We’ve become used to the so-called big four dominating men’s tennis for quit some time now. But this is about to change. It will change not least because Roger Federer is getting on a little; 32 is quite an age for a male tennis star in the absolute upper echelons of the game these days.
Roger demonstrated that he still has it at Wimbledon when forcing Novak Djokovic to an incredible five sets. But at 32, his days are numbered, unfortunately. Meanwhile, Andy Murray and the second most successful player of all time, Rafa Nadal have both had more than their fair share o injury problems.
All in all, then, it seems more than likely that the big four will be no more pretty soon – and that other players will break into the absolute top flight. We saw Stan Wawrinka winning the Aussie Open in January – but it seems unlikely that this is the player who will really make the breakthroughs. Wawrinka is now 29 himself and hadn’t made a Grand Slam final before Melbourne this year and, whilst he’s been an amazing player at the top of the game for seven or eight years now, it’s hard to see him suddenly becoming a lot better.
The player most pundits are looking to after his excellent Wimbledon showing is, of course, Bulgaria’s best ever player Grigor Dimitrov. He hit a career high ATP ranking after this year’s Wimbledon at world number nine, and at just 23 years of age can surely improve a whole lot more yet.
He won his first ATP singles title last October in Stockholm and had previously enjoyed an immensely successful junior career – winning the Boys' Singles event at both Wimbledon and the US Open back in 2008.
So it’s surely just a matter of time before the Bulgarian youngster wins his first tennis major title. As things stand, he’s sixth in the tennis betting market for this year’s US Open at Flushing Meadows in August-September behind the traditional big four, with Stanislas Wawrinka fifth favourite.
This year’s US Open may still be a little too early yet, but his odds of 16-1 with Bet365 and other bookmakers looks highly tempting as it’s surely just a matter of time?
Dimitrov comfortably saw off the then reigning champion Andy Murray at Wimbledon before finding Novak Djokovic too strong in the semis in a match he lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6. But this was a tremendously tight affair and it would be very easy to see Dimitrov going one better next time.
What’s more - off-court, the young Bulgarian is reportedly stepping out in style with current world number six, Maria Sharapova. This will surely do his career no harm whatsoever and may help spur him on to greater things.
So we’re very probably already looking at a big five in men’s tennis – and five years from now, Grigor Dimitrov will still be at is peak whilst the other big four sadly won’t. So how many Grand Slam events will he have in his locker by then?
(Image via Grigor Dimitrov's Facebook page)