As Lionel Messi, 35, prepares to play in his fifth World Cup on Tuesday — nice rival Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, will be a part of him on Thursday — over on planet tennis, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, 36 and 35, preserve producing too.
Within the wake of the latter’s triumph on the ATP Finals in Turin, no one could be stunned if the boys’s honour roll at 2023’s first three Slams reads Djokovic-Nadal-Djokovic.
The Spaniard completed 2022 ranked No 2 regardless of enjoying solely 12 tour occasions; the Serb is No 5 regardless of that includes in solely 11 (and with out the rating advantages of three majors).
When it most issues they’re nonetheless streets forward. This results in an unavoidable conclusion: not solely is the ladies’s high 10 in its weakest state to this point this century, so is the boys’s.
Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal nonetheless look so dominant and will rule the Slams subsequent yr
Djokovic’s rivalry with Nadal as been in comparison with Ronaldo’s (L) rivalry with Messi (R)
There’s a frisson of hysteria round tennis. Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Ash Barty all retired this yr.
Broadcasters — obliged by their bosses to speak the product up — don’t wish to ask the query, however why do the Large Two nonetheless look so dominant when previous their bodily peak? One attention-grabbing pointer in Turin got here within the press convention of Stefanos Tsitsipas after defeat by Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic (above) beat Casper Ruud of Norway the singles remaining of the Nitto ATP Finals 2022 match on the Pala Alpitour area in Turin on Sunday
The Serb is No 5 regardless of that includes in solely 11 (and with out the rating advantages of three majors)
The Greek declared that his opponent ‘prevailed with the few instruments that he has’. Nice offence was taken on the Russian’s behalf, however there was some inconvenient reality in it.
Rublev has a restricted recreation, but it surely has not stopped him changing into entrenched within the high 10. And at No 4, Tsitsipas was admitting he was not adequate to cope with it.
Djokovic beat Casper Ruud on Sunday, regardless of a shaky first set. As soon as he started hitting deep to the backhand the end result was by no means doubtful.
Ruud has improved loads this yr and is a tremendous athlete, but it’s honest to query if he could be adequate in one other period to succeed in two main finals.
In the meantime, Nadal (above) completed 2022 ranked No 2 regardless of enjoying solely 12 tour occasions
This isn’t to disclaim the brilliance of Djokovic or Nadal, but it surely needs to be requested how they preserve doing it. One purpose is likely to be the universality of enjoying circumstances; one other often is the deference in the direction of the massive beasts within the locker room (Nick Kyrgios is a uncommon exception).
In Carlos Alcaraz there’s the promise of a generational expertise. Possibly Jannik Sinner and cocksure Danish teen Holger Rune too. If he stays match Jack Draper might be a part of that dialog.
But it’s laborious to flee the imaginative and prescient of a greying Djokovic and Nadal lifting the trophies they care about. And likewise laborious to flee that everybody else won’t be pretty much as good as we’re instructed they’re.