Sport

Who Are the Next Generation of ATP & WTA Champions?

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Written by Quentin Hack

Tennis has been crying out for a new generation of champions to supersede the likes of the Williams sisters, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Now the signs are that this is happening on both the men’s and women’s tours, highlighted by the coming together of two new stars of the women’s game in the 2021 US Open final.

Here we single out those young stars and not-so-young stars who are finally finding that they have what it takes to rule the sport for the foreseeable future.

Emma Raducanu – Big Deal in the Big Apple

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She was all any sports bettor or tennis fan could talk about at the US Open: an 18-year-old who seemed wise beyond her years both on and off the court. Emma Raducanu won the US Open without dropping a set, upsetting the odds time and again to blow the field away with a deadly combination of baseline power hitting and a serve that her peers found too hot to handle. She will now be installed as a strong favorite by the sportsbooks who offer free bets and bonuses via OddsChecker, each and every time a grand slam event rolls around. Having said that, she was brought back down to Earth with a bump at Indian Wells, where her consistency abandoned her to see her dumped out by world number 84 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Although that is only being seen as a minor bump in the road, it could also point towards problems caused by firing her coach immediately after her triumph in the Big Apple.

Stefanos Tsitsipas – Tennis’ Greek Freak

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This Greek giant from Athens is a divisive figure on tour, known for making strategical trips to the bathroom just as his opponent is gathering momentum in a match. Aside from these shows of blatant gamesmanship, Tsitsipas has become a respected figure on tour, blending a mix of heavy hitting and exquisite touch to be a very tough man to beat.

He has also proven to be a force on whatever surface he plays on, having reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the final of the French Open. Although it seems like he has been around forever on the ATP Tour, he is still only 23 and has another couple of years to hit his peak and then start mopping up grand slam titles.

Alexander Zverev – Keeping Off Court Issues Under Wraps

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This German player has been in the eye of a storm off the court but has somehow managed to ensure it doesn’t affect his play whilst on it. His highlight of this year was winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, although he will have been disappointed not to have gone further in the grand slams.

Standing a couple of inches taller than Tsitsipas he certainly has all the ability in the world but should beware of other issues derailing his promising career.

Many of the players on this list are hard court specialists, so it will be interesting to see how they get on at Roland Garros and tournaments that feature during the tour’s clay court swing

Aryna Sabalenka – The WTA’s Forgotten Woman

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Since all the drama at Flushing Meadows, fans have been raving about women’s tennis again, but one woman who appears to have flown under the radar is the 23-year-old world number 2, and former world number 1, Aryna Sabalenka. Perhaps she gets less attention from the media because she is from Belarus, or it could be that it is her tireless work ethic rather than grand slam triumphs that have got her to the top. So far, she has only been to the semis of Wimbledon and the US Open, but she is sure to improve on that record in 2022 having been unlucky to lose to Leylah Fernandez in New York this time around.

Leylah Fernandez – Diminutive Baseline Queen

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Her US Open final against Emma Raducanu was one of the most hyped events the sport has ever seen, as tennis fans found two new heroines to follow. She might have lost the battle of the teenagers, but Leylah Fernandez’s stock rose exponentially in New York, and she is now seen as one of the most promising players on tour. It was perhaps her diminutive stature that lulled her US Open foes into a false sense of security, as she hits with the sort of power one would expect from a Williams or a Sharapova. If she can mix in other elements to her game, then she will be a huge threat at every event she appears in. Her sister Bianca is also a budding tennis star to look out for, meaning tennis could have another pair of power sisters on its hands.

Cameron Norrie – ATP Late Bloomer

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He may be 26 already, but Cameron Norrie is approaching ATP Masters tournaments as though they were his last tournament on Earth. He blitzed the field at Indian Wells to become the first Brit since Andy Murray to win a Masters 1,000 event. That victory saw him skyrocket into the world’s top twenty and his record throughout the Autumn swing has been as impressive as anyone else’s on tour. It will be interesting to see if the new British number 1 can carry this form over into 2022 and make a seriously deep run at the Aussie Open. With an unbreakable ground game and a very strong serve, the signs are good for him to do just that.

Carlos Alcaraz – The Next Nadal

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The other teenage sensation at the 2021 US Open was, of course, the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who for an 18-year-old has legs like tree trunks and a game that belies his years. At the time of writing, he sits 42nd in the rankings, but he is a sure fire bet to be residing comfortably in the world’s top 10 very soon, especially as he gains the strength needed to outlast top players over 5 sets.

About the author

Quentin Hack