What to expect from the 2017 season of tennis [Part 2 & summary]

What to expect from the 2017 season of tennis [Intro & Part 1]

Predictions on young guns and Milos Raonic for the 2017 season of tennis

Predictions on young guns and Milos Raonic for the 2017 season of tennis

About Part 2

The second part contains predictions on the NextGen players and Milos Raonic for the 2017 season of tennis. Here, I have listed the results I expect these players to achieve in the upcoming year.

NextGen stars jump into the mix

The good news for all tennis fans is that a number of young talented players have emerged in the top 100 that bear watching. Only a couple years ago, there were only 3 players aged 21 or under in the top 100 of the year-end rankings of 2014, i.e. Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Jiri Vesely . The future of tennis looked unclear and woeful. Thankfully, we have a broader squad of youngsters right now who could be impactful very soon.

What follows is a table mentioning the names, ages and respective rankings of the players aged 21 or under who have finished in the top 100 of year-end rankings in 2016:

 

Name Age Ranking
Nick Kyrgios 21 13
Alexander Zverev 19 24
Kyle Edmund 21 45
Borna Coric 20 48
Karen Khachanov 20 53
Taylor Fritz 19 76
Daniil Medvedev 20 99
Yoshihito Nishioka 21 100

 

Following table shows you the names and improvement in rankings of players aged 21 or under who moved up the rankings in the last 52 weeks:

Name Year-end ranking of 2015 Year-end ranking of 2016
Nick Kyrgios 30 13
Alexander Zverev 83 24
Kyle Edmund 102 45
Karen Khachanov 152 53
Taylor Fritz 174 76
Daniil Medvedev 329 99
Yoshihito Nishioka 117 100

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios did not have impressive results at the grand slams but the year was not entirely lacklustre for him. He broke into the top 20 for the first time. He won his first title at Open 13 Provence ATP 250 event in February this year and followed it with two more title wins at Atlanta and Tokyo with the second one giving him his first ATP 500 title.  Perhaps, he needs to mend his ways and look up to past greats to improve his attitude. But once he does, he should be a force to reckon with.

What to expect:  In 2017, expect him to appear in at least one ATP masters final. I won’t be surprised if he makes it to even two of them. Also expect him to reach the semi-final stage or further at one grand slam tournament at least. He will get into the top 10 with a good chance of appearing in his maiden ATP World Tour Finals tournament.

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev is the one who many cite as the most talented of all the youngsters in the scene. This year, he moved into the top 30. He won his first title at the St. Petersburg ATP 250 event.  He reached the final at Nice ATP 250 and Halle ATP 500 events. In addition, he defeated Roger Federer on grass at Halle ATP 500 event in the semis.

What to expect: He will win a number of ATP 250 and ATP 500 titles. Expect him to go deep in at least two of the hard court masters events. He will reach the second week of a grand slam for the first time with Wimbledon and US Open being the two most probable venues for that. He will get into the top 15.

Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov jumped from no. 152 to no. 53 in the ATP rankings. This year, he won his first title at Chengdu ATP 250.

What to expect: Expect him to win a few ATP 250 events most of them being on hard courts. He will get into top 40.

Taylor Fritz

Taylor Fritz is one of the only two teenagers in the top 100. He received attention of the tennis-loving fraternity after he reached the ATP 250 Memphis Open final and played a decent match against Kei Nishikori.

He hasn’t won an ATP level title still. But, since the lad is only 19 years old he can be excused for that especially considering that players peak later in their careers these days. He is already someone who people wish to see become a future mega star. So let’s see.

What to expect: He will win his first ATP level title. He will end the year with several ATP 250 titles and perhaps one or two ATP 500 titles. Reaching semis in a masters event is possible. However, don’t expect him to sport any real grand slam contention.  He will have a decent chance of getting into the top 40.

Others

Kyle Edmund, Daniil Medvedev and Yoshihito Nishioka have all moved up the ladder but none of them won a title this year. For that matter, none has ever won an ATP level title so far. They have fallen behind most of the other youngsters that have been mentioned above in many respects.

What to expect:  It’s unlikely that any of them will win more than one title. And, should they win a title, it would not be greater than an ATP 250 title. Kyle Edmund will rank around no. 40 at the end of the year. Nishioka will get into the top 100 and end the year in the 70-80 range or better but not in the top 50. Medvedev will continue to move up the ladder. He might even have a chance of getting into the top 50. However, I wouldn’t consider him a contender for anything bigger than an ATP 250 event.

Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille

Thiem and Pouille did very well this season. Both made solid progress and gave us some impressive results. Let’s have a look at each one of them.

Dominic  Thiem

Thiem did very well this season. He won four titles and reached the final in two other events.  He reached the semis at Roland Garros which turned out to be his highlight for the year. He defeated the king of clay, Rafael Nadal on clay in the Argentina Open. He defeated Roger Federer twice first on clay and then on grass. He is being thought of as a good clay courter and as a possible future Roland Garros champion.

What to expect: Thiem will have another good clay season. He should reach the semis in at least two of the three clay masters. He will win the Rio Open should he play it. Thiem will reach the semis at the Roland Gaross once again. However, it’s going to be difficult for him to make it to the finals. Apart from the clay season, he might do well in the Indian Wells and Miami masters tournaments considering that the slower hard courts there could suit Thiem well. He will reach the semis or further at one grand slam event at least. He can even win a clay masters event with some luck. He has a decent chance of finishing in the top 6.

Lucas Pouille

He is another dark horse to be watched out for. This young Frenchman jumped 63 places in the rankings in approximately one year. He went from being no. 78 in the world to being no. 15 in the world. Everyone took cognizance of his presence when he reached the semis in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters event. While it’s true that the walkover he received for his quarter-final contributed to make it possible, he did consolidate his result by reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and US Open. He ousted Nadal at the Flushing Meadows and that was a big-step forward. He ended the year as one of the prominent and promising young guns.

What to expect:  He will be in the second week at two or three grand slam events. Reaching any further than quarter-finals in any of these big stages is still quite difficult. Don’t expect it to happen in any normal circumstance. He can make it to the semis or further in one or two masters events especially if the first tier players slack off at some point. There is some chance that he gets into the top 10 by the end of the year. Finishing in the top 8 is very unlikely but not impossible.

Milos Raonic consolidates his position as one of the big guys

The world no. 3 Milos Raonic is slowly improving ever year. He has already played thrice in the finals of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. This year he played his maiden grand slam final which he lost to a red-hot Andy Murray. He also reached the semis of the ATP World Tour Finals. His weak groundstrokes are known to jeopardise his whole game but they have seemingly improved. And, his results are gradually improving. His big serves will sooner or later begin to frustrate the aging big boys and this will help him get the breakthrough at some point. He does have the hunger and passion to achieve great things in the sport and it is only really a matter of time before he wins a masters or grand slam. Big 4’s stranglehold over the grand slams has clearly diminished and consequently, the dark horses are expected to leverage the opportunities arising therefrom. Raonic is the forerunner of that group and is best poised to win big now.

What to expect: He will win one or more masters title. He will make it to the semis in each of the grand slams except for the French Open. He will make it to the final of Wimbledon. He will win one or more ATP 500 titles. He will finish the year with at least 3 titles.  He is sure to finish in the top 5. He might even finish no. 3 again.

Summary

The names in the top 20 are changing fast. The tennis gods seem to beckon the arrival of new stars at the scene. We need to anticipate more of the same in the 2017 season of tennis. With the big 4 now having reduced to the big 2, those big 2 will need to stay put very hard at their regime to keep up with their younger rivals. Raonic’s perseverance will bring him success or at least closer to it. Roger will not find it easy to make a comeback to the top. Rafa probably still has a surge left in him. We have only a few years left to relish the presence of these two. But, the present scenario will showcase its own kind of beauty since we will witness players from four different generations tussle for glory. In all probability, the 2017 season of tennis should be a great one.

I would love to have your participation. Do join the discussion in the comments. Thanks!

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