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The Young Guns of Tennis: How Are They Performing in 2013?

Hey guys, you may remember a while ago I made a post about the future of tennis and the fact there were no teenagers in the top 100, if you read the comments then you'd have also seen that one of the readers here (Jovica) closely follows the young guns on the ATP tour and pointed out there were in fact no teenagers in the top 250 at that moment in time. A worrying stat.

Following on from that he's kindly put together this analysis of U20 players in first 3 months of 2013, at all 3 levels of competition, from the ATP Tour to Futures.

Take it away Jovica…

Rankings: U20 players in the Top 500 (as of 1st April)

Ranking Name Nationality Date of Birth Ranking Points
#203 Jiri Vesely CZE 1993 232
#272 Taro Daniel JPN 1993 169
#289 Roberto Carballes Baena ESP 1993 162
#291 Dominic Thiem AUT 1993 153
#313 Suk-Young Jeong KOR 1993 142
#328 Nick Kyrgios AUS 1995 127
#334 Alex Bolt AUS 1993 126
#336 Luke Saville AUS 1994 123
#359 Mate Pavic CRO 1993 112
#367 Robin Kern GER 1993 108
#373 Ricardo Rodriguez VEN 1993 106
#377 Christian Harrison USA 1994 104
#386 Bruno Sant'anna BRA 1993 101
#401 Lucas Pouille FRA 1994 95
#419 Ji Sung Nam KOR 1993 89
#421 Bjorn Fratangelo USA 1993 88
#437 Adam Pavlasek CZE 1994 83
#442 Thiago Monteiro BRA 1994 80
#444 Edoardo Eremin ITA 1993 80
#454 Jason Kubler AUS 1993 76
#460 Oliver Golding GBR 1993 75
#478 Maxim Dubarenco MDA 1993 72
#487 Juan Ignacio Londero ARG 1993 69
#492 Joao Pedro Sorgi BRA 1993 66
#499 Gianluigi Quinzi ITA 1996 62

Currently we are still without an U20 player in Top 200, the only promising aspect of it is that Jiri Vesely needs just a few points to make that group. However, he is the only U20 player in Top 270, thereby the only teenager too.

In 2009. for the first time since the rankings started in 1973 there were no teens in year end Top 100, which happened again in 2010 and in 2012. (Tomic and Harrison bucked the trend in 2011).

It's safe to say looking at the rankings that no teenagers or U20 players will finish the season inside Top 100 for many years to come.

Another alarming fact is that we have only 2 players born after 1994 that are currently in Top 500 at the moment, two highly regarded talents; Kyrgios and Quinzi.

ATP : (20 tournaments)

ATP Tour

I started to follow U20 players 3 years ago, desperately waiting to watch the next teen or U20 player win an ATP title. Marin Cilic won New Haven in the summer of 2008 and that's last ATP title for a player in these age groups.

It's very likely that it will stay that for many years to come, and this will be 5th consecutive season without an U20 player making at least an ATP final.

Neither Dimitrov, Harrison or Tomic could make it and players born after them just cannot compete.

Here's a list of ATP titles for U20 players since 1990 per season (a picture soon begins to emerge):

Year No. of Titles Won by Players Under the Age of 20
1990 16
1991 11
1992 7
1993 6
1994 6
1995 9
1996 3
1997 2
1998 4
1999 4
2000 14
2001 12
2002 9
2003 0
2004 3
2005 14
2006 11
2007 7
2008 6
2009 0
2010 0
2011 0
2012 0
2013 0

After March and with only 20 ATP tournaments played, it's almost certain that 2013 will be worst season for U20 players in the last 40 years at least at this level of competition (ATP level)

Only 7 players got the chance to play a match on the ATP Tour so far this year, in 6 different tournaments. Therefore, the other 14 tournaments were played without an U20 player in main draw.

In both 2011 and 2012 there were only 19 ATP tournaments without U20 players in the draw (largely thanks to Dimitrov, Harrsion and Tomic who played lot of them), but in 2013 that number will be reached very very soon.

Here are the results of all U20 players who played in an ATP Tournament in first 3 months of 2013:

Tournament Match Result
Doha ATP 250 Mohamed Safwat[456] vs Jabor Mohammed Ali Mutawa (QAT, 1994_ 6-0 6-0
Doha ATP 250 Gael Monfils[77] vs Mousa Shanan Zayed (QAT, 1994) 6-0 6-3
Australian Open Go Soeda[73] vs Luke Saville (AUS, 1994) 6-7 6-3 6-2 6-3
Montpellier ATP 250 Viktor troicki[39] vs Lucas Pouille (FRA, 1994) 6-4 7-5
Zagreb ATP 250 Lukas Rosol[70] vs Filip Veger (CRO, 1994) 6-2 6-4
Zagreb ATP 250 Philipp Petzschner[122] vs Mate Pavic (CRO, 1993) 7-5 6-2
Viña del Mar ATP 250 Christian Garin (CHI, 1996) vs Dusan Lajovic[166] 6-3 6-4
Viña del Mar ATP 250 Jeremy Chardy[26] vs Christian Garin (CHI, 1996) 4-6 6-3 6-2
Marseille ATP 250 Julien Benneteau[31] vs Lucas Pouille (FRA, 1994 7-6 6-3

So, in 9 matches on the ATP tour, the U20 players only managed 1 win and could only win 4 sets in total.

The only player with an ATP win is the youngest of them, Christian Garin. In his home town tournament at Viña del Mar he got a Wild Card and used it perfectly.

The draw was on his side and gave him a not too experienced qualifier who was outside Top 150 as his opponent and he won with an amazing performance, without even facing a break point.

In the second round he played against Chardy, again he started the match in great form taking the first set. After that he faded but still showed great skills and fighting spirit before eventually losing in three sets.

3 Important Milestone of the Season so Far:

January 15th: Luke Saville (1994) became the first player born in 1994. who played in Grand Slam tournament. He fought bravely, taking the first set in a tie break against Soeda. After that he was struggling physically in the next two sets, needing a MTO too. He lead 3-0 in fourth set, but didn't win any more games after that.

February 4th: Filip Veger (CRO, 1994) became the first player born in 1994 to qualify for an ATP tournament, at his hometown in Zagreb.

February 5th: Christian Garin (CHI, 1996) played his first match in an ATP tournament for his generation (before any player born in 1995) and scored one win. He is only one of 5 players since 2000 who scored an ATP win before their 17th birthday along with:

  • 2002 Monte Carlo : Richard Gasquet (FRA, 1986) – 15y 9m 28d
  • 2002 Mallorca : Rafael Nadal (ESP, 1986) – 15y 10m 26d
  • 2008 Houston : Ryan Harrison (USA, 1992) – 15y 11m 7d
  • 2009 Australian Open : Bernard Tomic (AUS, 1992) – 16y 2m 29d
  • 2013 Viña del Mar : Christain Garin (CHI, 1996) – 16y 8m 6d

Challenger Level: (21 tournaments)

Challenger Tour

Things are looking very poor in this level of competition too, with only one U20 player who achieved anything of note in the first 3 months.

The big problem here is the number of tournaments, and the fact we already have 9 less Challengers being played than in same period of 2012. On the other hand, there's a great difference between Futures and Challengers, and its not easy for young players to make that transition (not to mention they need to achieve good rankings to even play them).

In 2011 U20 players won 5 titles, and 6 last year (only 11 from 148 tournaments played in those two years). Among them there were no players born in 1993, that generation still waits for first title at Challenger level, albeit they turn 20 this year. Nick Kyrgios (1995) stepped up after his title in Junior Australian Open with 2 great results in Challengers.

Out of these 21 tournaments, U20 players played in 15 and scored 23 wins (1993-11, 1994-2, 1995-9, 1996-1). Oldest players won most matches, but only 3 more than Kyrgios alone, and that's another fact to be worry about. U20 players made only 4 Quarter finals (from 168 possible spots):

  • Burnie, Australia, $50,000 – Andrew Whittington (AUS, 1993) made 1/4
  • West Lakes, Adelaide, Australia, $50,000 – Nick Kyrgios (AUS, 1995) made 1/2
  • Sydney, Australia, $50,000 – Nick Kyrgios (AUS, 1995) won the title
  • Santiago, Chile, $35,000+H – Gonzalo Lama (CHI, 1993) made 1/4

A few important dates to remember on the Challenger Tour so far this year:

February 5th: Nick Kyrgios became first player born in 1995 with a Challenger win (17y 9m 9d), he beat Brydan Klein who was ranked 209 in the world at that moment in time.

February 9th: Even though West Lakes was his first career Challenger, Kyrgios won two more matches and finally James Ward stopped him in the semis. After his first win, he became the first player of his generation who made a Challenger Quarter Final and Semi Final.

February 26th: Nicholas Horton (AUS, 1995) played his first Pro tournament at Sydney1 Challenger, with big success. He qualified for the main draw and then won his first round match against a fellow U20 player, becoming second player of his generation after Kyrgios with a Challenger match win.

March 3rd: One of the days that will mark the 2013 season for U20 players. In just a few hours, Nick Kyrgios played 4 matches (1/2 and final of both single and doubles) in the Sydney1 Challenger, becoming the first player of his generation with a Challenger title, before any other players born in 1993 and 1994 could do it. He lost only one set on the route to his first Pro title, and was a few points away from taking doubles title too.

Kyrgios is on the list of 30 youngest players who won a Challenger since 1978 and he joined names like Gasquet, Tomic, Nadal, Del Potro, Djokovic, Ancic and Berdych who won Challengers title before their 18th birthday since 2000. Kyrgios is also the first player since Andy Roddick in 2000 to win a Challenger title in the same season after taking the Junior Australian Open.

March 4th: Christian Garin (CHI, 1996) won his first Challenger match at home in Santiago, becoming the second player from his generation with a win at this level of competition (Hyeon Chung last year was the first).

Futures : (95 tournaments)

ITF futures

This is the lowest and most mass level of competition, this is of course the starting point for all U20 players, where they gather their first Pro experience and ATP points. Here all the Futures finals and titles for U20 players in first 3 months of the season:

Tournament Outcome
Israel F1, Eilat, $10,000 (Outdoor Hard) Jiri Vesely (CZE, 1993) Title
Great Britain F2, Preston, $10,000 (Indoor Hard) Christian Harrison (USA, 1994) Final
Israel F2, Eilat, $10,000 (Outdoor Hard) Jiri Vesely (CZE, 1993) Title
USA F3, Weston, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Bjorn Fratangelo (USA, 1993) Title
Great Britain F3, Sheffield, $10,000 (Indoor Hard) Christian Harrison (USA, 1994) Title
USA F4, Palm Coast, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Bjorn Fratangelo (USA, 1993) Final
Mexico F3, Mexico City, $15,000 (Outdoor Hard) Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN, 1995) Title
Turkey F5, Antalya – Belconti, $10,000 (Outdoor Hard) Mathias Bourgue (FRA, 1994) Final
Spain F2, Mallorca, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Taro Daniel (JPN, 1993) Final
Ukraine F1, Cherkassy, $10,000 (Indoor Hard) Marat Deviatiarov (UKR, 1994) Final
Spain F3, Murcia, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP, 1993) Final
Ukraine F2, Cherkassy, $10,000 (Indoor Hard) Maxim Dubarenco (MDA, 1993) Final
USA F6, Harlingen, $15,000 (Outdoor Hard) Jiri Vesely (CZE, 1993) Title
USA F6, Harlingen, $15,000 (Outdoor Hard) Bjorn Fratangelo (USA, 1993) Final
Israel F4, Netanya, $10,000 (Outdoor Hard) Dennis Novak (AUT, 1993) Title
Spain F4, Cartagena, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP, 1993) Final
Switzerland F1, Frauenfeld, $10,000 (Indoor Carpet) Edoardo Eremin (ITA, 1993) Title
Colombia F2, Bogota, $15,000 (Outdoor Clay) Gianluigi Quinzi (ITA, 1996) Final
India F3, trichy, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Patrick Ciorcila (ROU, 1996) Final
Switzerland F2, Vaduz (Liechtenstein), $10,000 (Indoor Carpet) Edoardo Eremin (ITA, 1993) Final
Spain F7, Villajoyosa, $10,000 (Outdoor Carpet) Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP, 1993) Final
Croatia F5, Rovinj, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Dominic Thiem (AUT, 1993) Final
Croatia F6, Vrsar, $10,000 (Outdoor Clay) Dominic Thiem (AUT, 1993) Title
Australia F5, Bundaberg, $15,000 (Outdoor Clay) Jason Kubler (AUS, 1993) Final
Spain F8, Villajoyosa, $10,000 (Outdoor Carpet) Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP, 1993) Final
Vietnam F1, Bac Lieu City, $10,000 (Outdoor Hard) Lucas Pouille (FRA, 1994) Final

All in all, 9 titles from 26 finals, which is far from good. Jiri Vesely won 3 of them, and 6 more players took one. Only 2 titles went to players born after 1993 and I really hope that will change very soon, after all they are the players we will follow after this season.

In 2011 players won 7 Futures in this period, but 14 in 2012. Its not too alarming a statistic yet, they just need to play better in finals. Also, I would love to see the first pro title for players born in 1996 as soon as possible.

One thing that bothers me is the number of players in main draws of these tournaments. In 35 tournaments there were at least 10 Under 20 players in the main draw, but the number was over 50 last year, that's mainly because the 1992 generation was better than the players born a year later. With more players in the draw there's better chance for all-U20 matches and for making later stages and more points.

Here are the best results in Futures per each generation (i.e. their D.O.B):

1993 – Older players achieved far more than younger generations, but since they are turning 20 I would be much happier with at least some decent results in Challengers until the end of season from them. They made 18 finals (Carballes Baena 4, Vesely and Fratangelo 3, Thiem and Eremin 2) and won 7 titles.

Vesely took 3 titles, and 4 more players won one title. The third best U20 player of the world, Spaniard Carballes Baena made 4 finals but lost all of them.

1994 – Players that turn 19 this year made 5 finals, with the only title coming for Christian Harrison. This is the younger brother of Ryan Harrison who is starting to show his full potential, after he missed year and a half with foot injury.

In 3 consecutive weeks in Great Britain he made semis, final and took home a title, in his first in Pro tournaments. With points from these 3 events he is now ranked the 2nd best player of his generation, behind Luke Saville.

3 players from Belgium made Futures semis, Kimmer Coppejans, Julien Cagnina and Jeroen Vanneste. Frenchmen Mathias Bourgue and Lucas Pouille played in finals, but couldn't take the crowns.

Marat Deviatiarov from Ukraine also played in final and 6 more players born in 1994 played at least one Futures semi (Adam Pavlasek, Pol Toledo Bague, Martins Podzus, Andre Gaspar Murta, Bastian Wagner and Jordan Thompson)

1995 – These players are interesting because they are playing their last Junior season, so they need to mix Pro and Junior tournaments wisely.

Yoshihito Nishioka won one title and made another semi, taking the most points of all the players from his generation. He made a Futures final in 2011 at the age of 16, and finished that season as youngest player in Top 1000.

Now he won his first Pro title in Mexico and I hope he will be Top 500 player very soon. He is for sure one of the greatest talents from Asia in the last 20 years or more.

Kyle Edmund is also one of the best players born in 1995, last year he won first Futures for his generation. In the first 3 months he made one semi and one 1/4, like Nishioka he will break Top 500 soon too.

As well as them, 8 more players made a Futures quarter final: Alon Elia, Spencer Papa, Adam Sanjurjo Hermida, Nick Kyrgios, Albert Alcaraz Ivorra, Igor Smilansky, Enzo Couacaud and Mario Vilella Martinez

1996 – These guys turn 17 and they already had afew great results in 2013, with Quinzi entering Top 500. 13 players in total won at least one match, but 5 of them went even further. Ernesto Escobedo made the semi final in his second Futures tournament in his entire career, and same thing happen to Elias Ymer.

Daniel Elahi Galan Riveros won two matches at home in Colombia in the F2 Futures, but the biggest results go to Patrick Ciorcila and Gianluigi Quinzi. They both made the final (2nd and 3rd Futures final for this generation after Quinzi played one in 2012.) but couldn't deliver the first Pro title for this generation. Quinzi is an extremly talented player and we can expect great things from him in the future

1997 – For this generation the important thing is to get Wild Cards for Futures and to gather experience. Of course, every win is a bonus, and 4 players so far won one match in 2013.

Omar Jasika and Alexander Zverev already showed potential (Zverev made Futures final last year) and along with them Ukrainian Vitalii Shcherba and Frenchman Theo Fournerie also scored a win and 1 ATP point.

It would be great to see another Futures final for some of these players later in the season, Alexander Zverev is ranked in first 830 players of the world so he can play some tournaments entering directly into main draw.

1998 – These guys are the youngest players on the Pro Tour, but that didn't stop Stefan Kozlov to make a surprising 1/4 last season (and also made the semis in doubles in the same tournament). He has played 2 tournaments this year too, but with no wins so far.

Besides him, only Mexican Luis Mariano Argote and Ozzie Oliver Anderson got a Wild Card for main draw at Futures and we are still waiting for some of them to get their maiden win.

Hope you enjoyed this post and analysis of the current young guns of the ATP tour, who knows we might see some of them winning a Grand Slam in just a few years. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them 🙂 Jovica.

Jovica Ilic

I have a keen interest in the future stars of the sport, I have closely followed Under 20 players in every Pro tournament since the start of 2011, that's more than 1500 tournaments in 2 years. I'm passionate about tennis statistics and the history of the game.

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  1. First to post! This is my 4th PeRFect slam. There is no limit to GOATness now, is there? 🙂

    1. Rumours are rife you are doping and didn’t read this article in full.

      We want your input on the next generation of tennis! Are the courts too slow to aid the young guns? Will Ferrer be playing till he’s 40 because of it?

      1. That Sir, is pure conjecture. I don’t believe anybody dopes “intentionally”. Not me. Not anybody. 🙂

        Yes, I will be giving my inputs soon. Just so my slam win gets some credibility, I did skim through all of it, understood the context, but have not gone into numerical details. More later.

  2. Olá Jonathan!

    Wow, I’ve never read something so well written and detailed on this subject before.
    Congratulations to you guys.
    Very nice too see some good brazilians names on that list, especially Thiago Moreira (AO’2011 junior champion) who has just recovered from ian njury and is being very well coached by Larri Passos (Guga Kuerten’s lifetime coach)

    Thanks for the excellent reading.

    1. Hey Ana, thanks for kind words, it means a lot to me

      Maybe you didn’t know that Thiago was first player born in 1994. who won Pro title, back in 2011 😀 hope he will soon be back where he belongs

      South America is some kind of Meca for young players, they will always get lot of chances there. The problem is, there were only 2 Futures so far in Colombia, with no tournaments in Argentina or Brazil. With few more of them in each Brazil, Argentina and Chile, this analyse would be much richer. In 2 weeks time we will fnally have Futures in Chile, and after that in Argentina too, so I expect great results for U20 player there

    2. Hey Ana!

      I am in the same boat as you, I have never read anything like this before so I found it really interesting.

      I have never really followed the young guys playing in the Futures. I’m a lot like Sid below, in that I wanna know what type of tennis these guys play and what can we expect from the next generation, is it just road runners and grinders or is there any Fed style players in there.



      1. Really interesting article, not something I know very much about!
        I know what you mean Jonathan, I remember seeing a feature on Gianluigi Quinzi and, as an Italian, getting quite excited that we had a young up and comer. Then I saw him play and he is literally a mini Nadal. He’s a lefty baseliner, plays with a double handed backhand, shit loads of spin and retrieves everything. In the interview he cites Nadal as his idol and inspiration. I quickly lost interest!
        To be fair to him it makes sense that Nadal is his idol, he was the young exciting player when Quinzi was growing up. At the same time how good can you be at retrieving and grinding points down at 17? Like you’ve all mentioned perhaps this new style of play is not conducive to the success of younger players. Then again Nadal is the ultimate proof that you can succeed at a young age even with the most extreme kind of baseline play!

        On a side note I’ve watched some of dimitrovs games recently (who I find very entertaining, is it true he’s got a thing going with sharapova? Lad) and against djokovic at Indian wells he was serving for the first set and put down three double faults in that game! He did exactly the same against Murray in Miami. Prior to that he was playing some excellent tennis. If he sorts out his choking I think he could start to really threaten in future.

      2. Hey man,

        I haven’t seen Quinzi play. last thing I want is another grinder though!

        Dimitrov has bags of talent, but such a choker. Has to sort that out if he is to make it I think. Not really a fan of him yet though, but least he’s got a different playing style to most guys coming through.

  3. I hardly follow U20 players. For me, tennis starts and ends with Roger Federer. However, I must say this is a painstakingly well thought out analysis and I really applaud your efforts Jovica. Now that Jonathan has goaded me into giving my inputs, here I go…

    To me, what’s more important than the numbers and what these young guns can achieve, is what kind of tennis will I be seeing in the near and long term. Are their playing styles evolving around slow and homogeneous surfaces? Or do some of these have an aggressive and creative playing style like Roger Federer? It really is a moot point, as far as I am concerned if some of these may become multi-slam winners. Will we see beauty restored to our sport?

    The second table listed above really tells a sad story. If only there were speed and variety, a lot of these may have made some noise, maybe even picked up a slam or two. This is where I totally stand with Roger about speeding up game play as it gives younger players a better chance at winning. Cynics may say Roger wants faster courts as that would diminish the slam hopes of Djokovic and Nadal and hence protect his record. To that I’d say isn’t it worth it for the sake of these kids? Besides, didn’t we see Roger recently lose to Benneteau and Berdych on reasonably faster surfaces, further strengthening his argument that speed does even out the odds?

    Unfortunately, the script has already been written. The Roger-Nadal rivalry will be revived over the next year or so after which we will see more grunting and pounding from Nadal and Djokovic on slow surfaces. You see these rivalries are meant to create intrigue. Which creates interest and makes the sport more popular. Which in turn rakes in a lot of money. The tennis muckamucks aren’t changing anything in a hurry. Nor are the likes of Nadal and Djokovic going to stand for such a change. So what is the next big story they are looking for? Some teenager or twenty something breaking through? Or how many slams can Nadal win? Or the next chapter of the rivalry of running men?

    What makes a game like football (soccer in case you are in America) so beautiful? Because it still remains a game of pure skill. Think Messi for example. Diminutive. But a live wire. A majority can identify with him. The same cannot be said of tennis any more. The sport is dying. Not as a business, but as a spectacle. And there really isn’t anything that’s going to be done to save it.

    1. Hey Sid, thanks for comment

      I watched many of them and for the moment I can’t tell I saw too much new and special game plan or philosophy, which sport needs badly. Nick Kyrgios is for sure one to watch, with great serve and forehand, but nothing like Isner or Raonic. Also, you would like Dominic Thiem, with great one handed backhand. He will for sure get WC in KItzbuhel and Vienna so you can watch him. Mate Pavic plays S&V all the time, we could see that last year on Grass, when he beat Haase. Also, Quinzi is extreme talent, hope he can become agressive baseliner

      I think it will be all about big 4 for long time, and tennis needs some big things from fresh blood, like Bernard’s run on Wimbledon 2011. From 2005-2008 we had last great period for young players, after that they just stopped. I’m not sure where’s the problem but they just don’t have feith and courage to step up and deliver some better results, even on Challengers. I would love to see some new young faces instead of Ferrer and players like him, that just don’t bring anything to the game

      1. I remember accidentally watching a set between Kyrgios and the other guy who made the AO juniors final. It was enjoyable to watch something different but their games change a lot once they enter the pro circuit and the demands for endurance, both mental and physical, increase mainfold. I’ll check out Dominic Thiem and the other juniors. I’m a huge fan of the one handed backhand and have a lot of respect for those who use that shot (I am struggling to get a hang of it but I think I may have finally found the right technique). That shot will die unless they make a fair amount of quick surfaces.

        Man, you really know this junior stuff 🙂 Do you play tennis too?

      2. Yeah, Kyrgios vs Kokkinakis.. first all-Ozzie Junior Australian Open final since 1994. We can expect good things from both of them

        Yeah, I thouguht that’s the case so I mentioned Dominic, the rare one with 1HB. He finished his Junior career in great stile in 2011, now its time for some serious Pro results

        Unfortunately no, but hope I will start soon 😀

    2. Gd comments! A great example of past teenage success which would and could not happen now is Boris Becker who broke out on the fast courts of Wimbledon. I am following the Junior GB Davis Cup team and in particular Kyle Edmund. Fitness and stamina is a huge issue as injuries take over younger less strong bodies, sometimes to future detriment if they over play on these unforgiving surfaces! In fact the US have perpetuated a problem of their own making with their lack of surface variety, and clearly poor coaching, if Isner and Querry now represent the best!! I am trying to follow Krygios! Not always an obvious transition from Junior to Senior! Luke Savile and Liam Broady, 2 cases in point! The other factor not mentioned is money! Coaches, travel, poor prize money at this level. The imbalance between cost and reward is a major factor. Not every young player is a Gulbis!

      1. Hey Susie,

        You been watching them this weekend? I just watched a little bit of Evans vs Donskoy, Evans was winning but looked like he could let it slip. LTA are a joke though so I don’t mind who wins.


  4. The current style of play in the pro game is pushing back the age at which young players break through at the top level. The slower court speeds promote cardiovascular endurance as one of the key attributes required for success over the ability to thunder a winner. It’s no longer about which player has the most diverse arsenal of shots at their disposal but more about who can run the longest and play the same strokes over and over without breaking down. If ever there was an example of this it was David Ferrer in the Sony Open Tennis/Miami Masters final against Andy Murray. 90% of balls that come of the Ferrer racquet land deep in the middle of the court. His whole game is based around retrieving the ball and reducing the angle with which his opponent has to work with. Ferrer knows he can run 99% of players into the ground and frustrate them into taking risks that result in errors.

    So how does this tie into the younger generation and their lack of success? Well personally I think you need to look at when an individual peaks in terms of CV endurance. Unfortunately that tends to be a lot later than 20 with many runners really hitting their peak levels of performance around 30 or later.

    I would also draw attention to the quotes by Ivan Lendl regarding Grigor Dimitrov. Lendl highlighted that Dimitrov has demonstrated qualities with his tennis that should see him become a future number one. But the likes of Djokovic and Murray know that Dimitrov lacks the all round fitness to maintain his level for three sets (never mind five!). It’s very difficult to disagree with Lendl’s opinion as Dimitrov has shown early in matches that he can perform against the top players on tour but has always faded the longer matches have gone on. I remember sitting in the photography pit at Roland Garros last year watching him dominate Richard Gasquet for a set and a half before his fitness failed and Gasquet was able to outlast him.

    Dimitrov is currently 21 I believe which gives him a year and more over the youngsters written about here. In terms of experience and CV development though he is further down the road than any of these guys and yet still a long way behind.


    I’d question one of the above posts though over whether speed really does even the odds or if it just changes the dominant play style moving the game away from the defensive players and swinging it towards those with a big first serve and the ability to hit the ball very flat? The shorter points that come with the latter certainly would not appeal to the media who are enjoying the current ‘Golden Age’.

    Perhaps the solution is not to have as many slow courts and introduce more quicker courts? But that opens up another issue when tournaments decide that Nadal, Djokovic, Murray etc bring in £s, $s, €s and that increasing the possibility of star names disappearing in the early rounds could result in a serious hit in ticket sales. We all saw what happened on the slicker clay surface introduced at the Mutua Madrid Masters last year. The court favoured those who hit the ball through it and quite simply Nadal and Djokovic did not like it. The end result was that they shut the change down.

    I don’t want to deviate into tennis politics here given the great article written above but things have changed in the game and the result has become a much more media ‘friendly’ product that they can put in front of an audience at the cost of junior players not breaking through until several years later in their development process.

    Great writing, I enjoyed the read.

    1. Thanks for comment Craig, spot on. I hate to admit that but everything is true, and its killing the sport. Matches like we saw in final of big Miami tournament are the worst thing we could see, but we are used to it.

      I really don’t expect anything big from boys from this article before they turn 22 or 23, but there’s always hope for some miracle

      1. Hi Jovica and Craig.
        Craig first of all nice and true comment.
        Jovica, I did not read all the article yet, but it looks very good. You spent a lot of time on it. And you are making some great arguments. Have to admit, most names of the young ones I don’t even know. So very well written article.

        I just want to say one thing about the Miami Final. I saw it an it was……boring.
        No short points. Definitely no short rallies. Just two players hitting the ball from one side to the other side hoping the other one would make the first mistake. Near the end of the second set and all through the third set they were even too afraid to come to the net. They were just playing more than 20 point rallies and holding on to their rackets for support to catch a breath.
        I thought if this is going to be from now on almost every final……. I mean how many of these matches can you watch, before you say, I don’t want to see them anymore.
        Don’t know what will happen in the future to tennis. Will many people still watch it?


      2. Hey Katayani, thanks for comment

        I’m spending between 10 and 15 hours every week checking every Pro tournament in search for U20 players, basicly this is small review of best young players at the moment.

        Yeah, I’m affraid we will watch it every year, but on extreme slow courts of Miami we can’t expect anything better. They can speed it up, but don’t want to do that. Not sure many people are aware that Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray won 40 of the last 47 Masters 1000 events! For ATP that’s pre gold, but I’m really sick of it for a long long time, even I love Nadal

        I have some point of view (I ca be wrong though) that everything will start from zero when Big 4 retires. Berdych and Tsonga will also be goon, so there will be time for some 22 or 23 years old players who will break through. If they show us some quality and interesting stuff I will be perfectly fine with that, but I’m not sure what we can expect from players which can’t see big ATP scene before turning 21 or 22. We shall see in few years time

      3. Hi Jovica,

        I agree with everything you said, just not with one thing.
        If Roger wins every tour there is from now on till forever…… I don’t and won’t mind that !!!
        Yes, I am a diehard Roger fan, so I have no problems with him winning everything.
        For the other three….. I have to think about it. If Roger loses a match and the other three are still in it, then I have no problem with someone else (or a young gun) winning, but until Roger participates in a tour, I am always for him. I can never get sick or bored with him winning !!!

      4. Even Roddick tweeted about it, saying the courts were waayyy too slow. Funny how he’s won Miami a couple of times, even beating Fed twice there.

      5. Needs some current players to say it too. Roddick has no influence any more. Fish, Fed are all pro fast courts. Not sure who else is? Guess Dimitrov will be. Murray wants variety.

    2. What you’re doing Craig, is saying that tennis should be turned into a totally cardiovascular sport. I’ll have to disagree with you, Craig. I’m absolutely certain you do not share the greedy motives of these tennis big wigs. Every game is different. Running (which I don’t exactly consider a sport) is different and requires lot of CV endurance like you said. Ping Pong is a game of extreme reflexes. Sure, it requires endurance but there are other aspects that are more dominant. The point I’m trying to make is, the variety of skills tennis players could develop are being made irrelevant.

      I agree that there should be a lot of surfaces that require the so called endurance you’re so enamored with. But at least half of the surfaces should support skills of players who possess big serves, big ground strokes, are willing to move in, want to serve and volley. But in your world, the prerequisite to success in tennis must be CV development. That is wrong.

      But, the muckamucks think like you and are out to destroy this beautiful game. They do not want to lose business by making faster surfaces. That’s why I believe not much will change over the next few years.

      Think of it in a different way now. Wouldn’t pushing the age at which tennis players really become achievers, seriously deter kids from taking up tennis and push them into other sports? You will see a lot more interest if aspiring players know that while endurance is key, particularly in slams, it is not the be all and end all, and that possessing a variety of other skills can still make the successful.

      Look at Rafael Nadal. I hate to say that when it comes to pure skill and talent, he is nowhere near Roger Federer. Yet, he overcomes every negative aspect of his game with extreme endurance. And he is being rewarded with surfaces that are getting slower by the day. In my opinion, that’s unfair and should not be the case.

    3. Craig, I read your post again. Maybe it came across as you were endorsing the grinding style of play and suggesting that youngsters don’t deserve to win at that age and must wait till they have the endurance to compete. If that is not what you were suggesting, please ignore my reply to your comment 🙂

      Personally, I think there is something going at the the top level. There is a strong push from Nadal and Djokovic to promote conditions that deny younger players slams and other titles. Nadal, as Tommaso pointed out in an earlier comment, has redefined endurance. What is the driving force behind it? I will not comment. But it is true that he has revolutionized tennis, in a not so good way, by endorsing the principle that endurance matters more than skills. No matter how skilled your opponent is, you can grind him down, with a lot of help from the conditions of course. That will kill tennis. It is killing tennis.

      Do these grinders have great footwork? Actually, no. Surprising right, because they run and fetch so much? That’s because they replace sound footwork with sprinting. Those are the principles being taught by modern coaches too. Forget anticipation and reading the ball very early. Simply camp deep, run, and everything will be just fine. I don’t think I have seen any profession tennis player with footwork as good as Roger Federer. It is close to perfect. It cannot be improved upon. This guy has super human skills and those skills are not being rewarded.

      That’s why I doubt I will ever follow any of these new kids.

  5. Sid, there is room on this bog for other opinions. Tennis like life has all different speeds and complexities. If everyone was a genius like Federer it wouldn’t be so special and we wouldn’t be so interested in him. Tennis is served best by all the different attributes. That’s why the court surfaces should be varied, grass, clay, hard court, etc. Contrasts in styles, speed, fitness, strength should be celebrated. I’m sorry Jonathan, but I’m starting to feel that people are being a bit bullied on this blog. As long as people feel free to express their opinions I think that this blog will stay interesting. I don’t think that calling other people “wrong’, and being so negative is helping a good interesting form of entertainment. I happen to think, like a lot of the pros on the pro circuit, that Ferrer and Nadal are great competitors, and have earned my respect. I love Federer’s game the best, but I also love tennis, and diversity I believe is the key to interesting tennis and a healthy pro game. I imagine that Craig, like myself would like to be able to express ourselves with out being attacked.

    1. Diversity. That’s the word I was looking for. What I am disagreeing on is the fact that Craig has categorically dismissed youngsters by saying that CV endurance is a must and they need to wait until they are in their mid twenties to win something meaningful. I, on the other hand, am making the argument that there should be variety in court textures and speeds to make the playing field level. Can’t you see who has the more neutral opinion? And yes, we all have our own opinions but some are more polarized than others.

      Please read Craig’s again and tell me what you really think. Is it right to say that “grow up, cultivate endurance, or perish” 🙂

    2. By the way, simply calling someone wrong is not bullying. I agree that saying that “I don’t agree with you” is a mild form of saying, “you’re wrong”. Maybe I’ll start using that phrase more if that makes everyone happy.

      I sure don’t think you know what bullying is. Except for that one statement I made, all I’ve done for the majority of my comment is express some valid points (at least I believe they are valid).

      So, please don’t brand me as a bully and strike me back with a constructive argument, pretty please, with sugar on top 🙂

    3. Hey Tim,

      If I think it gets out of hand then I will say something but I don’t think anyone is stopped from having an opinion on here. People are free to voice what they want, be it agreeing with others or disagreeing. The most important thing I think is that nobody takes things personally or makes it personal; that hasn’t happened here and the debate has always stayed on tennis.

      I don’t have an issue with anyone telling someone else they’re wrong as long as they back up their statement. After all that is their opinion. It’d be boring if everyone agreed anyway.

      As for your point, I agree you with respecting Nadal and Ferrer and that variety is the key to the game, but we are progressing more and more towards lack of variety which is what I think Sid, Craig etc were getting at.

      Variety is an at all time low right now, we’re just lucky Roger is the last of them that plays tennis in the attacking, free flowing way. But once he goes then I can see road running being the only type of play we see.


      1. Totaly agree about the diversity, that it’s taking a huge dive. But (I’m going to hate myself for this…) I think that murray has the game to be aggressive, and I think he should. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand his personality, bitching and complaining all the time, but he’s got an aggressive game, especially against Roger. If only he could do the same against the others, I think he’d be pretty interesting to watch. No?

      2. Murray seems to be developing into an aggressive player. At least he tries. Don’t forget, he is being coached by Lendl. However, the Miami final doesn’t support that process. It could be because of the slow surface, and that marathoner on the other side of the net. That’s a recipe for a days worth of stupidity!

      3. Murray has gotten more aggressive for sure but I think he’s a naturally passive player. He always reverts to type when the pressure is on.

        Being taking it to Roger though lately for sure. Dictated with the forehand at AO, Fed can’t let that happen in future.

  6. Folks, folks, check out this link where Roger and Fish are practicing before last years US Open. Amazing camera angles. You get a feel of how the ball would come directly at you. Shows you how much work they put on the ball, how the ball shivers on its way over the net. Watch it in 720p. My favorite part starts at 3:00 🙂

    Sorry Jovica, I’m putting the wrong comment for this post but hey…it’s Roger…so anything goes 🙂

    1. Great video – makes me realise how much I miss not seeing him play – a tournament is just not the same without him

      1. Trudi, you miss “not seeing him play”?!??! 😉 Maybe you’re saying that because he’s been sucking recently 🙂

      2. Agree, but think he needs to play MC, nothing to lose!!! Or even Barcelona, get one or two matches under his belt! Estoril, he has played in the past but almost same time as Madrid so…

      3. I wouldn’t bother playing anything before hand. He is the GOAT scheduler for a reason. Nothing to lose but little to gain.

      4. Yeah, play MC and Barcelona, meet The Dopal (which is exactly what the draws will make sure of), and end up with a 10-21 head to head. Great plan! 😉

      1. That’s why I posted it in the first place. Thought you might like seeing yourself play 🙂

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