Patrick McEnroe thinks the new generation of tennis youngsters offer some positive signs for the future of the sport.
The former world No. 28 was on a French Open conference call on Wednesday afternoon, where he was asked to offer his opinion on bright young talent rising on the professional circuit, and whether any of them will be able to consistently challenge elite players such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. McEnroe offered some encouraging words, but emphasized that the top players are still significantly ahead of the pack.
“Well, I think there’s definitely some signs that the outsiders, the contenders, are more than just pretenders at this point. That being said, if you go down the list of who has won not only the majors, but the Masters events, at least on the men’s side, it’s pretty much the same, the same two guys. Federer has had a darn good first half of the year as well. But Nadal and Djokovic are the two players to beat clearly.
That being said, even if you look at their results this year on the clay, they’ve been threatened a lot more often. Obviously they’ve still been able to win. Nadal, at least for him, has had a relatively unsuccessful clay court season only winning one big event, getting to the finals of another. If you look at their results match in, match out, they’re certainly getting threatened a lot more.”
While there are some promising signs from players such as Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, McEnroe suggests that the youngsters are yet to break through into elite status.
“Guys like you said, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Ferrer beating Nadal, Almagro beat Nadal, Berdych, players like that are making a little more noise. Dimitrov. Raonic had a great tournament last week. Let’s put it this way: they’re knocking at the door but they haven’t broken through yet in the big occasions, except for Stan. I think in a nutshell certainly the other players on the men’s side have to feel like they’re closing the gap but they still got a ways to go.”