Krajicek: No end to Big Four era yet
Former Wimbledon champion Krajicek sees no seismic shift in men's tennis but tips German Zverev as the next big thing
Novak Djokovic has 12 Grand Slam titles to his name and is the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Major titles at a time, at least till tomorrow's Wimbledon final where he will play no part in.
The world No. 1 might have won Wimbledon three times, but he suffered a shock defeat by 41st-ranked Sam Querrey in the third round this year.
Like the Serb, world No. 4 Rafael Nadal will not feature in tomorrow's final. The Spaniard did not even go to Wimbledon, sidelined by a wrist injury that saw him pull out after two rounds of the French Open last month.
Yesterday, third seed Roger Federer let slip a 2-1 lead to lose in five sets to Canadian Milos Raonic, ending his dream of winning an 18th Grand Slam title.
That left second seed Andy Murray the only one in tennis' Big Four with the chance of winning this year's Wimbledon.
At press time, he was playing 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the second semi-final.
Despite the travails of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek does not believe the era of the Big Four is coming to an end.
Even as Federer struggles with age, and Nadal with injury, the Big Four - Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Scot Murray - have at least three years to go before stepping aside for the next generation.
"All four of them were playing so strongly at a time, but that hasn't happened for the last year so there has been a shift already," said Krajicek, FOX Sports' pundit at the All England Club, in a conference call yesterday.
"Roger didn't play too well for a while, he dropped to eighth or ninth for about six months, Nadal had injuries, so it seems like their days are numbered. For the last 12 to 18 months, it was actually more like the Big One - Djokovic has been so much better than the rest.
"But, for me, it will take at least three years before someone outside of the Big Four challenges for the No. 1 spot. I like the next generation, but they need a little more time," added the 1996 Wimbledon champion, pointing to the likes of Canadian world No. 7 Milos Raonic, Germany's Alexander Zverev (28th) and Grigor Dimitrov (37th) of Bulgaria.
Krajicek feels that the challengers are not yet battle-hardened enough to mount a full-on coup.
"I think Raonic has a good shot. He finally realised he's not quick enough from the back of the court and has to come to the net - we saw it at the Australia Open already," said the Dutchman.
"I like Zverev a lot. For me, he's the biggest talent out there. Dimitrov is dropping in the rankings now but he's still working hard and is motivated, he still can do it."
The 44-year-old believes Djokovic will bounce back from his Wimbledon setback as soon as the US Open comes around after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month.
"If you can bounce back after the disappointing loss he had at the French Open last year, to win Wimbledon three weeks later, this is child's play," said Krajicek, pointing to Djokovic's stunning turnaround to beat Federer in the final to win his third Wimbledon title.
"Two things about Djokovic that are never without question - how he is physically and mentally so strong. He will be good by the US Open."
Equal pay between men and women
"Professional tennis is entertainment, but it’s also a workplace. In a workplace, there should be equal pay, it’s good for everyone who is battling on the court, fighting to win matches and titles, to get paid equally."
Regrets in his career
"I wish I had been smarter about my scheduling so that I could have prevented some injuries which took a lot of time to recover from. When I see how smart Federer, Djokovic and Murray don’t overplay and train in a certain way, I wish I had that knowledge too. That’s my biggest regret."