Marat Safin predicts dethroning of tennis royalty
MARAT Safin says it's time for the younger generation to retire the big three of world tennis, and he feels like one of his fellow Russians has the potential to do it.
Tennis royalty Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have dominated the sport for more than 15 years, winning an astounding 55 grand slam singles titles between them.
The trio are ranked in the top three of the world despite being in the twilight of their decorated careers.
Federer is 38 and no guarantee to play on beyond 2020, but Nadal, 33, and Djokovic, 32, could still have several more powerful years left on tour.
The younger generation have been unable to dethrone the big three, but Safin has big hopes that world No.5 and fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev can finally do it.
Medvedev is 0-3 against both Federer and Nadal, but he has won two of his five clashes with Djokovic.
Safin also has big expectations on Russia's world No.17 Karen Khachanov.
German Alexander Zverev, Austria's Dominic Thiem, and Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas are among the other rising stars who have the potential to crack the big three.
"This group of three - Roger, Rafa, and Djokovic - is something unique in tennis that has never happened," Safin said.
"They are incredible, especially Roger. I wish them to play a little bit longer, but I also wish to the young ones to retire them earlier."
Medvedev lost an epic five-setter to Nadal in the final of this year's US Open.
The 23-year-old said his golden run at the tournament had given him belief that he could match it with the best at grand slams.
"Being in the grand slam final makes you confident for the next grand slam, because you know it's possible to achieve it," Medvedev said.
"Before the US Open, the fourth round was my best result, so maybe I wasn't sure about myself at grand slams and five-set matches.
"Now I know that it's possible, but the other question is, is it going to happen again? I'm going to try to do my best."
Russia's powerful team of Medvedev and Khachanov are considered a strong title contender at the inaugural 24-team ATP Cup.
Safin is Russia's team captain, and he's excited about what Medvedev and Khachanov can achieve.
Russia have been placed in group D in Perth alongside Italy, USA, and Norway.
"These two players are in great shape. I think we have a chance to win," Safin said.