Another domino falls, third awaits in new tennis era

Two dominoes are down and one more could fall in another sign that tennis has entered a new era, despite the continued dominance of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Federer and Nadal have shuffled between the top two spots in the world rankings since September 2017, with the latest move occurring this week when the Spaniard’s shock Madrid defeat saw his Swiss rival jump ahead.

While they almost play in their own league, there has been much upheaval in the spots below the two greats in recent times.

Alexander Zverev (No.3), Kevin Anderson (No.7) and John Isner (No.9) are all at career-high rankings, and Juan Martin del Potro has entrenched himself in the top 10 for the first time in nearly four years.

Zverev won the Madrid Open last week to become the first man to join the traditional ‘big four’ – Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – among active players with at least three ATP Masters 1000 titles.

And three more up-and-coming stars are forging their own paths on the world tour.

Kyle Edmund, 23, this week reached a career-high No.19 in the world to add more separation between himself and the injured Andy Murray.

Edmund first overtook the two-time Wimbledon champion as the British No.1 in March, and next week another fresh face will be his own nation’s top player.

The two new No.1 players. Pic: Getty

Denis Shapovalov defeated tour veteran and 15th seed Tomas Berdych 1-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5) overnight to reach the second round of the Italian Open.

The 19-year-old’s win ensured he will leap ahead of 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic to become the Canadian No.1 when the next rankings are released on Monday.

“I’m a little bit in shock,” Shapovalov said of his milestone.

“It’s crazy that it’s come so early… It’s a reason to keep working, keep staying motivated and hopefully I can keep going.”

He didn’t just nab the spot by default, either.

Shapovalov, ranked a career-high 29th going into Rome, knocked Raonic out of the Madrid Open last week in a straight-sets victory that came a day after his countryman had beaten world No.4 Grigor Dimitrov.

The third player who could become his country’s No.1 player next week is Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic, who hasn’t actually played since March as leg injuries hamper his progress.

The next domino to fall? Pic: Getty

But the late-blooming 26-year-old will rise above the 12-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic next week if – and it’s a decent if – Djokovic fails to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open.

With John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov in his path, there’s no guarantee the 30-year-old will be able to stop Krajinovic from taking over.

Other young players holding their country’s top spot include Zverev for Germany, Korea’s Hyeon Chung (21 years old, world No.20), Australia’s Nick Kyrgios (23, world No.25), Russia’s Andrey Rublev (20, world No.31) and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas (19, world No.43).

with AAP