New Delhi: Two-time French Open champion Sergi Bruguera isn't convinced that Stanislas Wawrinka's Australian Open victory in January and Marin Cilic's US Open triumph in September resulted in a tectonic shift in the sport. He said today's tennis was still dominated by the 'Big 4'.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic, No.2 Roger Federer, No.3 Rafael Nadal and 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray comprise the so-called 'Big 4' of modern day tennis, who between them have won 36 of the 39 Grand Slams from the 2005 French Open to the 2014 US Open.
"It's difficult to say that they (Big 4) are on a decline. They are still ahead, especially with Federer overcoming his slump of form and getting back into his elements this year," the 1996 Atlanta Olympics men's singles silver medallist told IANS in an interview.
"Nadal is injured but he has always maintained his top-rank status. He will come back hard after recovering from his injury. Andy is also consistent."
Cilic's victory in New York broke several records, primary among them was the first Major final in almost 10 years not to feature the 'Big 4', that drummed up the possibility of winds of change in the racquet sport.
But Bruguera insists the stellar quartet still remain the men to beat.
However, the Spaniard acknowledged a rising challenge to their dominance from the likes of Cilic, US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori, Wawrinka and Bulgarian World No.11 Grigor Dimitrov.
"Wawrinka and Cilic won this year. I can't remember the last time two people outside the Big 4 won two of the four Grand Slams in a year. Other players are coming up and have started to believe that they can beat these four. But it will take some time before we see the end of their domination," the 43-year-old said.
The former World No.3 also said Croatian Cilic and Swiss Wawrinka, with their triumphs, have muscled into the most elite club of tennis, but it is now that their real test begins.
Coming back to Federer, Bruguera believes that the 17-time Major winner is the greatest player ever to have played the game, even ahead of 14-time Grand Slam winner Pete Sampras, who was the most celebrated player of his generation.
"He is the best player in the world ever in terms of technique and overall aspect of the game. But mentally Nadal is by far the strongest. His resilience is praiseworthy," said the Spaniard.
Bruguera is currently in India to play in the Champions Tennis League (CTL) for Mumbai Tennis Masters. He hopes the tournament will be beneficial for Indian players.
"To be involved in CTL will be beneficial for Indians. Coming in contact with current top players and legends, getting the opportunity to look at every aspect of their game is bound to help," he said.
"It is not just their court play but how they practice and prepare before a game, how they play in matches and carry themselves as a professional on-and-off the court that the Indian players will see and learn from."