Roger Federer Laver Cup 2022

The start of the end of an era – who’s next to say goodbye?

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions the past month, and almost impossible to not feel a level of sadness as two of the greatest tennis players of all time announced their departures from the sport. 

While Serena Williams was a bit coy as to whether or not she would return to the sport at some point, Roger Federer made his goodbye in a fitting and more final way – surrounded by fans, friends, and rivals at the Laver Cup. 

While he may have slipped behind the other members of the ‘Big Three’ in recent years in terms of Grand Slam wins, there is no doubt that Federer’s impact on the sport and utter dominance for years will leave a noticeable gap. He is undoubtedly the one who began the so-called ‘Golden-Era’ of tennis, and fittingly, the one to leave first. 

Who will follow Federer off the court next?

Even though the 41 year old Swiss legend is a bit older than Nadal and Djokovic (36 and 35 respectively), the remaining members of the ‘Big Three’ are also getting up there in terms of years. And while they still seem to be able to churn out inspired performances and win championships, it’s fair to say that a young crop of talent like Carlos Alcarez are edging them out of the limelight somewhat. 

And with retirement on the mind, who’s next? Betting sites in the US have been a bit remise when listing odds for which tennis stars will retire soon, but players can’t stay on the court forever, and with up and coming talents taking the tennis world by storm, some retirements might come sooner than expected. 

The Next Likely Retirees from Men’s Tennis:

  • Rafael Nadal – 22 Grand Slams, 36 years old
  • Andy Murray – 3 Grand Slams, 35 years old
  • John Isner – 37 years old
  • Stan Wawrinka – 3 Grand Slams, 37 years old
  • Marin Cilic – 1 Grand Slam, 34 years old
  • Novak Djokovic – 21 Grand Slams, 35 years old

Arguably Federer’s greatest rival and friend in the sport, Rafael Nadal was openly emotional during Roger’s farewell, and has never been shy with his admiration for the man he has seen on the opposite side of the net so many times. Given the plethora on injuries Nadal has endured over his career, notably the degenerative Müller-Weiss disease that plagues his foot, and the open admission he has felt close to leaving the sport on many occasions in recent years, Nadal is almost certainly the next great to look towards a future away from the sport. 

We’ve put Novak to the bottom of our next significant retirements because it seems unlikely to happen for a few more years. Djokovic has spoken about his feelings for a farewell from the sport, wanting to see his greatest rivals there just like Roger had, stating that he ‘would love to have my biggest rivals and competitors there [to add] more importance to that moment.’ While a sentiment about leaving the sport, it really just highlights Novak’s feelings about being part of an incredible era in the sport more than an imminent exit. He still has more to prove, and likely several strong years left given his lack of injuries during his career. Don’t bet on the Serbian to retire any time soon, and given his prowess and loosening vaccine restrictions, he is probably going to end his career with the most titles of the three. 

Andy Murray is undoubtedly an incredible talent, but has also always been in the cohort of players that have been taken down by the ‘Big Three.’ Without players like Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, Murray would likely have secured many more Grand Slams, but like Nadal has suffered with injuries and was nearly forced to depart from the sport a few years ago with hip problems. Though he has battled back, it’s clear his body is the failure point for the Scottish/British star, and though he has no official plans to announce retirement it could come at any point, even after his next tournament on home soil. 

The Next Era of Tennis

There are many other elite players who are nearing 40 and could be the next to retire, leaving room for more young talent to establish dominance, but none have had the impact on the recent era of tennis more than Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. 

The ‘Big Three’ have defined the last couple of decades in the sport, and created the greatest period of men’s tennis, showing absolute dominance on all surfaces, and leaving little room for others to win. This is truly the start to the end of an era, and there was no more fitting way for the ‘Big Three’ to come to an end other than being led by Roger Federer, the man who started it all. 

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.