That was the warning we read in a thousand tweets on Friday, after Nadal announced that he was withdrawing from the French Open with a wrist injury and joining his old rival, Federer, on the sidelines. With that, the Golden Era’s sun seemed to sink a little lower in the sky.
But when it rose again on Saturday morning, the sport’s future looked a little brighter. That’s because two players who will likely figure prominently in it, 22-year-old Dominic Thiem of Austria and 19-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany, began the proceedings on Court Suzanne-Lenglen by playing one of the crispest, most professional, most entertaining sets we’ve seen all tournament, which Zverev won 7-5 in a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, all anyone could talk about was the fact that, in their matching black-and-yellow-striped shirts by Adidas, they looked like a pair of forehand-bashing zebras.
No, these two young men aren’t going to make anyone forget about Roger and Rafa any time soon, but Thiem and Zverev did put on a display of state-of-the-art tennis. Despite their outfits, there was also enough contrast in their styles and games to keep them from looking like twins, or producing a cookie-cutter slugfest.