With the 2016 ATP season fast approaching, it will soon be time for the top players to wrap up their off season holidays and training to head to Australia for their Aussie Open preps. Every season young and unheralded players breakout in the spotlight of success. Who will breakout on the ATP Tour in 2016?
Top 100 Breakout: Taylor Fritz
The young American closed the 2015 season by winning the US Open Juniors, turning pro, then winning back to back challenger titles in the US, with the help of a 17 game win streak. The 17 year old has shown aptitude to win important points due to his ability to hit winners off both is forehand and backhand side. Adding to his arsenal a serve that cracks 130 with ease, he has all the skill set to be a top 100 player (or higher) in 2016. Fritz used these weapons to post wins over the likes of Dudi Sela, Tim Smyzcek, Dustin Brown, and Pablo Carreno Busta in 2015, all players with ATP experience.
Top 40 Breakout: Ricardas Berankis
The former US Open Juniors and Orange Bowl champion made a steady climb in results and rankings at the end of 2015 and looks to be physically ready to make a major push towards the top 40 in 2016. Berankis has a an all court game typical of so many of the top tour players these days, and has the ability to change direction with his forehand which is his main weapon. Based out of Florida, Berankis is spending his off season in Kenya preparing for a main draw 2016 debut in Doha where he will try to continue his 2nd half 2015 surge against the top players on tour. If Berankis can beef up his serve and stay present in the big moments, he should be able to improve on his 3 ATP main draw quarter final appearances in 2015 (Zagreb, Atlanta, and D.C.). The former top junior still has time to make his move into a household name.
Top 20 Breakout: Roberto Bautista-Agut
At 25, Bautista-Agut may seem like a safe choice to reach the top 20 in 2016, and if he starts the 2016 season as strongly as he finished 2015 he will enter the top 20 early and may even climb into the top 15. A gifted mover on the court, Bautista-Agut finished 2015 by reaching the finals of the Kremlin Cup and his home country’s Valencia Open. The tourney runs punctuated a season which saw him reach 5 other semifinal rounds, and reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon and The US Open where he lost to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic respectively. The improved results have helped bolster the confidence of the talented, but sometimes nervy Spaniard. RBA reached a career high of #14 in 2014, and his career year was 2014 up to this point.
Top 10 Breakout: Jack Sock
With a big serve, strong forehand, and nice touch at the net, the tennis world is a proverbial oyster for the young American, who in 2015, recovered from major hip injury to produce a successful season on tour. At the root of this improvement was a more focused and precise ability to stay mentally in matches at the big moment and not let his fiery disposition take him out of his game plan and match play. If Sock is able to sharpen his emotional focus even further, his game is full of weapons that can place him amongst the game’s elite.
Glimpses of his potential were seen in 2015 as he posted quality wins over the likes of John Isner, Giles Simon, Kevin Anderson, Richard Gasquet, etc. Sock, already a Slam champion in doubles) has used doubles (despite detractors of the benefits of doubles like John McEnroe) as a way to practice and hone the skills of his singles game. As he stated at Roland Garros this year, “I don’t mind going out and playing a doubles match and working on returning serving and working on a few things. Just being out on court, just all the experience you get on court can only help.” With confidence and athletic ability in dredges, Sock should have every opportunity to enforce his powerful game on tennis’ elite players in 2016.
On the heels of the dominance of Novak Djokovic in 2015, the new season provides a great time to speculate about whom, if anyone, will be able to challenge the dominant Serb in 2016, as well as think about what new players will breakout in 2016. Will it be these men listed above, or will some other dark horse find their form and confidence and surprise the tour?