The grand slam calendar concluded in August, with Carlos Alcaraz capturing the U.S. Open title, his first grand slam victory at 19 years outdated. The generational tides have been slowly delivering males’s tennis for a while now – Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud, and lots of others of their early twenties have all been gaining traction throughout 2021 and 2022.
Contemplating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic received 3 out of 4 majors this 12 months, to say we’ve formally left the Massive 3 period is inaccurate. However the writing is on the wall: Roger Federer lately retired, Nadal appears to be like utterly worn down (he’s misplaced 4 of his final 5 matches), and Djokovic wasn’t allowed to play half of the slams this 12 months.
Of the 8 Masters 1000 tournaments performed this 12 months, seven have been received by a non-Massive three participant, and 6 out of these seven have been received by a participant aged 25 or youthful. The latest instance is Holger Rune’s 3-set victory over Djokovic on the Paris Masters in early November. A brand new age is dawning in males’s tennis. With it would come new champions and new storylines.
The rivalries in males’s tennis through the Massive 3 period lacked variety. Choose any permutation between Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, and Andy Murray. Federer-Hewitt, Federer-Del Potro, Djokovic-Wawrinka, or Nadal-Soderling may also come to thoughts, however these rivalries have been overshadowed primarily.
As males’s tennis evolves, what new rivalries are poised to grow to be the following nice head-to-head? Moreover, what current matchups will likely be extra enormously appreciated with the Massive 3 transferring off-stage?
Scroll under to discover what I contemplate to be the highest 10 non-Massive three rivalries on the ATP tour. I used 3-part standards to decide on the contenders. First, we’re speaking about non-Massive three rivalries, so nothing involving Federer (clearly, he’s retired), Nadal, or Djokovic is taken into account. Secondly, the 2 gamers will need to have already performed at the least twice. And lastly, the gamers have to be aged 29 or youthful.
Together with a rating, I’ll embrace the present head-to-head (H2H) report between the gamers and the results of their final match. (Solely counting ATP and Davis Cup matches right here, not qualifying rounds or Challengers.) Lastly, I devised a “Spice Meter,” which will likely be my judgment of how testy, cantankerous, or typically ill-tempered the on-court vibe has been between the 2 gamers. In any case, spice is a significant ingredient in any simmering rivalry.
I’d love to listen to your ideas within the feedback under. Do you agree with this listing? Disagree? What rivalries did I miss?
10) Nick Kyrgios & Casper Ruud
- Present H2H: Tied 1-1
- Final Assembly: Kyrgios received in 2 units (2022 Indian Wells)
- Spice Meter: 8
Anybody who performs Kyrgios sufficient can shortly grow to be one among his rivals. Not solely has Ruud crushed Kyrgios, however the two gamers even have a very particular off-court beef.
This pair confronted down for the primary time on the 2019 Rome event, with Kyrgios getting disqualified at 2-1 within the third set for an on-court eruption that included throwing a chair Bobby Knight model. After the match, Kyrgios threatened Ruud by way of Twitter.
Extra lately, Ruud and Kyrgios met throughout an early spherical at this 12 months’s Indian Wells. Kyrgios received in straight units, and after the match ended, he appeared straight into the digital camera and mentioned, “I hear no speaking now. None.”
Maybe essentially the most thrilling factor about this rivalry is that each Kyrgios and Ruud celebrated one of the best 12 months of their profession in 2022. Ruud made two grand slam finals – he misplaced on the French Open to Nadal and the U.S. Open to Alcaraz – and he’s now #3 on this planet. Kyrgios made his first grand slam last at Wimbledon and received 1 singles title (Washington, D.C.) and three doubles titles. I count on these two to fulfill in deeper rounds of huge phases within the subsequent couple of years.
9) Carlos Alcaraz & Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Present H2H: Alcaraz leads 3-0
- Final Assembly: Alcaraz received in 3 units (2022 Barcelona)
- Spice Meter: 7
That is nearly as good as a 3-0 rivalry can get, proper? Regardless of Alcaraz really proudly owning Tsitsipas, there’s nonetheless magic surrounding this matchup that may’t be denied.
All of it originates from the 2021 U.S. Open, the place an prompt traditional match between these two marked Alcaraz’s first signature win on a giant stage, introducing him to the broader tennis world.
Every match since has been charged with an analogous depth. In Miami this 12 months, Tsitsipas appeared decided, however Alcaraz prevailed in 2 robust units.
As he does for a lot of, Alcaraz poses a matchup drawback for Tsitsipas. The chip and minimize backhand slices from Tsitsipas are too weak for the punishing Alcaraz forehand, permitting Carlos to dictate factors.
The longer this undefeated report goes on, the spicier (and extra awkward) it will get. Carlos is a thorn in Stefanos’ facet.
8) Taylor Fritz & Cam Norrie
- Present H2H: Tied 6-6
- Final Assembly: Fritz received in 3 units (2022 Laver Cup)
- Spice Meter: 5
The rivalry between Fritz & Cam Norrie would possibly fly beneath the radar in comparison with others on this listing, however what I like about them is how a lot the pendulum has swung forwards and backwards.
If you happen to take a look at their head-to-head historical past, you possibly can see how blows are traded forwards and backwards; no participant has received 3 consecutive matches within the 12 they’ve performed.
Fritz & Norrie have met in an enormous vary of contexts, battling in 7 completely different international locations and taking part in on each huge and small phases. They’ve performed at a significant, 2 Masters 1000s, 250-level tournaments, Laver Cup, and even Davis Cup.
Fritz and Norrie’s careers have ascended collectively over the past 12 months and a half. As their video games proceed to raise, search for them to proceed to have high-quality matches on the most important phases.
7) Denis Shapovalov & Felix Auger-Aliassime
- Present H2H: Tied 3-3
- Final Assembly: Shapovalov received in 2 units (2021 Stockholm)
- Spice Meter: 4
Far and away, Canada’s prime two gamers, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, share a burgeoning rivalry. These two are Canada’s lone males within the prime 100, and each sit throughout the prime 20 on the time of this publish.
This one began with a bang, as these gamers met shortly on the most important phases: they oddly performed in back-to-back R1s of the U.S. Open (Denis received each), and so they additionally met within the R64 of Madrid and R32 on the Australian Open (Felix received these matches).
At a little bit over a 12 months aside in age, Denis and Felix’s careers look comparable on paper. Each have made one main semifinal and three main quarterfinals. It’s solely a matter of time till one among these males makes a last main debut.
At 3-3, that is one of some rivalries on the listing that’s locked in a tie. The primary factor holding our #7 rivals again is the sheer friendliness between the 2 gamers – we want extra spice!
6) Dominic Thiem & Alexander Zverev
- Present H2H: Thiem leads 8-3
- Final Assembly: Zverev received in 2 units (2021 Madrid)
- Spice Meter: 7
This pair is perhaps essentially the most established rivalry on our listing albeit its lopsided nature. Thiem and Zverev have confronted off 11 instances, 4 instances in a grand slam, twice in Madrid Masters, and as soon as within the Nitto ATP Finals.
Thiem not solely leads strongly within the head-to-head, however he’s 4-0 in opposition to Zverev in grand slam matches, two on the exhausting court docket and two on clay. However, Zverev’s declare right here is that he’s crushed Thiem twice on his approach to successful the Madrid Masters, as soon as in 2021 and as soon as in 2018.
Their rivalry up to now peaked within the 2020 U.S. Open last (the identical event that was instantly up for grabs when Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a line decide with a ball). Thiem received in a gruelling 5-set victory during which Zverev led two units to none. By the tip, each gamers have been bodily drained, with Zverev hitting first serves round 85 miles per hour and second serves within the 70s.
As Thiem continues to come back again from his wrist damage – he’s at the moment ranked outdoors the highest 150 – and Zverev recovers from his rolled ankle in opposition to Nadal on this 12 months’s French Open, we’ll see if these two can rekindle the hearth.
5) Andrey Rublev & Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Present H2H: Tsitsipas leads 6-5
- Final Assembly: Rublev received in 3 units (2022 Nitto ATP Finals)
- Spice Meter: 8
Going into 2022, these two have been tied 4-4, and I’m unsure many would name it out as one of many prime rivalries on tour. Oh, how the tides can change with one signature match…and one post-match convention gone awry.
Regardless of having met two grand slams and a pair of Masters 1000s, this 12 months’s ATP Finals match in Turin between Tsitsipas and Rublev stands amongst their highest-quality matches. It additionally takes the throne for many bitter post-match feedback, with Tsitsipas reluctantly stating Rublev “prevailed with what few instruments he has.”
Though Tsitsipas is just 24 and Rublev solely 25, each have to be chomping on the bit to seize their first main title. With the gradual however sure dissolution of the Massive 3, 2023 and 2024 will likely be prime alternatives for them to run deep within the majors and inevitably meet once more head-to-head.
4) Nick Kyrgios & Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Present H2H: Kyrgios leads 4-1
- Final Assembly: Kyrgios received in 4 units (2022 Wimbledon)
- Spice Meter: 9
Extra so than any pairing on this listing, Tsitsipas and Kyrgios have the 2 most pronounced but diverging personalities. Tsitsipas is spacey and bizarre, a tennis participant who moonlights as an aspiring Gen Z YouTuber. Kyrgios, traditionally the aggro insurgent of the tour, skilled a renaissance this 12 months and maybe a slight behavioural maturation. Emphasis on “slight.”
The match between Kyrgios and Tsitsipas at this 12 months’s Wimbledon has to go down as one of many wildest and most unusual grand slam matches – by way of on-court behaviour – within the final decade. Not solely did Tsitsipas deliberately blast two line drives within the course of and into the group, however he additionally made a number of makes an attempt to peg Kyrgios through the center of a degree. An odd stress was left between the 2, particularly with the feedback made on the post-match press conferences.
In step with the bizarreness of this relationship, Kyrgios and Tsitsipas performed doubles collectively on the Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia. Their subsequent showdown might reveal the true present state of their on-court relationship.
3) Carlos Alcaraz & Holger Rune
- Present H2H: Tied 1-1
- Final Assembly: Rune received in 2 units (2022 Paris Masters)
- Spice Meter: 5
Each Alcaraz and Rune made appreciable strides in 2022 to advance their younger careers. Alcaraz received the ultimate slam of the 12 months, and Rune received the final Masters of the 12 months, a primary for each. Rune’s star appears to rise a few half 12 months behind Alcaraz’s.
Each gamers are related of their bodily construct and share a psychological tenacity and focus that’s spectacular for his or her age. Nevertheless, Rune appears rather more susceptible to emotional breakdowns on the court docket in comparison with the extra mentally regular Alcaraz.
By way of their rivalry, they’ve but to fulfill in a grand slam setting, with their greatest match being this 12 months’s Paris Masters, which ended with Alcaraz defaulting to damage late within the second set. Because the stakes rise – and they’ll – how will that have an effect on the depth and the aura surrounding this matchup?
2) Daniil Medvedev & Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Present H2H: Medvedev leads 7-4
- Final Assembly: Tsitsipas received in 3 units (2022 Nitto ATP Finals)
- Spice Meter: 9
Of all of the rivalries on this listing, Medvedev-Tsitsipas carries essentially the most baggage. For 2 different testy opponents, we would say one thing like, “Someplace alongside the road, their relationship turned bitter.” However relating to this matchup, we all know precisely the place it turned bitter: the primary spherical of the 2018 Miami Open.
Tempers flared that day when Medvedev and Tsitsipas had a contentious post-handshake encounter. With the chair umpire standing between him and Tsitsipas, Medvedev berated Tsitsipas, accusing Stefanos of calling him a “Bulls**t Russian.” If you happen to haven’t seen the clip, it’s prime materials.
More moderen conferences reveal that the stress persists. Medvedev erupted on the umpire at this 12 months’s Australian Open, claiming Tsitsipas acquired frequent teaching through the match. It’s a whole tantrum.
Medvedev and Tsitsipas stay two of one of the best gamers on this planet and must be mainstays of the highest 10 for the following 5 years ought to they keep wholesome. If Djokovic and Federer met 50 instances throughout their profession (which they did), maybe the Medvedev-Tsitsipas saga isn’t even midway finished.
1) Carlos Alcaraz & Jannik Sinner
- Present H2H: Tied 2-2
- Final Assembly: Alcaraz received in 5 units (2022 U.S. Open)
- Spice Meter: 6
No rivalry is hotter proper now than Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. And no rivalry has extra potential to blossom throughout the following decade. The 2 gamers are separated by roughly two years in age, and, at a 2-2 report, they’ve already confirmed that this may be a fair wrestle.
Their final match got here through the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. Alcaraz prevailed in an electrical 5-set match that went deep into the evening. The win propelled Alcaraz on to his first grand slam last victory days later.
Though the U.S. Open last marked the fourth ATP tour assembly between Alcaraz and Sinner, will probably be remembered because the match that introduced their rivalry into the highlight and was the impetus for me penning this prime 10 rating.
Alcaraz and Sinner have already succeeded on all surfaces. Two of Alcaraz’s greatest event wins got here on hardcourts: his first 1000-level Masters (Miami) and his first slam. 5 of Sinner’s 6 ATP titles have been on exhausting.
Alcaraz might have a slight edge on clay, contemplating he’s received their solely match on the floor (2022 Umag), however Jannik has additionally confirmed to be a drive on clay along with his quarterfinal run at Roland Garros in 2020. The benefit factors to Sinner on grass, contemplating he not solely beat Alcaraz at this 12 months’s Wimbledon but in addition held a 2-0 set lead on Djokovic within the quarterfinals.
But when something is for certain in regards to the subsequent 3-5 years in tennis, it’s that we are able to’t make certain about something. When Federer started his reign, little did we all know that Nadal could be behind him shortly and that Djokovic’s rise could be across the nook. However, whereas we await the following nice expertise, we are able to count on Sinner and Alcaraz to battle for titles within the meantime, all whereas holding it spicy.
Kyrgios & Medvedev (Kyrgios leads 4-1)
An incredible instance of a high-profile matchup the place Kyrgios surprisingly dominates the H2H. They performed thrice in 2022, with Kyrgios successful the final 2 (Toronto, U.S. Open). I count on this report to stage out over the following few years.
Auger-Aliassime & Alcaraz (Auger-Aliassime leads 3-0)
They’ve solely met in 1 grand slam, and Alcaraz was extremely run down from his traditional match with Tsitsipas. Felix received’t have an undefeated report for much longer. This pairing has critical potential to grow to be among the best rivalries on tour.
Medvedev & Rublev (Medvedev leads 4-2)
This rivalry has a giant brother-little-brother really feel, paying homage to the Andy Roddick-Mardy Fish relationship. However Rublev has captured the final two matches, successful in 3 units earlier this month. Is the tide altering?
Brooksby & Tiafoe (Brooksby leads 2-0)
I feel that is at the moment the spiciest rivalry between 2 People. Look no additional than their final match – Atlanta of this 12 months – the place Tiafoe gave Brooksby an ice-cold handshake on the finish of the sport.
Schwarztman & Ruud (Schwartzman leads 5-3)
Whereas Schwartzman leads the H2H, Ruud has received 3 of the final 4. It is a enjoyable matchup, particularly once they meet on clay, the place their H2H report stands at 2-2. One other report I count on to stage out as Ruud ascends to his prime.