How deep can the sport be if the only player other than the Big Three in men’s tennis — made up of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal — to hold the No. 2 spot since the summer of 2005 is the 33-year-old Andy Murray?
“Of course when you’re out there, you want to beat them,” Medvedev said. “You don’t care that it’s the Big Three or the Big 100. But that’s why they have so many Slams. They’re just really good.”
He added: “I’m not shy to say this. It’s just the truth.”
Djokovic, 33, described the next generation as “hungry.” It is led by Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, 27, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, who defeated Nadal in the quarterfinals. But only Thiem, the reigning U.S. Open champion who has graced three other major finals, has broken through in the biggest events, and his U.S. Open title came in a tournament that Nadal and Federer did not enter and that Djokovic exited through a disqualification rather than a defeat. What is keeping this generation from feeding its appetite at the Grand Slam banquet?
“They have definitely the quality to reach the heights of major tournament trophies,” Djokovic said.
He added: “But Roger, Rafa, myself are still there for a reason. We don’t want to hand it to them, and we don’t want to allow them to win Slams. I think that’s something that is very clear. Whether you communicate that message or not, we are definitely sending that vibe out there.”