There are established stars on the ATP Tour and of course there are younger players seeking to become established. Thus far in 2017, many of the established players have faced off on multiple occasions. If I limit this exploration to players who hold major singles titles, we have seen these match-ups in chronological order.
- Novak Djokovic d. Andy Murray in the Qatar Final
- Roger Federer d. Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open
- Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open Final
- Novak Djokovic d. Juan Martin del Potro in Acapulco
- Rafael Nadal d. Marin Cilic in Acapulco
- Rafael Nadal was runner-up in Acapulco*
- Andy Murray won Dubai*
- Novak Djokovic d. Juan Martin del Potro at Indian Wells
- Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells
- Roger Federer d. Stan Wawrinka in the Indian Wells Final
- Roger Federer d. Juan Martin del Potro at Miami
- Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal in the Miami Final
*Notable Result but not a head-to-head match with another major winner
Given that Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, and Grigor Dimitrov are all among younger players who are gaining notoriety and making waves in 2017, the ATP has had a set of results in the first portion of 2017 that seem to be laying a foundation for the future as well.
Party Like its 1990-1992
There are times when tennis welcomes a new generation of contenders while a previous generation is still relevant. Consider the 1992 US Open draw. The round of 16 saw Stefan Edberg vs. Richard Krajicek, Boris Becker vs. Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier vs. John McEnroe, Pete Sampras vs. Guy Forget, and Michael Chang vs. Mal Washington. It is impossible to know if a player will breakthrough. Grigor Dimitrov’s hot start to 2017 has cooled for the time being at least. Still, tennis could be in for 18-36 months of having 10+ contenders with plausible paths toward Grand Slam and Masters 1000 titles. If the odd cinderella story is added to that mix, tennis can grow the sport. This is important because if tennis grows everyone on tour benefits including the tournaments themselves. Tennis needs to be smart and market the high level of play on tour in order to assure that as younger players rest control of the tour away from more experienced players that the sport remains in healthy shape.