The Big 3 of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been dominating the tennis court for almost two decades now and are still at the top of their game. They still go in as the favorites to win despite being in their late 30s. The question is often asked, who would replace their legacy?
Many exciting prospects have emerged over the years and only once the Big 3 are gone, the question shall be addressed. But in the past couple of years, a string of young Italians have emerged on the global scene and have proved their metal at the highest stages. Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti have come out as the leaders of that pack, especially after their performance at the ongoing French Open.
The trio managed to make it to the Round of 16 on the Parisian Clay amidst difficult draw and were fazed off by either of the Big 3. But is the trio capable of taking Italian tennis to heights?
Matteo Berrettini is the highest ranked Italian on the ATP Tour for quite some time. He has been a consistent member of the Top 10 and is currently ranked 9th in the world. He has one of the most powerful forehands on the current tour and is currently in the form of his life.
In the French Open. he was to play Roger Federer in the Fourth Round but was handed a walkover after the Swiss maestro withdrew from the competition. But if the mega match was to take place, Berrettini would’ve gone in as the favorite to win the match given his amazing form. He surely is one for the future and could be a grand slam prospect. He will be tested in the quarterfinals against Novak Djokovic.
19-year old Jannik Sinner was been one of the most improved players for the last 2 years. The Italian teenager has proved his metal on various occasions, giving hard times to the very beast in the world. He broke into the scenes at last year’s French Open, where he reached the quarterfinals, beating the likes of Alexander Zverev and David Goffin, before losing to Rafael Nadal.
He is currently ranked 19th in the world and fell short this year to Rafael Nadal again in Paris on Monday. Although he played a very tight first set against Nadal, lack of experience cost him the set. He is regarded as the best teenage player on the tour and has proved his worth time and again.
The youngest of the Italians, Lorenzo Musetti broke onto the scenes at this year’s Mexican Open at Acapulco. Although hard courts aren’t his preferred surface, the young Italian manages to beat big names in Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov before losing to top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinal.
He was making his grand slam debut the ongoing French Open and again hunted big names in David Goffin and former semifinalist Marco Cecchinato to book a Round of 16 date with top seed Novak Djokovic. And to everyone’s surprise, Musetti was very close in upsetting Djokovic. He won the first two sets and dominated the majority of the rallies. His heroics weren’t enough, as he was forced to retire in the fifth set.
But he shown everyone that is the player to watch out for in the futre. As it stands, no Italian man has won a Grand Slam since Adriano Panatta triumphed at Roland Garros in 1976. In the current draw, Matteo Berrettini is the only Italian alive and will face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal. Will he able to create history? Only time shall tell.
So are the three Italians going to be the next big 3? It will be to early to tell as they are very young. But do they have the game to replace the Big 3? Certainly so, if they work in the right direction, all three of them could win multiple slams in the future! One thing is for sure, the future of Italian tennis is in safe hands!