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5 Breakthrough Performers from 2016 in Men's Tennis (ATP)

Here are some men's tennis stars who have put themselves on the map for 2017.

Top 5 / Top 10 02 Jan 2017, 10:24 IST

While tennis might never see a 17-year old Grand Slam champion again, it's finally beginning to look as if it has room for younger players doing well at the top as well.

Despite all these players in their 30's dominating, we've had a spate of youngsters this year who have finally started to realize the potential that they exhibited in the last couple of years or so. Let us take a look at five such breakthrough performers on the ATP Tour this season -

1) Alexander Zverev

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 13:  Alexander Zverev of Germany celebrates a point against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during the Men's singles third round match on day five of Shanghai Rolex Masters at Qi Zhong Tennis Centre on October 13, 2016 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
The German is regarded by many as the future No. 1

Hailed by experts as the next big thing in tennis,19-year old German Alexander Zverev, also known as "Sascha", has done everything possible to strengthen these claims. Born into a Russian tennis playing family, Zverev stands at a towering height of 6ft 6in already.

While both his parents are former tennis players, Zverev's older brother, Mischa, is an active player on tour, with a career high ranking of 45. With that height, Zverev's game is obviously built around his serve, which tops 125mph most of the time.

But there's more to his game than just the serve. A thunderous backhand and fluid movement makes him a really dangerous prospect. “He is a clear possible future no.1. He has all the shots,” said Rafael Nadal, when once asked about Zverev.

Zverev had a stellar 2016 season, having started the year ranked 83, and finishing at 24.

He thus became the first teenager to finish in the top 25 since Djokovic and Murray in 2006. In October, he achieved his career high rank of 20, becoming the youngest player to enter the ATP top 20 since Djokovic in 2006. The German is also the youngest player in the top 50.

He had four wins against top 10 players this year, with the highlight being beating the great Roger Federer in Halle on grass, a place where Roger loves playing. Zverev also beat Stan Wawrinka in a humdinger of a match to win his first ATP title in St. Petersburg.

His other two top 10 wins were over good friend Dominic Thiem and the experienced Tomas Berdych. “I’ve had a great year, going from No.84 in the world to No.24,” said Zverev, when asked about what he thought of his performance this year.

Knowing that he has not reached his top physical shape yet, Zverev shut his season down early to extend his pre-season training to work on his strength and other fitness aspects. And with work on that front, one can expect him to wreck havoc in the 2017 season. He starts his season at the Hopman Cup in Australia, where he's going to team up with Andrea Petkovic to represent Germany.

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