“Alexander Zverev” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison
Men’s tennis fans have been blessed over the last 15 years as top players such as Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have battled for supremacy.
The last player to hold the World number one spot outside of those four was Andy Roddick way back in 2003/04.
As the dominance of these players continued, it was no surprise when tennis fans started asking: Where are the next tennis greats?
Contenders have risen and faded away with alarming regularity over the last decade and none have really made an impact at the elite level. However, that could all be about to change in 2019.
The old guard remain dominant, but they are all in their 30s and edging towards the latter stages of their careers. It is only a matter of time before the next wave of talent will dominate the game. And the first of those could be Alexander “Sascha” Zverev.
The 21-year-old German has already broken into the top four and bagged an ATP Tour Finals win, beating Federer and Djokovic back to back to claim the 2018 crown at the O2 Arena in London.
Despite his steep trajectory in 2017 and 2018, his performances in that tournament took everyone by surprise.
Prior to that win, he had never gone beyond the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, although he did become the only active player outside of the ‘big four’ to have won three Masters 1000 titles when he claimed the Madrid Open in 2018.
All of this has led to him being priced at 9/1 in the upcoming Australian Open odds behind Federer, Nadal and favourite Djokovic.
But aside from Zverev, who else is on the verge of breaking through into the tennis big time?
Russian Karen Khachanov looks on course to penetrate the top 10 after a brilliant 2018 which included a win over Djokovic in the Paris Open final and three ATP World Tour 250 Series titles.
Still only 22, he has already reached three Grand Slam fourth rounds and won seven matches against top ten-ranked players.
He breezed past Zverev in the quarter-finals in Paris before dispatching Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic on his way to the title.
Right behind Khachanov in the ranking is Borna Coric. Also 22 years old, the Croatian has long been tipped as a future star of the game. He has two ATP titles to his name and has 12 wins against top 10 -ranked players including two against Federer, two against Nadal and two against Murray.
“IMG_3174” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Marianne Bevis
Currently ranked 14th in the World, British player Kyle Edmund reached the semi-final of this year’s Australian Open before landing his first ATP title at the European Open in Belgium in October.
He was also part of the 2015 Davis Cup winning team. His height and power are his greatest weapons and if he can maintain his current trajectory, he should be challenging for Grand Slams on a regular basis before long.
Other exciting young players to keep an eye on in the men’s game in 2019 include Greek Stefanos Tstsipas, Canadian Daniil Medvedev and Australian Alex de Minaur.