Stefanos Tsitsipas held it in his hands. Although he did not get close to the victory, he did feel the feelings and the confidence to be able to make it happen. Win the Roland Garros final against Novak Djokovic not only would it have meant his first Grand Slam, but also a paradigm shift, the modification of a time.
The 22-year-old Greek belongs to a generation of talents that, sooner or later, will dominate the circuit. Among all the components of the young litter The great titles will be distributed and they will fight for the top positions in the ranking. The origin of this new era could have been the final in Paris, a sort of collision between two stages, because on the other side of the net stood Djokovic, 34, one of the three bishops of the hegemony that prevailed for the last decade and a half. Born in 2003 with Roger Federer and expanded over the years after the emergence of Rafael Nadal and the Serbian, that reign remains firm in the Grand Slam tournaments.
Tsitsipas was the third player of the so-called Next Gen that could reach a final of caliber Major. The first of them was the Russian Daniil Medvedev, 25 years old and currently 2nd in the world, who lost to Nadal at the US Open 2019 and, later, to Djokovic in Australia 2021. So did the German Alexander Zverev, 24 years old and 6th in the ranking, in that definition that escaped him against Dominic Thiem at the US Open last year. That first Slam post stop due to a pandemic nor could it be considered in the “change of command” because was marked by the disqualification of Djokovic and for the absence of Nadal and Federer.
All of them and so many others managed to defeat the big three in tournaments to the best of three sets but they did not manage to dethrone them in the events that rewrite history: the Grand Slams, best of five sets, in which they were only eventually defeated. The final this Sunday in Paris, in which the Greek came to be placed with two sets of advantage, it could have been the birth of a new era but it did nothing more than cast a certainty: The Big 3 will not be defeated by the youngsters but by the passage of time. Old age, seniority, will have been the factor that will keep them away from important fights.
To size the supremacy they still wield, with Djokovic at the helm, you just have to do the math: since Federer won his first Grand Slam, at Wimbledon 2003, between the three, 59 of the last 71 were divided. Closer in time the data is even more surprising: the Big 3 won 16 of the 17 most recent, with the atypical US Open in Thiem as the only exception.
Two weeks after Wimbledon, only three topics are discussed: Djokovic’s chance to equal Slams record, Federer’s last great option and doubts about Nadal’s presence. The time of the young will come. The big ones they will only fall before the inclemency of the years.