After a more uncertain off-season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 tennis season has finally arrived, with the Australian Open in a few weeks. While many of the game’s enduring favorites are likely to continue to dominate the New Year, the next superstars are not far away; the future is quickly becoming the present.
Tennis is full of players who have earned their spurs in the sport, but who cannot drink legally in the United States. Overall, this group has already won two major titles, nine singles trophies at the WTA and ATP tournaments, and has made some deep runs at Grand Slam tournaments.
Who are these rising stars? Here are the 21 under 21 for 2021 in alphabetical order. We have a feeling you’ll hear a lot more of these names in the future.
Career highlights: Winner of three ATP Challenger tournaments and three ITF Futures tournaments; made his ATP main debut at the Rio Open in 2020.
Fun fact: In his spare time Alcaraz likes to play golf. I’m so bad, he said about my skills on the field, but I really like playing.
Despite the conditions of the 2020 season, Alcaraz has still found a way to win 350 places in the standings by the end of the year, climbing from 491st to 141st and even reaching 136th place in October, the highest level of his career.
He started the year with two ITF Futures Tour titles before winning a wildcard for the Rio Open in February. And the 16-year-old took advantage of his ATP tournament debut to beat the former world no. 17. He defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 3 hours and 36 minutes and became the first player born in 2003 to win a match and the youngest winner of a match since 2013. Alcaraz said the victory was the highlight of his season.
He said it was very special to me.
Since the resumption of his season in August, Alcaraz has recorded a record 20-4 in Challenger tournaments. He won three titles in Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante and competed in the finals in Cordenones. He was named ATP Rookie of the Year and is the youngest player in the top 600.
But Alcaraz, who idolizes his compatriot Rafael Nadal, has even more ambitious goals for 2021. He hopes to reach his first big draw in February on a major in Australia and then play in all the slams. What about his evaluation? He hopes to give another big push in the new year.
I want to finish the year in the top 50, he said.
Career highlights: Champion, the 2019 U.S. Open, 2019 Indian Open and 2019 Canadian Open.
Fun fact: Andrescu is a fan of everything that happens in Toronto. Originally from nearby Mississauga, she was often seen at Raptors races before the pandemic. Winning his first Slam title just months after the Raptors won the 2019 NBA finals, inspired the hashtag #SheTheNorth. Of course she is also a big Drake fan and called him in the Tonight Show not to congratulate her on winning the US Open. A few days later she confirmed that he had finally sent her a text message. Actually, I’m talking to her, it’s unrealistic, she said at the press conference.
Andrescu was injured for most of the 2019 season, but to say she made the most of the tournaments in which she could play would be a serious understatement.
She competed in the #178 season and did not participate in any WTA events in 2018, but she managed to qualify in Oakland and reached the finals to start the year. She reached the semi-finals of the Mexican Open and then shocked the field in Indian Wells to win her first WTA title. She struggled with injuries in the coming months before returning to win the Canadian Open.
She drove to the US Open and convincingly defeated Caroline Wozniacki, Elisa Mertens and Belinda Bencic before beating Serena Williams in the finals. She won the first set 6-3 that dominated the game, then quietly defeated Williams in the second set to finally win her first big title. She became the first Canadian woman to win a major singles trophy, the first player in history to win a US Open title in her main debut, and the first teenager to win a singles trophy since Maria Sharapova in 2006. In October she climbed to fourth place in the world rankings and won the WTA Rookie of the Year award.
However, she had to withdraw from the WTA finals at the end of the year due to a knee injury that started the new season. She missed the Australian Open and hoped to return to Indian Wells to defend her title. Of course we all know what happened next – the tournament was cancelled and the season was suspended for a few months. When the tour resumed in August, Andrescu retired for the rest of the year, but he is now concentrating on the 2021 season as a whole.
We focus on her condition and make sure she gets back into shape like never before. We hope that it will make a big difference, said long time coach Sylvian Bruno during their training in Dubai in December. She had been in situations where she had been out fighting for a long time, and then she came back and did very well, and of course it took longer, but she had come through it before. She’s the kind of player who always knows about her game.
Country: UNITED STATES
Career highlights: Semifinal, Roland Garros 2019; champion, Copa Colsanitas 2019.
Fun fact: Anisimova shares an agent with Maria Sharapova and is often compared to the five-time retired champion. Like Sharapova, Anisimova has Russian roots (her parents moved to the United States before she was born) and is considered to have great marketing potential. In 2019 it signed a large long-term contract with Nike (which had a financial value around Maria Sharapova, according to the New York Post) and was also underwritten by Gatorade, Terabody and Babolat.
As the 2019 season approaches, Anisimova has never won a match in a big arena. It didn’t matter much if she went on to the fourth round in Melbourne, won her first WTA title in Bogota and went on to the semifinals in Paris, defeating No. 11 seed Arina Sabalenka and No. 3 seed Simona Halep. She has moved up the rankings, has become more popular due to her success on the court and her entertaining presence on social media, and seems to become the tennis player of the next big event.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Amanda Anisimova, 19 years old, 30th on the WTA rankings, has already reached a Grand Slam semifinal in her young professional career. JOHN G MABANGLO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
However, after the death of her father, who was also her coach, she withdrew from the US Open 2019 and only played two tournaments this year. She started the year 2020 with a semifinal at the Auckland Open, but could not repeat her success in Melbourne and lost in the first round. She didn’t make it to the third round of any tournament last year.
But she is now starting what she hopes will be her first uninterrupted season on tour since she became a professional. With her past and unshakeable confidence, she will undoubtedly have high expectations of herself – and she will try to silence the sceptics.
I get back on my feet and push myself as much as I can, Anisimova told ESPN’s Alyssa Roenigk in 2019. I like extraordinary people. When people doubt me, I want to prove that I can do things they would never think of.
Note: 21 (77 duplicates)
Career highlights: Fourth round, US Open 2020; six-time ATP finalist; two-time winner, Paris Masters 2020.
Fun fact: In low season, Auger-Aliassim trained at the academy of Rafael Nadal in Majorca. He trained 20 times with the big champion and worked with Tony’s uncle Nadal and his long-time coach.
True teenage phenomena are rare on the male side of professional tennis, but Auger-Aliassim was. He is the youngest player since 1999 who reached the top 25 at the age of 18 and reached five ATP finals before his 20th birthday. As he approached his 60th birthday, the Canadian set the bar very high as soon as he was on his way.
He won his first Challenger game at the age of 14 and became the youngest player ever. He won two Futures titles and four Challenger titles before focusing mainly on the ATP competition for the 2019 season. He reached the first of three finals in Rio in February.
Auger-Aliassim reached two more finals – in Rotterdam and Marseille – at the beginning of the 2020 season before it ended, and when the season resumed, he continued where he left off. His best result in a major tournament was the fourth round of the US Open, where he lost to eventual winner Dominic Thiem. He reached another final in Cologne, where he lost to Aleksandr Zverev, but surprised himself by winning the biggest title of his career a few weeks later. With Hubert Hurkacz the duo won the double trophy at the Paris Masters.
I never thought I’d win my first big double title and I think that’s what makes it so special, he said. They say the best things come when you least expect them, and that certainly applies to the title in Paris. Whether it was in the singles or doubles, it was just a great feeling to win a championship game of this importance.
With this unexpected new equipment, Auger-Aliassim enters the 2021 season with big goals for him: finishing in the top 10 and playing for the Canadian team at the Olympics.
Being part of the Canadian Olympic team would not only be one of the most special moments of my career so far, but it would also be a real honor to represent my country and compete among the best athletes of my country, he said. The Olympic Games have the power to unite citizens and inspire a generation of young athletes, and that is invaluable to me.
Career highlights: Third round, French Open 2020; Finalist, Mexican Open 2020
Fun fact: Fernandez graduated from high school during a stop on the tour last spring. Initially hoping to graduate after balancing life on tour with her studies, she realized she had missed it and is now taking courses through the WTA’s partnership with East Indiana University. She took two courses in the autumn semester, a first-year seminar and the basics of business administration, and will follow two more in the spring. It’s funny to say how much I love my online lessons and that it’s such a good break from tennis, she says. Sometimes I get frustrated when I don’t have homework, because I’ve already done everything. Believe me, even I’m surprised by this.
Fernandez made her main debut at the Australian Open in January – just a year before she won the junior title – but she did exactly the same a few weeks before the event, which raised the eyebrows of tennis fans.
After a first-round loss in Melbourne, Fernandez earned her first win against a top-10 player (Belinda Bencic) while representing Canada at the Fed Cup (now known as the Billie Jean King Cup) in Switzerland. In the same month, she won six games in seven days at a Mexican Open qualifying tournament and made it to the finals, where she eventually lost to Heather Watson. The following week, she reached the quarter-finals of the Monterey Open, beating US Open champion Stevens in the second round in 2017.
I understood that, and it was the right decision, but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that they cancelled Indian wells – just because I played so well, she said. But I am very grateful for this opportunity in Acapulco, because without it I would not be where I am now. Previously my ranking was not that high and I could not participate in tournaments, so I feel very, very happy.
Fernandez reached the second round at the US Open and moved on to the third round at the French Open, where she defeated Petra Kvitova 5-1 in the first round before the two-time winner came back to win.
It was a bit of a disappointing loss, but I think it showed us where I stand, she said. Since this is the last game of the year, it has given us an idea of how to train for the next season, so if I play against them or players like them in the future, I know what to do.
Fernandez thinks 2021 will be even more successful. Their goal is to be in the top 10 by the end of the year.
I know I still have a long way to go, but it’s a goal and I think I can achieve it.
Career highlights: Fourth round, French Open 2020
Fun fact: Gaston was France’s standard-bearer at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, where he took home a gold medal in the singles and a bronze medal in the doubles and mixed.
Fault! The file name is not specified. ranked No. 239 in the world and a wild card in his house Grand Slam, 20-year-old Hugo Gaston has reached the fourth round of the 2020 French Open. Joal Walat/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
With just one big race and no victories on the ATP Tour, Gaston wasn’t really on the radar of many when he came to Roland Garros this fall. But of course he was there at the end of the tournament.
With a 239th place and a wildcard for his home tournament, Gaston earned his first three ATP victories and moved on to the fourth round – including a 32-set victory over 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka – before falling to the defending US Open champion and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in a tight five-set battle. Apparently, Tim, surprised, then Gaston’s shots hired like he was from another planet.
Gaston was the lowest ranked player to reach the fourth round of a major tournament since 2004 and was the last Frenchman and the first compatriot to reach the round of 16 on his tournament debut since 1971.
He said it was a big tournament for me.
The 20-year-old is now trying to reach the top 100 and, having seen what he can do on his own turf, wants to go even further in the tournament of 2021.
Note: 48 (45 duplicates)
Country: UNITED STATES
Career highlights: Fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open Wimbledon and 2020 Australian Open; quarterfinals of the 2020 Australian Open Doubles; 2019 Linz Open Champion; 2019 Washington Open Doubles Champion and 2019 Luxembourg Open Doubles Champion.
Fun fact: Hauffeur comes from a family of athletes. His father Corey played basketball in Georgia State and his mother Candy was an athlete in Florida. She tried both sports (and even won her first 5K, according to her father), but fell in love with tennis and trained under Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Muratoglu at the age of 11 at his school in France.
At the age of 15, Gauff became a sensation when she knocked out one of her lifelong idols, Venus Williams, at the opening of Wimbledon in 2019. After qualifying, Gauff defeated the five-time All England Club champion to become the youngest player to win a Slam match since 1996.
With her cheerful presence, fearless play and media wisdom she continued to wow tennis fans in what soon became CocoMania. Before she lost in the fourth round to winner Simona Halep, her matches became a television must-see and caught the attention of Michelle Obama and Tina Knowles-Lawson (Beyonce’s mother).
Since he became a star at Wimbledon, Gauff is one of the brightest young players on the tour. He caused a sensation at the 2019 US Open and the 2020 Australian Open, both in singles and doubles, with his girlfriend Caty McNally and her boyfriend. Last year in Melbourne his biggest win so far in the third round came against defending champion Naomi Osaka. Some were surprised, but those who had been following her for some time were anything but surprised.
Koko has this inborn quality where she always believes in winning, said Chris Evert, 18-time Grand Slam champion and ESPN analyst, after the race. I think she’s in the top ten of tennis right now. I think that’s as stupid as it gets. She says she wants to be the greatest of them all and at her age that’s possible.
Outside the courtroom, she was just as reluctant. Over the summer, she has spoken out several times in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, including a flamboyant speech at a peaceful protest in her hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Game
Coco Gauff speaks at a demonstration in her hometown of Delray Beach, Florida, calling for change in the future.
Gauff reached the semi-finals of the Top Seed Open in August in his first tournament since the resumption of the 2020 season, but had a hard time after the break. Yet the expectations for a teenager at the dawn of a new year can’t be higher – even if he or she insists on taking it one step at a time.
Every race is somehow a great victory, she said after her victory in the first round of Roland Garros in September. I’m not taking anything for granted because I’m just happy to play. I don’t think it’s something I’m used to winning slapsticks. When I’m in the field, I can pretend I’m used to it. When I’m not in the field, I’m just happy to be here.
Career highlights: Third round, 2020 US Open; Seven ITF titles.
Fun fact: Gracheva loves to draw and her favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh, especially his self-portrait with a bandage over his ear.
Gracheva rose from 447th to 105th in the 2019 rankings with a record 70-26, but she was still an unknown when she played her first major at the US Open 2020.
And with 6-1, 5-1, it looked like Gracheva would have to withdraw in her second round against Kristina Mladenovic, but it was inevitable.
But she fought – point by point, game by game – and brought up one of the most amazing memories in recent memory. Gracheva converted four match points and eventually won in 2 hours and 13 minutes against Mladenovic in the final set.
His first victory against a top 50 player allowed him to climb up to 89th place. She more than doubled her career income when she was in New York. She wasn’t able to repeat her success for the rest of the 2020 season, but she proved with her victory over time that she probably won’t fly under the radar again.
Career highlights: Second cycle, 2019. Wimbledon, 2020 US Open, 2020 French Open; seven ITF titles.
Fun fact: In his spare time Yuvan enjoys drawing, studying psychology and reading philosophical books. I like Socrates – he’s really interesting because he was at the beginning of philosophy – he started it, she told the WTA. And then there is Descartes’ saying that faith is a projection of man, and I think that’s a very clever saying because it actually has to do with God, and I think that’s what people like to do.
In a race where she was expected to finish first in the main draw, Juwan failed to qualify for the French Open 2019 in the final round. As the third loser of the tournament, she had no chance to play in the tournament.
At least that’s what she thought. On the first day of the race he was told that Petra Kvitova would withdraw and take her place. She only had two hours to prepare for the game… for Suzanne Lenglen, no less. Juwan won the first set against Sorana Kirstia before finally losing, but it was one of the most memorable debuts and a sign of what’s to come.
The next month she won her first match at Wimbledon and got her second meeting with Serena Williams. In a conversation with the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, Juwan Williams defeated twice in the first set to take a 6-2 lead. Although Williams came back to win the race, Juwan showed that she is more than ready for the biggest steps in the sport.
At Roland Garros 2020, Juwan won one of the biggest victories of his career in easy sets against three-time defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round. She gave Williams the honor of helping her get this far.
That’s probably how I handled it, she said after the game. I just wasn’t afraid of it, that’s all. It’s clear that last year’s game against Serena helped me keep my head cool in that game.
Juwan is an old friend of 2020 French Open winner Iga Swentek – the couple won gold in the doubles at the 2018 Youth Olympics – and will undoubtedly be motivated by his friend’s success in trying to match it.
Country: UNITED STATES
Career highlights: Fourth round, French Open 2020; an ATP Challenger title.
Fun fact: Korda is the son of two professional tennis players – father Peter won the Australian Open in 1998 and mother Regina was 26th. Not to mention the fact that his older sisters Jessica and Nellie are stars of the LPGA tournament. He often uses the hashtag #Kordashian when referring to his famous family on social media and says he finds it harder to see his sisters playing than to play himself. There was an event where Nellie played and I was able to be there in person. She was leading through a few holes and my pulse was 182, he said. I still have a screenshot of my watch. It’s so disturbing to look at them.
Korda came to Roland Garros in Paris in search of her first victory in the leading role of a major.
After qualifying he defeated Andreas Seppi in the first round before beating American John Isner in the second round and Pedro Martinez in the third. He knew who he could meet in the Tour of 16 and used that as a motivation for all three races.
I always said it would be my ultimate dream to play [Rafael] Nadal at the French Open and I could see myself qualifying next to him, so I prayed that he would make it to the first round, he said. And then I saw that I had a few sessions about him [in the lottery] and I thought: Oh, I have to work on that now.
I wanted it so badly. We talked after every game with my team: Okay, let’s move on. I was training next to him for the second round race and I couldn’t believe how hard he hit and how intense he was. It was hard to practice next to him because I was watching him the whole time.
In the end, Nadal won a competition on his way to his 13th career win. Korda left with a farewell gift that quickly went around the world: a t-shirt signed by Nadal himself that now hangs on the wall in his room.
It was a very cool moment for me, that all the work and dedication I did was worth it, he said. I learned a lot from this game and it really showed me that I have the level to be where I want to be.
And Korda hasn’t finished deleting her list by 2020. In November he won his first professional title at the Challenger tournament in Eckenthal, Germany.
I just want to keep building my body, keep building my game the way I want to play and be an aggressive player, he said. So I build on that and work on a few things, but I would like to be in the top 100 very soon. That’s for sure.
In five years time I hope to be at the top and participate in a Grand Slam. My process and journey is slower than that of most people. And I won’t fully develop for a few years, but it shows me that even if I don’t fully develop, I can do some damage.
Note: 99 (112 duplicates)
Career highlights: 3rd round, 2018 Australian Open, 2020 US Open; three ITF singles tournaments, two ITF doubles tournaments.
Fun fact: Kostjuks’ mother, Talina Beiko, won two ITF single titles and a double title during her professional tennis career and is ranked 391st in the world. She represented Ukraine at the Fed Cup in 1995 and is now one of the coaches of Kostjuk. Kostjuks’ uncle, Taras Beiko, also played professionally.
Although Kostyuk was not as good a leader as Koko Gauff in 2019, he made the same breakthrough as 15-year-old Kostyuk. Kostyuk, number 521, was given a wild card to qualify for the Australian Open 2018, one year after winning the junior title. She won three qualifiers and became the first player of the 2002 age group to participate in the draw. She became the youngest player to win a first-round match in Melbourne since 1996 and the youngest to reach a third round match in a Slam in 21 years.
She rose to 185th place in the standings after her victory at next week’s ITF tournament. But while she continues to find success on the ITF circuit and reaches the quarter-finals in Strasbourg in 2019, Kostyuk struggles with her consistency and won’t qualify for the slapshot for the rest of 2018 and 2019.
It seems to have regained its confidence after the restart in 2020 at the US Open. She defeated former world number 10 Daria Kasatkina and 2018 US Open semifinalist Anastasia Sevastova on her way to the third round before losing in three sets to winner Naomi Osaka.
I think the most important thing that I can take away from her game is that she was not afraid of me or my ball speed, which is pretty fantastic for someone so young, said Osaka after the game. I have a feeling she’s bound to be dangerous.
Country: UNITED STATES
Career highlights: 3rd round, 2020 US Open; three ITF titles.
Fun fact: Lee called Roger Federer his greatest idol and Li Na an inspiration to the Asian community, but this is a quote from the biography of Rafael Nadal: My story uses it as motivation: A long lifespan means acceptance. Accept things as they are, not as you would like them to be, and then look forward, not backward.
After qualifying, Lee Lizette defeated Cabrera in her main debut in Melbourne to open the 2020 edition. She lost in the second round to Sophia Kenin, but left Australia with good memories.
She only played one tournament before the end of the season, but when she started playing again, she was more focused and grateful than ever to be able to play. Lee moved on to the third round at the US Open and beat 13th place Alison Riske in the second round, before falling to three-time champion and former world number one Angelique Kerber in 32nd place.
I think that because of my 40’s and because I was unable to play for a while, I really focused on enjoying the competition and the game more and having a goal on each ball, she said. It was interesting without the crowd, but I still had a lot of fun and I had a lot of fun playing.
I think if I’m in my 40s and can’t play for a while, I can concentrate more on enjoying the league, the game and scoring at every ball.
Now that she has proven herself and her peers what she is capable of, Lee is looking forward to the new season and especially to events such as Wimbledon and other tournaments that were cancelled last year.
I do what I love every day, she says. I can inspire young people and others to play and have fun. It also allows me to travel to incredible places, learn new things and meet nice people I wouldn’t normally meet.
Note: 121 (42 duplicates)
Country: UNITED STATES
Career highlights: Third Round, 2020 U.S. Open; doubles quarterfinals, 2020 Australian Open; doubles champion, 2019 Washington Open and 2019 Luxembourg Open.
Fun fact: McNally is a big fan of the American women’s football team and even received a framed and sung jersey from star midfielder Rose Lavelle from Cincinnati for her birthday in November. McNally says it’s already on her bedroom wall, and the inscription of Lavelle Hold fast, stay true is what she uses as inspiration.
McNally entered the world tennis world at the age of 17 when she took the first set of Serena Williams in her second round at the 2019 US Open. It was his first draw in a major tournament, his first match against Arthur Ashe and his first encounter with the GOATs – and in turn, Williams’ first loss in the round of 16 on the Slam.
McNally beat the crowd to a sold-out and showed her composure under pressure by pushing three breakpoints in the final game of the set to win 7-5.
I was clearly nervous about playing against Arthur Ashe, but also excited, said McNally, who eventually lost the match but turned his attention to the world of tennis. I just wanted to give the best of myself, show everyone what I can do on the tennis court. Of course, it was a really great moment, and I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s crazy what happened.
Since then, McNally is perhaps best known as half of #McCoco, the fans’ favourite look-alike, associated with the equally glorious Coco Gauff. The teen couple won two professional titles together, as well as the US Open Junior Championship of 2018 and reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open of 2020 – attracting huge and enthusiastic crowds wherever they played for the COWID-19 restrictions.
McNally said that she and Gauff plan to play together as much as possible in 2021, and she believes that playing doubles has improved her game in general and will help her achieve her goal of making the top 100 this year.
My coaches always remind me that it’s the same service, the same returns, I hit the same balls, I just have someone with me, she says. So I took the trust out of the people who won a double. I think it finally gave me more confidence in my game and I thought: You can do it as one man.
Career highlights: Semifinals, Sardinia 2020; third round, Italian Open 2020; one ATP Challenger title and two ITF Futures titles.
Fun fact: Musetti’s favorite actor is Al Pacino, and if he didn’t play tennis, he would probably pursue an acting career of his own.
As former junior no. 1 and winner of the Australian Open in the boys’ category, Musetti didn’t make the ATP main draw until 2020, but it wasn’t long before he made a name for himself.
In the second draw – qualified as a wild card – the 18-year-old triple champion defeated Stan Wawrinka in easy sets in a first-round match in Rome, becoming the first male player born in 2002 to win a match at tournament level. He then defeated the former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori to become the youngest male player since 1991 and reach the third round of the Italian Open.
Even though he played without an audience because of the pandemic, it was an incredible feeling to beat Wawrinka and Nishikori on the center court, he said.
He won his first Challenger title the following week and qualified for the semifinals of the Forte Village Sardegna Open in October, in his last ATP tournament of the season as a wild card.
Musetti took part in the 2020 race, was in 360th place and finished in 128th place. He hopes to continue this upward trend in the new season, participating in numerous events for the first time – and facing renowned opponents.
I’m looking forward to playing in the big Wimbledon draw for the first time in my career, he said. Like many, I think I grew up admiring Roger Federer. It would be a dream to play him, maybe even at Wimbledon.
Country: UNITED STATES
Career highlights: Cycle, 2020 U.S. Open; one ATP Challenger title and two ITF Futures titles.
Fun fact: Nakashima finished high school a semester earlier and is enrolled in Virginia for the spring semester of 2019. He plays for the Cavaliers and has a record of 17-5 in the singles and 20-3 in the doubles. He was named CCA Freshman of the Year and the first All-ACC team. Nakashima became pro after the season, but he credited his short stint in college with preparing him for life on tour. I think playing in college and living outdoors for a long time certainly helped me adapt to working life, he says. I always wanted to go to college before I became a pro, even though I was very good at it, so I’m really glad I did.
Fault! File name omitted. Brandon Nakashima, 19, , became the youngest quarterfinalist in Delray Beach in 12 years to advance to the second round of the US Open 2020. Daniel Parkhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Nakashima won his first ATP level tournament in February 2020 at Delray Beach, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. He defeated Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie in the first two rounds to become the youngest quarterfinalist in 12 years. Frustrated by the end of the season a few weeks later, he was determined to use this break as productively as possible.
We didn’t know when the tournaments would start again, he said, but I’ve been here every day trying to get better, so I’ll be ready when the tournaments come back.
His attitude paid off. When the season resumed, he got a wild card for the US Open and won his first round of the big draw against Paolo Lorenzi. He lost in four sets of the runner-up Alexander Zverev in the next round, but said the tournament experience was invaluable.
He said it was great for me to play these games against these top players. Winning the first round gave me a lot of confidence, as did a good game in the second round against a better player. After this tournament I knew I could compete with all these big names.
Nakashima ended her season in November with the Challenger title, her first title in Orlando. He celebrated a round of golf with his coach before returning to California to train for the new season.
Winning the tournaments is proof of all the work I’ve done in the five months without tournaments and shows how far I’ve come in the off-season and in the new year, he said. I really feel I’m going in a positive direction, and winning the tournament gives me a lot of confidence for the new season.
Note: 101 (133 duplicates)
Career highlights: Second round, Australian Open 2019, French Open, Wimbledon; finalist, Moscow River Cup 2018, Tashkent Open 2018; double champion, Moscow River Cup 2018, Lausanne 2019.
Fun fact: If Potapova wasn’t a professional tennis player, she’d say she’s a writer or an archaeologist.
Potapova earned his first victory in the big draw of a slam at the Australian Open in 2019. A year later she was confronted with Serena Williams at the inaugural tournament in Melbourne in front of a packed house in the Rod Laver Arena.
I loved every second on the field and the experience of the game, she said of the 6-0, 6-3 loss.
Despite her early elimination, the match clearly motivated her. She reached the quarterfinals at her next three tournaments in St. Petersburg, Acapulco and Monterrey. She took time off to recover from a long right ankle injury, had surgery in July and missed the rest of the season to compete again – but it made her hungrier than ever to return to the competition.
Potapova’s priority for 2021 is to stay healthy, and she looks forward to resuming her tour.
I like everything she said. Travelling around the world, meeting new people, playing [in front of] large crowds. It’s a dream life for me, and I’m enjoying it.
Thiago Seybot Wild
Career highlights: First round, U.S. Open 2020; Champion, Chile Open 2020
Fun fact: Seybot Wilde likes to go fishing when he gets the chance, and says it’s the best way to clear his mind. I love the adrenaline of catching fish, and I can keep my mind off everything else, he said. People make the mistake of waiting to catch fish. You can go after them and use live bait. There are so many different techniques.
Seybot Wilde was not the most popular participant in the Chilean Open last February, after entering the top 200 for the first time. But in 3 hours and 49 minutes – the longest match in the history of the tournament – he managed to achieve one of the greatest victories of his career at the Rio Open against Alejandro Davidovic Fokin. In the next round Borna Cioric won in three sets and the 19-year-old flew high in the tournament.
What he achieved in a week in Santiago is even more impressive.
Seiboth Wilde eliminated three seeded players on the way to the title and became the first player born in the 2000s to win an ATP tournament and the youngest Brazilian champion of the Open era.
I don’t think anyone expected this [result], and neither do I, he said. I think I made a very good start in Rio, and I think it only strengthened my confidence. In the quarterfinals, when I played Christian Garin, I felt I could win the tournament because we played at the same level.
I think it’s more mental than anything else, because physically all the players in the top 100 are the same, they’re all very talented and can hit the ball very well and neatly. So the mentality makes all the difference. If you go to an exam and think you can beat everyone, that you have worked as hard as everyone else and that you really deserve it, then you are a winner.
After the restart it had mixed results: He lost in the first round of the US Open and did not qualify for the French Open. However, he reached the finals of the Challenger tournament in Aix-en-Provence, putting him in 106th place in his career ranking.
Seiboth Wild hopes to continue in 2020 with what he has achieved in the New Year, even though he says he has focused more on a few things in the preseason.
I’ve worked a lot on my condition, but nothing specific, more on getting stronger and faster on the field, moving better and being more coordinated, he said in December. I’ve been working on my service and my backhand because I think I need to improve my first service a lot. I have not yet determined my exact goals for 2021, but at some point I will sit down with my team to find a solution.
Career highlights: Quarter-finals, French Open 2020; Sofia Championship 2020; Next Generation ATP Finals, 2019.
Fun fact: As a child, Sinner was a competitive athlete and one of the best juniors in Italy. He won the national giant slalom championship at the age of 8 and finished second in this discipline at the age of 12. He finally gave up the sport at the age of 13 to concentrate on tennis. Skiing is still his hobby, but now he also says he likes to ride. If I could get on the track a couple of times with some very fast cars, he said. I know some Formula 1 drivers because we all live in Monaco, and I would like to learn a few laps with them.
After an excellent season in 2019 in which he worked his way into the top 100, winning the ATP Next Generation finals and being named ATP Rookie of the Year, Win has emerged as one of the brightest young stars in tennis.
It consolidated this status in 2020.
Sinner earned his first top-10 victory over David Goffin at the Rotterdam Open in February and another victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome in September. But it was at Roland Garros that he really became a star, becoming the youngest male player to reach the tournament’s quarter-finals since Novak Djokovic in 2006, and the first to do so at his Roland Garros debut since Rafael Nadal in 2005. In Paris he again defeated Goffin and sixth seed Aleksandr Zverev before finally losing to Nadal.
I really enjoyed playing in Paris because it was my first Roland Garros, even though it was incredibly cold and there were no crowds, he said. But I’ve had some good matches and I didn’t expect to play well on clay. I always thought I’d do better, like in Australia or New York.
But Paris was only my third shot in the big draw, so I think I’ll have even more pleasant surprises in the future.
The next month Winner provided a pleasant surprise at the Sofia Open and won his first ATP title. With a three set victory over Vasek Pospisil in the final, he became the youngest champion on the Italian Open Circuit in the Open Era and the youngest player to win an ATP title since Kei Nishikori in 2008. He’s the top teenager on the tour right now.
Of course, it was very good, he said about Sophia’s victory. I really wanted this job because I felt I had worked hard on it, and also because I couldn’t play as much as the others. It was] a great way to end the year.
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Career highlights: Champion, French Open 2020
Fun fact: Swiatek not only charmed fans with her incredible performance at Roland Garros 2020, she was also loved for her eclectic taste in music, and journalists often asked her what she was listening to. Welcome to the Jungle of Guns N’ Roses, a song that was released almost 14 years before his birth. Pink Floyd, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Lana Del Ray were also part of his playlist.
As second of the two great champions on this list, it seems almost misleading to call Swiatek a rising star when she proved much of her presence with her dominant performance at Roland Garros in the fall.
Fault! File name not specified. Iga Swentek, 19 years old, didn’t drop a single set on her way to the Roland Garros title in 2020. Stefan Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Because he never made it to the fourth round of a major tournament, and only two years after winning the Junior Doubles title at Roland Garros (with teammate Katie McNally), Swiatek finished 54th at Roland Garros and was eliminated in the first round at the Italian Open. But thanks to his incredible self-confidence and calm under pressure, Swiatek drove his opponents all the way to Paris without losing a single set.
How good was Swiatek at the tournament? She lost only three matches in the fourth round against Simona Halep, completely destroying the winner of 2018 and the overwhelming favorite to win the title. Given that Halep defeated Svenatek 6-1, 6-0 at Roland Garros 2019, it is a great indication of how far the Polish teenager’s game has come.
She defeated defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in the final and became the first Polish player to win the biggest and smallest French Open tournament ever organized by the WTA and the youngest singles champion since Rafael Nadal in 2005.
With this victory Swietek more than doubled his career earnings and ended up in the top 20. Praise and predictions for the new sports king came immediately after former players like John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Tracy Austin appeared on television and social media.
What a brilliant two-week tennis, Evert wrote. Many more GS titles are coming up.
Although she was rather modest in her expectations, it was clear that Swentek was already thinking about the future right after the victory.
I know my game isn’t perfect, she said at her press conference about the championship. I also think the biggest change for me would be [consistency]. I think that’s what the women’s tennis is waiting for. That’s why we have so many new Grand Slam winners, because we’re not as consistent as Rafa, Roger [Federer] and Novak [Djokovic].
Therefore, my goal will be consistency. It’s going to be very difficult.
Career highlights: 2nd round, 2020 French Open; seven ITF titles.
Fun fact: Towson, a native of Denmark, is often compared to the former number one in the world and Australian Open-winner Caroline Wozniacki from 2018. Towson is the first Dane in 31 years to reach the second round in Paris, not counting Wozniacki. They practiced together several times, and Towson said in the interview with Roland Garros that she was her greatest role model when she was growing up, but that she didn’t like frequent contact. People often compare us, but I’m alone and she’s alone, she said. I’m just trying to concentrate on myself.
Towson had one of the most daring performances in the first Slam draw at the French Open 2020. Faced with the unenviable task of facing a burning Jen Brady, the 17-year-old pushed back two match points to beat the US Open semifinalist by 6-4, 3-6, 9-7 in 2 hours and 45 minutes, which is the best quality of tennis I have ever played.
It was definitely a dream come true and to win the race I lost for words, she said afterwards. It was really great. I’ve never met anyone like that before.
Towson lost to Danielle Collins in the next round, but still emerged as a player to watch. She clearly exceeded her own expectations during a difficult 2020 season, but has even higher expectations for the new year.
This year she taught me a lot about herself, on and off the field, as she wrote on Instagram. If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that there would be a global pandemic with no tournaments for six months and I would be in the second round of Roland Garros, I probably would have laughed, but it all happened and I couldn’t be more grateful to my team, sponsors, friends and family for their help and support during that time. I can’t wait to come back better and stronger in 2021! !!
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Career highlights: Fourth round, Wimbledon 2019; champion, Hong Kong 2018, Hua Hin 2019, Strasbourg 2019.
Fun fact: During the break in the tour Yastremska released two singles: a slow jam called Thousands of Me and a dance track with synthesizer called Favorite Track. I don’t want to be a cool artist, she wrote in an Instagram post. I love to sing.
After a successful junior career, it wasn’t long before Yastremska climbed the WTA ladder. She won her first tournament at the age of 18 in 2018, followed by two other titles in 2019, as well as third round appearances in Melbourne and New York and a trip to the Tour of 16 at Wimbledon. She finished the 2019 season in 22nd place in her career and earned a place in the annual WTA Elite Tournament.
Jastremska opened the year 2020 with three consecutive victories on the top 20 players (Angelique Kerber, Donna Vekic, Arina Sabalenka) to reach the final in Adelaide before the sports world took a break.
In the summer she became involved in a controversy when she placed black photos of herself on social media.
I sincerely apologize to everyone I have offended, she wrote in a statement in July. I really only meant well.
When tennis resumed, she failed in another tournament in the third round in 2020. In the low season she tested positive for VID-COVID-19, so she could not train for two weeks.
The symptoms were very strange, it was bad, she twittered about her experience. I am now fully recovered and I am concentrating on resuming training.
Editor’s comments : Shortly after the publication of this story, Yastremska was suspended by the ITF after testing positive for a banned substance. In a statement on social media, she denied the use of performance-enhancing drugs and said she was determined to do whatever it takes to clear my name.
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