By Leighton Ginn
As the injuries mount on the men’s tennis tour, maybe it’s time to declare this Golden Age in tennis to be over.
With Rafael Nadal pulling out of the French Open today with a tendon injury to his left wrist, it raises serious questions about the future of his career.
Nadal has not regained his form before injuring his right wrist in 2014. Now we’re talking about Nadal’s left wrist, which will affect his forehand, considered one of the best in the game.
The injuries are mounting, and who’s to say if Nadal could come along physically. But mentally, Nadal had struggles with his confidence. Again, that was with his right wrist, not his left.
Roger Federer has been out since March with an injury. That leaves Novak Djokovic alone at the top.
The Big Three of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have been on a historic and unprecedented run. They have combined for 42 major titles (Federer 17, Nadal 14, Djokovic 11). In the last 49 majors, the Big Three have won 41 titles.
For the French Open, that just makes Djokovic the huge favorite to win his first at Roland Garros and become the first male to complete the Grand Slam since Rod Laver since 1969.
It’s not like he’ll have an easy road with Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray still in the field.
Murray beat Djokovic to claim the Rome title just before the French Open, and Wawrinka beat Djokovic in last year’s French Open final. Wawrinka and Murray have combined to win four Grand Slam titles.
Without Nadal and Federer for a while, the men’s tour will need this to maintain the momentum it has had.
Realistically, the tour will need Djokovic to carry the tour even more. It’s becoming more and more unlikely either Nadal or Federer will win a major. Nadal, who turns 30 next week, hasn’t won a major title since 2014, before his wrist problems. Federer has been to three major finals since 2014, his last title came in 2012.
Federer turns 35 in August, and it’s hard to say how he will respond when he comes back.
For Djokovic to carry the tour, he won’t have the kind of rivalries he had with Federer and Nadal.
Both Wawrinka and Murray have been good challengers, but the series record is one-sided as Djokovic has a 42-14 record against the two.
More than ever, the ATP will need these young, promising players to grow up fast.