Dominic Thiem did it. Carlos Alcaraz did it. And Daniil Medvedev did it. Aside from this trio, however, the post-1990 generation lacks Grand Slam title honors. In general, no representative of this (younger) guard was able to break through the very large dominance of the top dogs at a tournament other than the US Open. In terms of final successes against a representative of the three players of the century, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, only Daniil Medvedev has so far been allowed to write.
Stefanos Tsitsipas couldn’t change anything about that on Sunday. The Greek worked, he fought, he came to the final in top form. Only to lose this against the now ten-time Melbourne winner Novak Djokovic with 0: 3 sentences. The Serb, who, like long-term rival Rafael Nadal, now owns 22 Grand Slam titles, presented himself too confident, too dominant, too superior. And who makes no secret of the fact that he honestly wants to change little about this dominance in the future.
Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Thiem, Zverev and Co are far from that. And there are many reasons for that. Some of them were somewhat blatant in Tsitsipa’s most recent attempt. But first things first. Novak Djokovic, whose thigh injury has been the subject of so much speculation, started perfectly – and immediately knew how to take advantage of a slow scan of Tsitsipa. After an early break, he couldn’t find his way back into section one. Chances when the Serb serves? none. Advantage Djokovic.
Round two: Tsitsipas increases, finds his way into the match better – and when Djokovic serves, he also has a chance to equalize in sentences. The Serb defends – also because Tsitsipas takes his foot off the gas and acts too passively. Fast forward to the tie-break: Again there are enough chances for the Greek. Who suddenly can no longer rely on his otherwise strong forehand. Djokovic gets four out of seven points in the short decision through unforced errors from Tsitsipas’ forehand side. A very important set win for the man from Belgrade. And one that Djokovic won without having to show really great tennis.
In English-speaking terms, being a clutch means as much as being able to raise your own level a little in the crucial moments. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have proven that so often with excellence. And it is precisely in this respect that Tsitsipas and Co are still lagging behind the big three with little or no chance. The young guard far too rarely manage to build up momentum against players like Nadal, Djokovic and Federer in the big matches at Grand Slam level.
This was also evident at the start of section three. Novak Djokovic – the Australian director never tired of showing that – confirms an early break if he succeeds. And in 96% of the cases. And Stefanos Tsitsipas? After an early 1-0, he has to accept the rebreak immediately. The Greek immediately takes the wind out of the sails of big comeback efforts. The 25-year-old experienced it very differently against himself in the final of the 2021 French Open. One remembers.
Novak Djokovic didn’t have to go to his maximum performance in a tie-break last Sunday. The Serb was also effective, served double faults, made mistakes that are not known from the Serbian high-flyer. And yet Stefanos Tsitsipas couldn’t get a foot in the door. Big matches are decided in a few points, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic showed perfectly on Sunday to whom the overwhelming majority have gone in recent years.
Stefanos Tsitsipas said it, Daniil Medvedev said it and Dominic Thiem said it too: The young guard enter the square to compete with the greatest of all time. A privilege, no question. An understandable homage, not a discussion. But also a factor that increases the pressure. And who undermines the belief that you can really win this match. That’s also part of the story – and he’s Tsitsipas
If Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal enter the pitch in a good mood today, then even at the age of 35 they can hardly hold a candle to them. This is undoubtedly due to the talent of the century that the 44-time major champions bring with them, their irrepressible fighting spirit. But it is also because these gentlemen know how to shape the tight, decisive moments. And they do it far better than the young guard does. Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas showed that again a few hours ago. A generation difference. And on Sunday: a generation difference.
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The original of this post “Young tennis generation is missing something to become dangerous to the stars” comes from tennisnet.com.