The tennis world is in need of some fresh blood.
Sudden resurgence in form notwithstanding, the careers of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are inevitably coming to an end. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic were in line to take over the ATP, but both have had a shockingly bad year and are now on the wrong side of 30. With half of the big four near retirement and the other half struggling for form, the door is wide open for some newcomers, or rather, it will be shortly.
On the women’s side, the WTA is already as open as a 24 Hour Fitness at … well, anytime, really. (That’s kind of the point.) With the Williams sisters nearing retirement and Maria Sharapova’s career in shambles, it’s time for some new names and we’ve already seen young players like Elina Svitolina (22) and Garbiñe Muguruza (23) break through.
Who are the names to watch, and how will they do in the year(s) ahead? Here are a few young prospects to keep an eye out for.
Alexander Zverev has shown a tremendous amount of promise for someone of his age, perhaps more than any other player of his generation.
The 20-year-old German opened the year with a win at the Open Sud de France and went on to win the Bavarian International Tennis Championships. But it was when he defeated Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open that the whole tennis world finally started to take note.
He’s showing no sign of slowing down, either. He’s currently the no. 8 player in the world and he could finish the year as high as no 3.
Odds Zverev wins a Grand Slam by 2020: 1/1
Odds Zverev breaks into the top three in 2017: 3/1
At just 20 years of age, Borna Coric has already snatched wins against the likes of Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and Nick Kyrgios. He logged his first ATP title this year, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber to take the Grand Prix Hassan II.
He’s poised to become one of the big names of the next generation, but he still has a long way to go. He’s currently ranked 42nd in the world and has never reached the final rounds of a Grand Slam.
Odds Coric breaks into the top ten by 2020: 1/1
Odds Coric reaches the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam in 2018: 2/1
The 19-year-old Taylor Fritz was billed as the next big thing in American tennis, but so far the young Californian hasn’t lived up to expectations. After reaching a career-high ranking of no. 53, he’s slumped out of the top 100.
His only noteworthy achievement so far this season was a quarterfinal finish at the Los Cabos Open. There’s still plenty of time for him to recover, of course.
Odds Fritz wins an ATP event by the end of 2018: 3/1
Odds Fritz ends 2017 in the top 100: 4/1
Daria Kasatkina made waves this year when she defeated former world no. 1 Angelique Kerber at the Sydney International, and then again at the Qatar Open. The 20-year-old Russian went on to win her first WTA title at the Charleston Open.
As with basically everyone on the WTA not named “Serena,” the big wins have been sprinkled among torrid inconsistency, and she’s only managed to reach no. 38 on the WTA.
Odds Kasatkina breaks into the top ten in 2018: 3/1
Odds Kasatkina wins another WTA title in 2017: 4/1
As an American female tennis player, Madison Keys has spent her career in the shadow of the Williams sisters. And as Serena and Venus approach retirement, the US is looking to Keys to take their place. Those are some heavy expectations for the 22-year-old.
Coming back from injury, Keys has dropped to 18th from a career-high of 7th last year. Still, she managed to win the Stanford Classic, defeating Garbiñe Muguruza and Coco Vandeweghe along the way.
Odds Keys breaks into the top ten in 2018: 1/2
Odds Keys reaches a Grand Slam final in 2018: 3/1