5 Young Guns of Tennis Guaranteed to Win a Grand Slam

Kevin Pacelli@kjp0205Correspondent IApril 13, 2012

5 Young Guns of Tennis Guaranteed to Win a Grand Slam

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    All tennis players enter their professional careers with one main goal in mind: to win one of the four coveted Grand Slam titles.

    Hundreds of players begin their quest every year, but only a small percentage ever become legitimate contenders. And even less make the dream a reality.

    While the sport is currently dominated by the top ATP and WTA players, both circuits are seeing prospects rise rapidly. As well as they play, those who will etch their names in the history books still remain a mystery.

    Here's a look at the young players on both sides of the sport that seem to have the best chance at winning a Slam title.

Bernard Tomic

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    If you know anything about the young tennis game, you have most definitely heard this name at least a few times.

    Nineteen-year-old Bernard Tomic has impressed the world already with his play, and it won't be long before he gives us an even better show.

    So far, Tomic has not won any ATP tournaments, but he has proved that he can contend with some of the top players.

    In Melbourne this past January, he reached the Round of 16, taking down the 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco, American Sam Querrey and young Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.

    Exactly when we will be able to consider Tomic a serious Slam contender is unclear, but he definitely has the ability to cause a rumble at any time.

    Watch out for him as a dark horse in the 2012 Wimbledon campaign, where he reached the quarterfinals last year on his favorite surface.

Milos Raonic

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    Perhaps the only player on the ATP tour who is arguably more promising than Tomic is 21-year-old Milos Raonic.

    Many claim that the Canadian's serve is the biggest in tennis, and his ground strokes are not much less impressive.

    Unlike Tomic, Raonic has already won several ATP titles and established himself as a decently strong contender in most of his tournaments.

    He took his first title at San Jose in 2011, and so far in 2012, he has reclaimed that throne along with winning the Chennai trophy.

    Based on his claims and resume, it's quite clear that the hard surface is his favorite. However, don't count him out to make a splash on clay at the Masters tournament in his hometown of Monte Carlo this month.

    If Raonic pulls off a strong clay season leading up to the French Open and gives an impressive showing at Wimbledon, he may be a Slam contender as early as the 2012 U.S. Open. Definitely watch out for him to catch fire at any time.

Christina McHale

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    One of the most promising young Slam candidates on the women's side of the sport is American Christina McHale, who has taken down a few big names on the Grand Slam stage in her first few years as a pro.

    Being from New Jersey, McHale was able to impress the tri-state area at Flushing Meadows by defeating eight-seed Marion Bartoli in the 2011 U.S. Open. She reached the third round.

    This year, she pulled off another early upset by taking down 24-seed Lucie Safarova in her first round match of the Australian Open, before losing once again in the third round.

    With the Williams sisters slowly but surely falling from the top of their game, it seems as though the next few years will be a prime opportunity for McHale to grab the United States torch of women's tennis.

    We can expect to see her win at least one Slam future, and the first will likely come in front of her home crowd at the U.S. Open

Timea Babos

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    The name Timea Babos isn't too common among tennis fans yet, most likely because she just recently turned pro in 2011.

    During her debut year as a WTA professional, she also played in several ITF circuit tournaments and won eight titles (four singles, four doubles).

    Even more impressive was her first WTA title in Moterrey in February, which brought her to No. 68 in the rankings. Not too many players can say they made their Top 100 debut at the age of 18.

    Babos' career has just barely begun, so any kind of predictions about her future aren't too reliable.

    That doesn't take away from the strong impression she has left on the women's game, though.

    If she keeps this kind of play up and improves with experience, we should see her take several Slam titles in the coming years.

Ryan Harrison

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    All American men's tennis fans are aware of the United States' status in the sport right now, and they certainly aren't happy about it.

    The main cause for discontent is simply the fact the a Slam title hasn't gone to an American since Andy Roddick's U.S. Open run in 2003.

    Nineteen-year-old Ryan Harrison may very well be the solution, and he is undoubtedly on everyone's radar. 

    So far, his most impressive match was his victory over current World No. 27 Viktor Troicki at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open, where he reached the Round of 16.

    His track record isn't too impressive yet, mainly due to his lack of ATP titles, but his play and will to fight definitely show he has the potential to be a Slam champion.

    Unfortunately for Harrison, Tomic and Raonic will probably be his competition throughout his career, and it seems likely that he will struggle to exceed a World No. 3 ranking (much like a pre-2011 Novak Djokovic). 

    As of now, though, it definitely seems like he is on the right track to break the long and depressing drought of American champions in men's tennis.