In the wake of Roger Federer's abrupt and unexpected loss in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, the world of tennis no longer revolves around one man.
Federer's untouchable aura has been stripped from him, producing a thrilling sense of mystery as to who will fill his void.
Though Rafael Nadal appears to be the overwhelmingly obvious choice, there are five players who have the potential to dominate the future of tennis.
Roger Federer has been ousted from the quarterfinals in the last two Grand Slams.
That's unheard of for Federer, who had previously maintained 23 straight Grand Slam semifinals.
This year has unveiled a distinctively different, less dominant side of Federer.
For example, after defeating Lleyton Hewitt 15 straight times in the past, Federer lost to him earlier this year. Also, he has a 27-8 record in singles matches during 2010, which may appear incredible, but Federer finished 63-7 in single matches in his 2007 season.
Though he still captured victories over the last year, none featured the same consistency, tenacity, or dominance that had previously crowned him king of the court.
Rafael Nadal has been one of the only consistent threats to Roger Federer.
In fact, Nadal has earned 14 wins against Federder, 10 of which came on clay—his expertise.
Whether it's his heavy topspin from the back court, or his tenacious speed at the net, Rafael Nadal has secured his position among the elite in tennis.
Nadal is only 24 years old, has earned seven Grand Slam titles, and continues to improve.
Though his serve is considered a weak part of his game, he maintains consistency and utilizes his physical strength, as well as mental capacity, to overpower his competitors.
Nadal will remain an intimidating player on the court, no matter what surface and no matter who the competitor.
What will catapult Andy Murray to the biggest stages in tennis is his unequaled ability to anticipate and react.
At just 23 years old, Murray is already ranked No. 4 and finished runner-up at two Grand Slams—the 2008 US Open and the 2010 Australian Open.
Alert, swift, and a defensive machine, Murray has the capacity to learn the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents quickly and exploit them at will.
What distinguishes Murray from other players is that instead of trying to be overly aggressive on the offensive, his brute, defensive strength forces his opponent to make mistakes.
Novak Djokovic has all the explosive elements necessary to become a perpetual force in the world of tennis.
Like Murray, Djokovic is also very young, just 23 years old. His consistency off both wings and sharpness on defense have been crucial factors in the deadliness of his game.
His 2008 victory at the Australian Open propelled him to the elite, and has remained there since, currently ranked No. 3.
He belongs on this list especially because of his potential to produce in the most pressure-filled stages in tennis. If he can generate the same kind of confidence he has mentally with his physical game then he will be an unstoppable force.
It's not just Robin Soderling's powerful, two-handed backhand or explosive, 140mph serve that convinces me he will become the face of tennis.
It's that he's beaten the best of the best in the biggest stages and under the most pressure.
Soderling reached the finals at French Open in both 2009 and 2010, each time beating the defending champion in order to reach that final.
First, he defeated Rafael Nadal in 2009, where he became the first and only player to beat Nadal at the French Open.
Then he effectively ruined Federer's record streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals when he beat him in 2010.
Soderling proved his value in each of these momentum-shifting wins and will hopefully continue to shine.
Whether or not Tomas Berdych's unexpected win over Roger Federer means he will be launched to success is up in the air.
But there's no doubting the fact that this guy has got skills and major potential.
Though the first few years of his career were marked by inconsistency, Berdych has been slow and steady in his ascent to becoming one of the best tennis players in the world.
Though he finished runner-up in the 2010 Sony Ericksson Open to Andy Roddick, Berdych played spectacular tennis against ranked players like Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, Robin Söderling, and perhaps in a foreshadowing, Roger Federer.
Berdych also caused a stir at the French Open when he beat three more ranked players, including Andy Murray, sending him to the semifinals.
Whether or not Roger Federer will continue to pose a threat is no longer the issue.
Instead, Federer now sustains a level of vulnerability, which in a butterfly effect has revitalized all of men's tennis to play at the highest level of competition.
There is no telling who, when, or where the next phenom will persevere, but what is certain?
Glory now awaits a new owner.
Who will it be?