Marat Safin has provided a scathing assessment of the younger generation looking to take over from the current big four Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

The Russian feels that the young players today are not at a high enough level to challenge the veterans of this era as they are still dominating despite being in the latter stages of their careers.

He was mainly referring to Nadal and Federer, who at 31, and 36 respectively are ranked number one and number two in the world. The former became the oldest player to achieve the year-end number one when he was presented the trophy during the ATP Finals in London last month.

The duo struggled with injuries in recent campaigns, but came back with a bang in 2017 and dominated the rest of the field. Nadal and Federer won a combined 13 titles, which includes equally sharing the four Grand Slams between them.

During the title drought suffered by the current top two, it was Djokovic and Murray, who were the dominant duo and the quartet continue to be the favourites going into 2018. The aforementioned duo are currently recovering from injury after having ended their 2017 campaigns early, but are expected to return at the start of the New Year.

Such has been their dominance in the past decade that the big four have won 46 of the last 51 Grand Slams since Marat Safin won the Australian Open in 2005.

Safin feels the current generation is not at a high enough level to challenge the veterans of the current era. Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic are the only three players that have been able to break their strong hold by winning a combined five Grand Slam titles in the last decade, but have been unable to challenge them on a consistent basis.

"If Federer and Nadal are still winning I think there's something wrong," Safin told the Independent. "I don't see any upcoming superstars today."

"I'm not saying that our times were the best, but when I was growing up, players were winning ATP tournaments at 16, 17, and 18. Now players are only just starting to be pros at the age of 25. I don't know why that is.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal won a combined 13 titles in 2017 Getty

"Players used to retire by the time they got to 30. At 32 you were a dinosaur. Now you see players who are still running at the age of 38. The upcoming young guys just aren't at a high enough level. If you can still manage to run at the age of 38 and still be No 1 in the world, it means there must be something wrong with the other players," the Russian two-time men's singles Grand Slam champion explained.

Despite Safin's scathing assessment, the end of 2017 saw the emergence of a few younger players, who could challenge the dominance of the big four next year. Alexander Zverev at 20 won two Masters Series titles beating Djokovic and Federer in the finals, while David Goffin, 26, became the first player to beat Federer and Nadal in 2017 and Grigor Dimitrov, also 26, won the ATP Finals to end the year as the world number three.

Marat Safin
Marat Safin believes the younger generation are not at a high enough level to challenge the big four Getty