John McEnroe excited about the changing of the guard, saying young guns’ ‘time has come’

·2-min read
Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz mid match Credit: PA Images
Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz mid match Credit: PA Images

Tennis’ young guns are finally ready to take over the baton from the sport’s Big Three as Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe are battling it out for the 2022 US Open title, much to the delight of tennis great John McEnroe.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have ruled the roost in men’s tennis over the past three decades, sharing 63 Grand Slams, dominating the No 1 spot in the ATP Rankings and setting numerous other records along the way.

But father time is catching up with them as Federer (41) has struggled with injury over the past two years and it remains to be seen when he will return to action. The 36-year-old Nadal has also had several injury setbacks and he admitted after his fourth-round exit from the US Open that he is not sure when he will return.

Djokovic is the youngest of the trio at 35, but he missed the season-ending Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows due to his unvaccinated status and his absence from several tournaments this year has seen Daniil Medvedev overtake him as No 1.

Medvedev, though, will lose top spot in the rankings after the US Open after he was unable to defend his title in New York and he will be replaced by either Nadal, Alcaraz or Ruud.

Alcaraz and Ruud are also still in the running to win the US Open title with the latter already in the semi-final, where he will face Karen Khachanov, while teenager Alcaraz will take on Sinner in the quarter-final.

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner could share one of the sport’s great rivalries

Tiafoe, who upset Nadal in the fourth round, is up against Andrey Rublev in the last eight.

The good news for tennis is Alcaraz, Sinner, Tiafoe and Ruud are all under 25 and former world No 1 McEnroe is excited about what’s to come for the sport.

“There’s more different winners [at the US Open],” he told Eurosport. “I don’t know, maybe some of the players get burned out. Age? I think it caught up to Rafa when he played [Frances] Tiafoe. He looked, for him, a little sluggish, so that to me is the reason why [he lost].

“Listen, I’ve been talking about ‘When’s the changing of the guard? When’s that going to happen’. I think it may have finally happened. A guy like Djokovic – too bad he’s not here, but I’m excited about these new guys. I think their time has come.”

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