Rafael Nadal needs to save tennis from dull new era

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Opinion of tennis fans may well be split following the surprise events at the US Open in some aspects, but what cannot be denied is that a new era is upon us. 

Is it good that the likes of Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic are challenging for the Grand Slam finals? - Or alternatively, is the absence of the traditional big four in future finals likely to harm the sport as a spectacle.

The Flushing Meadows final that was virtually inked-in from before a ball had been served at the tournament never happened, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer came unstuck in their semi-finals.

New faces

Cilic and Niskikori truly deserved their maiden outings at a major final. However, pre-match intrigue born from the anticipation of seeing some new faces on the biggest stage of all soon evaporated in the midst of an underwhelming one-sided walkover devoid of any real quality or memorable moments.

I'm sure we can all congratulate Marin Cilic on his breakthrough, but I wonder how many people truly want to see another final without the big guys.

So what has happened?

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The big four?

Andy Murray faces a long and tricky road back to greatness following a year of drought. Injury excuses cannot hide his failures in the last year, and without Ivan Lendl as his coach his world ranking of 11th looks justified.

Djokovic and Federer, however, can still do it, they showed their class in New York until their defeats. 

Perhaps it was complacency that lost them their final, and perhaps that complacency has come from the no-show of Rafael Nadal. 


The Spaniard unfortunately sat out due to injury and the Grand Slam really missed him.

A player with the flair, popularity, and - above anything else - quality of Nadal will make any event better. 

More than individually though, Nadal pushes his competitors to be better. Would Djokovic have slumped like he did to Nishikori against Nadal? - Not likely. Their rivalry in every match together shines through regardless of poor form of fatigue.

Conversely, would Federer have let Cilic brush him aside if the Croatian had the same Grand Slam haul of Nadal? - Again, not likely.

Great matches

Basically Nadal's never-say-die attitude on-court makes for fantastic matches, especially in finals against his equals and his character appeal will always attract the crowds.

The big four - maybe the big three now - aren't finishing just yet, they just needed a gee-up before the ATP World Tour Finals in London and Nadal's return from injury can provide that spark.

Consider most of best tennis matches from the last ten years or so, especially the finals, Nadal appears in a big number, doesn't he? 

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US Open Tennis
Rafael Nadal

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