guys are still in a class of their own.”
Amazon Prime will have live coverage of the ATP Finals from the 02 Arena in London every day from November 10th-17th.
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