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Countdown To 2012 - Names To Look Out For

Rising Stars

Tomic© Getty ImagesAll eyes will be on Australian teenager Bernard Tomic in Melbourne.

As part of our 'Countdown to 2012' series, profiles the rising stars who will look to make their mark in the upcoming season.

The Australian Open has a tradition of setting the stage for burgeoning ATP World Tour stars to make their breakthrough. Remember Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008? What about Marcos Baghdatis lighting up the court in 2006?

Canadian Milos Raonic announced himself on the world stage in Melbourne this year, qualifying into the main draw before beating World No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny to reach the fourth round (l. to Ferrer). The 20 year old went on to be voted 2011 ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year after winning his first title at the SAP Open (d. Verdasco) in San Jose and finishing on the verge of the Top 30.

Watch Raonic Newcomer Interview

Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov was another star to emerge at the first major tournament of the year, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling to reach the quarter-finals (l. to Murray). The enigmatic 23 year old would finish the year No. 15 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings after compiling a 38-29 match record, including winning his first ATP World Tour title at the ATP Studena Croatia Open in Umag (d. Cilic).

As the new season approaches, Raonic and Dolgopolov won’t be the only players looking to back up strong 2011 results. Russia’s Alex Bogomolov Jr., was named the 2011 ATP World Tour Most Improved Player of the Year after rising from No. 166 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings at the end of 2010 to a career-high No. 33 in November. At the age of 28, he compiled a 27-21 match record, eclipsing the total number of matches he had won on the ATP World Tour prior to this season.

Going into 2012 a host of rising ATP World Tour stars are poised to make their move in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. All eyes will be on leading Australian prospect, World No. 42 Bernard Tomic, who showed his promise with a run through to the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals (l. to Djokovic) as a qualifier. The Gold Coast teenager excited local fans in Melbourne last year with victories over two Top 50 players before falling in the third round to Rafael Nadal.

Watch: Getting To Know Tomic

American Donald Young made his long-awaited mark at this year’s US Open, defeating Stanislas Wawrinka en route to the fourth round, before going on to reach his first ATP World Tour final at the PTT Thailand Open (l. to Murray) in Bangkok. The 22 year old finished the year a career-high World No. 39 and will look to continue his rise at the Australian Open.

Other names to watch out for in 2012 will be Bulgarian 20-year-old Grigor Dimitrov, who is still looking to transition his strong junior results to the professional tour; American teenager Ryan Harrison, who reached two ATP World Tour semi-finals this season; and German 21-year-old Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who finished the year a career-high World No. 81 after winning the inaugural ATP Challenger Tour Finals in Sao Paulo (d. Sela).

Watch: Getting To Know Harrison | Dimitrov

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