Are Thiem, Dimitrov or Sock ready to take over from tennis’ Big Four?
They’re looking to make the step up
There are few certainties in life. But in recent years it’s felt like the men’s tennis Grand Slams would always be won by one of the big four – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Since 2010, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic are the only male players from outside that elite group to triumph at a Grand Slam.
It’s been an incredible run of dominance but they are all now in their 30s. At some point in the near future, a new generation of stars will need to take over.
Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock are in their mid-20s and looking to make the big leap. Do they have what it takes?
Next Generation of Stars?
On current form, Dimitrov looks the most likely to challenge for Slam titles. He’s just won the ATP Finals in London, taking him to third in the ATP rankings. Only Nadal and Federer are above him.
The Bulgarian is a strong all-rounder but his athleticism and flexibility allow him to pull off some remarkable shots. He loves a trick shot every now and then too.
It’s been a breakthrough year for Dimitrov. As well as reaching a career-high rank and winning the ATP Finals, he also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.
Thiem has slipped from fourth to fifth in the rankings after winning one of his three matches at the ATP Finals. However, it’s been a solid year for the big hitter overall.
He matched his career-best performances in the French, Australian and US Opens, finishing in the semi-finals, fourth round and fourth round respectively. He also reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time.
His performances on clay mean he could be a serious contender for the French Open in future. But he still needs to improve on other surfaces to compete for major titles elsewhere.
Jack Sock has won Wimbledon and Olympic Gold as a doubles player. The Nebraska-born right-hander sits at number eight in the rankings. But he’s yet to translate his doubles success into the singles tour.
He’s never progressed past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.
The One to Watch?
All three of those players are approaching their prime years. As the Big Four age and continue to struggle with injury, they could have an opportunity to make their mark.
But they’ll also need to watch over their shoulder. Young Alexander Zverev looks like the real deal. He’s fourth in the rankings at only 20-years-old. He’s already been as high as third.
The German has been tipped for greatness since his teenage years. He was the ITF Junior World Champion in 2013. And he was named the ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2015. His energetic game, two-handed backhand and powerful serve could see him live up to those expectations.
The concern for Dimitrov, Thiem and Sock will be that just as the Big Four start to move out of the picture, another top contender arrives on the scene.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication