With Roger Federer still injured, Novak Djokovic denied entry to the United States over his vaccination status and Rafael Nadal having just recovered from an abdominal tear suffered at Wimbledon, it looked like the stage was set for Tennis' next generation to take the spotlight at this year's US Open. Defending champion Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and enfant terrible Nick Kyrgios were among those who fancied their chances of breaking the dominance of the "Big Three" and winning their first (or second, in Medvedev's case) Grand Slam title. In the end, it was the generation after the next generation that seized the moment, with 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, 21-year-old Jannik Sinner and 23-year-old Casper Ruud impressing the most in Flushing Meadows. It was Alcaraz who ultimately lifted the trophy after beating Casper Ruud in an exhilarating 3 hour 20 final on Sunday.
Incredibly, Alcaraz is only the third active player under 30 to win a Grand Slam title, with top players like Alexander Zverev or the aforementioned Tsitsipas and Kyrgios having yet to overcome the grueling task of winning seven best-of-five matches in a row. As the following chart shows, there are only nine players left on the ATP Tour that know what it's like to win a Grand Slam tournament, with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka the only ones outside the "Big Three" to win more than one major. Having started early and looking scarily eager to learn and improve, Carlos Alcaraz is already tipped to be the greatest threat to all the records set by Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. While it may be a little early for that, after all it takes a lot both mentally and physically to just stay around as long as these three did, let alone win as much, Alcaraz, Ruud and Sinner all proved this fortnight that the future of male tennis has arrived.