Ranking the 10 Brightest Young Stars in Tennis
While there are many superstars at the forefront of the men's game, there are also just as many potential superstars in the making.
The men who break out on the scene in big tournaments are generally a little bit older (aged 20 to 24) than the female players, who can be seen succeeding as teenagers.
Still, their games pack a punch and their new styles can take the tennis world by storm.
As many fans get familiar with their faces, they, in turn, become more familiar with their fans, and it would be nice to see some of these talked-about youngsters going on to achieve greatness.
Here are the brightest young stars in the game ranked in order.
Honorable Mention: Jack Sock
Jack Sock is a Top 100 athlete and has won a couple Slams—a junior singles title and mixed doubles championship at the U.S. Open, that is.
Still, at the age of 20, he has shown some glimpses of how powerful his game is and how threatening he can be against the top players.
The reason why he has not been able to qualify for some tournaments as of late is because of his previously low ranking, and the ranking cutoff takes place about six weeks prior to the start of an event.
He should be able to show the world that his serve and forehand are a deadly combination in no time at all.
10. David Goffin
David Goffin is probably ranked at No. 5 in terms of talent on this list of young players.
With such a small frame and a lack of adequate power, he makes up for it with strategic and consistent plays, working to grind his opponents down.
He has an amazing court sense, but unfortunately does not have that "it" factor to separate him from the other young talents.
His game sure is promising, but he might not ever be more than a Top 25 player. We will see.
9. Martin Klizan
Martin Klizan is a tricky lefty with a very solid all-round game.
One of the main reasons he is this low on the list is because his serve and backhand are not good enough to challenge the Top 20 players enough just yet.
He has had a few good showings against those top competitors in the past, but he needs to try to develop another weapon besides his forehand and already impressive movement.
The serve could take some time to fix, but he could implement a new plan for his backhand. Perhaps he should consider hitting more slices and down-the-line, flat balls with it.
I believe he can be a much, much better player, but it will take some time and experience.
8. Ryan Harrison
Ryan Harrison has been in the American spotlight for up-and-comers for about three years now.
He has not achieved that many great results and only has patches of brilliance.
Yes, his temper and mental game were always a huge problem for him, but he cleaned that up a lot.
Still, he does not play certain points well in matches, and maybe he needs a different coach to help him navigate through tough matches and situations.
He gets tentative at the wrong times and plays too aggressively at the right times. Maybe there is still a chance for him to become a Top 20 player for the United States, but it has been such a long time of waiting that his talented brother, Christian, may beat him there.
7. Federico Delbonis
This young man has taken the tennis world by surprise already.
Having a phenomenal run to the final in Hamburg last week (and conceding a few match points at his first career title), he surely put on a show of skill and guts.
Delbonis is ranked higher than the likes of David Goffin, Martin Klizan and Ryan Harrison because he not only has an all-around game, he has several unusual weapons that stand out.
His serve comes down with such wicked spin and pace that it could (and maybe should) rival Rafael Nadal's serve.
Then, his backhand, while predictable, is hit unbelievably hard and flat to provide a contrast with his very loopy, heavy forehand.
He surely has taken advantage of the fact that he is left-handed, and we should expect to see much more of him in the upcoming months.
6. Benoit Paire
Benoit Paire is similar to Federico Delbonis and the man ranked directly ahead of him in this list, in that there is immense talent to be witnessed when he sets foot on court.
He has been in a few main draws of tournaments in the past and never really went anywhere until 2013 came along.
The skilled Frenchman utilizes his superb backhand, heavy serve and flexibility on court to move his opponents around as well as counter-punch against their strengths.
The one shot he still needs work on is his forehand, but it is not a bad shot as of now.
He sometimes gives off that "I don't care" attitude, but surely when he is a better player and participating in the latter stages of tournaments, he'll give up that whole vibe completely.
5. Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov, often referred to as Baby Federer before ascending the rankings, is a very skilled athlete—no doubt about that.
However, he is still finding it tough to record win after win against some people he should be routinely beating.
Maybe there is an excess of expectations and pressure on his shoulders, but he will be able to get over that hump with time. He can hit virtually any shot in the books and can dig his way out of pressure situations (although he does cramp a lot when the going gets tough).
The young Bulgarian has yet to go far in a big tournament, so for that reason alone he is ranked at just number five, as if that was a bad place to be in the first place.
4. Bernard Tomic
The Aussie sensation, Bernard Tomic, has become a very well-known player, even though he is young as can be.
He can hit the ball with decent pace, but has an unusual arsenal of spins, slices, "what-was-that" shots and a sense of how to tie them all together in a match.
Similar to Ryan Harrison, Tomic does not always play the right, or best, shots at the appropriate time.
He sometimes hits so many junk balls that he throws himself out of a rhythm, but as his movement, backhand and serve improve, he can become a Top 10 player within the next two years.
So long as his match sense can replicate his court sense, he will be in great shape and on his way to early stardom.
3. Alexandr Dolgopolov
The Ukrainian talent has had a few great runs in majors and some other tournaments.
However, he is the most inconsistent player on this entire list by far.
His ability to hit an amazing shot from any position on the court shows that he can become an elite player, but the fact that he has gone several months without even one "good" win shows that he may be crumbling before our very eyes.
It is understandable for a guy who plays the way he does to be in a slump, as he needs to be "on" as frequently as possible, but he really needs to get his act together before his ranking slips away just like that.
2. Jerzy Janowicz
It would be smart to say that this man will likely take over the No. 1 spot on this list in a few months, but as of now, he has not been around long enough to prove that he has what it takes to be the brightest young star in the game.
Jerzy Janowicz made headlines last year in Paris for reaching the final of the ATP1000 event as a qualifier.
He also made the semifinals at Wimbledon recently, and now the whole world pretty much knows of him and his monstrosity of a game.
Perhaps all of this pressure will build up on him but I doubt it. He goes into big matches with the right mentality, and with the exception of hitting some dumb shots on big points, his game and tenacity are nearly flawless.
Look for him to attempt to enter the Top 10 in a few months.
1. Milos Raonic
Milos Raonic, next to Jesse Levine and Vasek Pospisil, is leading Canada in hopes of being the next big thing in the sport.
He emerged as a huge threat a few years back with his record-setting serve and powerful ground strokes.
His movement will never be all that great, and he is still one obstacle away from reaching that next level of success—the return of serve.
Raonic is not the best match player, either, but the fact that he holds serve so comfortably time and time again only means his game is not far from being complete.
He has achieved some incredible results already but is still looking to do some damage in the major tournaments.
Just wait and we will see what he is truly made of—either a young superstar or just another overrated flop. I'd like to think it will be the first, though.
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