Since 2004, 44 Grand Slam titles have been played on the men's professional tennis circuit. Of those, 39 were won by a group of four men — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — which earned them the title of the Big Four.
Federer ascended first, firmly putting the likes of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the has-been category of tennis. Next came Spaniard lefty Nadal, dominating clay courts like no one else in the game. Djokovic and Murray realized their potential last, forming the clan that has played ring-around-the-rosie with Grand Slam titles for nearly a decade. Their dominance, and the lack of parity in men's tennis because of it, has been a constant conversation starter in tennis circles: is this good for the sport?
Last weekend, things changed. Two players outside the clique — Marin Cilic, who disposed of Federer in straight sets in the semifinals, and Kei Nishikori, who dispatched Djokovic in four sets in the other semi — ended up in the US Open final. Cilic topped Nishikori for his first Grand Slam title, triggering another tangent of conversation: is the Big Four's time up?
The champ stopped by HuffPost Live on Tuesday to chat about his win, and what it could mean for the coming years of men's tennis.
"It opened doors to many other guys. It showed that new guys are coming," Cilic told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. "But we can't put aside the best guys because from one day to another day, they won't forget how to play tennis. They can still be at the top of the game. But for the other guys, they see bigger opportunity. In the last six, seven years, it was much, much smaller percentage for the other guys to be able to win it. Now, that percentage is becoming a little bigger."
Time will only tell if the bridge between the Big Four and the rest of men's tennis has been closed. But two of the last four major champs (Stanislas Wawrinka topped Nadal in the Australian Open this year) have come outside the crew.
Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the rest of Cilic's fun-filled HuffPost Live conversation here.
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