No, no, no, said Rafael Nadal, 35, after the Indian Wells final: “This is not the time to talk about it.” After 3: 6, 6: 7 (5) against Taylor Fritz, his first defeat this year, he was asked about chest pain. It had been a grueling tennis week for him, Nadal had needed three sets each on his way to the final against Sebastian Korda (USA), Nick Kyrgios (Australian) and his Spanish compatriot Carlos Alcaraz and was also out of the British Daniel Evans and Reilly Opelka highly demanded by the United States. According to his own information, he had not yet found time to check the damage. “No, no, no,” he said, “we do not need to talk about me now. That is it be tournament, he played good matches and a very good final. “
He, it’s the 24-year-old Taylor Fritz (USA). He had also been playing with pain. In the semifinal against Andrei Rublev (Russia) he injured his right ankle; he had to stop training the next morning. “The worst pain of my life. I almost cried because I thought it was,” Fritz said after the first Masters title of his career: “A few people on my team wanted me not to play – I’ll raise them forever. “
It is often the old Nadal who ultimately wins such a competition of the disabled. Now it was young Fritz. Although one would realize who was missing on this last weekend in the California desert: namely the stars of the so-called next gen, the next generation behind the trio of Nadal, Nowak Djokovic and Roger Federer. The Russian Daniil Medvedev, 26, had lost to Gaël Monfils (France) – and thus regained the lead in the world rankings. Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, 23, and German Alexander Zverev, 24, were defeated early by young Americans Jenson Brooksby, 21, and Tommy Paul, 24, while Italian Matteo Berrettini, 25, lost in the round of 16 to 22-year-old. Miomir Kecmanovic (Serbia).
It was not the next generation, it was it next next gen, which was a success at Indian Wells: Even if it should be noted that Fritz is only six months younger than Zverev – but, that’s the important thing, he just joined the circle of candidates later. The lines between the generations have been blurred, but one thing is for sure: it now takes more than two hands to count all the players who can win big tournaments. This leads to an extremely interesting constellation in men’s tennis.
Perhaps one should remember what Zverev said six months ago at the US Open about the so-called big three said Federer, 40, Nadal, 35, and Djokovic, 34: “We all want them to play forever – but at some point they have to stop.” Well, at least Nadal is still there, he’s favorite again at the French Open very soon. Djokovic was not present at Indian Wells because he was not allowed to enter the United States without a corona vaccination. He is the youngest of the big three and will continue to be favored and feared when competing. Federer, on the other hand, has long struggled with wear and tear and injuries.
However, the question now is whether Zverev’s conclusion from last year is still correct: “The rivalry of the younger ones – ie Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Rublew, Berrettini and me – leads to big duels. Semi-finals and finals in Grand Slam tournaments get exciting. I do not think any of us will win 20 Grand Slam titles. We can share them between us. “
But it is also possible that Alexander Zverev will not win a single Grand Slam tournament in his career; not only because of the form crisis he is currently in, on his eighth year on the professional tour. The fact is that there are no longer only “the younger”, but also the somewhat younger, i.e .: Casper Ruud (Norway, 23), Sinner (Italy, 20), Felix Auger-Aliassime (Canada, 20), Alcaraz ( Spain, 20) and Fritz – the next generation.