Australian Open Juniors Draw 2012: Looking at the Potential Stars of the Future
Okay, I'll be honest with all of you. I know that this probably isn't the most exciting read out there but I think it is an interesting angle to examine as week two of the tournament is underway and the 2012 Australian Open Juniors tournament has also begun.
Now, I know there aren't any big names in this tournament but think about 13 years ago when a 16-year-old Roger Federer won his first ever major, the 1998 Wimbledon Junior Boys title. Back then, Fed-Ex was just another player. He was touted as one of the best and even finished 1998 as junior world No. 1, but no one knew for sure if he would pan out.
Well, needless to say, Federer did more than pan out. I don't think I need to go in detail about his incredible accomplishments because anyone familiar with tennis is likely to know what Federer has meant to this sport and its legacy.
So, in honor of Federer and his legacy, here is just a fun little slideshow taking a look at the guys who one day may be, "the next Roger Federer" or "the next Rafa Nadal" or "the next Novak Djokovic."
The list goes on and on but either way the juniors in this draw are the future of the sport and it is time to learn a little about the top six in the draw before they become household names.
Now all of these guys probably won't have Federer or Nadal or Djokovic-esque careers, but some of them might and it would be pretty cool to say you knew a little about them before they make it big.
No. 1 Luke Saville AUS
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For 18-year-old Aussie, Luke Saville, making it to the top of the junior's rankings has been a bit of a long maturation process.
Unlike most of his fellow Australian stars, Saville has made it to the top largely without the aid of any sponsorships.
He has flown under the tennis radar for years until at last year's Wimbledon boys tournament he broke through, beating hometown favorite, Liam Broady.
For the kid who started playing tennis at the age of three, Saville's first major came at the opportune time.
At just 16, he was part of the 2009 Australian Davis Cup team which won it all but in individual competitions, Saville really didn't have much major success until winning last year's Wimbledon and since then he has built on that success, coming into the 2012 Australian Open as the top ranked junior in the world.
He has currently advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Aussie Junior Open, where he is looking to win it in front of the hometown crowd.
So it might be soon to say, but Saville could be the next Bernard Tomic.
He is looking primed to compete for his first single's title in the near future and might soon join his compatriot as a part of a tandem of future Australian stars.
He has a solid game that can obviously use some improvement, but he is well on his way as he has the drive to succeed and passion for the game.
It makes sense, though. I mean what else would you expect from a guy who's two biggest idols are Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer?
No. 2 Thiago Monteiro BRA
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The 18-year-old Thiago Monteiro is someone whose rise to the top two was not at all predicted.
In fact in 2011, apart from winning his first Futures title, Monteiro didn't really do much. That said, in 2012 he has started to emerge and by earning the No. 2 in the boy's tournament, he has a good chance to break out into the field by claiming his first major.
Brazil isn't a place that has produced many tennis stars. The most successful of the few stars it has managed to produce was Gustavo Kuerten, who claimed three titles at the French Open in the early 2000s and was even ranked world No. 1 before the likes of Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer entered the scene.
Years of bad administrations and a lack of support has stunted the growth of Brazilian tennis relative to the past 10 or so years. It has only been recently that some financial support has been put back into the program in hopes to produce another guy like Kuerten.
It is possible that Monteiro could be this guy. Just like Saville, he has a solid game which is a good starting point, but unlike Saville and more like his Brazilian hero, Monteiro's game is more suited for clay.
He did not fare well in this boy's tournament as he lost in the first round, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a shot to be a good future star. Don't be surprised if he has a big showing when Roland Garros rolls around.
No. 3 Liam Broady GBR
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Tennis in Great Britain hasn't exactly been a point of excellence in recent history.
Despite hosting Wimbledon every year, despite the amount of time and money they put into their tennis development programs and despite having the No. 4 ranked player in the world, they have not seen much success.
In fact, if not for Wimbledon and the two weeks in which tennis is in its glory, popularity of tennis in the United Kingdom, the place where it all began, has waned significantly.
It has been said that Britain's LTA is not up-to-par to producing top stars.
In fact, the country itself has only had a handful of Top 50 ranked players and all of them, Andy Murray included, did not go through the LTA.
Eighteen-year-old Liam Broady on the other hand has gone through the LTA and he might just be the player to bring legitimacy and hope to an otherwise despondent state of UK tennis.
Broady is a shining star in a country that desperately needs one.
Aside for Andy Murray, clearly the best current player to never win a major, Broady is one of the guys that is going to be the future for UK tennis.
He has a really solid game and a lot of promise. Broady has been successful most recently as he has played better tennis and quickly experienced a rise to the top.
He was ranked world No. 1 until he lost at Wimbledon to Saville but he is itching to get that title back.
Unfortunately, Broady experienced an early exit as he lost in the second round. Despite this, he is still one of the best juniors to watch especially as his hometown major rolls around later this year.
No. 4 Kaichi Uchida JPN
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Eighteen-year-old Kaichi Uchida is one of the signs that tennis proficiency in Japan is becoming a real thing.
With Kei Nishikori rising to the Top 30 of the world, Japan has seen tennis success that was previously foreign to the country.
Nishikori's recent triumphs have started to put Japan in a good position and with guys like Uchida, as tennis moves forward, in a few years from now, Japan might be a power to watch out for.
Uchida rounds out the current big four of juniors.
He has an interesting game that doesn't really mimic any of his fellow players but rather one that speaks of great promise.
Parts of his game resemble that of an unpolished and young Roger Federer while others mimic the finesse-filled Japanese style of play that is becoming more and more successful.
He really is still learning the game but he is doing what he needs to do to help improve his game and train so that his skill-set and talents can flourish.
After winning only his 12th career match, Uchida booked a spot in the quarterfinals, the first he has ever seen in a boy's singles Grand Slam.
He will face No. 10 Adam Pavlasek to decide a semifinals match which could feature Uchida against Saville.
No. 5 Frederico Ferreira Silva POR
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Another country not really known for tennis prowess, Portugal has a great chance at a future star in Frederico Ferreira Silva.
Although Silva at just 16 years of age, is nowhere near ready to crack the big stage, it shouldn't be long until he declares himself as a professional.
Silva has one of those games that doesn't really feature many special talents. He has the potential to be a big name but he still needs a lot of refining and training.
Silva has the skills to become a good player as long as he takes time and participates in the necessary tournaments to really learn how to play the game of tennis professionally.
Silva's unpolished game wasn't ready to face Pavlasek and he was ousted in the tournament's third round. He still has a way to go but give it six years and all of this might be a different story.
No. 6 Andrew Harris AUS
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Coming up alongside Saville, 17-year-old Andrew Harris could very well have a bright future ahead of him in the Grand Slam game.
He is a quick, young player that has a lot of talent and the ability to go far.
His forehand is already being described as very polished and it is a huge part of his game.
Sure, he still has lots of room for improvement, but at only 17 years old, he still has some time to hone his talents and really learn the ins and outs of the game.
Harris is no stranger to winning as he has notched a few singles titles in non-Slam tournaments.
Unfortunately, he could not build on his late 2011 success as he lost in a tough first match at the 2012 Aussie boys open.