Winter is coming for the sport of tennis. Roger Federer, the sun king who has ruled the game for much of the past 15 years, might still be glowing like a radioactive isotope. But the golden generation – as a collective – has reached the end of the line.
Andy Murray’s career-threatening hip injury marks the death knell for the Big Four. And it is not as if his peers are faring much better. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have yet to take the match court this season. The same goes for Stan Wawrinka, who turned the Four into Five for a few seasons with his big heart and his booming backhand.
But what, or who, will follow this God-given group? A period of instability feels inevitable. An interregnum, to match the one that marked the end of the Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi era in the early 2000s. There were five one-hit wonders, in grand-slam terms, between 2001 and 2004.