There may not be an imminent replacement for the big three (https://www.138mph.com/decoding-the-big-three-murray/); however, change is the only constant in tennis and the old order will soon change to give way to new and with that change Roger, Rafa, and Djokovic will be relegated to the annals of tennis . Who will then fill the top rank of the game? We feel that Kyrgios, Thiem and Alex Zverev stand as good a chance as any to claim the coveted number one rank.
Zverev is an aggressive baseliner, with powerful first and second serve. He is perhaps not as good a mover as Thiem and Kyrgios but he is no slouch either.
Zverev was ranked number one as a junior player and in 2013 reached the finals of the French Open, and won the Australian Open Junior title in 2014 by beating Stefan Kozlov in the final. In 2016 Zverev beat the Maestro in the semi-finals at the Halle Open and reached his first 500 final and second ATP final overall. His first ATP title came at the St. Petersburg Open as the 5th seed where he beat the 3rd seed Tomas Berdych in straight in the semis and then the US Open champion Stan Wawrinka in three sets in the finals.
In 2017 Zverev won the Montpellier title beating Richard Gasquet in the finals, and continued his climb up the ATP rankings. His wins over quality opponents give him the edge over other youngsters and the benefit of being categorized as one of the heirs apparent to the Number One Crown in the future.
Kyrgios’ is a highly aggressive all court player and his serve is his major strength followed by his huge forehand and an efficient net game. Nick is a good mix of swag and talent and therefore very popular with the fans.
“Nick” Kyrgios won the boys’ singles event at the 2013 Australian Open and the boys’ doubles event at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. Kyrgios is truly a giant slayer and has beaten Roger, Rafa and Novak in his first meeting with them. He reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 Australian Open and the quarter finals of 2014 Wimbledon Championships defeating Nadal and Richard Gasquet en route.
In 2015 Nick reached the final of Estoril Open which was the first ATP tournament final of his career. His first ever ATP title came at the Open 13 in Marseille where he defeated world number ten Richard Gasquet in the quarter final, world number eight Tomas Berdych in the semi final and world number twelve Marin Cilic in the final, all in straight sets and without having his serve broken! In 2016 Kyrgios won his first ATP 500 title in Tokyo at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, by overcoming David Goffin in the finals. In 2017 too Kyrgios has performed quite well so far and beaten Djokovic twice already. He has also scored a win over Alexander Zverev in Miami and gave one of the most inspiring, yet losing, performance against the resurgent Maestro thereafter.
Thiem is an aggressive baseline player with a powerful serve. He is also mentally the calmest and perhaps strongest of the three being discussed here.
He was ranked as high as No. 2 in juniors and won the last three singles tournaments of his junior career. In 2014 he reached his first ATP 250 final at the 2014 Kitzbuhel where he lost to David Goffin in 3 sets. In 2015 he won three ATP titles and in 2016 he reached his first Major semi final at the French Open and entered top 10 in ATP rankings.
Thiem has won 8 ATP titles so far with 6 of those on clay and beaten Roger, Rafa and Murray over the course of his career which is still quite young and emerging. He also holds the distinction of winning three titles on three different surfaces within the same calendar year in 2016 and beating Roger Federer en-route to his grass title at the 2016 MercedesCup.
So where do these possible future number ones rank on the 138mph tennis grid of greatness?
Thiem is currently ranked 9th , Zverev 19th and Kyrgios 20th in the ATP rankings. None of them is more than 20 points away from the coveted number one position but “there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.” We, however, eagerly await for one of them to reach the number one rank in the not so distant future, while not discounting the possibility of either Lucas Pouille or Jack Sock or Coric beating them to it.