Novak Djokovic He said the long-awaited “generational shift” has finally arrived in men. tennis world number one, after losing to 20-year-old Dane Holger Rune Italy Open quarterfinals.

The “Big Three”, consisting of Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, dominated the tournament. ATP Tour for nearly two decades, but in recent years age and injury have been catching up to them.

Seeded Djokovic’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 loss to Rune on Wednesday marks the first time in 19 years that neither the Serb nor the injured Nadal will play in the Rome final.

Djokovic, who lost twice in a row against Rune, said that the new generation of players led by world number two Carlos Alcaraz brought a breath of fresh air to the sport.

“A new generation is already here,” Djokovic told reporters. “As of Monday, Alcaraz is number one in the world, obviously playing great tennis. I think it’s good for our sport to have new faces, new guys growing up.

“We’ve been saying this for years, we can wait for that moment to come when you kind of transition between generations.

“I personally still try to hang out there with all of them. I still have a hunger to continue. Let’s see how far I can play.”

Nadal and Djokovic share the record for most men’s Grand Slam with 22 titles each, while Federer won 20 before retiring last year, but the grueling Tour takes a heavy toll on their bodies.

Rafael Nadal injured his hip at the Australian Open (Adam Davy/PA)

(PA Wire)

Nadal hasn’t played since he injured his hip at the Australian Open in January and missed a clay-court strike at the 14-time French Open, where he won.

Djokovic, who recently struggled with an elbow injury, went for a physical during his match with Rune and took painkillers to get over it.

When asked if Roland Garros would be the most open tournament in years, Djokovic smiled and said, “It depends on whether Nadal plays or not.

“But next to him is Alcaraz, Rune – these guys are right up there, some of the biggest favorites to win the championship.”