Rafael Nadal’s hopes of finishing the season as world number one took a serious blow with a straight-sets defeat to Alexander Zverev in London, but the real story is the continuing emergence of his opponent.
The 22-year-old Zverev is one of the rising stars on the circuit, and 2020 could be the year he finally makes a major impression on a Grand Slam event.
Currently sitting seventh in the ATP tennis rankings, Zverev has had a rollercoaster 2019, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and the US Open and the quarter-finals at the French Open but suffered the ignominy of being knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon by Jiri Vesely.
The German seems to play his best stuff on hard courts in the UK, as the biggest win of his career to date came last year at the ATP Finals event in London, where he beat the then world number one Novak Djokovic to win the biggest title of his fledgeling career.
Now after a mixed 2019, he is looking to repeat the feat at the same event twelve months on and has made a thumping start with his win over Nadal. With the belief that he can beat the best players in the world, he could use this as a platform for big things next year.
He told Amazon Prime: "Obviously when I play this aggressive tennis, when I play this way, I have now beaten all three guys on this court, so it shows that I can play very well and beat the top players."
Although it is painful to admit, we are coming to the end of what has been one of the best eras in the history of tennis.
Roger Federer is now 38, yet seems unwilling to end his career anytime soon as he still competes at the top - although that sad day is sneaking up on us.
With Nadal aged 33 and more reliant on his physical attributes than the Swiss star, he is also reaching the twilight years of his career while Andy Murray’s injury seems to have brought an end to his career at the top level.
This has led many people to come to the conclusion that 32-year-old Novak Djokovic will be able to dominate tennis over the next couple of years but the rising stars, led by Zverev, could upset that status quo.
Ten years his junior, the German certainly has time on his side and Tim Henman has cited the need for patience from all of the youngsters waiting in the wings.
“I look at a few of them and the reality is Federer, Nadal and Djokovic won't be around forever," Henman told Amazon Prime.
"I think Djokovic and Nadal will be around for quite a few years yet.
"These guys have to be patient but whether it's Zverev, Tsitsipas, Thiem... I think they are playing great tennis and improving and will win majors in four or five years.”
Zverev has the attitude, aptitude and talent to be the dominant force of tennis over the coming decade but he will have challengers as mentioned by Henman. Daniil Medvedev is currently ranked fourth in the world at the age of 23, Tstsipas is sixth at the age of 21 and with Zverev ranked beneath both of them he must establish himself over the next two years and contest a Grand Slam final.
His 6ft 6in frame allows him to dominate opponents on his own serve and if his return game continues to improve he is likely to reach the very top. It will not happen overnight and all of these promising youngsters are unlikely to reach the levels of Federer but once the big three have called it a day, it could open up the sport to a whole new era of excitement and fearsome competition.