We now know the final four of the men’s singles at this year’s US Open.
And no matter what, the outcome of the second major of this season could signal the end of the big three dominance.
Who are the big three, you ask? Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic of course.
The top three ranked players in the world are out of the US Open already, paving the way for one of Pablo Carreno Busta, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev or Dominic Thiem to win.
And it’s so significant to the big three’s dominance of tennis over their careers as it will be the first time one of them hasn’t won a major since Stan Wawrinka took the US Open in 2016.
Ever since, it’s been Federer, Nadal and Djokovic sharing the spoils, with the latter taking the most recent Australian Open earlier this year.
They aren’t in the mix for the US Open this time around due to a combination of different issues.
Federer didn’t even show up for the major as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
While Nadal decided against making the trip to USA due to health fears.Embed from Getty Images
So it was left up to Serbian Djokovic to fly the flag for the big three – and he did that impressively up until the round of 16 when an unfortunate incident led to his exit.
Heading off for a break in play, Djokovic hit a ball towards the back of the court, where it hit a line judge on the neck.
This led the line judge to have treatment, with Djokovic eventually disqualified for the incident.
So the Serbian’s absence from the final four is down to a breach in the rules rather than anything performance related.
The fact is – Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have to slow down at some point.
Federer is 39 now and hasn’t actually won a major since the Australian Open in 2018.
Nadal’s injury issues have improved over recent years, with the 34-year-old Spaniard taking home three of the last nine slams.
While Djokovic is only a year younger at 33 and has five of the last nine slams in his trophy cabinet.
But it feels like there’s a space there for someone to emerge and compete on a consistent basis with those big names.
Much like Andy Murray did before he ran into injury problems of his own.
Murray is a three-time Grand Slam winner and has eight more finals to his name in a glittering career so far. On top of that, he’s a two-time Olympic gold medal winner.
So who of Carreno Busta, Zverev, Medvedev or Thiem could emerge in what could be a changing of the guard?
It’s only Carreno Busta who doesn’t feature in the current ATP world rankings, instead sitting 27th at the time of writing.
But the other three are – with Thiem in third, Medvedev in fifth and Zverev in seventh.
So all three of those players could see the US Open as the springboard to a more permanent place at tennis’ top table.
There have zero Grand Slams between them and only Thiem and Medvedev have played in a final before.
But two of the three could be in the final this Sunday – which you can bet on with 888 online betting.
And that will give the truest indication yet of who could be ready to gatecrash the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic party which has been happening for the last 17 years.
Frankly, tennis needs it.Embed from Getty Images
While the quality of the big three is unquestioned, there is something to be said for the lack of alternative winners at big tournaments.
The recent dominance has given a familiar look to most Grand Slams – a stark contrast to what is happening in golf, for example.
Only Brooks Koepka could be seen as a somewhat dominant figure over recent years, taking four of the last 13 majors.
But the other nine majors have all been won by different players – giving golf that unpredictability that fans crave.
When the watching audience tunes into the golf US Open at Winged Foot later this month, they’ll do it knowing almost anyone could win.
Even someone like Collin Morikawa, who took home the PGA Championship in August on only his second major championship start, could win.
That’s what tennis needs – a number of names capable of making a run to the trophy.
And you have to hope that a different winner at the US Open – the first time in a major in four years – could breathe new life into a sport dominated by the same three players over recent years.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have contributed to some of the best tennis ever seen and their dominance should be applauded.
But it’s time for some new heroes – and the US Open looks like it’s going to give us them.