Daniil Medvedev identifies five young talents who can take over at the top.
By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, November 17, 2023
The Turin baseline is a generational crossroads.
The ATP Finals semifinal showdown pits veteran champions and rising young stars pushing to supplant them atop the sport.
Twenty-year-old Carlos Alcaraz faces world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in one semifinal, and 22-year-old home hero Jannik Sinner plays 27-year-old Daniil Medvedev in a bid to become the first Italian man to reach the singles final in the 54-year tournament history.
Asked to assess the evolution of the sport, Medvedev cited five “super young” stars he envisions battling for the top spot in the future: No. 2 Alcaraz, No. 4 Sinner, 20-year-old Holger Rune, US Open semifinalist Ben Shelton and 19-year-old Frenchman Arthur Fils.
“For sure right now we can call them Next Gen. I mean, they’re already here, but they’re still super young,” Medvedev told the media in Turin after bowing to Alcaraz 6-4, 6-4. “Jannik, Holger and Carlos at this moment at the top. For sure Ben Shelton, Arthur Fils, guys like this, they can also come there.
“I think because they’re at the top, there is not much difference between me, even Novak, and them. The difference is that Novak has 24 Grand Slams. When they play one on one, as we saw, he can lose. So there is not much different.”
Wimbledon winner Alcaraz made his mark as the youngest year-end No. 1 in ATP history last year.
World No. 2 Alcaraz is the youngest man in the Turin field,which showed the strength of this youth movement. With 20-year-old talents Alcaraz and Rune in the field it marked the first time since the 2000 Lisbon ATP Finals—Lleyton Hewitt (19) and Marat Safin (20)—there are two 20-and-under players in the field.
Hall of Famer John McEnroe has called Alcaraz the most complete 20-year-old champion he’s ever seen.
The third-ranked Medvedev says this NextGen star class own more mature games than he did at the same age—though whether they can show the same staying power remains to be seen.
“If I compare to myself, the difference is I started playing top tennis maybe at 23, I think I was. 2019,” Medvedev said. “They started doing it at, like, 19. Pretty impressive.
“At 19 I was probably 600 in the world. That’s impressive. That’s also why I like my journey. I was not like them. I had to slowly, slowly dig my way up. Now I’m here and I’m really happy.”
Photo credit: Matthew Calvis