Rafael Nadal has left Nick Kyrgios off his list of players that could rise to the top of tennis in the wake of his incredible 19th Grand Slam victory.
Nadal’s victory in the US Open final has further emphasised the gap between tennis’ top three and the best of the rest.
But the Spaniard had promising words for the NextGen coming through despite winning his fifth Grand Slam title since turning 30-years-old after a thrilling five-set victory over Russian Daniil Medvedev at Flushing Meadows.
EXPENSIVE TASTE: Rafa Nadal wore a $1 million accessory in final
In the wake of Medvedev’s incredible rise to No. 4 in the world and pushing Nadal to the limit in a classic, the Spaniard was asked who could challenge for Grand Slams in the future.
The Spaniard conceded the NextGen haven’t yet usurped the ‘Big Three’ at the top of the tennis hierarchy, but they are fast approaching.
“A changing of the guard has been predicted for years, but it’s developed a little slower than perhaps expected...The truth is, the three of us [including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer] have gained so much success in these past 14 years, and we’re still atop the ATP Rankings,” Nadal said to ATPTour.com.
But when it came to naming rising talent, Nadal left Kyrgios off the list despite the enigmatic Aussie’s potential talent.
“Now here comes [Daniil] Medvedev, [Alexander] Zverev, [Karen] Khachanov, [Andrey] Rublev, Felix [Auger-Aliassime], [Matteo] Berrettini and [Denis] Shapovalov. That’s a formidable group and the overwhelming logic is that the next generation is already here,” Nadal said.
Nadal said following his recovery after the US Open the only competition marked down in his calendar thus far is the Laver Cup.
Nadal and Kyrgios history
Nadal and Kyrgios have a rocky history with the Aussie repeatedly calling the Spaniard out for his slow service games.
Nadal said Kyrgios “lacks respect for the public” after losing to him at Acapulco when the Aussie maverick pulled out a whole host of tricks during the match.
Kyrgios later hit back, calling Nadal “super salty” in a podcast in May.
Before their most recent match at Wimbledon, Kyrgios said when asked about their relationship: “Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog And Fox and have a beer together.”
The pair faced off this year at SW19 where Nadal won in a thrilling and highly-tense four-set epic.