French Open: Can 'Next Gen' push through in men's draw?


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Names repeatedly, without doubt, seen in grand slam finals, year on year, such has been the dominance of the quintet.

Since 2004, a total of 49 major finals have been contested and only four of those deciders have not been won by world number one Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray or reigning French Open champion Wawrinka.

Fitness problems mean Federer will not be present as the second slam of the season gets underway at the Roland Garros on Sunday and the new generation - led by flamboyant Australian Nick Kyrgios on the Parisian clay courts - is knocking on the door, determined to break the stranglehold on men's tennis.

Kyrgios has had his critics but the world number 19 is letting his tennis do the talking and in a big way heading to Roland Garros.

Having burst on the scene following his stunning win over 14-time grand-slam champion Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, Kyrgios is now living up to his potential with consistent performances, boasting a 21-7 win-loss record after claiming February's Open 13 title in Marseille.

The undoubted number one in Australia, Kyrgios - with a career-best four semi-final appearances to his name on the ATP Tour in 2016 - has five wins against players in the top 10 this season.

Tennis' biggest names are standing up and taking notice of Kyrgios, who was labelled "one of the best players in the world" by Nadal prior to the Spaniard's victory in the pair's three-setter in Rome.

"He's in a very good position and remains more than half a year on surfaces that he likes," Nadal added. "I think he's having a great year and will be a great year for him. Every time he is getting closer to winning slams and big tournaments, and at the same time he has a good chance to finish the year in the top eight. That will be a great year for him."

Dominic Thiem and David Goffin have also shown signs they could trouble the established order in south-west Paris.

Thiem has already captured two titles this year and the 22-year-old has claimed the scalps of Nadal, David Ferrer and 17-time grand slam winner Federer.

The Austrian, who has already gone beyond last year's tally of five semi-finals - reaching six in the space of five months courtesy of wins in Buenos Aires and Acapulco - swept aside Federer in straight sets in the last 16 at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Goffin is the best-ranked player of the trio at 13th in the world and the Belgian has competed in five quarter-finals this season, progressing to the semis twice.

To put that into perspective, the 25-year-old - yet to move past the fourth round of a grand slam - was in the last eight of tournaments on six occasions throughout the whole of 2015.

Two of Goffin's 22 wins in 2016 have come against top-10 players in Tomas Berdych and Wawrinka and, with all of the trio recording significant victories so far this year, the potential is there for at least one of the triumvirate to surprise and reach the latter stages at Roland Garros.