Top Young Players to Watch

Lorenzo Musetti in action ahead of the Wimbledon Championships.

The tennis world has been dominated by the “Big 3” for the last 17 years or so. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have 20 Grand Slams each. While Djokovic and Nadal are still the dominant players in the world right now, there have been signs of a changing of the guard. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, and a few others are narrowing the gap and trying desperately to end the era of “Big 3” dominance. These youngsters have been around for a while now, and are relatively well known. What many don’t know is that a generation of even younger talents are quickly rising up the rankings and causing quite a stir in the tennis world. Let’s have a look at three youngsters who could take the tennis world by storm in the coming years.

Three Young Players to Watch Out For

Carlos Alcaraz:

Born on May 5, 2003, Carlos Alcaraz is one of the brightest talents on the ATP tour right now. While his Spanish nationality creates obvious comparisons with Rafael Nadal, this young man is blazing his own path as he shoots up the rankings.

while he doesn’t possess immense power, what sets him apart is his net play and movement. He’s incredibly quick and energetic while possessing superb technique, which makes him incredibly difficult to beat, especially on clay. His mental acumen is another aspect that sets him apart. He seems to understand his game and how to get the best out of himself on important points. Of course he has a long way to go in that department and it will be interesting to see how he develops in the next 2-3 years.

Alcaraz has won 4 Challenger tournaments in his brief career so far–ll on clay–three in 2020 and one so far in 2021.

One of the most impressive wins of his young career so far came against countryman Albert Ramos Vinolas in Rio in early 2020. The younger Spaniard managed to take the final set in a tiebreaker (7-2), in which he played some scintillating tennis. Another impressive win came in the lead up to the 2020 Australian Open, where he demolished David Goffin in straight sets.

Areas for improvement: One clear avenue for improvement lies in his fitness. Weighing in at just 159 pounds, he will need to bulk up and improve his stamina if he intends on having a long, successful career. This lack of fitness was seen in his recent straight-sets defeat to Daniil Medvedev at Wimbledon. He challenged the Russian in the first set, eventually losing it 6-4. In the next two sets he trailed off and managed to win a paltry three games. There is no doubt that the teen will learn from this and will certainly be working on his fitness ahead of the US Open.

Fun fact: at just 18 years of age, Alcaraz became the second youngest Spanish player to be ranked inside the top 100. The youngest–a 16 year old Rafael Nadal. 

Dominic Stephan Stricker:

Born in Munsingen, Switzerland on August 16, 2002, Dominic Stephan Stricker is definitely one to watch out for. While currently sitting at #335 in the ATP rankings, this teenager has already shown that he is capable of big things with his win at the Roland Garros juniors in 2020. He followed that up with his first Challenger title this year at Lugano, where he went on to defeat the likes of Tim van Rijthoven, Yuichi Sugita, Daniel Masur, and Vitaliy Sachko en route to the title.

His rise up the ranking has been quite eye catching. He started 2020 ranked #1168, and currently sits at #280. Expect him to crack the top 100 like fellow teenager Carlos Alcaraz has recently done, quiet soon. Like Alcaraz, Stricker too is being compared with an all-time legend that happens to be a countryman–Roger Federer. While these comparisons are unfair so early on in his career, he certainly has the potential to live up to them. In fact Stricker himself has said, “The comparisons don’t put pressure on me, but they motivate me a lot.”

Two of Stricker’s best results came recently on the clay in Geneva (ATP) where he defeated both Cilic and Fuscovics in straight sets. As you can see, Stricker is clearly a player to look out for. He is certainly going to create some more “upsets” in the near future.

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Lorenzo Musetti:

Born on the March 3, 2002, Lorenzo Musetti has already established himself inside the Top 100 on the ATP rankings (career high of #58). This talented teen turned pro in 2019 and won the Australian Open Junior title that same year. He then followed that up in 2020 with a win at the Forli Challenger, and has since established himself on the ATP Tour.

Musetti almost claimed the biggest scalp of his career a few weeks ago at Roland Garos, when he managed to take the fist two sets (in tie-breakers) off Novak Djokovic. Unfortunately he ran out of steam as Djokovic stormed back to take the next two, and Musetti retired from the match, trailing 0-4 in the final set.

The young Italian has already caused a few upsets in his career, though. He smashed David Goffin in straight sets in his first ever match at a Grand Slam. Another big upset came over Diego Schwartzman earlier this year in Acapulco, where he took the match in a third set.

Musetti might already be an established player, but at just 19 years of age, it is scary to think how good this youngster might turn out to be. He is certainly a player to look out for in the future.

Main Photo from Getty.