2012 Australian Open
Benjamin Mitchell is an 18 year old Aussie who is starting to break out in the ATP rankings.
Mitchell is currently ranked just 221st in the world, however, that is an improvement of almost 400 spots over the calendar year. Back at the start of the ATP season, Mitchell was ranked just 612th, and his 2011 campaign must be considered a successful one.
Mitchell, who competed mainly at the futures level in 2011, has been particularly successful of late.
This past week he won the Australia F12 event, and last month he won the Australia F8 event.
In between those tournaments he made the final of the Australia F9 event and those three results have seen him leap over more than 80 players in the ATP rankings.
Mitchell will be 19 years old on November 30th. His ranking of 221st as of his 19th birthday is better than what the follow talents were ranked when they turned 19:
David Ferrer: ranked 368th on his 19th birthday
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: ranked 461st on his 19th birthday
Ivan Ljubicic: ranked 280th on his 19th birthday
Grigor Dimitrov: ranked 331st on his 19th birthday
*Juan Carlos Ferrero: ranked 345th on his 19th birthday
*Ferrero is the only slam winner to date in the above group.
Mitchell is currently behind the pace set by players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Of the current up and coming players, only Bernard Tomic has gotten out of the gates as quickly as those four players.
Mitchell is also well off the pace of countryman Lleyton Hewitt, a player who was ranked 14th the day he turned 19.
However a lot of the buzz on tour surrounding the up-and-coming players focuses on Dimitrov. Mitchell, in terms of age/ranking correlations, currently has the Bulgarian trumped.
I would expect Mitchell to gain a wild card into the 2012 Australian Open in January, a Grand Slam event that will likely be his Grand Slam debut. If he gets a favorable first round match, he could take some ranking points away from that event.
In 2012, I would expect Mitchell to finish with futures events as he's been running roughshod over them for a few months now. If he can pick up a couple challenger titles before the French Open, perhaps his ranking will then be high enough to get into the main draw of that slam without the need for a wild card.