For the first time in almost two decades the Big Three will not be at the top of the tennis world rankings. Since 2003, the top two spots have constantly featured Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but this is expected to change on Monday.
World No. 1 Djokovic has seen the top ranking for a record-setting 373 weeks. He is projected to lose his spot when the updated ATP World Rankings come out on Monday. This year has been less than ideal for him with only one tournament trophy, the Italian Open. He tried to keep the momentum going in the French Open too, but he fell to Nadal in the semifinals.
Nadal went on to win his 14th Roland Garros title and moved up to to No. 4. The 36-year-old became the oldest champion in the tournament’s history. Although he just picked up his 22nd Grand Slam title, the fact that he missed a significant amount of playing time last year due to injury has him outside of the top spots.
Federer has not played since Wimbledon last July due to knee issues. The Swiss star is expected to return later this year, but he’s expected to fall 16 spots from his current ranking of No. 50. This is unfamiliar territory for him, as the 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t seen a ranking as low as No. 66 since October 1999. Federer was 18 years old then, he is now 40 and recently said he is planning on reducing his schedule once he makes his return.
Monday could mark the beginning of a new era in tennis. The youngest of the Big Three is Djokovic at 35 years old. Daniil Medvedev, a 26-year-old, is projected to move into the the No. 1 spot on Monday. Medvedev was No. 1 for a few weeks earlier this year before Djokovic took the spot again. Alexander Zverev, a 25-year-old, is set to see a career-high No. 2 ranking. Unfortunately for him, a right ankle injury he suffered during the French Open will likely put him on an extended break.
It’s hardly surprising that the rankings will be shaken up next week, as there is already a wave of young talented players giving the veterans some serious competition.
Carlos Alcaraz, who turned 19 on May 5, has won four tournaments this year. He is the youngest champion in the history of three of those: Rio de Janeiro, Miami and Madrid. During the Madrid Open, Alcaraz defeated Nadal in the quarterfinals and then Djokovic in the semifinals. That was no small feat, as no player had ever taken down Nadal and Djokovic in back-to-back matches during the same clay court tournament.
Of course this doesn’t mean Djokovic, Nadal or even Federer are completely done dominating the sport. They could still find themselves at the top, but achieving that task is surely becoming more difficult.