The next crop of youngsters are coming through the rankings, and they’re certainly not adverse to upsetting the established order.
The ‘big four’ of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray might be dominating the big tournaments (Nadal’s injury enforced absence aside) but they’re likely to be looking over their shoulders and it won’t be long before a big scalp is claimed by one of the young guns currently coming through.
Players such as Milos Raonic, Jerzy Jankowicz, Bernard Tomic are in many ways throwback to the late-90’s with their short point play and big serves, but it’s their big mouths which are currently making the column inches.
Who can forget Bernard Tomic’s “if he gets there…” quote about a possible third round match against Roger Federer at this year’s Australian Open? Depending on which match report you read, he was either unlucky to lose or received a schooling from the Maestro, either way he didn’t win but he certainly ruffled Federer’s feathers.
Casting one’s mind back a little further, Milos Raonic called out Andy Murray at the US Open – stating that Murray would “find it tough to get my serve back” and claiming that “it’s really him adjusting more to me than myself to him” – well he was forced to eat his words too when they played. Murray nullified Raonic’s weapons, read the big serve and sent him packing. Raonic only served half of his average number of aces and was broken four times without reaching a single break point on Murray’s serve. Perhaps Murray had heard him and adjusted pretty well?! He got the win he wanted over Murray in Japan later in the same year two sets to one.
The latest outburst from a young prospect comes courtesy of Polish 22 year old Jerzy Janowicz. Although there are some issues with his message perhaps getting lost in translation (The interview was to a Polish media outlet) he has apparently called Novak Djokovic something between a fake and a show-off, and said something along the lines of Roger Federer placing himself apart from the rest of the players and being unnatural. Again, there are translations issues with those statements – they’re not direct quotes, but…
Of course he’s been doing the biz on court too – his 2012 run to the Paris Masters final took in defeats of Andy Murray and Janko Tipsarevic.
No-one has had a pop at Nadal yet, but give it time and surely someone will have a go – and in a way it’s refreshing to hear players speak so honestly after years of sanitised media-savvy players saying a lot but offering little in interviews. Of course it could be seen as deeply disrespectful to a cohort of really fantastic players, but isn’t that the point?
The top guys have dominated the semi’s and onwards in major tournaments for so long – top four almost always make up the last four – so perhaps a bit of psychological warfare is an intentional approach to get under their skins and force them off their normal game.