At the Net: The Old Guard isn't goin' away just yet

Philadelphia, PA ( - So much for all the "young guns" talk on the ATP World Tour.

The kids are supposed to be taking over on the circuit, you know, the Kei Nishikoris, Milos Raonices, Grigor Dimitrovs, etc.

But the last time I looked, there were three titles claimed on the tour last week and every one of them was secured by a player 30 years of age or older. Yes, ol' David Ferrer (32), not-quite-as-old Gilles Simon (30) and very-old Ivo Karlovic (35) captured championships in Rio, Marseille and Delray Beach, respectively, to let the youngsters know that they're (the "old guns") not going away any time soon.

Adding insult to injury for the youngsters, a 32-year-old Guillermo Garcia- Lopez was the most-recent titlist in Zagreb and ancient 34-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos broke through for his first-ever ATP title in Ecuador just a few weeks back.

As a matter of fact, the old guns have been hogging up a majority of the titles to this point in the new year.

Sure, we had a young guns U.S. Open final last September when Marin Cilic clocked Kei Nishikori, but Cilic is already 26 years old and Nishikori is 25. Not exactly puppies out there.

And, again, the last time I looked, the most-recent Grand Slam final occurred only weeks ago, and both combatants were not only veterans, but members of the so-called "Big Four" (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray), as the great Djokovic handled the not-as-great Murray for an Open Era-record fifth Aussie Open title.

Who's the last young gun to break through at the Aussie, the French, or Wimbledon?!

That's right, I don't know either.

You can't say Stan Wawrinka. He captured last year's Aussie but certainly was no "young gun" at the age of 28.

Djokovic continues to gobble up Aussies; Rafa, of course, owns the French; you still gotta like Djokovic, Federer, Nadal or Murray at Wimby; and I think last year's U.S. Open run by Cilic would have to be categorized as a fluke, which, once again, leaves us with Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray ... doesn't it?

In addition to Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov, we also like up-and-comers like David Goffin, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, and Borna Coric. The 18-year-old Coric, by the way, stunned Murray in a quarterfinal in Dubai this week, but was then brought back down to Earth/leveled by Federer there in the semis.

I've been as guilty as anybody in hyping the youngsters, that's part of my job, but veteran players have been enjoying success at an alarming rate in recent years.

We don't want to see the same guys winning the same titles all the time, do we? Although I have to admit, that's a situation that doesn't bother me in the least.

With only one exception (Jiri Vesely in Auckland), the list of this year's tournament winners reads like a who's-who of tour veterans, i.e. Federer, Ferrer, Wawrinka, Viktor Troicki, Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, Garcia-Lopez, Estrella Burgos, Wawrinka, again, Nishikori, Pablo Cuevas, Ferrer, again, Karlovic, and Simon.

And, surprise, Djokovic and Federer were set to collide in this week's sexy final in Dubai at the time of this article.

Don't get me wrong, the young guys will eventually break through (I think). To some extent they already have, a little bit. I just don't think it's their time quite yet.

And maybe neither do they.