Six Next Gen players to watch in 2021 - UBITENNIS
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Six Next Gen players to watch in 2021

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Six under 21 players born in the 2000s have come to the fore this season and are ready to make a major breakthrough in the coming years. 

 

We look back at the Next Gen season featuring six Next Gen players outside the top 100 (Thiago Seyboth Wild, Lorenzo Musetti, Sebastian Korda, Carlos Alcaraz, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima), who produced an impact on the ATP Tour and Challenger season in 2020 and could break into the top 100 next year. 

Thiago Seyboth Wild (world number 115) born in 2000

The 20-year-old Brazilian player emerged in 2018 when he won the US Open Junior title. He became the first ATP Tour champion born in 2000s when he beat number 1 seed Christian Garin in Santiago, followed by Norwegian clay specialist Casper Ruud 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the final. At the age of 19 Seyboth Wild became the youngest Brazilian champion in ATP Tour history and the youngest champion during the Golden Swing since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal won the Acapulco title in 2005. 

Seyboth Wild was the lowest-ranked winner at World number 182 and the youngest tour-level champion at 19 years and 11 months. He broke into top 200 in the ATP Ranking on 24 February and climbed up 69 positions reaching his career-high of world number 113 on 2 March. 

“It’s an incredible achievement. It’s something I have always dreamed about”, said Seyboth Wild.

Thiago saved three match points to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round in Rio de Janeiro as wildcard after 3 hours and 49 minutes in the longest ATP Tour match since the 2009 Madrid semifinal, when Rafa Nadal beat Novak Djokovic after 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Sebastian Korda (world number 117) born in 2000

Sebastian Korda is following in the footsteps of his father Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open title in 1998 and reached the French Open final in 1992, and tennis player Regina Rajchrtova. Sebastian grew up playing competitive ice hockey, but he decided to switch to tennis at the age of 9 after accompanying his father Petr to the US Open in 2009. 

The US player of Czech origin made a step forward in his career last summer, when he qualified for the main draw at the Western and Southern Open in New York by beating Gilles Simon. Korda pushed Denis Shapovalov in a four-set match in the first round at the US Open. 

At Roland Garros Sebastian came through the qualifying rounds to reach the main draw before beating Andreas Seppi and John Isner to get through the third round. He then beat Pedro Martinez becoming the first qualifier to reach the Round of 16 at Roland Garros in nine years. Korda won just four games in his straight-set defeat against 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, but the young US player will never forget this moment. 

“It was definitely the best moment of my life. It was super awesome”, said Korda. 

Korda went on to clinch his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Eckental (Germany). 

Lorenzo Musetti (world number 127) born in 2002

Lorenzo Musetti followed in the footsteps of Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan in 2019 and claimed his maiden ATP Tour title in Sofia this year. 

Musetti, who won the Australian Open title in 2019, made his ATP Tour debut last February in Dubai, where he lost to Andrey Rublev in Dubai. 

Musetti entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome as the World Number 249 and dropped a set in two of his three qualifying matches. The Italian 18-year-old player went on to upset former top 10 players Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in back-to-back matches to reach the third round for the first round in his career. Musetti became the first player to reach the third round in Rome since Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in 1991. 

Musetti lost in the third round against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer. The Italian teenager carried the momentum winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Forlì and became the youngest semifinalist of the season at the Sardinia Open in Santa Margherita di Pula as a wild-card. 

Lorenzo’s father is a marble producer. His mother is a secretary. The only coach in his career is Simone Tartarini. Lorenzo considers him as his second father. 

Carlos Alcaraz (world number 140) born in 2003

Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz grabbed the headlines last February before his 17-year-old birthday, when he beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 37 minutes in the ATP 500 tournament in Rio de Janeiro in his debut on the ATP Tour at 3.00 local time. 

Alcaraz went on to become the youngest player to win ATP Challenger Tour trophies in consecutive weeks and the second youngest player to claim three titles in Challenger history. Only Richard Gasquet was younger, when he won his third title in Naples in 2003. 

Alcaraz beat Musetti in the semifinal of the ATP Challenger in Trieste en route to winning his first Challenger title. The Spanish player coached by former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero won two back-to back titles in Barcelona (beating Damir Dzumhur in the final) and Alicante. 

Alcaraz has ended the season with a record of 39 wins to just 7 defeats. 

Hugo Gaston (world number 161) born in 2000

Hugo Gaston entered the French Open without a tour-level win and a semifinal at ATP Tour Challenger in Bergamo as his best result. The 20-year-old Frenchman beat Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the third round in the Paris Grand Slam tournament. Gaston entertained the few French fans with his drop-shot in his five-set win over 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka to reach the fourth round for the first first time in his career. The player from Toulouse became the lowest-ranked player to reach the fourth round at the French Open since world number 283 Arnaud Di Pasquale in 2002 and the first Frenchman to reach the fourth round in Roland Garros debut since Patrice Dominguez in 1971. 

Gaston lost against US Open champion and two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in five sets. 

Gaston made his Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open as a wild card losing to Jaume Munar in the first round. 

Brandon Nakashima (world number 166) born in 2001

Nakashima received a wild-card to his first ATP main draw tournament in Delray Beach. The young US player beat Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie to become the youngest quarter finalist since Kei Nishikori won this tournament at the age of 18 in 2008. 

Nakashima won his first Grand Slam match against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi at the US Open and claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title in Orlando. He advanced to the ATP Challenger semifinal at Indian Wells.  

Nakashima is coached by 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Brandon’s mother grew up in Vietnam. His father is of Japanese ancestry and was born in California. 

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Rafael Nadal Apologizes To Opponent After Wimbledon Win

The Spaniard admits he made a mistake.

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Rafael Nadal said he was ‘wrong’ to call his opponent to the net during the third set of their third round match at Wimbledon.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last 16 of the tournament by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon for more than a decade, was out in full flow as he raced to a two-set and 4-2 lead. At that point, Sonego managed to get the roof to be closed due to poor lighting.

After speaking to the umpire, Nadal called his opponent to the net for a discussion over what is believed to be about the noise he was making during the match. After losing his 4-2 advantage, Nadal battled back by breaking once again to secure victory.

“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So I apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that,” said Nadal.
Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on), because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that.
“My intention was never to bother him at all. Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some code between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”


The two shared a lengthy exchange at the net after the conclusion of the match and there were no hard feelings between either player.

Controversy aside, Nadal has hailed what he believed is his best performance at The All England Club yet. Against Soego, he won 73% of his service points and hit 24 winners.

“It was my best match, without a doubt, since the tournament started,” said Nadal. “I have made improvements and I’m very happy.’
“I’ve made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days, the determination, the way that I manage to play more aggressively and going to the net plenty of times.”

 

Nadal will play Dutch world number 25 Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16. 

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“Every Match Is A War” – Carlos Alcaraz Excels With Best Performance Yet At Wimbledon

The world No.7 reacts to his latest win ahead of a showdown with a fellow rising star of the sport.

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Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Carlos Alcaraz believes he is quickly finding his footing on the grass after storming into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.

Alcaraz, who is playing in only his second grass-court tournament as a pro player, blasted his way past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. The Spaniard dropped only 14 points behind his serve as he hit a total of 37 winners against eight unforced errors.

“I played unbelievable. This was my best performance so far. So I’m really happy with the level, and I will try to keep this level into the next round.” Alcaraz said afterwards.

The 19-year-old has been a revelation on the Tour this season which has already seen him crack the world’s top 10 and win two Masters 1000 titles. He currently holds the record for the youngest player to ever win an ATP 500 event, as well as being the youngest to score back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament.

In one way Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport is illustrated by his current campaign at Wimbledon. In the first round he found it tough going throughout his five-set win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Learning from that experience, his form improved in the second round against Tallon Griekspoor (who he defeated in straight sets) and even more so against Otte.

“Every match is a war. Every match you can play unbelievable or you can play your worst match,” he explains. “Obviously Monday was my first match on grass (this year). It was really tough. Struff played unbelievable.’
“After four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”
“Now I feel more comfortable playing on grass, and I feel better on grass right now.”


Alcaraz’s next ‘war’ will be another rising star of the Tour – Jannik Sinner. A player who is less than two years older than him. They locked horns last year at the Paris Masters where the Spaniard prevailed in two close sets. Alcaraz also won their meeting at a Challenger event in Alicante back in 2019.

With a place in a Grand Slam quarter-final at stake, it is expected to be a tough battle. Although a challenge is something Alcaraz thrives on.

“Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges.” He said.
“On grass you have to play aggressive, you have to go to the net, you have to try to play more aggressively than the opponent. That’s my idea that I try in every match, to not let the opponent dominate the match.” He added.

The upcoming showdown will be Alcaraz’s sixth Tour-level match on grass which is only two less than that of Sinner. 

 

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Novak Djokovic Shrugs Off Threat Of Covid-19 Outbreak At Wimbledon

The world No.3 explains why he is not ‘overconcenred’ about COVID-19 at the Grand Slam.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB) - Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Novak Djokovic says the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon is one that doesn’t concern him too much after a trio of top-20 players withdrew.

Earlier this week Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut all withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the virus. Unlike the strict protocols that were in place last year, The All England Club has based its policy on local health advice. Where it is recommended that a person takes action if they have symptoms of the virus but they are not required to do so.

With fewer testing measures in place at Wimbledon, there is a high possibility that there are people working on site carrying COVID-19 without realizing it. However, the threat to players is one that reigning champion Djokovic is not too concerned about.

“I did visit the city (London) a few times before the tournament started but I’m not overconcerned about anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, focused and play the tournament.” Djokovic said following his third round win.
“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m going to catch COVID. But being cautious is something that is a necessity I think for everyone, and particularly because we have been through what we’ve been through in the last two years.”

 

Djokovic is one of the few top players who didn’t have a vaccination against covid. Resulting in him having a high-profile legal dispute with Australian authorities which resulted in his deportation and him missing the Australian Open. The tennis star later explained that he didn’t want to be vaccinated as he is cautious about what will be injected into his body. Even though the vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization.

However, nemesis Rafael Nadal said on Thursday that he is taking extra precautions due to the threat. To common knowledge, there is no rule in place preventing a player who tests positive for Covid from playing in the Grand Slam.

“I am not doing many things. Just staying here (at Wimbledon) and staying in the house, not going out at all anymore. That’s part of this challenging world that we are facing in the last couple of years.” Nadal said.
“I am not saying that we are not doing things the proper way because at some point we need to open everything again, we need to be free, have a normal life.”

According to the National Office of Statistics (ONS) it is estimated that 1 in 30 people currently have the virus in the UK in the week ending June 24th.

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