Zverev leads young guns aim­ing to shoot down the old guard

You have to go back 16 years for the last time one of the ‘big four’ did not win the men’s sin­gles. Jonathan Veal looks at 10 con­tenders, old and new, in 2018.

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - WIMBLEDON 2018 -

Roger Fed­erer

AFTER Nadal’s 11th crown in Paris, can Fed­erer make it nine at Wim­ble­don? Last year, the 36-year-old did not drop a set in seven matches and he again be­gan this sea­son by win­ning the Aus­tralian Open. Vic­tory on grass in Stuttgart last week took him back to world No 1.

Rafael Nadal

THE world No 2 will head to Wim­ble­don with his cus­tom­ary French Open tro­phy in tow. He has found the tran­si­tion from clay to grass in­creas­ingly trou­ble­some for his knees in re­cent years but was look­ing good last year un­til an ag­o­nis­ing fourth-round loss to Gilles Muller.

Alexan­der Zverev

THE 21-year-old Ger­man is un­doubt­edly the leader of the next gen­er­a­tion and a de­served world No 3. He an­swered a few doubters by fi­nally reach­ing his first grand slam quar­ter-fi­nal at the French Open but trans­lat­ing his best-of-three-set suc­cess to best of five is still a work in progress.

Juan Martin del Potro

THE Ar­gen­tinian gen­tle gi­ant is a hugely pop­u­lar fig­ure in ten­nis, not least for the re­silience he has shown in twice bat­tling back from wrist surg­eries. A former Wim­ble­don semi-fi­nal­ist and US Open cham­pion who, with his sledge­ham­mer fore­hand, is one of the few play­ers feared by all.

Marin Cilic

OUT­SIDE of Fed­erer and Nadal, Cilic prob­a­bly de­serves to be con­sid­ered the next pick. The Croa­t­ian will want to make bet­ter mem­o­ries after the blis­ters and tears of his fi­nal loss 12 months ago. Also run­ner-up at the Aus­tralian Open this year, he is very at home on grass and a ter­rific mover for his height.

No­vak Djokovic

IT was at Wim­ble­don 12 months ago that Djokovic fi­nally gave in to the wrist prob­lems that had dogged him for months. Al­though not back to his best, re­cent weeks have in­di­cated the Ser­bian is not a mil­lion miles away from the form that brought him 12 slam ti­tles, three of them at Wim­ble­don.

Nick Kyr­gios

TRY­ING to pre­dict the volatile Aus­tralian is a dan­ger­ous game yet he re­mains such a big tal­ent that he can­not be ig­nored. Grass is Kyr­gios’s best sur­face and the quar­ter-fi­nal he reached on his Wim­ble­don de­but in 2014 is still his joint best slam per­for­mance. If he can stay fit and men­tally in the game, he will take some stop­ping.

De­nis Shapo­valov

IF Zverev is the leader, the most ex­cit­ing mem­ber of the next gen­er­a­tion brigade is 19-year- old Cana­dian Shapo­valov. With his dis­tinc­tive long blond hair and back­wards base­ball cap, Shapo­valov plays a fear­less brand of ten­nis high­lighted by his sin­gle-handed back­hand and a big-match men­tal­ity. Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas TSIT­SI­PAS took a little longer to make his mark than fel­low 19-year-old Shapo­valov but the Greek has rock­eted into the top 40 this sea­son, with the high­light a run to the Barcelona Open fi­nal. An­other with a sig­na­ture sin­gle-handed back­hand and a crowd-pleas­ing flair. Alex de Min­aur THE third teenage mem­ber of the top 100 is De Min­aur, who hit the head­lines with a break­through Aus­tralian sum­mer on his home courts and has con­tin­ued his progress since. Less spec­tac­u­lar than his fel­low young guns, De Min­aur has few weak­nesses and showed his po­ten­tial on grass by beat­ing Dan Evans to win the ti­tle in Not­ting­ham last week.

PIC­TURE: AN­THONY DEVLIN/PA

THREAT TO WORLD OR­DER: Ger­man Alexan­der Zverev is the hottest young prospect in men’s ten­nis.

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