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2010 Newcomers Of The Year

Tobias Kamke© Getty ImagesTobias Kamke was named the 2010 ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year. reviews the five best newcomers of the year.

Tobias Kamke

The winner of the 2010 ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year Award, Tobias Kamke, surprised even himself with his rapid progress this season. “It’s a little bit surprising for me [to have done so well],” said the German at his trophy presentation on court at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. “Every year I have my goals and I reached them before I expected to this year. We make new goals every week with my coach. I’m No. 67 now and I didn’t expect that at the start of the year.”

Kamke rose to a career-high No. 66 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings after beginning the year ranked at World No. 254. The 24-year-old German compiled a 7-8 tour-level record, highlighted by reaching the second round as a qualifier at Roland Garros and the third round as a qualifier at Wimbledon. Indeed, he notes The Championships at Wimbledon as his favourite tournament, and one that will likely suit his preferred serve and volley shots. Kamke was also one of the standout players on the ATP Challenger Tour this season, winning titles in Granby and Tiburon and reaching the finals in Baton Rouge and Furth.

Richard Berankis

You know it's a good sign when Roger Federer takes you under his wing and asks you to come to practice camp. The Swiss certainly has an eye for potential, as evidenced by Richard Berankis’ progress three years on from his time in Dubai with Federer.

The 20 year old promised much in 2007, when he won the US Open junior title and the Orange Bowl to take him to No. 1 in the junior rankings. Speaking about his protégée at the IMG Bollettieri Academy in Florida in 2007, Nick Bollettieri said, “He's going to be a damn good player. First, his work discipline is unparalleled. That puts him in a fantastic spot. And he is very humble. He is very sound in all aspects of his game. He doesn't have a weakness. What he will have to do is come in even more than he does now. With his size (now 5’9), it may be too difficult to win consistently from the baseline.”

Berankis began the season at No. 319 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings and after one of the breakthrough performances of the year he finished a career-high World No. 85, making him the highest-ever ranked Lithuanian tennis player. He has posted particularly strong results on the ATP Challenger Tour this year. He won two titles in Nottingham and Helsinki, and finished runner-up in Vancouver. Berankis also compiled an 8-4 tour-level record, highlighted by reaching the second round at Wimbledon (l. to F. Lopez in four sets) and the US Open (l. to Melzer in five sets). 

Thiemo de Bakker

de BakkerTouted by former World No. 4 Richard Krajicek as “by far the biggest talent we have ever had in Dutch tennis,” 2006 Wimbledon junior champion Thiemo de Bakker has taken a big step towards fulfilling his potential this season by climbing to a year-end ranking of World No. 43, just three places down from his career high. The 22-year-old Dutchman, who at 6’4 boasts a big serve and favours his forehand, cracked the Top 50 in April after a semi-final showing in Barcelona, where he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his preferred clay surface. “I knew I had the capability, but you still have to do it,” said de Bakker in DEUCE Magazine soon after. “Until now I’ve had a pretty decent year, and I’m happy with the way it’s gone. Hopefully I can bring it up even higher and see how far it goes.”

Later in the year de Bakker reached the third round at Wimbledon (l. to Mathieu) and the semi-finals in New Haven (l. to Stakhovsky). “If he continues this way, then he can win Grand Slams and become a Top 5 player in the near future,” said former Wimbledon champion Krajicek. Considering the weight of expectation surrounding him, de Bakker calmly noted, “They expect more. I think that’s normal. I do my best and try to win every match. I try to improve every week, and I think there’s nothing more I can do.”

Alexandr Dolgopolov

Inspired by his father, Oleksandar, a former ATP professional and his coach from a young age until 2008, Alexandr Dolgopolov has declared he has the goal of being World No.1. The Ukrainian announced himself as one of the players to watch in 2011 after breaking into the Top 40 (No. 39) of the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings in July, having started the year at World No. 131.

Dolgopolov was strong on his favourite surface clay on the ATP Challenger Tour in Morocco in the first three months of the season, winning the title in Meknes and reaching the finals in Tanger and Marrakech. In May he defeated World No. 13 Fernando Gonzalez to reach the Roland Garros third round and two weeks later reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Eastbourne (l. to Llodra). The right hander went on to reach three more quarter-finals in Umag, Moscow and St. Petersburg and finished the season ranked No. 48. 

Kukushkin Mikhail Kukushkin

There were signs of what was to come from Mikhail Kukushkin in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals as a qualifier at his favourite tournament, the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The Kazakhstani then made his breakthrough on the ATP World Tour in 2010, compiling a 17-8 match record and rising to a career-high No. 58 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings. Kukushkin hit his stride in the second half of the season, winning back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles in Braunschweig and Penza and reaching the final in Istanbul to reach the Top 100. He then impressed in Davis Cup duty, defeating Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli to help lift Kazakhstan into the 2011 World Group.

The 22 year old, who considers his stability on his ground strokes to be the best part of his game, crowned his breakthrough season by winning his maiden ATP World Tour title in St. Petersburg, where he defeated World No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny in the final. “My next goal will be to get in the Top 50, to play good on this level, and I will try to play good on the bigger tournaments because I never played good on the Grand Slams, the Masters [1000s],” Kukushkin told after his triumph in St. Petersburg. “Of course I will try to improve my game, improve my ranking and improve my results.”

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