Former World No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero believes that the Big 3 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—will still be hard to beat at the biggest competitions but won’t be as dominant as before.
“I still consider them (the Big Three) favourites, but not as much as before,” the 2003 French Open champion told Tennis Majors.
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“I think people see that players like (Dominic) Thiem, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas or (Alexander) Zverev already have good chances of winning against them as well.”
Dominic Thiem, who had been into three Grand Slam before that, won the 2020 US Open to break the Big 3’s stranglehold on the majors. Since the start of 2017, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic had won 13 majors on the trot.
The Austrian’s breakthrough win though came with an asterisk as Nadal and Federer had given the US Open a miss and Novak Djokovic had been disqualified in the fourth round, given the younger players an unprecedented chance at a Grand Slam.
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In the next major, the re-scheduled French Open, it was business as usual as the two best players in the world, Djokovic and Nadal, reached the final.
Nadal defeated Djokovic, surprisingly in straight sets, to claim his 13th French Open title and 20th major overall to go level with Federer.
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“Djokovic and Nadal have shown us this year that they still have the ambition and the body to compete for the biggest titles in our sport,” added Ferrero, who has coached Zverev in the past.
“If they win some more Grand Slam titles it would not be a surprise, but I feel that in 2021 there will be other favourites, other players with increasingly good chances to win Slams, not just Djokovic and Nadal as it has been before. Thiem would be one of those guys for sure.”
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The 40-year-old Spaniard has been working with young tennis talent Carlos Alcaraz since 2019. Alcaraz, 17, was recognized by the ATP as the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ earlier this week. Ferrero believes the Spanish youngster can break into the world’s top-50.
“That is our desire and our objective,” Ferrero said.
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“We are indeed working hard in preseason in order to be able to compete with the best and reach that goal. If he stays hungry like he is now and if we are able to compete normally throughout the year, I think Carlos can rise to top 50.”