Tennis needs all the traction it can muster at the moment due to the global economic slump … but with the big three absent, the US Open close could be the start of a wider transition beyond Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
- For the first time since 2014, a new champion will be crowned at the US Open
- Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem face each other in Friday’s semifinals
- The duo are emerging stars along with Sascha Zverev and Pablo Carreno-Busta
- So tennis will see what life is like without Djokovic, Nadal and Federer
For the next three days, men’s tennis will get a glimpse of what life will be like after Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
A new champion will be crowned at the US Open – for the first time since 2014 – and try not to tell the semi-finalists that the eventual winner took some shortcut.
“There is no Roger, Rafa, Novak, but there is Daniil (Medvedev), Sascha (Zverev) and Pablo (Carreno-Busta),” said the fourth member of the quartet, Dominic Thiem.
The men’s tennis gets a glimpse of what life will be like after Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal won the US Open last year, but was absent from the competition this year
The disqualification of Novak Djokovic means that the semi-finals offer a glimpse of the future
‘They are three great players. Each of us deserves this first major title, everyone will give everything. Once we get on the track, the other three are forgotten anyway. ‘
The final trio of names don’t exactly roll off the tongue in the same way as the Big Three, or four when Andy Murray was in the group. But going forward, this weekend will likely be seen as the start of a broader transition.
The women’s semi-finals will be played on Thursday evening, with Serena Williams against Victoria Azarenka and Jennifer Brady against Naomi Osaka.
Thiem will meet last year’s defeated finalist Medvedev and, regardless of Djokovic’s demise, it’s no big surprise that they’ll be facing each other at this stage.
Russian star Daniil Medvedev was the finalist to be beaten by Spaniard Nadal at the US Ope last year
In this year’s semifinals, Medvedev meets Dominic Thiem, whose share continues to rise
As for developing much needed star names for the era to come, it would have been gratifying to see Stefanos Tsitsipas or the extravagant skills of Canadian Denis Shapovalov on the other side of the draw.
As for Nick Kyrgios, possibly up there, he can’t even bring himself to make it to the starting line at the moment, and has opted to stay in Australia as the tour tries to plow through with the US and French Opens via Rome and Kitzbuhel.
At a time when ATP Tour prize money and revenues will undoubtedly come under pressure due to a global economic slump, it will need all the traction it can muster as its major players begin to fade.
Zverev, winner of the 2018 ATP Finals in London, is not a bad option, and you can hardly blame the highly reliable Carreno-Busta for taking his chance when it presents itself.
Alexander Zverev, winner of the ATP Finals in London in 2018, is also not a bad option for the semi-final
Still, the champion is likely to emerge from the second game, among the players with the highest Grand Slam pedigree. Thiem has already reached three Major finals, two in Paris and one in Melbourne – earlier this year – but he is looking for his first in New York.
“Whether I’m the first Austrian or not, it’s not that important,” he said. “For me it is very nice to reach the semi-finals here in this Slam, especially under difficult mental circumstances with the times we are going through and so on.”
Thiem did not escape controversy during Covid’s turbulent times and was one of the participants of Djokovic’s fateful Adria Tour during the summer.
He did not get the disease there, but was criticized for not isolating himself afterwards. Instead, he crisscrossed Europe with exhibition games while getting tested every other day. He just loves to play.
The very reliable Pablo Carreno-Busta also took his chance when it presented itself
At one point, when he got to play Patrick Mouratoglou’s event in Nice, he joked in protest, “I’m the most negative guy on tour.”
Last week, he was again linked to Covid issues when he faced a very modern violation of the ‘Unsportsmanlike Conduct’ Code because his support staff repeatedly failed to wear their mandatory masks around Flushing Meadows.
After beating the Australian Alex de Minaur late on Wednesday, he can consider his semi-final against Medvedev as his final. His previous record against the other two is so good – 7-2 with Zverev and 7-0 with Carreno-Busta – that it suggests this will be the biggest test.