Rafael Nadal, standing at 19 slam titles, aims for his 20th title and equaling Federer’s 20 titles. We can talk at length about the records the big three hold and the ones they seek to break. But the real question is, what will be the situation of the sport of tennis after these legends put down their rackets?
According to the 12-time french open champion, tennis will be healthy after he and Federer retire from the sport. He remains optimistic that the sport has a great future and will continue to thrive irrespective of some lowered figures.
Additionally, Nadal said, “Maybe of course maybe Roger and I, we created something special about our rivalry, and that goes all over the tennis world. I think they have to do their way, and tennis will be healthy. We have a good future.”
At this year’s US Open that finished not long ago, Austria’s Dominic Thiem finally broke the ‘big three’ dominance on the grand slam titles. Nobody apart from Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic won any slam title since the past 13 Grand slams.
But, none of the three stars were present at the event during Thiem’s maiden slam win. Djokovic was disqualified after he unintentionally hit a line judge, Nadal decided against traveling to the US, and Federer is on a recovery break after his knee injury.
“You Don’t Create Very Popular Stars Today”- Rafael Nadal
Thiem and his opponent Alexander Zverev put up a thrilling five-setter final and executed a tennis quality game. Still, the viewership was around half of what ‘the big three’ can generate.
According to official figures from broadcaster ESPN, Thiem and Zverev attracted 1.4 million viewers in the US compared to the 2.8 million that watched Nadal defeat Daniil Medvedev last year.
Nadal does not seem to be concerned about the figures, and it is positive that it is just a matter of time until other players can generate such viewership. He explained how his first few matches were nowhere near their current ones, and it has taken so many seasons and tournaments to get where they are.
Spaniard explained, “Well, It needs time. That’s all. Probably titles and matches like Dominic played in the finals help to become more popular, and that’s it. You don’t create very popular stars today. You need to achieve things. You know, I’m sure that the first finals that I played or Roger played was not the same as today if we play final.”
“That’s a process, and in some ways is normal. We have been on the tour for I don’t know how many years, and we have been there a lot of times,” he added.
Thiem and Nadal might end up meeting at the semi-finals in Paris, as they are in the same half at Roland Garros, despite having contested the last two championship matches.
Nadal will take on Mackenzie McDonald, while Thiem will battle Jack Sock for a place in round three, at their second-round matches on Wednesday.