The "Big Three" - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - may have dominated tennis for almost the last two decades, but Alexander Zverev feels the changing of the guard is almost complete. The German feels the major titles in 2022 will again be shared between himself, Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev.

The current world number three beat Djokovic on the way to winning the singles gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He then claimed the ATP Finals crown in Turin, where he again beat the Serb in the semifinals.

Djokovic, meanwhile, claimed three of the four Grand Slam titles in 2021, to draw level with great rivals Federer and Nadal on 20 men's singles Grand Slam titles, while the latter two failed to add to their major haul. The world number one was denied a calendar Grand Slam by Daniil Medvedev, who claimed the title at the US Open.

Zverev feels Nadal and Federer are likely to miss out again in 2022, and it will again be the top three ranked players on the ATP Tour that will be favourites to fight for the major titles. Djokovic is the only one of the old guard who is still competing at a high level, with Nadal and Federer recovering from foot and knee injuries respectively.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are on collision course in the French Open Thomas SAMSON/AFP

"I think next year could be very similar to the last six months from this year," Zverev said after picking up the German Sportsman of the Year award this week, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"Before, there used to be always talk about Nadal, Federer and Djokovic -- now the big titles were the Olympics, U.S. Open, Turin (ATP Finals) and Wimbledon, and they were all won by Medvedev, Djokovic and me. I don't expect it to be any different next year."

Zverev, who is currently ranked third, is aware that he will have a chance to become the world number one if Djokovic fails to show up for the Australian Open and he wins it. However, the German's focus remains on playing his best and claiming his first Grand Slam title, whether Djokovic is allowed to play or not.

"I know I'm not far away from it, but for that I also have to win tournaments and Grand Slams," Zverev said talking about overtaking Djokovic to become world number one.

"There are thousands of mathematical calculations, if he doesn't play Australia and I win the Australian Open, then I'm number one in the world and so on and so forth," he added. "At the end of the day, now is not the time to think about (being number one), not is the time to prepare as best as you can so you're physically able to play for it."

There is a question mark over Djokovic's participation at the 2022 season's first Grand Slam in Melbourne owing to their strict vaccination policy. The Serb has refused to reveal his vaccination status and could miss the tournament if he is not double jabbed and does not procure a medical exemption.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev won the ATP Finals in 2018 and again in 2021 Marco BERTORELLO/AFP