Tennis' big three gap not closing: Monfils

Laine Clark
Gael Monfils says he can't see anyone usurping the big-three in men's tennis any time soon

An ominous warning has been delivered by French veteran Gael Monfils to the rising stars hoping to dethrone tennis' big three in 2020 - the gap is not closing.

However, it has not stopped 33-year-old Monfils from personally trying to reel in greats Rafael Nadal, Novak Djovokic and Roger Federer this year starting at the season-opening ATP Cup.

The stage appeared to be set for tennis' new guard to emerge in 2020 after Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas, 21, became the youngest winner in 18 years of the year-ending ATP Finals back in November.

It came after young guns Austria's Dominic Thiem and Russian Daniil Medvedev threatened in grand slam finals last year.

However, world No.10 Monfils didn't expect the world order to change any time soon.

"I don't know if the gap is closing," he said.

"I feel that those top three guys they're still winning quite a lot.

"We have a few others winning as well.

"But with the gap (between the top three and the rest of the field) it's still the same I guess."

It's hard to argue with Monfils after Nadal, Djokovic and Federer combined to win the last 12 grand slams.

Yet Monfils is not discouraged despite his grim prediction, even backing himself to threaten after a landmark 2019.

The former US and French Open semi-finalist enjoyed a renaissance last year, cracking the top 10 for the first time since 2016.

Now he hopes to keep tennis' biggest names honest starting at France's ATP Cup campaign.

France's ATP Cup opener is against Chile on Saturday but it appears Monfils already has one eye on Monday's tie in Brisbane against a Serbian outfit led by Djokovic.

"I had a great year in 2019 and I tried to set my goals a bit higher than it was for last year," the former world No.6 said.

"I really want to be in the top five.

"I will do anything that's possible...to find the keys to try to get there.

"But it will be hard with the guys that are coming up and also with the older players (top three).

"But I think the top 50 is very strong. So I don't put any pressure on myself - I try to do my best."

France make their ATP Cup debut on Saturday at the inaugural 10-day, 24-team tournament which started on Friday.

The ATP Cup will hold round robin games at Brisbane, Sydney and Perth before the top eight move into finals action in Sydney.

World No.2 Djokovic makes his ATP Cup debut in Serbia's clash with South Africa on Saturday in Brisbane.

In Sydney, Argentina takes on Poland before Thiem's Austria battles Croatia.

And in Perth, Japan faces Uruguay before world No.1 Nadal's Spain takes on Georgia.