There is no such thing as a change of guard

Before the 2019 Australian Open, the seven-time Grand Slam-winning John McEnroe said he believed there would be a changing of the guard this year. Following the victory of 20-year-old Björn Borg-esque Stefanos Tsitsipas over Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, McEnroe was pumped up and said it again. On paper, these statements look exciting; we have been waiting for some competitive newcomers for a long time. Looking back to the first major of the year, the reality is that the juggernauts are still way ahead of the others.

In the semis, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal showed what I’m talking about: Nadal lost only six games to Tsisipas, and then the next day Lucas Pouille got demolished by Djokovic – he only won four games. Djokovic and Nadal proved once again that to claim that next generation is here and ready to command would surely be a bridge too far.

Furthermore, in the final, just to deepen this crisis, Djokovic gave a taste of what the next couple of years may look like under his reign. That 17-time Grand Slam winning guy on the other side of the net didn’t have a clue where on earth he was. He seemed lost and devastated from the first rally, while Djokovic was living his best life; he was in his zone, as The Ringer’s journalist wrote in this magnificent article. Djokovic was simply faultless. This kind of tennis is something we may have never seen before.

The thing is when Novak Djokovic is playing his best, perhaps only one human being could beat him, and that is Stan Wawrinka – but the problem is, Wawrinka reached his peak quite late, and now after recovering from various injuries he is trying to find his rhythm (a couple of weeks prior to his 34th birthday). It’s safe to say that we will never have the chance to have another legendary Wawrinka-Djokovic thriller in a Grand Slam final.

While Djokovic had been closing on his 15th Grand Slam trophy, the Eurosport commentators were making enthusiastic conversation on the differences of the winners hit by both players. The main point was when Nadal hit a winner, it was the result of effort, but when Djokovic did the same, it looked more like routine.

It seems that winning three consecutive Grand Slams is now a routine for Djokovic, too. This was his third triple; the last time he went to Paris and won the fourth, so keep that in your mind until May. Everybody knows that Nadal is nearly untouchable at the Chatrier, but maybe it would be a bold move to underestimate the desire of the number one player in the world.

Djokovic wants to be the best who has ever played this game, and he is definitely getting there. A win over Nadal in the Roland Garros would answer some open question for good. In the meantime, these NextGen stars have to wait a little bit longer; the room is still full of some old sports who don’t intend to go anywhere until the other two are standing straight.

Cover photo by REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sir Andy Murray: The Fourth Musketeer who changed the tone for good

Before the 2019 Australian Open, the three-time Grand Slam winning, two-time Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray announced his retirement from professional sports due to his lingering hip injury.

The 31-year-old Scottish tennis superstar said in tears that he had done everything he could to feel better, though it didn’t help enough, and eventually he was playing with no clue as to when the pain was going to stop. Murray added that he plans to play this season, but he is not certain if he will be able to make it to Wimbledon.

After the 1st round loss at the Australian Open, watching him play as hungrily as ever, let’s hope he comes back to wave goodbye to the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

During his last game at the Rod Laver Arena, he proved himself once again: love him or hate him, you have to admit that this guy is a pure warrior. He tried to not care about his hips, even though he was visibly in pain. He did everything, played hard, fought until the very end, but eventually fell short to Bautista Agut.

Amazingly, no one was sad or disappointed. On the contrary: this amazing audience cheered for Murray like it was a Grand Slam final in Wimbledon. They breathed with him, they lived and died with him. If you are a true tennis fan, trust me, you did not want to miss this glamorous evening in Melbourne.

In a sport where Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have played at the same time for ages, it has been relatively hard to stand out. Those three have won 52 single Grand Slams altogether, and they have been the World number 1 for 742 weeks – and their reign seems far from over.

Murray did stand out, on and off the court.

First things first: Murray was the outlaw among the bests, the eternal fourth Musketeer, the annoying little brother. The one who had to work twice as hard as anyone to get a seat in a club where there was only room for three. (Of course, Novak Djokovic was the pioneer, who entered the party first where only two invitations had been sent out.)

To win a major, or to win a Masters when Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are peaking is quite an accomplishment. Sure, maybe they are more talented but speaking in terms of work ethic and dedication, Murray must be your man. Make no mistake, it’s not that those three superstars haven’t worked enough throughout their career; the point is that Murray was the one who had to put in the most during practice.

It’s like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: Messi is a natural, Ronaldo is a machine. In the end, we all will remember those two as the best football players of all time; there is no doubt it.

Murray’s biggest on-court achievement is his three wins at Wimbledon. Who could forget about the 2012 Olympics final against the magnificent Roger Federer?

Off the court, Murray’s feminist actions and interviews opened many eyes. He is one of the first male tennis players to play an enormous role in changing the attitude towards female and minority players and coaches.. He has always supported players who needed help and counseling. He has used his social media platforms to speak up against hatred, sexism, and racism, among other issues. Andy Murray is a game-changer when you talk about fighting for a better future.

On top of all those challenges, Murray has fought his own battle with the media. You all know the famous saying, “Andy Murray is British when he wins and Scottish when he loses.”

He had his moments; shouting, screaming, and swearing sometimes made him look like a douche. He looked like one of us, and that seemed strange indeed. Yes, I am usually cursing in front of the telly, but how dare a professional tennis player act like that, right? Nick Kyrgios, are you listening?

What happens if he is a douche, huh? You have to be egoistic, confident, and ruthless to reach your true potential. Murray did great in a business where you are all alone against the world.

I tell you what: at the end of the day, Sir Andy Murray paid his toll. Everybody loves this well-known Scottish douche, who brought joy to an ever-more divided country, and made the people unite under one flag.

Cover photo by Marianne Bevis on VisualHunt / CC BY-ND/CBS