5 Best Young Guns in ATP Tour
Breath-taking battles between the leading ATP players are now drawing the attention of tennis experts and fans across the world. Yet, in several years (or hopefully, a decade) the brilliant champions, like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Del Potro will retire, and I believe we need to take a look at those young guns, who will take over the top of the rankings some day.
Milos Raonic, Canada (born 12.27.1990)
Milos Raonic is the overwhelming leader in my Top 5, as he is the only young gun, who has already made a name for himself in ATP tour, and his latest three-set match with in-form Roger Federer is yet another proof he’s already grown up.
In contrast to Bernard Tomic, who was in the focus of attention of Aussie pres ever since he was in elementary school, the early years of Milos Raonic’ career weren’t widely-broadcasted, so the tennis public didn’t know much about this bright young prospect up until the Australian Open 2011, where he went all the way from the qualifying tournament to the 4th round. After this tremendous success the talented Canadian shocked the tennis world again by winning ATP title in Memphis and reaching finals in San-Jose. That’s when the Raonic hysteria started. And I believe, this hype around hype, and a series of injuries hampered his progress last year, though he still won the ATP Newcomer of the Year award.
Today, Raonic remains the only “young gun” to win an ATP tournament. His main weapon is the giant-killing serve. Of course, he has some other shots to disappoint his opponents, so he’s not a younger copy of Karlovic, though his serve is definitely giving him most of points. Yet, in the reverse side of the coin, his powerful serving and physique resulted in a series of injuries, including, hip, back and groin, so if Milos won’t concentrate on the other components of his game, his career could be put at risk one day.
But still, he is undoubtedly the brightest young star of the tour at the moment.
Bernard Tomic, Australia (born 10.21.1992)
Bernard Tomic is the youngest one in my Top 5 (he turned 19 last October), and according to many experts, he’s the most promising youngster in the tour. Tomic was the youngest ever Junior Australian Open winner – taking the title in 2008 at the age of 15. His junior career as well as first steps in ATP tour are closely followed by the Aussie press, which sometimes doesn’t make him any good.
Several years ago, Bernard shocked the tennis world by saying that he is going to become the number one in men’s tennis by the age of 18, and win several majors. In reality, winning Grand Slams proved to be a little tougher, than he dreamt, and the leading position in ATP are occupied, yet Tomic started the 2012 season at the 36th place. Last year, he became the second-youngest Wimbledon quarterfinalist after Boris Becker, and in the quarters the talented Aussie gave Novak Djokovic a real fight.
His unusual, ‘sticky’ playing style needs constant efforts and development, and Tomic himself, admits he needs to add new elements to his game to be able to progress. But one thing he definitely needs to improve is his speed, as otherwise with such playing style, and accent on unexpected combinations, it will be very difficult for Tomic to defeat higher-class opponents, what we have clearly seen at this year’s Australian Open match against Roger Federer. It was evident then that the 10-year-younger Tomic simply didn’t manage to respond to Federer’s shots in time.
Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria (born 05.10.1991)
Grigor Dimitrov wasn’t known to tennis fans simply because Bulgaria is a low-profile country from the point of view of tennis and sports in total. But after he burst into the international tennis battleground, Dimitrov woke up famous. The handsome Bulgarian No 1 once admitted his teenage tennis idol was Roger Federer, and his game resembles that of the Swiss champion.
So, hopefully he will become a new Federer one day, and hopefully Dimitrov will not waste his talent to become the second Gasquet instead. He still has a lot to improve, both mentally and physically. And if Grigor succeeds in that task, he will reach at least the TOP 50 for sure.
Ryan Harrison, USA (born 05.07.1992)
Tennis America is doing its best to grow a talent to inherit the glory of the past tennis champions, but can’t find it for almost a decade. Andy Roddick has once been such a successor, but his best days are in the past now. Mardy Fish, John Isner and Sam Querrey are great players, and many countries would give their all to have them playing under their flag, but for the Americans, who are used to be first in everything, this is not enough
So, today all the hopes and eyes are on the 19-year-old Ryan Harrison. And the huge pressure is also on his shoulders, so how he manages to handle it all is a tough question. Last year he reached 2 semifinals, and is ready to go one step further this year.
But what could hamper Harrison’s progress is Harrison’s temper. His frequent outbursts do not do him any favors, as he simply loses his game, which could be wise and interesting. Yet, if he manages to cope with his emotions, he has a bright future ahead.
Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania (06.21.1990)
Ricardas Berankis is the only player from this Top5 to get down in rankings last year, which happened due to an injury, which literally destroyed his season (he played only 18 matches). This year the talented Lithuanian is trying to return to his position in ATP tour, but currently his tennis future is unclear. Even if he avoids injuries, it would be very tough for the 5’9’’ Berankis to progress. The illustrious careers of fellow dumpy players like David Ferrer or Lleyton Hewitt or Olivier Rochus, but these guys belong to another generation, and have a snap and obstinacy of a bulldog to compensate for their not remarkable physique.
And only the time will show if Ricardas Berankis has such traces of character like Ferer and the likes, so we’ll keep an eye on him and see that.
As you can see from the five leading young guns only one has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam – and frankly speaking, it’s kind a poor achievement. In this age (19-21 years) current ATP tour leaders were winning Majors and Masters tournaments, defeating then-leaders. The natural generations shift , when younger generations begins to replace the older ones goes evidently slower now, and currently more resembles the situation in WTA tour 4-5 years ago, when the inflow of uber-talented girls slowed down and elite lady-ballers could retire, give birth to children, help the poor in Africa, and after that make winning returns to women’s tour. And only when these legends of the women’s tennis retired, the younger girls were given a chance to take over the lead.
The situation in men’s tour is not that grievous, as the current leaders are young and ridiculously strong. Yet, there are no new superstars born in recent years. The superstars, who stormed into tennis horizons, like Rafael Nadal did in 2005, Novak Djokovic in 2007 and Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009.
Yes, the current young guns have a year or two to improve, but the tennis world is waiting for them to get through.