It's no secret that veterans of the sport like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer are aging and reaching towards the end of their careers, especially the latter considering the Swiss maestro will be 39 in August. The young bloods are pushing them more than ever and this just might be the year when one of the youngsters finally break through and win a Grand Slam.
Some might even say that the youngsters have started to make their mark already with Stefano Tsitsipas beating Roger Federer at the Australian Open in 2019, and then eventually going on to win the ATP World Tour Finals later that year. Alexander Zverev won the tournament in 2018 and reached the semifinals in 2019 having beaten Rafael Nadal in the group stage match.
They have continued to show grit and determination and it is only a matter of time before they start dominating the tennis world. With that being said, we look at the five players who could potentially dominate tennis over this decade.
#5 Jannik Sinner
Still a relatively unknown entity, Jannik Sinner is slowly but surely making noise in the tennis fraternity. Only 18 years-old, Sinner is one of the most exciting young talents in the game and made his name when he beat Gael Monfils at the European Open before losing to Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals.
That win combined with a couple of wins at Challenger tournaments saw the Italian break into the top 100 this past year. All these wins earned him a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals at home in Milan. Sinner absolutely crushed the event by defeating Alex de Minaur in the finals 4-2, 4-1, 4-2.
Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, the Italian has all the attributes to have a very successful career. His big serving and powerful groundstrokes make him tailor-made for the current game and his IQ of the game and ability to approach the net makes him that much better. Currently ranked 73rd in the world, Sinner is one of the players to watch out for over the course of this decade.
#4 Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov caught the world's attention when he reached the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in 2017. En route to reaching the semifinals, he beat Rafael Nadal who was a three-time champion at the time and Juan Martin del Potro. He also won the Junior Wimbledon in 2016 and the US Open doubles at the junior level in the same year.
Not knows for his doubles exploits, Shapovalov has reached the finals of the 2019 Mercedes Cup after partnering up with Rohan Bopanna and also the last-16 of the Italian Open having partnered up with Fernando Verdasco. Denis reached the semifinals of the 2018 Madrid Open after which he became the highest-ranked Canadian on tour. He also made an appearance at the 2019 Paris Masters.
Currently ranked 16th in the world, the Candian possesses a ruthless left-handed single-hand backhand. His elite mentality on the court and his unswerving belief to take risks has attributed him to making a steady climb up the rankings and with small tweaks to his game, Shapovalov could be a serious contender for years to come.
#3 Felix Auger-Aliassime
During the course of the 2019 season, Felix Auger-Aliassime reached three ATP finals and the Davis Cup final. He became the youngest-ever to reach an ATP 500 final after he beat Pablo Cuevas to reach the showpiece event at the Rio Open. Soon at the Indian Wells, he achieved his first win over a top-10 ranked player after beating Stefano Tsitsipas in straight sets.
The Canadian inflicted another defeat on Tsitsipas at the Queen's Club Championship later that year. En route to his semifinals appearance in the tournament, he also defeated Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios. He quickly earned his first professional victory at the Wimbledon after beating Vasek Pospisil in the first round before crashing out in the third-round against Ugo Humbert.
Currently ranked 20th in the ATP world rankings, the Canadian has all the potential to dominate the game for a while. His ability to cover ground and thumping forehands while maintaining perfect balance are traits of a generational talent.
#2 Stefano Tsitsipas
Stefano Tsitsipas rose to fame by beating Roger Federer at the 2019 Australian Open in the fourth round. But he had already started making waves on the tour before that match. Tsitsipas won his first match at the ATP level in 2017 and made three tour-level finals the following year. His brilliant season concluded with him winning the Next Gen ATP Finals after having beaten four top-10 opponents.
The Greek's 2019 season got off to a terrific start. He reached the Australian Open semifinals after having beaten the likes of Roger Federer, Roberto Bautista Agut, etc. Federer soon avenged his loss by beating Tsitsipas at the Dubai Open final. After a strong start to the season, Stefano started to struggle as he lost his opening matches at Wimbledon as well as the US Open.
However, semifinal appearances at the Shanghai Masters and Swiss Indoors saw him reach the World Tour Finals for the first time. It is at this tournament that he truly made his mark. En route to winning the tournament, his scalps included Roger Federer in the semifinals, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev in the group stages before beating Dominic Thiem in the finals.
#1 Alexander Zverev
Still only 22 years old, it feels likes Alexander Zverev has been on tour for quite some time now. The German was the second-youngest player to be ranked in the top 10 by ATP and was a consistent fixture in the top 5 during the 2018 season. Zverev is the only player outside the Big Four to have three Masters 1000 titles.
Zverev rose to prominence when he became the youngest Challenger title winner in history at the age of 17. While he was still a teenager, the German won two ATP titles and defeated Roger Federer on the grass. He was the youngest player to break through into the top 20 since Novak Djokovic. During the 2018 season, Zverev struggles at the Slams but his potential was there for everyone to see in the Masters 1000 events.
At 6 feet 6 inches, Sascha Zverev has the complete game. He has the ability to hit aces at will while also being dominant on both the sides. The 2018 World Tour Finals victory is a testament to this fact as he beat the likes of Marin Cilic and John Isner in the group stages, Roger Federer in the semifinals and eventually beating Novak Djokovic in the final.Published 24 Mar 2020, 09:34 IST