Wimbledon round-up: Big four dominance is ending

In years to come, chroniclers of the golden age of tennis will wax lyrically about the ‘big four’.

It may be many moons before we again see a decade of such competitiveness and dominance from a quartet of heavyweight players.

Since the 2005 French Open, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have won 44 of the 49 Grand Slam titles available. It would be no surprise if that record extends to 45 from 50 this weekend, given Federer’s exemplary record at Wimbledon.

But the strains of such a long period at the top of their sport is finally taking its toll on the four players.

It wasn’t form, mentality or an outstanding display from an opponent which brought an end to Djokovic and Murray’s Wimbledon. It was their body giving way.

Take nothing away from dangerous giant Sam Querrey for fighting back from 2-1 down to beat Murray in five sets, yet the world number one was clearly hampered by the hip injury which had disrupted his preparations for his home tournament.

It may be many months before Murray is seen on court again, particularly if he needs to go under the knife.

Similarly, Djokovic was clearly unable to produce maximum power on either his serve or forehand, with his elbow injury eventually forcing him to retire against Tomas Berdych.

For all the scrutiny over whether Djokovic has lost his focus or is suffering from personal issues, it was ultimately physical wear and tear which saw him exit another major without a title to his name.

Perhaps Murray, Djokovic and Nadal will now need to take a leaf out of Federer’s book and pick and choose their tournaments to ensure they are fully fit for the Grand Slams.

Federer certainly showed few signs of wear and tear in what was a notably straightforward win over Milos Raonic.

For the rest of the men’s tour, the apparent demise of the big four is great news. From years of being mere bit-part players, all of the top 20 will suddenly be sensing a chance.

The likes of Marin Cilic, in particular, will sniff an opportunity to add a second major to his name after a thrilling five-set win over Nadal’s conqueror Gilles Muller.

Cilic knows that the men’s tour is finally becoming far more of an open field.

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