Johannesburg - Rafael Nadal (31) and Roger Federer (36) – world number one and two, respectively – are still dominating the tennis sphere.
In the world of tennis, they are considered to be quite old, so why are younger players not stopping them?
Just this year, Nadal and Federer swept up all Grand Slam titles and finished on top of the ATP rankings.
There are many young talented professional players, but not one has really challenged the pair – particularly in Grand Slam tournaments.
When a teenage Nadal defeated Federer in the 2005 French Open final, it was the beginning of a great rivalry.
Federer was quoted on The Australian’s website after his Wimbledon success in July as saying: “Every generation definitely is different. Since my generation and Rafa’s generation, the next one hasn’t really been strong enough to push all of us out, so that has been helpful for us to stick around.”
Federer began this season ranked at number 17, having missed the second half of last season because of injuries to his back and left knee.
Nadal was number nine, after having pulled out at the end of the second round of last year’s French Open and skipping Wimbledon entirely because of an injured left wrist.
This year, Nadal won his 10th French Open and third US Open, while Federer clinched the Australian Open and collected a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon win.
Roger Rasheed, former coach to retired tennis player Lleyton Hewitt, said that Federer and Nadal were “two all-time greats – not just in tennis, but also just generally in sport”.
He said that, when Federer was in his teens, his life was all about tennis, but there were too many distractions for today’s generation.
“Social media takes over as well. That’s part of the sporting package now, to understand how you can actually work with that. You’ve got more people getting access to you. There’s a bit of that which creates a bit of instability,” he added.
A number of great players – all 30 or older – including three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, two-time US Open winner Novak Djokovic and two-time Wimbledon winner Andy Murray missed out on this year’s US Open because of an assortment of injuries.
What should have been the perfect opportunity for the younger generation to break through was wasted, allowing Nadal’s domination as champion to prevail.
Young players with the potential to wrestle the court away from Nadal, Federer and other older players include 20-year-old German Alexander Zverev, 24-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem and 22-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios.
While some critics have suggested that the standard of tennis may drop when the likes of Murray and Djokovic retire, South African tennis analyst Bruce Davidson disagrees.
He observes that, instead, the standard will rise as Nadal and Federer have already done enough to inspire more young players to follow in their footsteps.