Players born in the ‘90s winning Grand Slams and reaching No.1 in the world is nothing new on the WTA - Caroline Wozniacki became the first ‘90s baby to reach No.1 on the women’s tour in 2010, and Petra Kvitova became the first ‘90s baby to win a Grand Slam title on the women’s tour in 2011.
And while neither has happened yet on the men’s tour, there are some big signs that we’re on the verge - most notably that six of the men’s year-end Top 10 in 2017 were born in the ‘90s:
No.1 Rafael Nadal (born in 1986)
No.2 Roger Federer (born in 1981)
No.3 Grigor Dimitrov (born in 1991)
No.4 Alexander Zverev (born in 1997)
No.5 Dominic Thiem (born in 1993)
No.6 Marin Cilic (born in 1988)
No.7 David Goffin (born in 1990)
No.8 Jack Sock (born in 1992)
No.9 Stan Wawrinka (born in 1985)
No.10 Pablo Carreno Busta (born in 1991)
The reason that six year-end Top 10 finishes by ‘90s-born players in 2017 is so significant is that in the entire 44-year history of the ATP World Tour Rankings, ‘90s-born players had a grand total of three year-end Top 10 finishes (Milos Raonic twice in 2014 and 2016 and Thiem once in 2016).
By peaking at No.3 in 2017, Dimitrov and Zverev also tied Raonic for highest-ever ranking for a player born in the ‘90s. They’re still looking for their first Top 2 player - the No.1 and No.2 rankings have been under a Big Four stranglehold by Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray since 2005.
Raonic is still the only one of the group to reach a Grand Slam final (Wimbledon last year).
As for winning the biggest tournaments, ‘90s-born players made some major breakthroughs in 2017 anyway, first off with the first three ‘90s-born players to win Masters 1000 titles at Rome and Canada (Zverev), Cincinnati (Dimitrov) and Paris in the fall (Sock). And at the Nitto ATP Finals two weeks ago, Dimitrov won the biggest title yet for the ‘90s generation at the prestigious season-ending event.
With the Australian Open around the corner, will we see our first ‘90s-born men’s Slam winner soon?
Stay tuned on Tennis Channel - and for now, here are some highlights from Dimitrov’s crowning moment at the O2 in London this year, beating fellow ‘90s-born player Goffin for the championship: