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SA sensation Lloyd Harris sees change of guard from Federer, Djokovic and Nadal

Lloyd Harris of South Africa hits a backhand against Alexander Zverev of Germany in the quarterfinals of the men's singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 8 2021.
Lloyd Harris of South Africa hits a backhand against Alexander Zverev of Germany in the quarterfinals of the men's singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 8 2021.
Image: TPN/Getty Images

SA tennis sensation Lloyd Harris believes that the almost two decades-long dominance of the ‘Big Three’ of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is coming to an end.

For more than 18 years, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have completely dominated the international scene with a combined 60 victories from the 72 Grand Slams played in the era.

During this period, other players to win Grand Slams are Andy Murray (3), Stan Wawrinka (3), Andy Roddick (1), Gaston Gaudio (1), Marat Safin (1), Juan Martin del Potro (1), Marin Cilic (1) and Dominic Thiem (1).

SA's Kevin Anderson has a pair of Grand Slam finals to his credit after he lost in the 2017 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon while emerging talent Harris (24) reached the quarterfinals of the US Open last week, where he lost to Alexander Zverev in straight sets.

“It has been coming for a while,” Harris, who will lead SA against Venezuela in their Davis Cup Group II tie in New York this weekend, said.

“It has been hard for the younger generation to crack the Grand Slams, Novak has been unstoppable on tour and in his last match he came up against an extremely difficult opponent on the day in the form of Daniil Medvedev.”

There are six players in the current top 10 of the ATP rankings aged 25 or below in Medvedev (25), Stefanos Tsitsipas (23), Alexander Zverev (24), Andrey Rublev (23), Matteo Berrettini (25) and Casper Ruud (22).

In a year that has seen some impressive results, including shocking Nadal at the Washington Open, Harris' ranking jumped 15 placed to 31st after the US Open.

“This reflects on the new generation,” he said of the young brigade emerging among the world top 10. 

“I mean Zverev won a gold medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, and Medvedev winning the recent US Open by beating Djokovic, shows that the younger generation is really coming through. If you look at the top 50 now, there are more young guys in there than has been the case for over the last 20 years.”

Harris said he is not surprised because he played with most of the players that are doing well at youth level.

“This new generation of players are coming along very nicely and these are the guys that I grew up with in the juniors.  We are all within one year of each other having been born between 1996 and 1998, which is almost incredible.

“I have known these guys for a long time — we have been competitive in the juniors already and it’s nice to see all the guys progressing, and now is the time to kick out all the big three and take over.”


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