When Argentinian tennis professional Juan Martin del Potro won the US Men’s Singles title in 2009, it is difficult to imagine that he would be last player outside a group of four other names to win a grand slam tournament. Such has been the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the last four years that no other competitors have captured the Australian, French, US or Wimbledon titles and there appears to be few challengers to their current reign.
Nadal’s four set victory over Djokovic in the US Open final on Monday further highlighted the strength and consistency of these four players in recent years. Djokovic, in particular, has never failed to reach a grand slam semi-final in the past three seasons while Andy Murray’s recent quarter final loss to Stanislas Wawrinka was his first at such an early stage in 11 ‘slam’ events.
The form of Roger Federer may now be on the decline with only a Wimbledon crown in 2012 to show for his efforts in three years of competing in majors. Yet, having accrued 17 grand slam tournament victories during his distinguished career, he could be forgiven in thinking that it is time for allowing younger blood to assume the mantle.
It was thought that a serious kneed injury sustained by Rafael Nadal during the latter stages of 2012 would have curtailed his efforts during this season. However, he has emerged in better shape than ever with two more grand slam wins increasing his total to 13 victories amid confirmation that he will be regaining the World number one ranking.
With Nadal now 27 years old and both Murray and Djokovic at 26, there may be still the possibility that their dominance could be extended for several more seasons especially as there appear to be few challengers capable of matching their annual consistency. David Ferrer of Spain has often threatened to break the stranglehold while del Potro, Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have posed the occasional question.
There can be little doubt that the quality of tennis served by these four dominant tennis players in recent years cannot be questioned and the 54-shot rally between Nadal and Djokovic in the US final is testament to that viewpoint. The overriding issue is that a young burgeoning star with the ability to beat any of these four players on a regular basis may offer the game an even further boost.
Nadal proved that he was beatable with a first round exit at Wimbledon but his conqueror, Steve Darcis, was older than the Spaniard and the defeat was described as a one-off.
Next season perhaps, a new kid on the block may emerge and it would make a welcome change from the current monopoly.