NEW YORK (Reuters) - The new crop of young players are poised for a Grand Slam breakthrough and New York’s bright lights could provide the inspiration that finally gets one of them over the top, five-times U.S. Open champion Roger Federer said on Friday.
The second-seeded Swiss, who turned 37 this month, believes newcomers like German Alexander Zverev, 21, Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, and Canadian Denis Shapovalov, 19, are making strides to overtake himself, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“It looks like the next generation has broken through even more so now. They still need the win of a slam, the win of a Masters 1000, whatever you want to call it, they still need to make that step,” Federer told reporters.
“But they’re definitely knocking on that door and there is some exciting talent around.”
Federer said hoisting the trophy at Flushing Meadows was an early goal when he set out to make his name in tennis and the young guns should be boosted by the lively U.S. Open crowd.
“U.S. Open, I’m sure, is going to bring some energy to them as well, wanting to really make the breakthrough here,” he said.
“That’s anyway how I felt way back when, coming to New York. I wanted to break through here or at Wimbledon.
“But here was maybe the cooler place, especially when you’re young and fearless,” he said with a smile.
World number four Zverev on Friday said that after some difficult U.S. Open campaigns, including second-round exits in the last two years, he was hoping to be the first player of the next generation to notch a Grand Slam victory.
“I hope so. I’m doing everything I can to make it be,” he said. “I’m trying to play my best tennis here in New York, which I’ve never really done before... Hopefully it will work out that way.”
As for Federer, the Swiss said that while it would “mean the world” to him to win his first U.S. Open title in 10 years, he will always have fond memories of the tournament anyway.
“I won the U.S. Open five times so I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest,” he said. “It’s not like, God, the U.S. Open never worked out for me. It hasn’t the last couple of years, but it’s all good.”
Editing by Ken Ferris