The term Next Gen was coined in 2017 in reference to the best players in the ATP Ranking under the age of 21. Until very recently, it was a label worn by Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas, the two winners of the first Masters 1000s of the season, who are coming to the Mutua Madrid Open in a bid to dethrone the Big 4 in the Spanish capital.
Hubert Hurkacz the surprise package of the season so far. The Pole was certainly a dark horse in Miami, but he proceeded to knock out global stars such as Shapovalov, Raonic and Tsitsipas himself en route to the final. His win over Sinner completed a magical tournament for him and he now looks like being one of the biggest threats in the Caja Mágica.
By the same token, Stefanos Tsitsipas’ results early in the season are a clear indication that his title in Monte Carlo was no fluke. He lifted the trophy without losing a single set in the entire tournament. In 2019, the Caja Mágica witnessed the Greek player come very close to lifting the Ion Tiriac trophy, but this year he arrives as one of the hot favourites and with his confidence sky-high after his victory in Monaco.
Let your dreams be your wings. 🏆
— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@steftsitsipas) April 18, 2021
Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev, among others, are all players that have had an impressive start to the season and whose objective is the same as that of Hurkacz and Tsitsipas; to take the final step against the most experienced players in world tennis.
The good results being racked up by the so-called Next Gen put a big question mark over the dominance of the Big 4 at the Mutua Madrid Open. Since the tournament changed venue to the Caja Mágica, the Big 4 have always been victorious, except in 2018 when Alexander Zverev took the spoils.
Experience tells us that you can never write off the Big 4, a one-off generation of players who arrive back on the banks of the Manzanares bidding to repeat their successes of previous years.
Rafael Nadal (5-time champion of the tournament) and Novak Djokovic (defending champion) will be bidding to capitalise on their experience to extend the Big 4’s streak at the Mutua Madrid Open and to hold back the onslaught that the members of the Next Gen are planning on unleashing.