Emerging Young Tennis Players for 2018
Perhaps the focus should be on those who are on the cusp of making a career-defining breakthrough?
Alex Zverev is one of the main talents to watch in 2018. Will he manage to take a Grand Slam?
Players including Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray have pulled out of the event in Melbourne, and there are concerns over the fitness of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.
Time is catching up with many of these, and they need to step up and take over the mantle.
Who are the young emerging tennis players for 2018 and what can they achieve in tennis this season?
Men’s Young Tennis Players
Alexander Zverev is hardly a new name to those who follow tennis closely.
2018 could be a massive year for the young German player.
- Alexander Zverev current ranking: 6
Zverev’s big victories
The 20-year-old has already proven he has the talent to defeat the biggest names in men’s tennis having won two Masters 1000 titles last year.
Alex Zverev to left with his brother Mischa Zverev. By Carine06.
Style of play
Zverev is a hugely talented player and his two titles last season shows he can win on different surfaces. He also has the determination and work ethic to get to the top of men’s tennis, which is something that perhaps not every player in the game can say they have.
Perhaps the one downfall to Zverev’s game is the way he reacts when things are not quite going his way in matches. Having a desire to win is great but allowing this to manifest itself in rash behaviour on the court can become a liability.
Zverev Searching for the extra step
Zverev will be looking to continue with his fantastic double backhand this season, which is already one of the best in tennis. He can change the direction of a rally with ease, and this unsettles opponents.
If Zverev can up his performance in 2018 at the Grand Slam events, he will propel himself into the eyes of the casual tennis watcher.
Photo by Stevan Pisano.
Before the Australian Open, Zverev has not gone beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam. He will need to change that in 2018 to make progress. He lost to Chung in the third round of the Australian Open.
Zverev showed some real promiseon clay for the Roland Garros 2018. He defeated Theim 6-4 6-4 in the Madrid Masters and Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-3 in Munich. Zverev lost to the finalist Thiem in the quarter finals by 3 sets in the Roland Garros.
However, Wimbledon and the US Open also remain a great chance of Grand Slam success. If Zverev enters those tournaments on the back of a strong first half to the season, he could emerge as the top player in the men’s game this season.
Zverev continues not to impress. In Wimbledon as he lost to Gulbis in the third round by 5 sets.
At just 18 years of age, Denis Shapovalov has already made great strides in his short tennis career. Last year proved to be a tremendous time for the young Canadian player.
- Shapovalov Current Ranking: 33
Denis Shapovalov is a great prospect at 18 years old. By si.robi.
Shapovalov in 2017
Playing in front of his home fans at the Rogers Cup in 2017, Shapovalov reached the semi-final having eliminated Rafael Nadal along the way. He also made it to the fourth round of the US Open not long after.
Shapovalov was clearly riding on the wave of a win over a tennis legend like Nadal but was it just a brief spark or is Shapovalov here to stay?
Shapovalov recent performance in January 2018
He has undoubtedly cemented his place as a fan favourite and wasted no time entertaining the crowd at the Auckland Open this year, defeating Rogerio Dutra Silva in the first round.
The Canadian lost in the Round of 16 to Juan Marin Del Potro, but he has already defeated the Argentine in his short career and will not allow the loss to get him down.
The Canadian has a very decent forehand. By si.robi.
Style of play
A mix of playing style and personality has propelled Shapovalov into the spotlight. He has a good serve and a strong single handed backhand. He has also shown he can get to the net and volley when required.
However, it’s the invention in his game which stands out, and he is not afraid to try something new or unconventional during a match. This adds to the excitement of the crowd when watching him play.
How will he perform in 2018?
Shapovalov was voted as the ATP’s Most Improved Player of 2017 by his peers, and his improvement will not end there. He will continue to make strides in the men’s game and with some big names missing the Australian Open, the Canadian could make a great start to his 2018 season.
A player with skill, audacity and the personality to match, expect to see the name Denis Shapovalov regularly during the 2018 ATP Tour and beyond.
Shapovalov started his first slam with a win 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 against another young star, Tsitsipas. He then lost to Tsonga in 5 sets in the second Aus open round.
In the Roland Garros Shapovalov lost to Marterer in the second round by 4 sets.
Wimbledon wasn’t different from the Roland Garros as he lost to Paire in the second round by 4 sets.
Andrey Rublev is perhaps not as well-known as Denis Shapovalov but his results have been superior to the Canadian’s. At 20 years of age, he must be considered a player to watch in 2018.
- Rublev Current ranking: 38
Andrey Rublev. By si.robi.
Rublev in recent tournaments
The Russian reached the quarter-final of the US Open last year, defeating Gregor Dimitrov and David Goffin. Both players were top ten seeds for the tournament. He has not stopped there and his 2018 season has started in a very promising fashion by reaching the final of the Qatar Open.
Rublev in the Qatar Open Final in 2018
Rublev lost in straight sets to the experienced Gael Monfils in the final, who was well rested having enjoyed a walkover in the semi-final.
However, Rublev defeated 7th seed Fernando Verdasco on his way to the final. His excellent performance secured him a place as a seed in the 2018 Australian Open.
Style of play
Standing at 6ft 2 inches and slight of build, Rublev plays with a two-handed backhand, and although his forehand is a big weapon when on form, his game is more about good movement and court coverage than anything else.
To say Rublev grinds out his wins is doing the Russian a disservice. His style of play does not attract the attention of Shapovalov, but he has shown a solid base to his game which is going to take him far this season.
At the Us Open from 2017.
Rublev won the French Open Junior title in 2014 as a 16-year-old and has worked his way through the pyramid.
He will not want to stop now, and if he hits his stride early in 2018, his relentlessness on the court could see the Russian cause more shocks this season and start causing concern for the established names further up the world rankings.
Rublev already passed a hard hurdle by defeating David Ferrer in 5 sets at the first round of the Aus Open 2018. He bowed out at the third round in 4 sets to Dimitrov.
Due to injury Rublev did not play in the Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
If you were asked to name the best male Greek tennis player of all time, you might struggle to think of a name. That’s because there has not been one man from the country who has taken the tennis world by storm.
However, that could all be about to change in 2018 with the emergence of 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.
- Stefanos current ranking: 7
Stefanos Tsitsipas. By robblesaurus.
Stefanos best performances
The Greek has made an excellent start to the year, reaching the quarter-final of the Qatar Open before losing out to Dominic Thiem.
That match was close and ended 5-7, 4-6 with Tsitsipas holding his own for much of the contest.
He also beat the experienced Richard Gasquet in the Round of 16, which was another sign of a young player on the up.
A look back to the start of 2017 shows Tsitsipas was outside the top 200 players in the world. Having reached the quarter-final of the Qatar Open, he has moved up to 80 in the official ATP rankings.
Style of play and goals for 2018
Standing at 6ft 4 inches tall, it’s little surprise Tsitsipas enjoys winning many points on his serve. Free points like this will prove invaluable against the best players as he continues his progress up the rankings this year.
Tsitsipas has said his goals for 2018 are making the fourth round of a grand slam, reaching the top 50 and qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals.
The Greek qualified automatically for the Australian Open this year and will be hoping to achieve the goal of reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam at the first attempt this season. Unfortunately he met another rising talent mentioned above, the Canadian Shapovalov, who defeated him 3 sets to love.
Tsitsipas still has elements of his game which need work, including his backhand and net play, but as an 18-year-old, there are always going to be aspects which need improving.
Tsitsipas could make significant strides up the ATP rankings in 2018 and is a name to watch out for at the top events. He jumped by 3 spots, after bowing out at the second round of Roland Garros 2018, by Thiem.
Wimbledon was the highlight of his young career by reaching the fourth round. He lost to Isner by 3 sets.
Ladies Young Tennis Players
Over each of the past two years, four different women have won the Grand Slam tournaments with Serena Williams the only name to appear in both the 2016 and 2017 list of champions.
- Bellis current ranking: /
There is potential for 2018 to produce another array of winners in the WTA. Jelena Ostapenko bursting onto the scene to win the French Open as an unseeded 19-year-old last season. Other young players will have their eyes on the major prizes, including Catherine Bellis.
Cici Bellis is a player with great talent. By Christian Mesiano
Who is Catherine Bellis?
Bellis, also kwown as Cici Bellis, is an 18-year-old American tennis player who won her first WTA title last season at the Hawaii Open in November. Some of her big-name scalps in 2017 include Agnieszka Radwanska and Svetlana Kuznetsova. In 2018 Bellis will be hoping to add to those names this season.
Bellis top performance and goals for 2018
Her best performance at a Grand Slam is the third round, which she reached at the US Open last year.
The aim will be to better that in 2018 and reach the quarter-final of a Grand Slam. At one stage last season, Bellis was ranked 35th in the world and to finish 2018 in a higher position than that would be fantastic.
To accomplish that goal, Bellis will need to work on her serve and get more first serves in, especially in the Grand Slam matches.
By Christian Mesiano
She has shown she has what it takes to beat the top players at Grand Slam tournaments, having defeated 13th Dominika Cibulkova as a 15-year-old in the 2014 US Open first round.
Its now a case of making these wins a more regular occurrence. If Bellis can string a couple of big wins together at a Grand Slam this season, the American could cause some discomfort to the players currently at the top of the world rankings.
Bellis lost her match in the first round of the Australian Open 2018 to Bertens in a 3 set match. She hasn’t past the round of 16 in any tournament in 2018 prior to the Roland Garros. Cici Bellis did not participate in the Roland Garros 2018 and dropped 7 places.
Bellis did not participate in Wimbledon and dropped 20 places.
Belinda Bencic is a name many tennis fans will know. The Swiss seems to have been on the scene for many years yet starts the 2018 season at just 20 years of age.
- Belinda current ranking: 10
Bencic has a real chance at the Aus Open without Serena playing. By NAPARAZZI
Bencic made her debut for the Swiss Fed Cup team back in 2012. In the following year, she claimed the French Open and Wimbledon girls’ singles titles.
In 2014, she made the quarter-final of the US Open, defeating the number one ranked player in the world, Jelena Jankovic along the way.
She has two WTA titles to her name, both of which came in 2015. She drifted away from the top of women’s tennis in 2016, having suffered an injury-ravaged year.
The Swiss also missed five months of the 2017 season but came back strongly late in the year, winning events in Saint Petersburg, Hua Hin, Taipei and Dubai to move back inside the world’s top 75 players.
Bencic showed further encouragement that her injuries were behind her when she partnered Roger Federer to success in the 2018 Hopman Cup.
The pair defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber in the deciding mixed doubles match to take the title and this was a great start to the season.
How will Bencic perform in 2018?
Having broken into the top 10 as an 18-year-old, Bencic has the talent to compete with the best players in the world. In her great run towards the end of the 2017 season, Bencic won 28 of 31 matches, which is a tremendous record and a sign of what she can do when fit.
Bencic has the perfect opportunity to show she is back to her best and fully sit ahead of the 2018 season when she faces Venus Williams in the first round of the Australian Open.
A win in that match would be the perfect catapult for this season and send Bencic into the year full of confidence and optimism. Bencic did overcome Venus by 6-3, 7-5 to start the year on the right peg, but couldn’t find momentum and lost to Kumkhum in the second round.
The results for Bencic have been slow in 2018 before the French open. her best result was round 32 in Acapulco. Bencic lost to Rybáriková in the second round of the Roland Garros 2018. Bencic did improve though by 26 places in the ranking.
In Wimbledon she reached the fourth round before losing to the 2018 champion Kerber.
If Bencic can enjoy an injury-free season, she could challenge for one of the Grand Slam events. The Australian Open may come a little early, but the three Grand Slam tournaments to follow are very much on the radar of the talented Swiss player.
Look at the draw for the first Grand Slam or the year, or any Grand Slam tournament this season and you will not find a player who has played professional cricket for their country, other than Ashleigh Barty.
- Bartly current ranking: 1
Ashleigh Barty from her junior years. By Robbiesaurus
Barty has an exciting story, and the 21-year-old Australian made her debut on the professional tour at the of just 15 in April 2010. By the end of 2012 she had won four ITF events, including the Aegon Nottingham Challenge. In 2014 Barty decided to take a break from tennis.
The Australian was suffering from depression, and during her time away from tennis she played cricket.
She was signed by the Brisbane Heat to play in the Big Bash League. Barty did well and scored 39 off 27 balls batting at number 6 in her debut match.
However, she decided to make a return to tennis in February 2016 and reached the second round of Wimbledon having received a wildcard entry. The following year, Barty went on to win her first WTA title, defeating Nao Hibino in the final of the Malaysian Open.
It was no ordinary win and Barty won the Malaysian Open by battling her way through the qualifiers. This was a sign of not only her tennis ability but her determination and positive attitude. She is a player who has come back into professional tennis with one thing on her mind and that’s to be the best.
How will Barty perform in 2018?
There is no doubt Barty has the potential to be one of the top tennis players in the world. She has returned to the sport looking refreshed and has shown the desire to work her way to the top of the tree.
She is only 5ft 5 inches tall but has a great game, mixing her shots between slice and spins and covers the net superbly. In the words of her former coach, Jason Stoltenberg, “When she’s playing instinctively and she’s comfortable, she generally sees the court a little bit differently to most other players”.
Having Barty back on the WTA Tour, feeling comfortable and playing well will be a nightmare for the players looking to defend their top ten positions this season. Starting the year at 19th in the world and having reached the final at the Sydney International, Barty is Australia’s number one female player.
She heads to the Australian Open seeded for the first time in her career and is considered by many of the home fans as a potential winner of the tournament.
The 2018 Australian Open is indeed within reach for Barty. A Grand Slam victory is a genuine possibility this season. Wimbledon may be her best chance, but Barty will emerge as a legit contender for every WTA tournament she enters this season.
She reached the third round of the Australian open before loosing to Osaka. Since then her best was round 16 in Charleston and Miami. In the French Tennis Open 2018 she lost to Serena Williams by in 3 sets at the second round.
In Wimbledon she reached the third round defeated by Kasatkina by 2 sets.
Are there any other Young Tennis Players to steal the show in 2018?
Perhaps there is another young player you think will make great strides in 2018 and work their way to the top of the game?
We believe the young players highlighted above have the talent and desire to make a significant impact on tennis this year. Possibly one of them will win a Grand Slam if they work their way to the top of the tennis world.