At the beginning of 2021, many would expect this year to be the start of a new era, with some of the biggest names in tennis to meet new rivals in the form of younger tennis stars. The hegemony of the Serbian Novak Djokovic and the Spanish Rafael Nadal was expected to be challenged by the likes of Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas. However, this has only partially proven true.
New and Returning Protagonists
Djokovic finished 2020 as the leader of the world tennis rankings, even though he failed to reach the final of the ATP Finals, a tournament held in London that brought together the best players of the season. Eight months later, he has dominated all Grand Slams, winning the Australian Open for the third time in a row and Rolland Garros for the second time in his career, while putting an end to Nadal’s four-win strike, and a win at Wimbledon marking his third consecutive win since 2018.
At the age of 33, the Serbian currently holds 12,113 points in the ATP ranking. Djokovic’s advantage over surprising second-place Daniil Medvedev, 25, who surpassed Nadal in April and stands with 9,920 points, is quite comfortable. Medvedev himself has had an overall positive year, reaching the final of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals at Rolland Garros.
Nadal, who for the most of 2021 had been third, has now dropped another position, falling behind the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who has a 500-point lead over him. Tsitsipas has also been playing some of his finest tennis, beating favourite Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and reaching the final at Rolland Garros.
It is also noteworthy to mention the big revelation of the Australian Open held in February – the 27-year-old Russian Aslan Karatsev. He became the first tennis player of the 21st century to win a spot in a Grand Slam through the qualifying process and managing to progress all the way through the semi-finals, where he faced Djokovic. As a result, Karatsev, who was 114th in the world ranking in February, is now 25th with 2,287.
Next, Djokovic will attempt to break the record for most men’s Grand Slam titles in the US Open. With tennis legend Federer out of the tournament, Djokovic is at 8/11 while Medvedev is at 9/2 to take home the last Grand Slam title of the year, according to the current tennis odds in the betting markets. Additionally, Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal are also considered strong title contenders.
Outside the Tennis Court
Much has changed in tennis in the last few years, but not everything. According to a survey published by Forbes magazine, the highest-paid tennis player in the world is neither Djokovic nor Nadal. The title belongs to the Swiss Roger Federer. According to the article, Federer pocketed US$ 106.3 million in the period from June 2019 to June 2020. The 39-year-old tennis player is also the highest-paid athlete in the world.
Djokovic comes in second place on the list, with a pay below half of Federer. The Serbian earned $44.6 million in the same period as Federer. Nadal places third, with $40 million. The first woman on the list is the Japanese Naomi Osaka, 2020 Olympics star, who is fourth overall, with $37.4 million.
With many promising names rising in tennis, the next few years are expected to be exciting for fans of the sport and for the sports itself, with many records ready to be broken.