The latest Miami Open was a glimpse into the future of tennis with the stars of the Next Generation set to showcase their dominance and continue to close the gap between the 'Big Three'.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all withdrew from the competition after using their wisdom to rest their ageing bodies with one eye on the clay court season approaching.
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Meanwhile, for players touted as future Grand Slam champions, Miami represented an opportunity missed.
Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev failed to make it even to the semifinals.
Instead, the showpiece was contested between World No.37 Hubert Hurkacz and teen sensation No.31 Jannick Sinner.
This marked the first ATP 1000 final clash between two players outside of the World Top 30 since 2003.
Hurkacz became the lowest ranked ATP 1000 winner since 2005.
The stats show you the remarkable dominance of the 'Big Three' and even further highlighting this dominance if you include Andy Murray.
Winner Hurkacz, 24, even alluded to the pressure the players were feeling to put on a show, which will soon be the norm without Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on tour.
“With the Big Three absent, I think all the NextGen guys were trying their best to play their best game, to compete as hard as they can," Hurkacz said.
“Hopefully the spectators enjoyed it.”
Next Gen miss Miami Open chance
The players themselves were quick to also reveal Miami was an opportunity missed.
Medvedev, seeded No.1 at a Masters 1000 event for the first time, was upset in the fourth round by Roberto Bautista Agut.
No.2 Tsitsipas exited in the same round with a loss to Hurkacz.
“I felt like it was my opportunity,” Tsitsipas said.
“There was more space for me to show something greater.”
No.3 seed Zverev flopped worst of all, double-faulting three times on break point in a loss to No. 83-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori.
No.4 seed Andrey Rublev, a Russian who leads the tour with 20 wins this year, was knocked out by Hurkacz in the semi.
Despite the biggest victory of Hurkacz's young career, he won't be among the favourites to take home the French Open.
It appears the mantle to usurp Nadal or Djokovic as favourites in the Grand Slams is still in the distance, but even to match their consistency appears tough.
This was put into words by the up-and-coming superstar Sinner.
Sinner, a huge fan of Nadal, said it was the consistency that escapes the Next Gen.
“The next generation still has to show they can beat the Big Three,” he said.
“The next generation is not ready yet to win against them consistently. At some point there will be the moment; I don’t know when. It can be two years or five years, I don’t know. But the moment will come.”
Regardless of the expectations, two players showed their potential as future stars.
Making a splash was unseeded 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda, who reached the quarterfinals before losing to Rublev.
Korda, the son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda, is widely considered the best hope to end an 18-year drought in major titles for US men.
Korda and Sinner have considerable flair and star appeal, as do Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Zverev and Rublev.
“The future of tennis looks great, because the generation is changing,” Rublev said.
“The NextGen players, they are different. They look different compared with previous ones. I think they have charisma.”
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