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Top 6 Rookies to Look for On the ATP Tour

Tennis rookies are exciting to watch because they might be the ones that hold the future of tennis inside their hands. Take a look at Roger Federer, for example. Whenever he came on tour, he instantly became one of the favorites.

Now, he’s crafted a legacy that won’t be one-upped anytime soon. The same goes for Rafael Nadal. Whenever he came in, tennis fans were excited to see what he held for the future. Now, he’s one of the major reasons tennis has become so exciting nowadays.

With some of the biggest stars—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic—nearing retirement, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest rookies that could take their place. Each of these players have their own specific playstyle an something unique they bring to the world of tennis. But despite all their differences, together, they can create an even more exciting game for the future.

6. Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios
Like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi before him, Nick Kyrgios can be considered a “bad boy” of tennis. He’s had his fair share of controversy and sometimes plays like he doesn’t want to be here. In fact, there have been times where he explicitly stated he wanted to quit a match because he didn’t want to play anymore.

Out of all of these players, Nick Kyrgios has shown the most potential to become the next major Grand Slam champion. At nineteen years old, Nick Kyrgios beat Rafael Nadal in four sets while also putting on an entertaining show for the audience. A year later, at the Masters 1000 in Madrid, he would take down Roger Federer in three grueling sets where he won the final set 14-12 in the tiebreaker. He would also go on to take down Rafael Nadal again at the 2017 Cincinnati Masters in straight sets

Nick Kyrgios was also a top-level junior contender, winning the juniors Australian Open title before going pro. That being said, he’s always been a top dog since the start of his tennis career. The thing is, right now, it doesn’t seem like he’s as interested in the game as before which is a disappointing statement to be said. Nick Kyrgios is the type of player that can put any tennis player on edge. You give him something to fight for and he’ll fight for it. Furthermore, with the talent that he has right now, there’s no denying that he can get what he wants.

Of this list, there’s no one that can hit a ball with as much ease as Nick Kyrgios can. If you watch him play, it’s normal for him to smack a forehand as hard as he can down the line. It’s normal for him to perform the SABR (Sneak-attack by Roger) move in a match two or three times every set. Heck, it’s normal for him to hit a few tweener winners here and there if he’s feeling it. Nick Kyrgios’s talent exceeds his mindset and right now, Nick Kyrgios could definitely be a top fifteen player if he put more thought into the game.

Right now, Nick Kyrgios has nearly everything a young tennis player on the tour could ask for. He has an extremely strong serve, powerful baseline, and a natural ease to everything physical about tennis. But the one thing he lacks is a consistent will to win. Whenever he wants to win, he usually gets very far into a tournament. For example, at the 2018 Brisbane International, Kyrgios did extremely well, winning the entire tournament after upsetting then world number three, Grigor Dimitrov.

However, likewise, at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, Nick Kyrgios lost to Bradley Klahn, a player ranked outside of the top one hundred. If Nick Kyrgios puts a little bit more maturity and fire into his game, then Nick Kyrgios might be able to break top fifteen for the 2019 season.

5. Alex De Minaur

Alex De Minaur
Alex De Minaur didn’t really become a known name till his standout performances at the Brisbane International and the Sydney International. It was here that the then eighteen year old went on one of the craziest tennis runs of his life and little did he know that these tournament runs would be his entryway into the major leagues of the ATP tour.

At the Brisbane International, Alex De Minaur first took out then top fifty player, Steve Johnson, before going on to take down Milos Raonic afterwards. While he would fall to Ryan Harrison in the semifinals in three sets, he became one of few eighteen year old’s in the history of tennis to ever make it that far in an ATP 250.

At the Sydney International, Alex De Minaur put on an even better performance by taking out four top one hundred players—Fernando Lopez, Damir Dzumhur, Feliciano Lopez, and Benoit Paire—before falling to Daniil Medvedev in three close sets in the finals.

After these two breakout tournaments, De Minaur’s time on the career would boast more top one hundred player upsets and several deep runs into Challenger events. While his career was solid in the summer, it really exploded at the Citi Open where he almost pulled off yet another insane run. Like the Sydney International, Alex De Minaur took down four top one hundred players at the Citi Open—Vasek Pospisil, Steve Johnson, Hyeon Chung, and Andrey Rublev—before falling to Alexander Zverev.

These are just a few of his many achievements that he’s achieved in the 2018 season and he can thanks these achievements to his playstyle. Right now, Alex De Minaur is one of the fastest players on the tour, able to run down shots that most players can’t. The main reason he was able to make it so far into these major tournaments was because most players didn’t expect De Minaur to run down shots they considered to be winners. Out of all these players, Alex De Minaur has the best defense on this list and some of the best defense on the tour.

Of course, this means that he doesn’t have as strong of an offense and therefore, he has to give up most neutral shots. But at the age of nineteen, Alex De Minaur has plenty of time to fix this one flaw in this game so that he can utilize all his potential.

With Lleyton Hewitt as his new coach, Alex De Minaur is showing a lot of promise for the 2019 season. He already is extremely consistent and extremely hard to beat from the baseline. Add a more offensive game to his arsenal and we could see a possible ATP title being picked up for De Minaur.

4. Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev, at the age of twenty-two, has had one of the most successful seasons yet. He took three singles titles home and it was at these tournaments that Daniil Medvedev boasted some of his craziest wins ever.

For example, at the Sydney International, not only did Daniil Medvedev have to get through two rounds of qualifying, he had to take down German legend Phillipp Kohlschreiber. But he did so, and afterwards, he took out Jared Donaldson, Paolo Lorenzi, and Fabio Fognini before outing Australian hotshot, Alex De Minaur.

He’d also later make it to the Round of 16 of the Rogers Cup before falling to Alexander Zverev. A few weeks later, he’d secure his second title at the Winston-Salem Open, yet again taking down several top one hundred players to do so—Mirza Basic, Alex De Minaur, Ryan Harrison, Taro Daniel, and Steve Johnson.

He’d replicate these results at the Tokyo Open, his biggest title yet, where he outed names like Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, and Diego Schwartzman. But his biggest win during that time was versus fan favorite, Kei Nishikori, in the finals who he beat with a quick 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Daniil Medvedev, to say the least, had a wonderful 2018 season. He won three major titles and made it far into several Masters 1000 tournaments. And his playstyle didn’t diminish over the year. He provided consistent results that never fell off and because of this, he was a safe player all throughout the different tournaments he attended.

Daniil Medvedev plays mostly flat from the baseline. Most of his shots are extremely flat with long preparation times but because of his speed, he doesn’t need to worry about this. This means that every shot packs a punch at the opponent and eventually, if not handled correctly, Medvedev can receive a weak ball which he puts away.

He’s only twenty-two which means that he has several years left on the tour and the game is evolving towards his favor where balls are becoming faster and rallies are shorter. If Daniil Medvedev can continue replicating this type of success, then we’re going to see a lot from him in the upcoming years.

3. Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Also known as “the Greek Machine,” Stefanos Tsitsipas had a standout season just like all the others on this list. But the thing that separates him from the others is that his entire 2018 season was great, not just one section of it. He made it to finals and semifinals and even won a major title and he isn’t even older than twenty one yet. One of his biggest accomplishments during the first half of the year was his finalist appearance at the Barcelona Open.

Even though he got destroyed in the finals by Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas showed resilience and beat four top one hundred players, three of which were clay court specialists—Dominic Thiem, Pablo Carreno Busta, and Diego Schwartzman. At Wimbledon, he would make it to the fourth round before falling to then number ten in the world, John Isner. Afterwards, he made a semifinal appearance at the Citi Open before losing to Alexander Zverev.

His biggest feat of the 2018 season, though, was his Rogers Cup finish. Most players on this list made it through to one major tournament by beating a ton of top one hundred players which is an incredible feat to say the least. But Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t do just that. Every player he beat at that tournament was in the top thirty at the time. Even more impressive though, of the five players in the top thirty he took down, four of them were placed in the top ten at the time.

He destroyed Dominic Thiem in the Round of 32, brawled it out with Novak Djokovic in the Round of 16, faced near defeat versus Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals, and outlasted Kevin Anderson in the semifinals. Of course, we would go on to lose to the world number one at the time, Rafael Nadal, but the feat itself of making it through to a Masters 1000 finals at the age of nineteen is something most professionals dream about.

Afterwards, Stefanos Tsitsipas won the Stockholm Open, an ATP 250 event, and then won the Next Gen ATP Finals against Alex De Minaur who he beat in four sets. Stefanos saw many positives throughout the 2018 season and it’s signs of improvement from the 2016 and 2017 season. Stefanos Tsitsipas is a player that likes to use his backhand as its one of his major weapons. Ironically, backhands are seen as kind of a liability, used more as a defensive shot rather than offense but Stefanos uses his one-hander to set up his shots.

While he doesn’t have the most power in the game right now, he uses his craftiness to carve out balls that have more angle and spin than they do pure power. This makes it hard to really borrow his power and know exactly what he’s going to do. Furthermore, he also has strong defense—though not as strong as De Minaur’s—and a solid baseline game. Usually, he likes to hold off his opponent from the baseline and then carve out an angled shot that puts his opponent on the run.

With the playstyle he used this year, it’s very possible that he could win a Masters 1000 title next year and maybe even break into the top ten. After all, he used it to win several titles this year and by the looks of it, the “Greek Machine” is already pumped for the 2019 year.

2. Karen Kachanov

Karen Kachanov
This Russian man is one that was underestimated mostly throughout the entire 2018 season but he showed up at just the right time and proved how much of a threat he can be. Most top professional players take more than five years to reach the top one hundred.

For Karen Kachanov, at the age of twenty-two, he nearly broke into the top ten with a career high ranking of eleven. You can attribute this to the fact that Karen values results over an exciting season and highlights. In fact, Karen Kachanov’s playstyle matches all of this. If you watch Karen Kachanov play, you’ll see that Karen Kachanov plays safe from the baseline like most players but he dominates with an extremely fast high-spin forehand.

Furthermore, at six foot six inches, Karen Kachanov is a threat from every level of the court. He can dominate at the net and he can dominate at the baseline. And his serve is just as good whenever you compare it to the other pros. Also, height can sometimes be a liability since being two tall means your lankier than others. (Take a look at Ivo Karlovic for example) However, Karen Kachanov moves as well as any other top ten player right now and when you combine this with his huge forehand, there’s no wonder as to why Karen’s been getting better and better every year.

He can switch from defense to offensive instantly and whenever he’s on defense, his opponents need to be on edge because Karen Kachanov hits passing shots like no other. It’s what helped him have such a strong 2018 year. For starters, Karen Kachanov won three major titles. The first won was the Marseille Open. It was here that he beat four top one hundred players, two of which were in the top twenty at the time—Lucas Pouille and Tomas Berdych.

Then, at the Rogers Cup, Karen Kachanov made it to the semifinals, taking down names like Pablo Carreno Busta and John Isner, along the way. He then won the Moscow Open a few months later. Another notable match was that he nearly took down Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open, losing in four extremely close sets. During this match, Kachanov showed just how dangerous he could be when given the chance. Using his huge forehand, Kachanov pummeled Nadal’s forehand and backhand, keeping him moving from side-to-side.

He never let up and it was only due to Nadal’s insane fitness and topspin that Kachanov finally slipped in the fourth set. However, that wasn’t the highlight of Kachanov’s career. His highlight was winning the Rolex Paris Masters. It was here that Karen Kachanov finally revealed himself to the world as a true tennis threat. From 2013 to 2017, Kachanov was slowly building his pace, winning a few major matches here and there and building up his ranking.

But now, with the win at Rolex Paris Masters, Kachanov has finally revealed himself to the tennis audience. It was here at the Rolex Paris Masters that Karen Kachanov showed his true power and to his opponents, it was terrifying. He easily dismissed his first two opponents, both top one hundred players, with ease in straight sets. Then, he proceeded to take down John Isner in a tight three sets. Afterwards, though, he swept through Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem to reach the final.

It was here that he faced his toughest opponent yet, Novak Djokovic. While he may have faced names like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the past, there was more on the line this time and this made it the hardest match Karen Kachanov would play. But he didn’t let up. His forehand rivaled that of Del Potro’s that day and his passing shots were just as good as Novak’s. He commanded the baseline rallies against Djokovic, the one who was known for his baseline.

His serve was impeccable and his speed was astonishing considering the fact that he was six foot six. In the end, Karen Kachanov dismissed Novak from another Rolex Paris Masters trophy in straight sets and took home his first ever Masters 1000 title. On his journey to this title, he took down six top one hundred players, four of them inside the top ten at the time. The most impressive part? He only dropped one set the entire tournament. If Karen Kachanov can replicate this success for next year, we’re going to see a whole new player, one that might be able to win a Grand Slam.

1. Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev
Since his entrance into the ATP World Tour, Alexander Zverev has always been a major player. At his peak, he was the number three in the world. What’s even more impressive is that he’s achieved all of this and he’s only twenty-one. He had a great 2016 season and an even better 2017 season but 2018 really showed the potential that Alexander Zverev has. Alexander Zverev won most of his major titles in 2018 and he did it with a grit that we haven’t seen in players since Jimmy Connors came onto the stage.

His first major tournament was at Miami Open where he reached the finals but came up short against John Isner in three sets. However, before that, he defeated Nick Kyrgios, Daniil Medvedev, David Ferrer, Borna Coric, and Pablo Carreno Busta. Then, a few months later, Alexander Zverev won the Madrid Masters 1000 without dropping a single set in the process. He nearly won back-to-back Masters 1000 titles but lost to Rafael Nadal in three sets at the finals of the Rome Open.

Of course, this is something that nearly no one has done and for Alexander Zverev to do it in his early twenties shows how much talent he has right now. Months later, he won the Citi Open, losing only one set in the entire process. Then, Alexander Zverev pulled off one of his biggest tournament wins by winning the Nitto ATP Finals, the unofficial “fifth Grand Slam” of the season. It was here that he took down Marin Cilic, John Isner, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic.

It was here that we saw Alexander Zverev play some of the best tennis he’s ever played in his entire life. Whenever Alexander Zverev is in his zone, he can become a literal wall. He’s nearly as fast as Alex De Minaur and he can read where the ball is going before it’s even left the racquet. Combine that with his insane consistency from behind the baseline and an unrelenting desire to win and you have an unstoppable German twenty-one-year old named Alexander Zverev. In the finals of the Nitto ATP tour, Zverev showed just how well he could use these components.

He pushed Novak Djokovic around as if he were an amateur player and kept him from playing an offensive game that would put Zverev on the run. His speed was unmatched throughout the entire tournament and he produced angles that were at the level of prime Federer in the mid-2000s. Zverev has had his tough times in the past and he’s always struggled to show up when it mattered the most. But now, with these major wins under his built, Zverev is finally building on his character and becoming a much more mature player.

Despite his high ranking, Alexander Zverev has also fallen short at Grand Slams. But after winning the Nitto ATP Finals alongside a Masters 1000 title and two finals appearances, Zverev has finally found that breakthrough. I genuinely think that, for 2019, Zverev will finally find his first Grand Slam title. Will it be Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Australian Open, or US Open? No one knows. But how he’s played this year is more than enough testimony for my statement.

Are These Players Betting Options?

Right now, all of these players are viable on the betting field. All of them have upset major players more than once in their career. Because of this, you should put them on your tennis betting list because I can guarantee you that for the near future, they will make you money.

We’ve seen many miracle runs this 2018 year and we’ve also seen many rookies make their debut. Some of these have had better debuts than others and because of this, we’re now approaching a new generation of players. The biggest names in tennis right now—Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Juan Martin Del Potro—are nearing retirement age. After them, a new culture of tennis will approach and it will come in the form of today’s rookies.

We have names like Stefanos Tsitsipas, a player known for carving out some of the craziest backhand. Alex De Minaur: the Australian who can run down anything. Karen Kachanov: a player that dominates from the baseline with one of the biggest forehands in tennis.

Nick Kyrgios: a care-free player who, if he put more inspiration into his game, could easily become one of the scariest players ever. Alexander Zverev: the leader of this generation of players and the oen who will continue the legacy. All of these players bring something new to the culture of tennis and with their achievements this year, it’s exciting to see what they’re going to bring for 2019.

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