10 young talents who can be Grand Slam champions in 2017
2016 has been quite an eventful year in tennis with a number of significant moments in the history of the sport that include Novak Djokovic’s completion of a Career Grand Slam, Serena Williams equaling Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, Andy Murray becoming the first player, male or female to win two Olympic golds at the singles event before becoming the first ever British player to be World No.1, and Serena Williams breaking Steffi Graf’s record of 385 weeks for the longest period at the top of the rankings for any player. This year saw many players making remarkable comebacks and many going through a declination phase.
One thing that was seen in 2016 even more than 2015 was the emergence of young talents. Many youngsters made their mark on the professional circuit with some even beating the big guns and some being touted as future champions. Let’s take a look at 10 youngsters who made a big mark in 2016 and have a chance of winning a Grand Slam in 2017.
#10. Taylor Fritz
The 19-year old American reached two junior Grand Slam finals last year at the French Open and the US Open, winning the latter tournament which helped him turn pro. Towards the end of 2015, Fritz swiftly rose into the Top 250 of the ATP rankings by winning three ITF Challenger titles.
Fritz began 2016 by reaching the main draw of a Grand Slam Tournament for the first time at the Australian Open. In his opening match against 25th seed Jack Sock, Fritz gave his compatriot a tough fight before he went down 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 3-6, 4-6. Following the Australian Open, Fritz received a wildcard at the Memphis Open and scripted a major upset by eliminating World No. 29 Steve Johnson in the second round. He went on to reach the final of the tournament where he lost to three-time defending champion Kei Nishikori in straight sets. By reaching the final, he became the youngest American to reach an ATP final since Michael Chang at the 1988 SAP Open and by doing so in only his third ATP tournament, Fritz became the 2nd fastest American to reach an ATP final.
He burst into the Top 100 by reaching the quarter-finals of the Mexican Open which was also his first ATP 500 tournament. One of Fritz’s most notable matches of the year was his Mercedes Cup encounter against Roger Federer where he gave the 17-time Grand Slam champion a run for his money before going down in three close sets. After losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Stan Wawrinka in four sets, Fritz reached his third ATP quarter-final of the year at the Atlanta Tennis Championships and as a result, he rose to a career-high ranking of 53.
At the US Open, Fritz faced Jack Sock for the second time in a Grand Slam this year and once again, Sock wasn’t given an easy entry into the second round as he had to go through five grueling sets to win the match. Fritz ended the year as World No. 76 and was the youngest player in the Top 100 of the ATP rankings. At the ATP awards, he was adjudged “Newcomer of the Year”.
The 19-year old Taylor Fritz has shown a few sparks of promise this year and provided he works on his game and fitness, he could well be someone to watch out for next year.