Five WTA Young Guns To Watch

WTA young gun Amanda Anisimova in action

The future of the WTA looks to be in safe hands, even as the great Serena Williams nears the end of her career. But which WTA young guns could be set to become the leading lights of the women’s game over the next decade?

Five WTA Young Guns To Watch

Sofia Kenin

After an impressive 2019 campaign, Sofia Kenin took the tennis world by storm in Melbourne this January. Coming into the Australian Open, Kenin had never been past the fourth round at a Major, but she played some inspired tennis to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal, where she stunned world #1 Ashleigh Barty in an instant classic. That saw her into the Australian Open final, where she edged out two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza in three sets.

That victory made her the youngest American to win a Grand Slam since Serena Williams in 2002. But don’t expect that to be her only triumph. Kenin may not boast the same power or speed around the court as some of her rivals, but her craft and guile allow her to match the very best in the world, and she will almost certainly continue to improve as she ages. Even with her back up against the wall, Kenin never gives in and she looks set to go from strength to strength in the coming years.
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Bianca Andreescu

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu became the first teenager since Maria Sharapova to win the US Open in 2019, where she beat six-time champion Serena Williams in straight-sets in the final. That followed impressive victories in Indian Wells, where she outlasted Angelique Kerber in the final, and on home soil at the Rogers Cup. Equipped with both power and versatility, Andreescu has already proven herself a formidable opponent as well as a fierce competitor.

Andreescu is often able to keep her opponents off-balance by giving them varied looks, with the Canadian regularly deploying high, looping shots with heavy topspin when under pressure. She also possesses superb anticipation, allowing her to turn defence into attack with just one shot. Indeed, so far in her career the only significant obstacle to her success has been a succession of injuries. If she can stay healthy, expect her to remain a force at the top of the women’s game.
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Elena Rybakina

Elena Rybakina enjoyed a season to remember in 2019. She ended the year ranked 36th in the world, securing a top 100 finish for the first-time in her career. Highlights included claiming her maiden WTA title in Bucharest, as well as a runner-up finish at the Jiangxi Open and semifinal showings in Den Bosch and Luxembourg. Rybakina also reached quarterfinals in Istanbul, Wuhan and Linz. That set her up for a superb start to 2020.

In her first outing of the year, Rybakina reached the final in Shenzhen. She backed that up by winning the Hobart International, beating Zhang Shuai in straight-sets, eventually overwhelming the Chinese with her power after the first set had gone to a tiebreak. She then reached a third final in St Petersburg, before claiming a career-best win over world #3 Karolina Pliskova in Dubai en route to the final, where she took top seed Simona Halep the distance.

Rybakina is at her best when playing on the front foot and is capable of striking winners with both her forehand and backhand. Her serve is also a potent weapon, which can reach speeds of up to 177 km/h. In fact, before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rybakina led the WTA’s ace race, having struck 144 in 25 matches. Just 20-years-old, Rybakina looks to have an extremely bright future. She certainly has all the tools to create a seismic impact over the next decade.
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Cori Gauff

It is hard to believe that the USA’s Cori Gauff, or Coco as many know her, is only 16-years-old. She burst onto the scene in 2019, reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in a thrilling run that included a first-round win over Venus Williams. She also won her first WTA title in Linz, beating 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the final. Gauff is clearly a rare talent and it would be a huge surprise if she did not win at least one Major. Certainly one to watch in the next 10 years.
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Amanda Anisimova

Amanda Anisimova may be just 18-years-old, but she is already the American #2 and ranked 28th in the world, with a career-high ranking of #21 achieved last October. 2019 proved to be a banner year for the young gun, with Anisimova winning her maiden WTA title in Bogota, aged 17 years and 222 days, by beating Australia’s Astra Sharma in the final. That made her the youngest American WTA champion since Serena Williams won in Indian Wells in 1999.

She had started the year in excellent fashion, becoming the youngest player since Tamira Paszek (US Open, 2007) to reach the fourth round at a Major when she made it to the second week at Melbourne Park. Anisimova backed that up by reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros, knocking out defending champion Halep in the quarterfinals. That saw her become the first player, male or female, born in the 2000s to advance to the last four at a Grand Slam.

Anisimova’s style of play is aggressive, with the teenager possessing a rare ability to hit opponents off the court. She has also shown herself to be a tenacious competitor, a quality that will likely prove invaluable in her quest to reach the top of the game. But Anisimova already plays with an assurance that belies her youth. Expect her to establish herself as one of the best in the world in the coming years.

Which WTA young guns do you think will dominate in the next decade? Let us know in the comments below!

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