Former world No. 1 John McEnroe has acknowledged that it’s “absolutely astounding” what Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have pulled off and noted that it will be hard to replace them and their rivalries.
“Well, obviously it’s going to be a tall order to surpass what we’ve witnessed on the men’s side the past 10, 15 years. In fact, it seems almost impossible that this has happened, that they’ve actually lifted each other’s games as significantly as they have, and become to me the three greatest players that ever lived on the men’s side. It’s absolutely astounding what they’ve pulled off, the amount of times they played,” McEnroe told ESPN Press Room.
“I think back to my matches with Bjorn, it felt like there was such a great explosion in tennis. I look back, we only played 14 times. I think Nadal and Djokovic played 58 times now. Chrissie and Martina played 80 times. In some ways it’s like, Wow, I wish I would have played more against that guy.”
McEnroe underlines tennis needs big rivalries
McEnroe hopes the younger guys will continue to lift their game and push each other to do better.
“I think it’s absolutely critical to our game, a one-on-one game, where you don’t have a team to root for obviously if you live in a certain city. It just gives the fan more of a rooting interest,” McEnroe underlined.
“I certainly hope this huge void, this crater that’s going to take place, that’s starting to take place obviously because we know Roger is 40, Rafa we don’t know about, Novak seems to be able to do this for a couple years. But who is going to step into that and will they provide that type of excitement? Could Tsitsipas-Medvedev or some of the guys I mentioned, the two Canadians, develop a rivalry if they’re able to step up their games? What American is going to step forward on the men’s side and really challenge and win majors?
“I think it’s more wide open now and unpredictable than it’s been in 30 to 40 years, since before I was playing actually. I don’t see how you could say, Okay, Tsitsipas is going to win eight majors. I don’t see anyone that I’m able to confidently predict.
“It would be difficult to confidently predict who those rivalries will be, but I hope they’re there because we need them.”