Tennis has been dominated in recent years by the 'big four'. How long can we expect this to continue for?
"Generations will move on, for sure in two or three years there will be no Federers." - Bernard Tomic.
Bernard Tomic is expecting to see a major shake up of the slam landscape in the next few years, but to what extent can his prediction be taken seriously? He may have a point - in some respect at least, -about Federer, who at 32 years of age is evidently entering the twilight years of his career. Even so, to what extent can we really expect to see the game get taken over by a new generation of slam winners?
The big flaw in Tomic's suggestion rests with the fact that Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all played outstanding tennis in 2013. Nadal is 27 years old, whilst Murray and Djokovic are both 26. Many players don't reach their prime until their late-twenties, and none of these men appear to be slowing down. Will they really be out of the frame in three years? We can only guess, but without the intervention of injury, it would be surprising if any of them slipped away from the centre stage at the slams.
Then there's Juan Martin Del Potro, who as the 2009 US Open champion can hardly be regarded as part of the 'next generation'. He's 25 right now, and has reestablished himself as one of the ATP's main men. If he builds upon his 2013 form, the man dubbed 'The Tower of Tandil' could be a huge force for the next five seasons at least.
So, what's the verdict on the emerging talent? It's fair to say that there's a huge amount of potential. At 21 years of age, Tomic himself has the makings of a serious force. Even his compatriot Lleyton Hewitt, who has scaled the highest heights himself, considers the young gun to be a potential slam winner. However, his commitment certainly appears questionable.
As for the rest of the scene, there are players such as Grigor Dimitrov, Jerzy Janowicz and Milos Raonic. Each of these players brings something different to the table, and all three made great strides in 2013. The issue is quite simple though; Matching the commitment, dedication and talent of the current stars of the ATP will require nothing shy of a phenomenal effort.
Michelle White is the manager editor at LiveTennis.org.