The future no. 1 in tennis

Top 4 on the ATP tour – the big 4. Everybody knows them, and they are the only real contenders to every tournament they play. Yes, Ferrer is now entering top 3 on the world rankings, but I guess that many like me, is convinced that the top 4 in the world is still Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer, no matter who ever is squeezing in between them due to injuries, a bad streak or other reasons.

Historically there have always been a number of very dominating players in the top 2-3-4 of the rankings. There have also been some players who popped up and had there couple of weeks as no. 1 in the world, but not lately.
The 80’s was dominated by mainly McEnroe but indeed Ivan Lendl, the 90s belonged mainly to Pete Sampras and the 00s has been dominated, like no one earlier by Roger Federer.
Federer had only Roddick as a contender when he won the no. 1 spot, but in the last 7 years there have been only the exact same contenders to the throne as we know them today. This was the same picture in the 80s, while in the 90s several players popped up to take the no. 1 spot for only a very short period. Kafelnikov, Muster, Pat Rafter and Marcelo Rios (remember him?)
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic has since 2004 not allowed any other players to reach the no. 1 spot – by a very large margin.

I have asked several people on the social media, who they see as the next no. 1 contender. – No real answers. So I decided to have a look myself.

Only Murray to be honest looks like someone who can break the other 3 guys dominance at the moment. But could he be the on to overtake the no. 1 position in the future?
The very dominant players are historically losing the no. 1 position at around 30. Federer is 31 years and I would be surprised to see him as no. 1 again. Of the last 10 no 1s, Agassi has been the oldest no 1. player at the age of 33 years. Djokovic, Nadal, Murray are 26, 27 and 26, so they could be dominating for a couple of years from now.
But it’s time to figure out who is the next no. 1. Who will be the next very dominating player/players. To be honest, I don’t travel to watch a lot of tennis and I don’t follow the junior tournaments that much, so I have to use statistics and result to figure out if anybody on the Tour can take the spot.

In statistics, by looking at the last 10 no. 1s in the world, you will find the following criterias to make the best guess for the future.
– A player should have reached the no. 1 spot before they turn 25 years (Djokovic, Kuerten and Andre Agassi was all 24 when they became no. 1 in the world)
– A potential no. 1 player should have won a Grand Slam at the age of 23 at the latest (Ferrero was the oldest of the last 10 no. 1s to accomplish this)
– A potential no. 1 should have reached the top 100 at the age of 19 at the latest, the top 50 at the age of 20 and the top 10 at the age of 21 at the latest.
– A player should have been playing on the ATP tour at the age of 18 at the latest and won their first title at the age of 20 at the latest.

If we look further back to the junior years, everyone almost have had some results. We see both early and late developers. Players who didn’t reach the great results as a junior – maybe because they developed a little later than the others (Djokovic, Hewitt) or the players who didn’t play a lot on the junior tour and took on the mens ATP tour very early (Nadal, Agassi, Sampras). Finally we got the ones who went the very straight way forward, through top results in the junior tour to reach no. 1 on the mens tour (Roddick, Federer).
So it’s very difficult to use the junior results as criteria to predict the next top player – results here are only indications.
Looking at the statistics above the most likely player at the moment to take the no. 1 spot, Murray will change statistics if he became no. 1. He is now 26 years, he has won a Grand Slam (US Open 2012) but he was 25 at that time. The progress up the rankings has been more than OK though for a future no. 1.
Del Potro is another one who actually have the possibility to become no. 1 from the criteria above. At the moment he lives up to all the demands statistically, but he needs to reach the spot before September 23rd. That’s his 25th birthday. – not likely to happen.
So we have to look a little further down the line to find contenders to reach the no 1. spot and to be dominating tennis in the future. I have picked players who live up to the criteria or who really are impressing as a youngster. I predict these 4 players to have the best shot:

Bernard Tomic, Australia. Currently around no. 35-40 in the world (after Wimbledon). Has been breaking the different ranking barriers in time, but he will have only the next year to break into top 10, to win his first ever master tournament and only 2 years to win a Grand Slam to have him in contention for the no. 1 spot.

Jiri Vesely , Czech Republic, is currently no. 109 in the world and so close to breaking the top 100 in time. He is turning 20 mid July. Vesely is a former no. 1 in the juniors ranking and has been very dominating in the Future tournaments. Lets giv him the rest of the season to prove him self as a future star.

Nick Kyrgios, Australia is properbly at the moment the best option for a future no. 1 in the world. He is no. 1 in the Juniors tour and a month after his 18th birthday he beat Stepanek in straight sets at Roland Garros. Kyrgios is around no. 200 in the world and will have about 18 month to develop into a top 100/50 player which seems very likely.

Alexander Zverev, Germany. He is 2nd in the juniors ranking, but he is almost 2 years younger than Kyrgios who tops the list. He haven’t had any ATP experience so far but his results as 15-16 year old on the Junior tour is quite outstanding. Reaching the final at Roland Garros at the age of 16 is better compared to several of the current and former no. 1s.

Of other names for the future
Christian Garin, Chile, just turned 17. He won the Junior tournament at Roland garros, and have played some ATP tennis. He won a set against Chardy on home ground in Chile earlier this year.
Kyle Edmund, England, who beat the Kevin de Scheeper in Eastbourne have to develop soon, Gianluigi Quinzi , Italy, who at 17 years old is no. 400 in the ATP ranking and Borna Coric , Croatia, who at only 16 year, have very solid junior results in the junior Grand Slams.
Its among these guys I predict, from the statistics and results, we will find the next top player.

Now, I’m looking forward to hear anybody’s opinion on this. Especially someone who have the same or another opinion than me, who follow the young ones etc.


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