For years, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer divided the grand slam titles among themselves. The so-called Big Three has dominated male tennis for some time now. Next Sunday, however, a new Grand Lamb champion will be honoured in New York.
“Of course, this is not the way we want to get a new champion”, says Denis Shapovalov, the Canadian who reached the quarter-finals in New York on Sunday evening. “But it got very boring that these three guys won every Grand Lamb tournament. For the sport its great that we get a new winner”
21-year-old Shapovalov defeated Belgian David Goffin, number 10 in the world, at the Arthur Ashe stadium in four sets: 6-7 (0) 6-3 6-4 6-3. A few hours earlier, Djokovic had ended his tournament on the same spot with a wild and ill-considered blow. The number 1 of the world hit a ball in his match against Pablo Carreno Busta out of frustration at a lost game. He hit a female linesman, who grabbed her throat with a scream and fell to the ground. The referees followed the rules and imposed the heaviest penalty on Djokovic: disqualification.
Shapovalov knows better than anyone how the Serbian feels now. Three years ago he did the same in the Daviscup. The Canadian angrily hit a ball away, right in the face of the umpire on the net. The referee broke a bone under his eye and had to undergo surgery.
“Its very unfortunate for everyone,” said Shapovalov about the much-discussed incident in New York. “I have been in such a situation myself and I know exactly how Novak feels. Of course he had no intention of hitting that woman. Fortunately, she is fine. It could have ended very, very badly. Hopefully Novak can get rid of it. He has to learn from this.”
Shapovalyov might have been prepared for a meeting with Djokovic, but now he will take on Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals. After the Serbs departure, the battle for the title at the US Open is suddenly completely open for the men. Shapovalov, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem; they all know that they will have a unique chance to win their first grand slam title now.
Stan Wawrinka was the last tennis player outside the Big Three to win a grandslam tournament at the US Open in 2016. The Swiss managed to break through the hegemony from time to time in the previous years. Of the last thirteen grandslam titles, three went to Federer, Nadal and Djokovic both took five. Federer and Nadal are missing this year in New York; the Swiss because of an injury and the Spaniard because of the coronavirus.