The attention that the ATP puts in the promotion of the players that it sees as its future bastions is one that borders on the feverish.
Roger Federer, the de facto ambassador who has men’s tennis, the current #NextGen campaign evokes his first years on the circuit.
After all, the Swiss star was part of campaigns in a period when the Association of Professional Tennis Players sought to highlight another new litter.
By 2002, when Federer had not yet won the first of his 20 Grand Slam crowns and social networks did not exist, the ATP promoted the slogan “New Balls Please” – a reference to an emerging generation that would outshine established figures . Of the dozen that came out in the picture, people like Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Gustavo Kuerten, the only one who stays active is Federer.
“It was the image of the Gladiator,” Federer evoked during his participation in the Cincinnati Masters. “I think it was a good way to market young people, actually introduce them to fans because the important thing is that they know the origin of each player.”
At 38, Federer’s views on the past, present and future of tennis do not go unnoticed.
And the most repetitive query concerns the future of tennis.
How will tennis go when Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic give in the monopoly of titles they have held since 2016? Will 2020 be the year when the new generation of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev breaks the hegemony of the Big Three in big dates?
Maybe yes, maybe not, says Federer.
“Can it seem that they are closer than ever? Possibly, ”he analyzed after a season in which he missed the Wimbledon title by wasting two match balls with his serve against Djokovic in the tiebreaker of the fifth set. “The only problem is that Novak and I are still healthy, or healthier than in previous years.”
Turning 30 years is no longer an irreversible decline sentence, much less with all the new methods of preparation and modern medicine that allow to prolong a career.
No one under the age of 31 has a Grand Slam title in their medal winners.
In 2019, Djokovic and Nadal each won two big ones, to get closer to the Federer record, whose most recent consecration in a Slam dates back to the 2018 Australian Open. The accounts were like this: Federer 20, Nadal 19, Djokovic 16.
But don’t forget your ages: Federer 38, Nadal 33, Djokovic 32.
Increasingly closer to the retreat, the upcoming conflagrations in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York will serve to establish a definitive order in the statistics of the greatest stars.
But 2020 could be the year in which Tsitsipas, the 21-year-old Greek and prolific ‘YouTuber’ who closed the season crowning champion in the Masters Cup after beating Federer in the semifinals, breaks the domain of the Big Three and radiates the necessary charisma To captivate fans.
It could also be the time for Daniil Medvedev, the 23-year-old Russian who had Nadal on the ropes in the US Open final and who behaved like a challenging but friendly troll in front of the public.
Federer does not fear the future of his sport.
“I still believe that things are going in the right direction,” he said. “We have good numbers, in terms of attendance, awards. In whatever, everything is going up. ”
“I think tennis is in a better place than it was 20 years ago when I appeared, and it was already in a good place,” he added. “There are always ups and downs, but you won’t hear me talking badly about tennis.”