The Original Next Gen crumbles: Zverev's French Open loss marks fifth Grand Slam final collapse after leading

Monday, 10 June 2024 at 01:30
Alexander Zverev’s defeat in the French Open final is the fifth time a Next Gen player has squandered a lead of two sets to one, or two sets to none, in a Grand Slam final. This is the second time Zverev has lost a major final despite being ahead, adding to the heartbreaks of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev.
The generation pegged to replace the dominance of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray has largely failed to seize their opportunities, with Daniil Medvedev’s 2021 US Open win being a rare exception. Medvedev briefly ascended to world No. 1 but, along with his peers, has struggled to consistently dethrone the Big-4.

The Original Next Gen

Next Gen players, born in the mid-90s, were heralded as future stars capable of toppling the aging giants: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro, Stan Wawrinka. etc. Despite their promising starts, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and others, have not succeeded in firmly establishing their dominance.
Now over 25 years old, these players appear unable to definitively retire the old guard and take over the ATP Tour. Meanwhile, younger talents born in the 2000s, like Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, are emerging as the new torchbearers, with other promising names like Holger Rune, Ben Shelton, Lorenzo Musetti, and Felix Auger-Aliassime aiming to make their mark.

Fifth Grand Slam final turnaround for the Next Gen

Zverev’s first Grand Slam final heartbreak was at the 2020 US Open, where he lost despite leading by two sets against Dominic Thiem. With Federer and Nadal absent and Djokovic disqualified in the fourth round, Zverev had a golden opportunity. However, he surrendered the match 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-7 to Thiem.
In 2021, Tsitsipas experienced a similar fate. Up by two sets against Djokovic in the French Open final, the Greek succumbed to a comeback, losing 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 4-6. Djokovic claimed his 19th Grand Slam title.
stefanos tsitsipas rg 2021 2
Stefanos Tsitispas at the 2021 French Open
Medvedev’s bad luck struck at the 2022 Australian Open final against Nadal. Leading by two sets and a break in the third, Medvedev was overtaken by Nadal’s epic comeback to win his 21st Grand Slam title, 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Two years later, Medvedev faced déjà vu at the same tournament, falling to Sinner 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 3-6 after himself overcoming a two-set deficit against Zverev in the semifinals.
Zverev’s latest disappointment came at Roland Garros. After three consecutive semifinal exits, he reached his first French Open final but couldn’t capitalize on a two-sets-to-one lead against Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard triumphed 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, claiming his third Grand Slam title at 21 and denying Zverev his coveted title at Philippe Chatrier.

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