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