Long to reign over us

John McEnroe says Nadal and Federer set to stay at the top of men's tennis as both take to court at Qatar Open in Doha.

    Float on: Nadal and Federer rally in the harbour of Doha's West Bay before playing in the Qatar Open [Reuters]

    Tennis legend John McEnroe sees no imminent end to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's domination of men's tennis as the pair lock horns at the Qatar Open this week.

    The two players have swept nearly all the Grand Slams and controlled the world number one and two rankings for the best part of a decade since Federer's breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2003.

    Both have won all four majors, with Nadal completing his trophy collection by winning the US Open for the first time in September – his third consecutive Grand Slam title after wins at the French Open and Wimbledon.

    They are the main attractions at the $1 million Qatar Open in Doha this week, with Nikolay Davydenko and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the only feasible challengers.

    "There's no reason to believe...that these guys aren't going to be around for the next couple of years," retired American tennis great McEnroe said on Tuesday on the sidelines of an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong.

    While Nadal dominated last season to reclaim the top ranking from his 29-year-old Swiss rival, McEnroe said Federer was still enthusiastic about the game and finished the season on a high note.

    The 16-time Grand Slam champion beat Nadal – five years his junior – to clinch the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

    "He still seems to love to play. He's finished the year very strong," said McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam champion.

    "We have an incredible rivalry that hopefully will last another couple of years, a year or two more, and we can take advantage of that."


    McEnroe said world number three Novak Djokovic and number four Andy Murray still need to improve to break the Federer-Nadal stranglehold.

    "They're going to have to add elements to their games ... and to work harder than ever to try to allow themselves to compete against two of the most – if not the most – talented players that ever played tennis," McEnroe said.

    As they step up their preparations for the first major of the year, the Australian Open, Federer and Nadal faced off in the final of the Abu Dhabi men's exhibition tournament last week, where the Spaniard prevailed in two tight sets that had to be decided in tiebreakers.

    The European domination at the top has translated into an extended drought for the American men.

    While the US boasted major champions like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Michael Chang in the 1990s, the Americans have faded in the new millennium.

    The last American man to win a Grand Slam was Andy Roddick, who claimed the 2003 US Open. Roddick is currently the only American in the top 10, at number eight.

    There are three others in the top 20: Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and John Isner.

    McEnroe said Roddick may have a few good years left in him, but he wasn't bullish about the major prospects of the younger Americans.

    "At the moment, I see Isner and Querrey as excellent players bordering on great players, but I don't see them breaking and winning majors," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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