Former world No. 1 Jimmy Connors gave his verdict after Novak Djokovic's defeat to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open. The American praised players like Sinner and Daniil Medvedev for taking the reins after the Big-3, although he warned that Djokovic should not be ruled out for the future.
The Italian ended Djokovic's streak of 33 consecutive victories in Melbourne and secured his first Grand Slam.
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Connors' take on Djokovic and the young stars
The 8-times Grand Slam champion spoke in the latest episode of his podcast Advantage Connors about the changing era in tennis. The American emphasized that 'Nole' still has a lot to offer and will be seeking titles in the upcoming Grand Slams:
“What I like about Medvedev and I like about Sinner – seems like these young guys now are starting to step up. I know [Roger] Federer is gone and [Rafael] Nadal has reached another rough patch, he’s gotten injured again – and what the future holds for him, you don’t know,” the American said.
“But ‘Djoker’ still being around and still trying to set records and put his reputation on the line and everything, it seems these young guys are saying now that, ‘Hey, maybe it is our turn.’ And you know, Federer is gone and Nadal is hurt, but ‘Djoker’ is still in there grinding.
“But on the other hand, don’t count him out, because he seems to always find a way to find something to inspire him, to motivate him. You know, to get him back on his game, to get him back on track. So, he’s got those few years on him and that happens to everybody.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying he’ll find a way to use whatever he can to get back on track and to win a French or win a Wimbledon or a US Open before this year’s out.
“So all this does is set up another good rivalry in tennis (between Djokovic and Sinner) – and it’s needed. It’s needed, the old and the young. Who’s gonna come out on top? This time Sinner did, what’s gonna happen next time? Can’t wait to see that,” Connors added.
A final without the Big-3
Connors highlighted the significance of witnessing a Grand Slam final without any member of the Big-3, affirming that the younger generation has solidified its presence in the tennis landscape:
“It was a different final, to not have a Federer or a Nadal or a Djokovic in the final of a Grand Slam,” Connors noted.
“Obviously, they’ve ruled the Grand Slams the last 15 years between the three of them and to have a final where neither one of those three were there just created a little more interest and got some other people watching. Tennis needs that also.
“They (fans) love their champions and they love the winners and those who have set the records and all that. But they also wanna know, when those guys are gone, who is gonna take their place? And I think they’re seeing that now. They’ve had a good view of the young guys coming up.”