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Raducanu to Zverev: Tennis rising stars of the decade
Dec 23, 2021, 4:45:00 AM

Raducanu to Zverev: Tennis rising stars of the decade

From Emma Raducanu to Alexander Zverev, a lot of tennis stars have risen through the ranks in 2021 which shows how much growth has been there in the ATP Tour. This decade saw a huge number of stars prove their worth and they are making huge waves in the league.

While there are a lot of big names such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, there are still a lot of tennis stars who are also making a huge headway in their careers. They may have been inspired by the trio’s greatness, but it also shows their rise as daring stars in the ATP Tour.

Over the years, big names have made the headlines in tennis and they have set the bar for some of the new players who want to join in the hype and try their luck. Tennis is a tough sport, but even some of the best players get the chance to improve their games and score more wins.

This is the impact that the rising stars make on the modern era. This kind of success for some of the known stars in the ATP Tour is well-loved by a lot of fans thanks to their grit in the games. Of course, the games played by the big three are always a thrill to watch, but it is much more different when other players get a chance to shine.

A lot of big names made the top 100 in the ATP Tour 2021 season alone, and fans are pleased to see them shine at the best of their games. Their impact lasts more than just a year, and it would even lead to a lot of push in the coming runs.

They are starting to inspire more players, and even those who had setbacks and other reasons for stopping are trying to find their way back into the ranks.

Here are some of the top rising tennis stars of the decade:

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Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu is the no. 1 British player and is the first to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade in the 1977 Wimbledon Championships. The star is known for her skills in the baseline combined with her strong groundstrokes and strong serve returns.

Her success in the 2021 season made her an icon and she sat no. 19 at the WTA Tour rankings. She is one of the few female stars to make a huge rise in the modern era and this may be the start of her new legacy in the making. 

Emma entered her Grand Slam debut in June 2021 in a wildcard pass to Wimbledon. She moved to the third round with big wins against Vitalia Diatchenko and Markéta Vondroušová. The star made history as the first British woman to go into the third round of the competition since 2002 and soon the first to make it to the last 16 in the Open Era as well.

The star then went for the Silicon Valley Classic, which was the first Women’s tourney in August. Thanks to a wildcard ticket, Emma had initial success but soon lost in the first round before making a call to change her coach. 

Emma soon entered the US Open and was sitting at the world no. 150 that time. She waltzed her way with wins against Bibiane Schoofs, Mariam Bolkvadze, and Mayar Sherif to reach the main draw. From that point, Emma closed down her game and beat Stefanie Vögele, Zhang Shuai, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Shelby Rogers, and Belinda Bencic. A win against Maria Sakkari gave her a ticket to the final. 

Beating Leylah Fernandez in the final marked a huge success for Emma. She became the only singles qualifier to reach the semis and the final of the US Open in the Open Era. The star was also the youngest to make it to the final since Maria Sharapova did in 2006.

Emma’s success proved that she belonged to the top hierarchy of the WTA, and now she is making a strong case to reach the world no. 1 soon.

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Alexander Zverev

Since 2017, Alexander Zverev has been a face in the top 10. Now as the world no. 3, Sascha still continues to prove that he deserves so much praise for his big games in the past few years. The 2021 run has been his biggest push so far, and that’s when he nailed the world no. 3 spot. 

Alex’s success showed that he has a lot to offer in his games. The German had an early break when he became the youngest player to win a Challenger title at the age of 17. As a teen, Alex won two ATP titles and even upset Federer on grass. At the age of 20, Alex was soon the youngest player to make a debut in the top 20 since Djokovic.

At the Laver Cup, Zverev also pulled off wins in the contest and he clinched a lot of success in 2018 and 2019. Both 2020 and 2021 showed the reality of his games and there were a lot of wins for him as well.

In 2021, Zverev scored six ATP titles along with the gold medal in the Tokyo Games. That also marked the return for him in the top three which saw him prove his worth as a rising star in the ATP Tour. The German star has made a lot of headway in his games so far and he continues to prove that point as a winner in some of the biggest tourneys of his career.

Zverev closed out the 2021 run with a big win against Djokovic in the ATP Finals, and it was a huge blast for him as he continued to shine in the ATP Tour.

Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz is one of the youngest rising stars in 2021, and he sure had a blast as he kept on crashing through the ranks in his games. At the age of 18, Carlos made his debut in February 2020 at the Rio Open. He closed out a win against Albert Ramos Viñolas thanks to a wildcard for the singles main draw.

At the age of 17, Carlos reached the main draw of the Happy Slam and was the youngest to join in the history of the men’s singles. He won his Grand Slam debut and lost in the second round to Mikael Ymer. 

Madrid Open became a ground for Alcaraz to show why he is one of the best to root for. He defeated Adrian Mannarino as a wildcard and broke Rafa’s record from 2004 as the youngest match winner in the tourney. That led him to enter the top 100 at the age of 18 in May 2021.

At the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Carlos scored a win against world no. 7 Matteo Berrettini which marked one of the biggest wins in his career. That was also the second win he had against a top-10 player, which soon led to his debut in the top 35 in November 2021.

His third win against a player in the top 10 came against Jannik Sinner in the Paris Masters. He needed straight sets to clinch the second round before he was beaten by Hugo Gaston in the next round.

Carlos had a big finish in the NextGen ATP Finals. The Spaniard beat Brandon Nakashima, Juan Manuel Cerúndolo, and Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune to join the round-robin stage. He soon went for the semis without a loss and defeated Sebastian Baez. His trip to the final was a huge win against Sebastian Korda to close out the tourney.

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Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner is a prominent icon in his games so far. The star surged into the ATP Tour and was the youngest player ranked in the top 10. The best of his games proved that he is a great star who has a lot of potential when it comes to winning games against some of the best players in the ATP Tour.

At the 2020 French Open, Sinner became the first star to enter the French Open since Djokovic in 2006 and the first player born in the 2000s to break into the ATP’s top 10. He’s won a total of five ATP titles in singles while clinching one in doubles. Sinner is the youngest title-holder by winning the Sofia Open in 2020 - and the youngest man to reach five titles since Djokovic did in 2007.

Sinner is also the youngest player to win an ATP 500 title. His powerful serves and volleys became a staple of his style. He switched his tactics and became a big hitter in the past few years. Sinner won the ATP Newcomer of the Year award in 2019 when he broke into the top 100 and reached his first semis at the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan and soon beat Alex de Minaur in the final.

Sinner kept his rise into the top 50 in 2020 with a lot of wins against players in the top 10. He had his maiden ATP title in the same year. He carried the same momentum he had in 2020 into the 2021 ATP Tour with his second ATP title in a row with a Masters 1000 runner-up finish at the Miami Open.

Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev is the world no. 2 but he is still in his younger prime years. The Russian star has sat at the no. 2 spot since March 2021 and he has tallied a total of 13 ATP Tour singles titles, which includes his finish in the 2021 US Open against Djokovic. He is the only player to beat the top three ranked players in the world en route to the 2020 ATP Finals which is the greatest feat of his career so far.

Medvedev made his debut in the doubles event in Moscow for the 2015 Kremlin Cup. The star won his first singles match at the 2016 Ricoh Open before joining his first Major in the 2017 Wimbledon where he scored a win against Stan Wawrinka. 

In 2018, Daniil won his first ATP title at Sydney and Winston-Salem while notching his first ATP 500 title in Tokyo. The star soon had a break in 2019 where he first entered the top 10 when he went for six tourney finals in a row, including the US Open. Medvedev is one of the two players who have four Masters 1000 titles before the age of 25. 

Daniil is a strong defensive baseliner who has a knack for reading plays. The star has also added big returns to his game and is seen as one of the polished players in the ATP Tour. That led him to win a lot of titles in his career and build his reputation as a sweeper in most tourneys.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the top stars who made a lot of noise in the past few years. The star is all about winning and he has done a great job to prove his point as one of the few Greek players to win many titles in the ATP Tour.

The Greek star has always been on the prowl most of his games ever since he joined the ATP Tour. Stefanos won his first match in 2017 and soon climbed the rankings in a snap. He went for three tour-level finals in 2018 and clinched his first title with a big finish at the Stockholm Open. He was also the youngest player to beat four top-ten opponents in a single tourney. 

Tsitsipas was soon named as the 2019 Greek Male Athlete of the Year and wrapped up his run with a huge win at the NextGen ATP Finals. He has been a fixed star in the top 10 ever since and won his first Masters 1000 event at the 2021 Monte-Carlo Masters. 

The Greek star’s first Grand Slam final was at the 2021 French Open but lost to Djokovic in five sets even when he held a two-set lead against the world no. 1. 

These stars continue to set the standard in the ATP Tour for future players, and there is no doubt that their success goes beyond the summit as they aim for more wins. This is why there is more to expect from each rising star in the long run.

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Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: Alamy