Tennis: Younger players ready to challenge old guard for Grand Slam titles, says Raonic

Milos Raonic of Canada talks to members of the media ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan 18, 2015. Raonic is tipping one of his new generation to step up and topple the established guard and win t
Milos Raonic of Canada talks to members of the media ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan 18, 2015. Raonic is tipping one of his new generation to step up and topple the established guard and win this month's Australian Open. -- PHOTO: EPA

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Big-serving Milos Raonic is tipping one of his new generation to step up and topple the established guard and win this month's Australian Open.

Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori in last year's US Open final while Stan Wawrinka was another first-time Grand Slam winner beating Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the previous Australian Open.

Nishikori, Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov have been hailed as the flag-bearers of the next generation beneath the old order of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Nadal.

Raonic, the 24-year-old Canadian serve-volleyer, believes the time is ripe for the new guard to make an impact, starting with Monday's Australian Open in Melbourne.

"I think we can step up and give ourselves a possibility to win at the bigger tournaments," he said.

"But I don't think there's going to be somebody stepping up like Roger, Rafa and Novak did a few times, winning three out of four slams.

"I think there will be an opportunity for one of us to step up and have an opportunity to win their first slam."

Raonic said it was not necessarily the case of the big three getting older or suffering a greater incidence of injuries for the rise of the younger brigade.

"No. I just think we're getting better," he noted.

"We're all getting older. We're all getting closer and closer to peak maturity.

"I think we're believing more also. So I think there's a lot of factors to it.

"You can't pinpoint one thing."