Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic embrace young ATP Finals stars of tomorrow

They may all have targets on their backs, but , and are all embracing the next generation of stars who have joined them at this year’s ATP Finals.

Aside from the ‘Big Three’ – all of whom are in their 30s, with Federer the oldest at 38 – Dominic Thiem, 26, is the oldest player in the eight-man field, with the other four players – Matteo Berrettini, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas – all aged 23 or younger.

The youngsters have of their desire to overthrow the greats of the sport over the coming years and while Djokovic and Nadal have dominated at Grand Slam level this season, they are hoping to make a statement this week at the O2.

ATP Finals Groups

Group Andre Agassi

Nadal
Medvedev
Tsitsipas
Zverev

Group Bjorn Borg

Djokovic
Federer
Thiem
Berrettini

Zverev defeated Federer and Djokovic back-to-back to win the title – the biggest of his young career – here a year ago and Federer believes that run has been a catalyst for his fellow Next Gen stars to step up and qualify for the season-ending showpiece.

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Federer said: ‘What I like about the young guys like Matteo here qualifying for the first time, it goes away from just saying like: “Oh, we have some talented players on the tour”.

‘There’s a difference between that and being something of a national hero in your own country already and being a top-10 player in the world in tennis, which is not easy to achieve.

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‘So I think that’s great that they’re part of the World Tour Finals. It’s going to give them great experience as well moving forward to achieve things at Slam level, Masters 1000, being surrounded with the eight, having the pressure of playing against fellow top 10 players from the get-go here.

‘It’s something that will only help your career. Sascha’s win last year was definitely a bit of a catalyst for the rest of the group who have qualified this year.’

Djokovic, sat alongside Federer in the Group Bjorn Borg press conference added: ‘I think it’s a great message for the sport.

Multiple ATP Finals winners

6 – Federer
5 – Djokovic
5 – Lendl
5 – Sampras
4 – Nastase
3 – Becker
3 – McEnroe
2 – Borg
2 – Hewitt

‘It was inevitable that it was going to happen, that we were going to have a really successful next generation coming in. I think Roger, Rafa and I are still glad that we’re in the mix. That’s not going to carry on for ever. So I think the sport is in good hands.

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‘These guys are great guys off the court. They understand and respect the sport. They show good values. Of course we’re going to enjoy cheering them on after we’re done with our careers.’

Nadal is also keen to stick the youngsters on the box in future years, but still hopes to compete with the group for the foreseeable future.

Most year-end No. 1 finishes

6 – Sampras
5 – Federer
5 – Djokovic
5 – Connors
4 – Nadal
4 – Lendl
4 – McEnroe

‘I am 33-and-a-half. That’s old, young. Old to play tennis. Young as a human person,’ said Nadal. ‘I’m happy to be where I am to day to be where I am at this stage of my career.

‘We can see here there’s a lot of very young players and they’re improving. Ones here and not here, they’re improving quick too. That’s the normal cycle of life, it’s healthy for the sport, too.

‘They have good competition between each other in front for the next years, no? They will fight for the same things, they’re more or less same age. Will be good rivalries for our sport, hopefully I can still compete with them for a while and then I will watch on TV.’

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They may all have targets on their backs, but , and are all embracing the next generation of stars who have joined them at this year’s ATP Finals.

Aside from the ‘Big Three’ – all of whom are in their 30s, with Federer the oldest at 38 – Dominic Thiem, 26, is the oldest player in the eight-man field, with the other four players – Matteo Berrettini, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas – all aged 23 or younger.

The youngsters have of their desire to overthrow the greats of the sport over the coming years and while Djokovic and Nadal have dominated at Grand Slam level this season, they are hoping to make a statement this week at the O2.

ATP Finals Groups

Group Andre Agassi

Nadal
Medvedev
Tsitsipas
Zverev

Group Bjorn Borg

Djokovic
Federer
Thiem
Berrettini

Zverev defeated Federer and Djokovic back-to-back to win the title – the biggest of his young career – here a year ago and Federer believes that run has been a catalyst for his fellow Next Gen stars to step up and qualify for the season-ending showpiece.

Advertisement Advertisement

Federer said: ‘What I like about the young guys like Matteo here qualifying for the first time, it goes away from just saying like: “Oh, we have some talented players on the tour”.

‘There’s a difference between that and being something of a national hero in your own country already and being a top-10 player in the world in tennis, which is not easy to achieve.

More:

‘So I think that’s great that they’re part of the World Tour Finals. It’s going to give them great experience as well moving forward to achieve things at Slam level, Masters 1000, being surrounded with the eight, having the pressure of playing against fellow top 10 players from the get-go here.

‘It’s something that will only help your career. Sascha’s win last year was definitely a bit of a catalyst for the rest of the group who have qualified this year.’

Djokovic, sat alongside Federer in the Group Bjorn Borg press conference added: ‘I think it’s a great message for the sport.

Multiple ATP Finals winners

6 – Federer
5 – Djokovic
5 – Lendl
5 – Sampras
4 – Nastase
3 – Becker
3 – McEnroe
2 – Borg
2 – Hewitt

‘It was inevitable that it was going to happen, that we were going to have a really successful next generation coming in. I think Roger, Rafa and I are still glad that we’re in the mix. That’s not going to carry on for ever. So I think the sport is in good hands.

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‘These guys are great guys off the court. They understand and respect the sport. They show good values. Of course we’re going to enjoy cheering them on after we’re done with our careers.’

Nadal is also keen to stick the youngsters on the box in future years, but still hopes to compete with the group for the foreseeable future.

Most year-end No. 1 finishes

6 – Sampras
5 – Federer
5 – Djokovic
5 – Connors
4 – Nadal
4 – Lendl
4 – McEnroe

‘I am 33-and-a-half. That’s old, young. Old to play tennis. Young as a human person,’ said Nadal. ‘I’m happy to be where I am to day to be where I am at this stage of my career.

‘We can see here there’s a lot of very young players and they’re improving. Ones here and not here, they’re improving quick too. That’s the normal cycle of life, it’s healthy for the sport, too.

‘They have good competition between each other in front for the next years, no? They will fight for the same things, they’re more or less same age. Will be good rivalries for our sport, hopefully I can still compete with them for a while and then I will watch on TV.’

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