The NextGen Stars: Overrated or Well Deserved Attention
The NextGen stars have been getting a lot of press lately because of the recent results they have been producing this past summer. For those who have just joined the blog, the NextGen Stars are all the under 21 players that are on tour and are in the Top 100 in the world. The players in this category are; Zverev, Tiafoe, Coric, Donaldson, Medvedev, Rublev, Shapovalov and many more. Like the ATP Finals where they have the Top 8 players play a round robin tournament, these NextGen Finals players will do the same thing but for the best ranked under 21 players in the world. Three players that I want to talk about due their success their summer are; Zverev and Francis Tiafoe.
Alexander (Sacha) Zverev
What can you say about this 20 year-old. He has won 5 titles this year alone, which ties him with Federer for most titles won in 2017. He beat Novak in the final of Rome. He defeated an injured Federer in Montreal. And he has won Washington, Montpellier, and Munich. Out of the six total titles that he has won in his career, he has won five of them in this year alone! Even though he lost early in Cincinnati, thanks to another NextGen star Francis Tiafoe, his powerful strokes and aggressive play has allowed him to reach a new career high of number six in the world.
He has been knocking on the door for a Top 10 ranking for past couple of years, but this year was his break out year and what a break out year it has been. Not only has he made the Top 10, he also picked up a sponsorship from Richard Mille which is a very prestigious watch company. How prestigious? The watch retails for over $700,000... He is a wearing a watch that can pay for most of my classmates tuition. He is doing pretty well for a person that is not even considered a full grown adult in the United States.
The 19 year old American has been making some waves this past year with pushing some the top players to their limit and having some big upsets at Masters 1000 events. Pushing Federer to five sets at this years US Open was not a fluke. His ability to hit the ball with power and generate spin with his unique forehand is what makes Tiafoe a star in the making and a great one to watch for the future of American tennis.
He was able to upset Zverev in Cincinnati after a tight three set match. He sent Fognini to five sets at the French Open and battle Isner last year in five sets at last years US Open. Currently placed 8th in the NextGen Finals Race to Milan, he still is able to prove himself against top opponents and I have high expectations for him in the near future.
People can say that I did not focus on Denis Shapovalov, Karen Kachanov, Andrei Rublev and many others that deserve a shoutout. I felt that these two players have stood out the most over this summer consistently. Do not get me wrong, Denis Shapovalov made it to the semi-finals of Montreal and currently just defeated 8 Seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the US Open. Rublev just beat Dimitrov in an 2+ hour match in three sets.
All of these players have a bright future. I can't imagine a world without Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. Not yet. But these stars are the Top 10 players of the future. They might not have the same dominance as the players we grew up watching but I think some of the potential to make their mark on fame. The pressure is on.