Nadal and Federer have dominated the game over the last 15 years, winning a combined 37 Grand Slam titles. But at the age of 32 and 36, both are coming towards the end of their stunning careers, with Federer recently admitting that ‘the end is closer than ever before’.
The Next Generation field have struggled to compete with Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in Grand Slams but Nadal believes talented stars are coming through. The Spanish legend highlighted world number three Alexander Zverev and Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov as two ‘special’ players who will soon come to the fore and dominate. He said: ‘The young guys are coming: Zverev, Shapovalov.
‘I’m not going to name them all, but there are many out there right now who I think are particularly special, and they are obviously going to replace us. ‘It’s either because they are going to just be better than us in a short time or because logic dictates that age will eventually catch up to us. ‘Our era was particularly exceptional, when a series of players dominated the tour for years, at the highest level of tennis, at the biggest tournaments.’
Nadal, who reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon before being beaten by eventual champion Novak Djokovic, also spoke of his ‘satisfaction’ at seeing the progress of compatriot Jaume Munar. Munar, 21, trains at Nadal’s Academy in Mallorca and has moved inside the top-100 in the rankings this year. ‘He has made major strides in recent months and for us at the academy, it is with great satisfaction to see that we are able to help an up-and-coming Spanish player,’ Nadal said.