Eurosport expert Mats Wilander has made some fascinating observations about the younger generation of players in comparison with the 'big three' of men's tennis.
Wilander, who has already said he believes Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic “would not be at this level” without Roger Federer and hopes the Swiss gets the farewell he deserves when he retires, has given further thoughts on the legendary trio.
Nadal and Djokovic started their careers later but have joined Federer in dominating tennis over the last 20 years, winning 61 Grand Slam titles between them.
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Federer, 40, looks the closest of the three to retiring and is set to drop off the rankings this summer as he has been inactive for a year. He is currently recovering from a third knee operation and looks poised to return at the Laver Cup in September.
Speaking on Thursday about the younger generation of players in the game, Wilander made some intriguing comparisons between the rising stars and Nadal, Djokovic and Federer.
"With Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sascha Zverev, when they win their first Grand Slam, I think you can look back - at least I did. You can say, ‘well, I won my quarter [and] semi-finals easily, but I was match point down in the third round against this guy because I had a bad spell in the match," Wilander said.
"That is what you don’t see with Rafa, Novak or Roger. They never have bad starts. They go ahead, they break serve, now they relax, now they win the first set.
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"How many times do you come back against Rafa after winning the first set? It’s nearly impossible. With Stefanos, he said, ‘I wasn’t there; I was disappointed'. Rafa would never say that. And Sasha Zverev, I think he was there, but he wasn’t playing well.
"But they got the job done and I think they will learn with each experience. It’s amazing; we talk about the generation before with Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori… they did not win Slams - okay, maybe one or two, thanks to Cilic and Del Potro - because of Novak, Roger and Rafa.
"They are doing the same thing to this generation, with Stefanos and Sasha. They haven’t got used to winning big tournaments at 25 years old. That’s incredible. Whereas Alcaraz, maybe he will win his first when Rafa and Novak are gone.
"So he might be 21 years old, and he might learn faster… I’m not sure. But they are in it, and we love the entertainment.”
'Nadal and Djokovic would not be at this level without Federer' - Wilander
A few days ago, Wilander said about the prospect of Federer and fellow tennis legend Serena Williams having fitting farewells from the sport that he hopes they can each bow out on the biggest stage.
"For both Roger and Serena, they deserve to play their last match in front of a full stadium at their favourite venue," he said.
"I’m guessing for Federer that would be Wimbledon, and for Serena, it would be Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. It will be really important they do.
"Whether it’s the first round, second round, semi-finals or final, it doesn’t make any difference.
"We would all love to say goodbye and thank them for what they have done because they have inspired the generation playing today, but also players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would not be at this level without Roger Federer setting the tone and the same on the women’s side with Serena Williams, maybe the greatest tennis player of all time.
"I would love to see them retire in front of a full crowd – of course, I don’t want to see them retire at all, but everyone gets older!"
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