Former player Patrick McEnroe believes tennis will struggle to maintain its popularity as the younger generation of men’s players is not drawing in the crowd.
The Next Gen players made some inroads this year with Daniil Medvedev winning the US Open and Alexander Zverev capturing the Tokyo Olympics gold and ATP Finals.
“The larger issue for tennis these young guys at the moment are not moving the needle for tennis the same way the older guys have,” the former US Davis Cup captain said.
“They are not selling tickets the first week of the US Open the same way that Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have been doing.”
In the ATP’s year-end top 10 for 2021 eight out of 10 entrants are under the age of 25. The only exceptions are 34-year-old Djokovic and 35-year-old Nadal.
Furthermore, seven out of the eight Masters 1000 events this year was won by different players which could be the start of a changing landscape on the Tour.
US Open champion, Medvedev, however believes men’s tennis is in good hands.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 21, 2021
“When there was [Bjorn] Borg and [John] McEnroe, when they were close, finished their careers, everybody was like, ‘tennis is over, we won’t ever have any great players, it is finished,” Medvedev said.
“We did have some: [Pete] Sampras, [Andre] Agassi, they were at the top. [When] Sampras retired, [people were saying] ‘okay, tennis is over’.
“Then we had Novak, Roger and Rafa. If you asked just before they came, everybody would say, ‘well, tennis will not be interesting anymore’.
“It’s the same here. Tennis is a great sport, so I don’t see why our generation would miss on something.”
According to McEnroe, one player who he believes is destined to win a major title is Zverev who has won more matches (59) and ATP titles (six) than any other player this year.
The German is the first male player from his country to end a year in the world’s top three since Boris Becker back in 1994.
“I feel like it’s inevitable Zverev is going to win a major,” said former Davis Cup captain McEnroe. “I’ve been saying for a couple years that he’s been knocking on the door. Now he’s banging on it.”