The age of the Big Four has long been over. In fact, the era of the Big Three – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Feder – has been over for a few years now as well. The only one of those three still playing and playing at a high level is Djokovic, but even he appears to be dimming in the brightness of Carlos Alcaraz‘s growing star. Alcaraz needs a long-term challenger and Arthur Fils could become that player.
Arthur Fils just turned 19 years old in June. He’s been a pro since 2016, but unless your name is Carlos Alcaraz, it normally takes a player a few years to get used to the pace and talent of the high levels of the ATP tour. Still, Arthur Fils seems to be acclimating at an ever faster rate.
He is currently the youngest player in the ATP top 50. That’s great and more than most humans could ever say. But it’s also a bit trivial. Fils could never win another match and he could still say he was once a top-50 player. But Arthur Fils not winning another match isn’t anything that people need to worry about.
Arthur Fils could be Carlos Alcaraz’s next great challenge
Fils has a rocket of a forehand that he is learning to place at impossible angles. He also moves around the court with ease and is able to get to many shots most players can’t. Fourth-ranked Casper Ruud learned this last week at the Hamburg Open in the quarterfinals when Fils bageled Ruud in the first set on Fils’ way to a 6-0 6-4 victory on clay. Ruud is very good on clay but was no match for Fils that day.
Fils also won his first ATP tournament in 2023 when he defeated 28th-ranked Francisco Cerundolo at the ATP 250 in Lyon. The Frenchman still needs to prove he can win on hard courts and on grass, but he should feel pretty confident on clay at this point. Maybe good enough to give Carlos Alcaraz a challenge on the surface.
At this point, Alcaraz is still the better player. But he will need future challengers after Djokovic decides to no longer play. A sport with one dominant player for years diminishes how many people watch eventually.
For tennis to keep its momentum of being a must-watch event since the Big Three were playing in tournament finals for so many years, Carlos Alcaraz will need worthy challengers. Arthur Fils could easily be that guy. The next year for Fils could tell us a lot about the future of tennis.