Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Years of Domination, Change Could Be Coming to the Big Four

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Years of Domination, Change Could Be Coming to the Big Four

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Newman in Paris

IN recent years there has been as much talk in men's tennis of a changing of the guard as you might hear outside the gates of Buckingham Palace but by the time the French Open ends on Sunday the likelihood is that the old order will still be intact.

With three of the world's top four players contesting today's semi-finals, the chances of a new Grand Slam champion emerging rest firmly on the shoulders of Austria's Dominic Thiem, who was taking on Novak Djokovic, the world No1, in the second match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Andy Murray, the world No2, was facing Stan Wawrinka, the world No4 and defending champion, in the other semifinal on Court Philippe Chatrier. Although the next generation may still be left waiting for the chance to make a decisive move, the signs are that change at the top may not be long in coming. Although Djokovic and Murray are still going strong with Wawrinka continuing to stake his claim for a place among the elite serious doubts hang over the futures of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two other members of the so-called "Big Four".

Experience tells you never to write off the Swiss or the Spaniard but time is marching on. Federer, who will be 35 in August, missed a Grand Slam for the first time since 1999 when he pulled out of the French Open with a back injury, which is the latest physical problem to trouble the world No3 in a year when he has also undergone knee surgery.

Meanwhile Nadal, who turned 30 today, withdrew from Roland Garros with a wrist injury before his third-round match and has already pulled out of the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club, which would have been his main warm-up tournament for Wimbledon. The Spaniard still hopes to play at the All England Club but it would be a surprise if he was in a serious position to challenge there. …

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