Rune ended an impressive week at Paris-Bercy by beating Djokovic 3-6 6-3 7-5 to win the biggest title of his young career. That made him the fifth inaugural Masters 1000 champion of the season after Taylor Fritz, Carlos Alcaraz, Pablo Carreno Busta and Borna Coric after what seemed like a changing of the guard.
It’s the first time in 21 years that at least five players have won their first career Masters title, and the Big Three have been goalkeepers in 1000-point tournaments for over a decade with only a few exceptions. Roger Federer’s withdrawal from the Laver Cup this year marked the beginning of the end of the Big Three era and even if Djokovic and Nadal are still playing, they don’t seem as dominant as they used to be.
Fritz defeated Nadal in the Indian Wells final to win the biggest title of his career at the first Masters 1000 of the year, while Alcaraz defeated both back-to-back multiple Grand Slam champions to win his second Masters of the season in Madrid. . And Borna Coric defeated Nadal in the second round of Cincinnati before winning the title.
JUST IN: Emma Raducanu ‘changed everything,’ as Katie Boulter reflects on impact
Felix Auger-Aliassime appears to be one of those poised to win a Masters 1000, having won three titles in three weeks and riding a 16-fight win streak. The 22-year-old Canadian will make his ATP Finals debut next week, with more new faces qualifying for the prestigious Top 8 event each year. Jannik Sinner could go a step further after his first Masters final of 2021, with Djokovic himself calling the 21-year-old one of the best players of the future.
But the Serb is hoping to keep the next generation at bay for as long as possible, as he joked he would try to ‘kick their butts’ ahead of last week’s Paris Masters. “I think it’s good that there are some new faces, but I’m not going to give up. I’ll make sure to kick their asses for as long as possible! They can kick my butt sometimes, but hopefully less than I kicked theirs,” he said.