Almost a year ago, on June 10 to be exact, I wrote a column dubbed ‘From Paris with love’.
In it, I explored the next big guns in the world of tennis.
I had Carlos Alcaraz, who I said “was the first rookie to catch my eye, the Mrs and I immediately dubbed the 18 year old Spaniard the next Rafael Nadal”.
He was knocked out in the third round last year. But I saw enough to suggest that this rookie would be big.
I also mentioned Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti as the other teens who impressed me.
A year on and with the French Open starting next week, it looks like Alcaraz emerged from the trio to be a real threat to the status quo.
Having beaten Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in succession to win the Madrid Open last week, he is certainly making waves in the tennis world at the moment.
So impressive is he this year, that Djokovic recently said of the world’s No.6: “He definitely is special. Already he's breaking a lot of records as a teenager, winning two Masters events this year, a couple of [ATP] 500s. So far he’s the best player in the world, no question, this year.”
Zverev, who Alcaraz klapped in the final of the Madrid Open, agreed, saying: “I want to congratulate Carlitos. Right now you are the best player in the world.
“It is great for tennis that we have such a new superstar that is going to win so many Grand Slams, that is going to be world number one and I think is going to win this tournament many more times.”
Here’s the thing, though, Nadal is not going to pass the baton that easily - especially in Paris.
He already warned the youngster earlier in the week that: “When you’re six weeks without touching a racquet and having the chance to move your body... my body is like an old machine. To put this machine on again it takes some time.
“It’s not the same when you’re 19 than when you are almost 36, with all the issues I went through in my career. You need to build again the confidence, your movements, then you start feeling comfortable with your tennis.”
There is no doubt that Nadal will be comfortable with his tennis for Roland Garros - it has become his second home over the years.
But while it’s old versus young in terms of stardom, don’t forget the 20-somethings.
Leading the line currently is world No.2 Daniil Medvedev, 26, who is still making his way back from hernia surgery - he should be ready to push for a first title in France.
There’s also last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitispas, 23, who lost to Djokovic in the decider.
Outside the top 10, there are also a number of players capable of causing a big upset, making for a mouthwatering second Grand Slam of the year.
So while it’s been years of the Big Three (Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer, who is currently injured) dominating the game, tennis is alive and kicking once again.
Not only do we have the teens - led by Alcaraz - pushing to overthrow years of Big Three dominance, but there are the inbetweeners - led by Medvedev - also.
So will there be a new king of clay? We’ll find out when the French Open starts on Monday.
Current world top 10
(Age in brackets)
1 Novak Djokovic (34)
2 Daniil Medvedev (26)
3 Alexander Zverev (25)
4 Rafael Nadal (35)
5 Stefanos Tsitsipas (23)
6 Carlos Alcaraz (19)
7 Andrey Rublev (24)
8 Matteo Berrettini (26)
9 Felix Auger-Aliassime (21)
10 Casper Ruud (23)
French Open winners since 2010
2010 -2014:Rafael Nadal
2015: Stan Wawrinka
2016: Novak Djokovic
2017-2020: Rafael Nadal
2021: Novak Djokovic