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Djokovic sees storm coming

By Reuters in New Delhi | China Daily | Updated: 2014-12-11 07:11

New crop of young talent threatens 'Big Four' dominance of Grand Slams

With a crop of talented young players such as Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic knocking on the door of the exclusive men's Grand Slam club, the "Big Four" hegemony over the game's top tournaments might be coming to a close, said Novak Djokovic.

World No 1 Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray have shared 36 of the last 39 Grand Slam titles.

When Croatia's Marin Cilic beat Japan's Nishikori in this year's US Open final, it was the first time since the 2005 Australian Open that a men's Grand Slam final did not feature either Djokovic, Nadal or Federer.

Djokovic expects the upcoming season to be even more competitive than 2014, a year that saw four different Grand Slam winners, including first-time champions Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka.

"It's really unpredictable, it's going to be hard to say who are the clear favorites to win the Grand Slams," the Serb after playing in the India leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) on Monday.

"Obviously Cilic, Wawrinka and some new names who have been winning Grand Slam titles and challenging the best and winning against the best in the big events have proven to everybody that it is possible.

"The dominance of Roger and Rafa over the years was fantastic. Then Andy Murray and myself, we got into the mix and we four have been winning most of the big events in the last six, seven, eight years," Djokovic said.

"Now it's normal to expect that there is a new generation of players, younger players that are right at the top like Nishikori, Raonic and (Grigor) Dimitrov who have the quality to win against the best and they have done that.

"It's definitely going to be an interesting year."

Bulgarian world No 11 Dimitrov has also impressed Pete Sampras but the American great felt in the end, the trio of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal might still dominate Grand Slams.

"Novak is the obvious choice," said the 14-time Grand Slam champion, one of the past champions playing IPTL.

"Roger is very motivated to get to No 1. Rafa is uncertain with his health but I feel once he is healthy, he will be in the mix.

"I see guys threatening them, but when push comes to shove you'll see those three guys in the second weeks of majors, in the semifinals and finals."

Eyeing elusive title

Djokovic said he is eyeing the French Open title next year, the only major trophy missing from his cabinet, after an impressive 2014.

The 27-year-old won seven titles this year, including Wimbledon, and finished with a flourish at the season-ending World Tour Finals in London.

But Djokovic said he is looking forward to the challenge of ending nine-time champion Nadal's reign as the king of clay at Roland Garros.

"I've been pretty close a few times," Djokovic said wryly. "I have a small problem, his name in Nadal and he's not going away, that's for sure.

"But I'm going to push hard for it, I'm going to keep on trying each year.

"Hopefully I can keep on going. I have that self belief, I know I can do it and hopefully by the end of my career I am going to get one trophy there."

Djokovic was speaking after narrowly losing 6-5 to Federer in a tough, fast-paced one-set match in the new IPTL team competition.

Djokovic's UAE Royals defeated Federer's Indian Aces 29-22 in the third leg of the IPTL, which moves to Dubai next.

The tournament features a bold, fast-paced format, with team ties consisting of five one-set matches, with no advantages and the first to six games wins.

The tournament started in Manila before moving onto Singapore and then Delhi.

Djokovic sees storm coming

Roger Federer of the Indian Aces (left) and Novak Djokovic of the UAE Royals sit on the net during a match with Indian Bollywood actors during Monday's International Premier Tennis League event in New Delhi. AP

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