The tennis season is now well under way, and here are a few tipped players who look set to have impressive seasons both on the ATP tour and the WTA tour.
1. Grigor Dimitrov (rank 34, age 21):
Many pundits highlighted Dimitrov last year as the player to watch in 2013, and he has already made a phenomenal start to the new year. He began the year at the Brisbane International where he reached his first singles final sadly losing to Andy Murray. Shockingly he was dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round after losing in straight sets to Frenchman Jullien Benneteau. Despite this set back in the major, Grigor has come back into form in the past week after putting up a great display during the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, making it to the semi finals before losing to Del Potro who went on to win the tournament. Interestingly, Dimitrov is referred to as ‘baby fed’ due to his brilliant brain which he uses to produce some superb shots and he has a great array of different plays to chose from. Just look at this shot he made at the ATP 500 event in Basel last year! (‘Absolutely outrageous!’)
2. Bernard Tomic (rank 46, age 20):
This young Aussie just can’t stay out of the spot light! If he’s not out on a wild night out, he’s underestimating the power of his elite opponents, as we heard at the Australian Open earlier this year. Federer proved in Melbourne that the joey has a long way to go if he’s to emulate the heights of the national idol Lleyton Hewitt. Still, Tomic is a brilliant player to watch as he knows how to outwit his opponent with the killer shot and he has the charisma which provides great entertainment. Earlier this year he beat Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup + he won his first singles title in Sydney against Kevin Anderson at the beginning of the year. He aspires to reach the top ten by the end of the year which looks improbable however when he is at his best he has the ability to outplay many of the top ten players.
3. Jerzy Janowicz (rank 26, age 22):
Many think that being ‘lanky’ would leave you at a disadvantage in tennis as your supposed to be quick and nimble across the court like Nadal and Federer however, height has become a great weapon. Standing at 6ft 8, Janowicz is one of the tallest players on the tour along with Raonic, Karlovic and Del Potro and what they all have in common is power. Janowicz is a powerful pole who can hit a sizzling serve which assists his game nicely. Despite failing to win a singles title, Jerzy has the makings of a great tennis player with his powerful baseline shots and an effective first serve.
4. Kei Nishikori (rank 23, age 23) and Martin Klizan (rank 28, age 23):
Firstly, Nishikori has become the sole force of Asia in the men’s singles and he has started this year well with 6 wins and 2 defeats. Last year Kei reached the world number 15 and won 2 titles doing this, in Tokyo and Delray beach which are both hard courts, an area where he excels. This year he reached the semi finals in Brisbane and the last 16 of the Australian Open, both fairly decent results. Klizan is a powerful Slovakian who too shows great promise. He is at his highest ranking of his career at the moment and has been very active already this season playing in Brisbane, Auckland Melbourne, Zagreb and Rotterdam. Most recently in Rotterdam he reached the quarter finals but was forced to retire against Gilles Simon. Klizan has experienced several injuries in the past 5 years which has inhibited his game however if he is able to avoid serious damage then he could rise even further up the rankings.
5. Heather Watson (rank 41, age 20) and Laura Robson (rank 43, age 19):
These two are the youngest players in the top 50 of the WTA rankings and these ladies look certain to reset the image of British women’s tennis. Both of them had reasons to celebrate in 2012 with Watson winning her first title in the Japan Open, ending Britain’s 24 year wait for a singles title, whilst Robson reached the Guangzhou open final as well as winning a medal at the Olympics with Murray in the doubles. At the Australian open both of them reached the final 32 with Watson bravely losing out to Radwanska whilst Robson was beaten by Sloanne Stephens who we’ll get on to shortly. Watson has shown that she has the never say die attitude, for example in her round of 64 match in Melbourne saving several match points to turn the game around. Robson on the other hand has proved herself as a threatening player since the Olympics showing good defence and moments of brilliance with her double handed backhand. Hopefully these two will have as much attention as Murray does come the end of 2013.
6. Sloanne Stephens (rank 18, age 20):
Stephens has burst on to the scene this season as she looks to carry the American torch from Serena and Venus once they retire. At just only 20 years of age, Stephens made her first appearance in the semi final of the Australian Open after beating Serena Williams (she was injured) before losing out to world number one and eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. She has gained loads of ranking points after great performances in Hobart and Brisbane, carrying on her fantastic form which she displayed last year even despite the long break after the US Open. Watch out for her in the French Open and I’m sure she’ll be a feature in top 10 come the end of November.
7. Petra Kvitova (rank 8, age 22):
Kvitova failed to find any consistency last season but she is still very young for a tennis player and this year she could really threaten for a place in the top 5.The Czech has already won 9 singles titles including a Wimbledon title in 2011 which helped her leap up to number 2 spot in the rankings. Last year she started the season well carrying on from her form in 2011 getting to the semi-finals of both the Australian open and the French open. She only reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon and the Olympics and only the fourth round at Flushing meadows. She is currently on a slippy slope after losing in the second round of the Aus open to Robson. If she wants to get back into the top 5 she will have to bounce back and she has the capability to do so with a great variety of shots and that powerful left hand!
8. Mona Barthel (rank 27, age 22):
Barthel looks to be an exciting prospect for 2013 and her form this season has been brilliant so far, she’s personal favourite of mine! The young German is an aggressive player who can hit a variety of shots and she has the power and the movement to accompany her game. This year Barthel won her second career singles title in Paris against the first seed Sara Erani after beating Marion Bartoli in the quarters as well. Unfortunately she failed to get going in the Australian Open after dropping out in the first round however she did exceptionally well in the tournaments in Hobart and Auckland before hand which still featured many top players. Depending on how threatening she can become in the major’s will determine whether she goes on to become a top ten player.
By: Rich Waterhouse
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