The dominance of this generation of tennis’s top talent has been simply without precedent. The longevity of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and to a lesser extent Andy Murray has more or less locked out other would- be champions from reaching Grand Slam finals in any great number. It’s amazing to think that rivalries between Djokovic and Federer for example are still ongoing after more than 15 years, with both reaching the Wimbledon final last year.
Still, all good things must come to pass, and we should begin to consider the next generation coming through into championship tennis. Players like Dominic Thiem are beginning to turn the tide against “The Big Three” with the Austrian becoming the first new Grand Slam champion to disrupt the status quo in the men’s singles since Marin Čilić,
With the next Grand Slam scheduled to take place in Australia in January 2021, the bookies have already priced Thiem amongst the favourites to lift the title at 5/1 but who are the other young contenders that could win one of the ‘big four’ events next year?
Meet the contenders
Tennis fans have highlighted an exciting crop of talent which should begin to show their strengths in the 2021 Grand Slam calendar. The aforementioned Dominic Thiem leads a pack including Ukrainian Daniil Medvedev, who lost out narrowly to Nadal in the 2019 US Open, and 22 year old Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the semis at the 2020 French Open.
Insiders and media in tennis are already predicting that out of the four Grand Slams in 2021, at least two should fall to these young challengers, and the tide of the tennis world should begin to turn. You can be sure that the fiercely competitive Djokovic should pick up at least one Grand Slam next year however, and Federer will be hoping to cap off his late career with more glory.
What’s the schedule for 2021?
The 2020 season in tennis, like all sport, was of course severely disrupted by current events. Wimbledon was cancelled, leading millions of fans worldwide heartbroken, and the players were disappointed that they missed their chance to play on grass courts at the highest level. Other events like the French Open were postponed, or held without fans.
Spectators and players alike are therefore brimming with excitement for the 2021 schedule, and we are all hoping that next year’s events will be much more like normal. The Grand Slam calendar kicks off with The Australian Open from 18th January – 25th January. The French Open then follows from 24th May – 31st May, and Wimbledon comes soon after from 28th June – 5th July. The Grand Slam schedule then finishes with the US Open from 30th August – 6th September.
In a 2020 season which fans were forced out of venues and stadiums, reducing most to watching via the television, an incredible atmosphere should also be expected at competitions next year when fans return. Umpires have an enviable task in trying to keep crowds quiet, and that huge amount of support may be of benefit to those younger players who might otherwise have felt subdued in deserted, socially distanced venues.
A pivotal year ahead
2021 is set to be a transformational year for professional tennis. With the strong performance of tennis’s emerging challengers last year, we should expect to see these youngsters taking the next step and making it to Grand Slam finals and, crucially, winning.
Medvedev and Thiem both made big steps in their career last year, and Tsitsipas will be hoping to match his peers in 2021 by making it through to a final himself, As mentioned above, Thiem is currently priced as 5/1 to win the 2021 Australian Open while Medvedev can be backed slightly further back at around 7/1. As bookies prepare for an influx of bets on these young starlets, if you fancy Thiem or Medvedev to reign supreme down under then risk free bets is one of the most common promotions you can take advantage of.
Whilst we should always be grateful for the incredible tennis that the incredible trio of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have blessed us with over a near 20 year period, there will be few tennis fans who aren’t licking their lips at the prospect of seeing some new contenders challenge the old guard next year and beyond.