Ivan Lendl had warned last month that it was too early to make the claim that the era of the big four's dominance in men's tennis was coming to an end after Stanislas Wawrinka's surprising march to the Australian Open title in January.
Ostensibly, it was a false a dawn, and Lendl, Andy Murray’s coach, has been proven right.
It is still early days but the past week at Indian Wells and the magnificent battle for the title between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer shows residency in the upper echelon of men's tennis could remain an exclusive club for a bit longer.
True, Rafael Nadal was blown away by a spirited Alexandr Dolgopolov and Andy Murray got battered by Milos Raonic, and those two vanquishers could potentially play a big part in the season ahead, alongside the likes of Grigor Dmitrov, Ernest Gulbis and Wawrinka.
But Federer, who had looked a spent force in his sorry second-round exit to Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon last year, reached the final at Indian Wells without dropping a set and Djokovic seems to be rediscovering his mojo after arriving in the United States without a title for the first time since 2006.
The Serb world No 2 brought that mini drought to an end with a typically doughty 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) win over Federer on Sunday night, avenging his loss to the Swiss in the Dubai semi-finals. It was his 17th Masters title and he is now tied with Andre Agassi in third place on the all-time Masters 1000 winners list. The top two are Nadal (26) and Federer (21). Murray has nine.
Together, the big four have won 33 of the past 35 Masters events, with Robin Soderling (2010 Paris) and David Ferrer (2012 Paris) grabbing a day pass into the exclusive club. At the grand slam tournaments, they have shared 37 of the past 41 men’s singles titles since the start of 2004.
This week and his triumph in Dubai has shown Federer still belongs in the big four.
So where does it leave the rest, those who were excited about Wawrinka’s Melbourne success and believed a new era was on the horizon?
“Well, they have to prove it,” Federer said in Indian Wells. “One tournament doesn’t do it all for me yet.
“I mean, it’s nice they believe more in it and it’s nice that they take Stan as an inspiration. That’s great. But they should believe more in beating the top guys than just one-offs once in a while.”
Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE