Next Gen players


Before the start of the 2017 Indian Wells tournament, the ATP held an event featuring a few of the players in contention for the qualification to the inaugural edition of the Next Gen Finals. Fans had the chance to meet and hear from the future stars of the mens game.
Two years later, let’s have a look at their career so far.

Taylor Fritz

Age: 21 (28.10.1997)
Turned pro: 2015
Best ranking: 40
Titles: 0
Best Grand Slam result: 3R Australian Open 2019

Fritz became the youngest American to reach an ATP final since Michael Chang in 1988, when he advanced to the Memphis final in 2016 (l. to Nishikori, coached by Chang). Despite being ranked in the top 50, he doesn’t have any significant results or victories yet.

Read more:
Fourth Memphis title for Kei Nishikori
Sweetheart Sunday at the Memphis Open

Daniil Medvedev

Age: 23 (11.02.1996)
Turned pro: 2014
Best ranking: 15
Titles: 4
Best Grand Slam result: 4R Australian Open 2019

Medvedev had his big break last year with 3 titles in Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo. He’s one of the in-form players of the start of the season: he reached the Brisbane final, captured his fourth career title in Sofia and advanced to the semifinals in Rotterdam. He’s also the only player to have taken a set to Djokovic at he recent Australian Open.
In 2018, Medvedev led the ATP Tour with 38 hard-court victories (38-15). It will be interesting to see how well he’ll do on clay.

Read more:
Sofia 2019: Daniil Medvedev cruises to the title
Brisbane 2019: Nishikori claims the title

Borna Coric

Age: 22 (14.11.1996)
Turned pro: 2013
Best ranking: 12
Titles: 2
Best Grand Slam result: 4R Australian Open 2019

He’s only 22 but it seems he’s already a veteran on the tour: aged 17 he defeated Nadal in Basel in 2014, he made his entry to the top 50 one year later, and won his first ATP title in Marrakesh in 2017.
Feeling his game and ranking weren’t evolving enough, Coric changed his whole team last year. Since then, he defeated Zverev and Federer in Halle for the biggest title of his career so far, and he defeated Del Potro and Federer en route to his first Masters 1000 final in Shanghai, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
He also played an important part in Croatia’s Davis Cup triumph.

Karen Khachanov

Age: 22 (21.05.1996)
Turned pro: 2013
Best ranking: 11
Titles: 4
Best Grand Slam result: 4R Roland Garros 2018

Khachanov defeated 4 top 10 players to claim his first Masters 1000 trophy in Paris last November: John Isner, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. It was his third indoor title in 2018 after also triumphing in Marseille and Moscow. As a result he was an alternate at the ATP Finals.
He struggled so far this year, with first round exits in Doha, Sofia, Rotterdam and Dubai.

Read more:
Open du Nord 2015: Khachanov wins the title

Reilly Opelka

Age: 21 (28.08.1997)
Turned pro: 2015
Best ranking: 56
Titles: 1
Best Grand Slam result: 2R Australian Open 2019

The new John Isner? Opelka, the tallest player on the circuit (2.11m), defeated Isner in the first round of the Australian Open and again a few weeks later in the semifinals of the New York Open, with both players combining to strike 81 aces (43 for Opelka) – an ATP record for a three-set match. He then defeated Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur to capture maiden ATP title.

Stefan Kozlov

Age: 21 (01.02.1998)
Turned pro: 2013
Best ranking: 115
Titles: 0
Best Grand Slam result: Q3 Australian Open 2018

The only one so far who did not have his big breakthrough.
In 2014, Kozlov reached two junior Grand Slam finals, where he lost to Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open and Noah Rubin at Wimbledon. He won a few Challengers titles here and there but never managed to qualify for a Grand Slam’s main draw. His current ranking is around the 300th place.

Three more players, Alexander Zverev, Hyeon Chung and Frances Tiafoe were part of the Next Gen campaign:

Alexander Zverev

Age: 21 (20.04.1997)
Turned pro: 2013
Best ranking: 3
Titles: 10
Best Grand Slam result: QF Roland Garros 2018

The leader of the Next Gen players.
At 21, Federer had won 4 titles: an ATP 1000, 500 and two 250 events. At 21, Alexander Zverev has won 10 ATP titles, including four Masters 1000 along with two 500, five 250 and the 2018 ATP Tour Finals. But he has again and again underperformed at Grand Slams: 3 third round eliminations at majors last year and a defeat in straight sets to Milos Raonic in the fourth round of the Australian Open this year. He hired Ivan Lendl to help him progress, let’s see how far he can go.

Hyeon Chung

Age: 22 (19.05.1996)
Turned pro: 2014
Best ranking: 19
Titles: 0
Best Grand Slam result: SF Australian Open 2018

Winner of the inaugural NextGen ATP Finals in 2017, Chung reached the Australian Open semifinals a few months later thanks to wins over Zverev and Djokovic. He then reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells (l. to Federer) and Miami (l. to eventual winner John Isner), and the Munich semifinals (l. to Zverev). He did not compete at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, and reached the second round of the 2018 US Open.
Plagued by injuries, he has an up and down career so far (he has a 1-4 record in 2019), and lacks a big weapon in his game.

Frances Tiafoe

Age: 21 (20.01.1998)
Turned pro: 2015
Best ranking: 29
Titles: 1
Best Grand Slam result: QF Australian Open 2019

The future of US tennis? Tiafoe became the youngest American to win an ATP title since Andy Roddick in 2002, when he claimed the Delray Beach title last year.
He made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open this year after wins over Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov, before being stopped by Nadal.

Read more:
Estoril 2018: Joao Sousa triumphs
Estoril Open 2018: Sousa and Tiafoe to clash in final

NextGen ATP players

A few more young players to watch:

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Age: 20 (12.08.1998)
Turned pro: 2016
Best ranking: 10
Titles: 2
Best Grand Slam result: SF Australian Open 2019

The talk of the season so far.
Winner of his first ATP trophy in Stockholm last year, Tsitsipas made the headlines with his win over Roger Federer en route to the 2019 Australian Open semifinals. He then captured the title in Marseille and advanced to the Dubai final (l. to Federer).
Currently second at the Race, he is the second Next Gen player (after Zverev) to reach the top 10, and many see him as a future world number one.

Dubai 2019: Federer and Tsitsipas face off in the final
Rogers Cup 2018: Nadal ends Tsitsipas run, wins 80th title
Stefanos Tsitsipas makes Greek tennis history in Barcelona

Andrey Rublev

Age: 21 (20.10.1997)
Turned pro: 2014
Best ranking: 31
Titles: 1
Best Grand Slam result: QF US Open 2017

Part of this new generation of Russian players who intend to follow the footsteps of their glorious countrymen Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.
In 2017, as a lucky loser, Rublev won maiden title in Umag, on clay. A few weeks later, he upset Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin to become the youngest US Open quarterfinalist since Andy Roddick in 2001. He reached the Doha final (l. to Monfils) in 2018, but had to deal with a recurring back injury and fell out of the top 100.

Alex De Minaur

Age: 20 (17.02.1999)
Turned pro: 2015
Best ranking: 24
Titles: 1
Best Grand Slam result: 3R Australian Open 2019

The Australian was named the 2018 ATP Newcomer of the Year: he began the season at rank 208, and made his way to the Brisbane semifinals and Sydney final. He also reached the Washington final (l. to Zverev).
This year he captured his maiden ATP trophy in Sydney, defeating Gilles Simon in the semis and Andreas Seppi in the final. Is he the big champion Australia has been waiting since Lleyton Hewitt’s retirement?

Denis Shapovalov

Age: 19 (15.04.1999)
Turned pro: 2017
Best ranking: 23
Titles: 0
Best Grand Slam result: 4R US Open 2017

A player there’s been much talk about is Denis Shapovalov. He first made a name for himself when he defeated Del Potro and Nadal to reach the Rogers Cup semifinals in 2017. He reached the last 4 in Madrid last year.

Felix Auger-Aliassime

Age: 18 (08.08.2000)
Turned pro: 2017
Best ranking: 58
Titles: 0
Best Grand Slam result: Q2 Australian Open 2019

Another young Canadian is making wave these days: Felix Auger-Aliassime. He recently reached the Rio final after wins over Fognini, Garin, Munar and Cuevas and the Sao Paulo quarterfinals. rom number 185 to a career-high number 58 in the span of 10 months, Felix is one player to watch this year.

Who do you think will have the biggest career? Who will win a Grand Slam first?

Photo credit: Tony for Tennis Buzz

Alexander Zverev, Washington 2018

Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur and Andrey Rublev. They’re part of the NextGen, they made big waves on the ATP tour recently and they all reached the semifinals of the Citi Open in Washington. It is the first time since 1995 in Buenos Aires (Carlos Moya, Felix Mantilla, Alex Corretja, Jiri Novak) that 4 under 21 players reach the semifinals of an ATP tournament.

“I’m the old guy this week,” Zverev said. “Being the oldest semi-finalist this week shows that our Next Gen players are playing absolutely amazing tennis and they’re all on the come up and we could all do well in big tournaments. It’s great to see and hopefully this will not be the last time, but in the future this will happen more often.”

In the first semifinal, top seed Zverev dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 6-4. It was the first meeting between the two players (Tsitsipas took his revenge a week later in Toronto). With that victory Zverev was the first to 40 wins this season (for 11 defeats).
In the quarterfinals, Zverev had beaten Nishikori 3-6 6-1 6-4 in a match that was delayed by rain at 3-2 in the third for more than two hours. Tsitsipas, who had saved two match points in his second round win over Jared Donaldson had cruised to a 6-3 6-4 victory over David Goffin to advance to the semifinals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (2)

In the second semifinal, Alex de Minaur overcame Andrey Rublev 5-7 7-6 6-4 after saving 4 match points in the second set tiebreak. Hewitt’s protege advanced to his second final of the year (he lost to Daniil Medvedev in Sydney in January).
Rublev was playing his second match of the day, having beaten Denis Kudla a few hours earlier due to rain delays, while the Australian benefited from Murray’s withdrawal to advance to the semifinals.

Alex de Minaur - Prayer

Alex de Minaur vs Andrey Rublev handshake and hug

Andrey Rublev

De Minaur was no match for Zverev, as the defending champion retained his title with a 6-2 6-4 victory over the Australian. The German lifts his third trophy of 2018 after Munich and Madrid.

“It feels great. It shows mental strength as well, and shows a little bit of maturity. I had a great tournament. I played a lot of great players. Losing only one set, it was a fantastic week for me.”

A few words about 4 other NextGen stars who took part to the tournament.
Denis Shapovalov lost to Nishikori in straight sets in the third round after a hard-fought victory over Daniil Medvedev.

Denis Shapovalov

Daniil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov

Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung lost to de Minaur in the third round after wins over Benoît Paire and Marcos Baghdatis.

Hyeon Chung

Frances Tiafoe was ousted by David Goffin 6-0 6-3 in the third round.

Kudla and Tiafoe

Photo credit: JC

LACOSTE Player Hyeon Chung

Lacoste announced the signing of a 5-year sponsorship deal with young Korean Hyeon Chung, ranked 71.
Named ATP’s most improved player last year, Chung is part of a group of rising stars including Alex Zverev, Borna Coric and Thanasi Kokkinakis but he is lesser known as he has mainly played on the Challenger tour so far.

A good deal for Lacoste who lost David Goffin (to asics) and John Isner (to Fila) earlier this year. Other Lacoste ambassadors include Dominika Cibulkova, Benoit Paire, Gustavo Kuerten, and Mats Wilander.

LACOSTE Player Hyeon Chung

Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2016 day 1

Novak Djokovic starts his title’s defence with a routine 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Hyeon Chung.
The young Korean, 2015 ATP most improved player, is part of a group of rising stars including Alex Zverev, Kyle Edmund, Borna Coric and Thanasi Kokkinakis but he is lesser known as he plays mainly on the Challenger circuit.

Djokovic will next face young Frenchman Quentin Halys. Check out my pics of Halys at the Open du Nord last year.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
Read More

Feliciano Lopez, 2016 Kooyong Classic

The Kooyong exhibition is traditionally played the week prior to the Australian Open. Past winners include Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Lleyton Hewitt… This year, the draw is a mix of veteran players (Lopez, Almagro, Baghdatis…) and young guns to watch (Edmund, Zverev, Chung…). Thanks to Brian, enjoy a few pictures of today’s matches:

Feliciano Lopez

Gilles Simon

Gilles Simon

Read More