Rising Tennis Stars with the Grass-Court Game to Make a Splash at Wimbledon 2014
The always-volatile, revolving list of up-and-coming tennis stars often changes after each Grand Slam. A number of young players leapt on to the list after impressive French Open performances.
But how many of them have a game that translates well to grass-court play?
The quick and slick grass courts favor the big server and swift movers. If they can serve and volley, even better.
So who among the rising stars has the type of game to succeed at the All England Club?
Simona Halep, 23, is hardly a rising star. When you reach No. 3 and nearly win a Grand Slam in your first appearance in a Slam final, you are beyond up-and-coming. You have arrived.
Likewise, No. 10 Kei Nishikori, 24, is no longer on the rise. Perhaps not a bona-fide superstar, Nishikori has been on the tour too long to be considered a member of generation next. Heck, he was born just two years after Novak Djokovic.
Players on this list are 23 and younger and have had some success. Most importantly, they have the weapons in their arsenal to make a deep run at Wimbledon.
Honorable Mention: Belinda Bencic
However, Bencic sometimes suffers from the crushing weight of high expectations. If she can measure up mentally, she has the all-court game to do well at Wimbledon.
Eugenie Bouchard has proven her mental toughness by reaching the semifinals in the last two Grand Slams.
What will help her on grass is how early she takes the ball. She's also an excellent defender who can absorb pace from the big-hitters.
Milos Raonic made a big splash at the French Open by reaching the quarterfinals.
His game is better suited for grass. The big-serving Canadian can rack up free points with aces. Although Raonic, 23, has never moved beyond the second-round at Wimbledon, recent success and a higher-ranking (11) will bolster his chances.
At 6'0", Muguruza packs a powerful serve. If she enjoys even a fraction of the success on grass as Sampras and Williams, she has a bright future at Wimbledon.
But he returns to Wimbledon where he had his breakout performance last year. Janowicz surprised many by reaching the semifinals where he lost to Andy Murray.
Ajla Tomljanovic is another big-hitting player with a promising career.
She trained at the Chris Evert Academy in Florida and considers Evert "a second mom." Tomljanovic credits Evert with helping her with the mental aspects of tennis.
A strong mind and mighty forehand can take her far at Wimbledon.
Grigor Dimitrov, 23, is moving dangerously close to bypassing up-and-comer status and going straight to "woulda-coulda been."
He's ranked No. 13, an admirable accomplishment for most players. But Dimitrov is not most players.
Often over-hyped, Dimitrov sometimes underachieves. He's pulled off some impressive upsets. However, he's yet to move beyond the second round at Wimbledon.
Dimitrov patterns his game after Federer. Perhaps this year he lives up to his nickname—"Baby Fed."
Annacone coached Federer and Sampras, two of the best grass-court players ever. Stephens has incredible speed and produces easy power from both wings.
If Annacone can help Stephens move her game from beyond the baseline to end points quickly, she could reach her first Grand Slam final.
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