ATP WORLD TOUR SEASON REVIEW
Best Young Guns In 2013
Best Of 2013
by ATP Staff|
ATPWorldTour.com profiles the best young players of the 2013 season - Top 100 players aged 22 and under and teenagers in the Top 200 - listed by their year-end Emirates ATP Ranking.
Milos Raonic, No. 11 (22 years, 11 months)
Milos Raonic led the way for the young guns in 2013, becoming the first player born in the 1990s - and also the first Canadian - to rank inside the Top 10. He ensured his place in the ATP’s elite this past August when he defeated countryman Vasek Pospisil to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final at the Coupe Rogers.
“To be able to do it here in Montréal is pretty amazing. For me it's a very special day to at least get to a goal I set for myself earlier this year,” said Raonic, who had begun the season at No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
For the second year in a row, Raonic won a personal-best 45 matches and collected a pair of titles. He successfully defended his San Jose crown in February with victory over Tommy Haas in the final, and posted consecutive Top 10 victories over Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych to win Bangkok in September. He also reached the final in Tokyo and fourth round at the Australian Open and US Open.
He stayed in the running for a Barclays ATP World Tour Finals berth in the final week of the season, and went to London as an alternate. “I see how close I came,” said Raonic, Sportsnet’s 2013 Canadian Athlete of the Year. “I know I can improve a lot more.”
Grigor Dimitrov, No. 23 (22 years, 7 months)
Grigor Dimitrov set a goal of reaching the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2013, and came awfully close. He climbed from No. 48 to a high of No. 22 in October, when he made history as the first Bulgarian to win an ATP World Tour title. The 22 year old rallied from a set down to upset a No. 3-ranked David Ferrer in the If Stockholm Open final, and said afterwards, “That’s big not only for me but also for the country. They need to see that everyone can succeed.”
Dimitrov made waves from the opening week of the season. He knocked off Milos Raonic, Jurgen Melzer and Marcos Baghdatis in succession to advance to his first tour-level final in Brisbane, finishing runner-up to Andy Murray.
In between Brisbane and Stockholm, Dimitrov continued to make headlines. He reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final in Monte-Carlo, where he took the opening set off eight-time champion Rafael Nadal before falling in three. He then scored his biggest career win when he stunned World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open, a match that spanned three hours and five minutes. “Of course this has been what I've been working for, to play matches like that, and why not win them?” he said.
Bernard Tomic, No. 51 (21 years, 1 month)
Bernard Tomic began 2013 in the best possible way, thrilling his fellow Aussies by winning the Apia International Sydney on the eve of the Australian Open. “It's an amazing feeling,” said Tomic, who at 20 years of age would finish as the youngest winner of the season. “It’s my first title, and I know I’ll win a lot more if I keep this attitude up.”
Tomic reached two other quarter-finals in 2013, in Marseille and Eastbourne, and once again made his mark at Wimbledon, where he reached the Round of 16 for the second time in three years. He opened with a five-set win over a 19th-ranked Sam Querrey, beat former World No. 4 James Blake and then upset World No. 9 Richard Gasquet before falling to Tomas Berdych. He also helped lift Australia back into the 2014 Davis Cup World Group with a 4-0 record in singles play.
His efforts helped him finish as his country’s top player, at No. 51 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, for a second time.
Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 65 (22 years, 5 months)
Pablo Carrero Busta dropped outside the Top 700 of the Emirates ATP Rankings after a seven-month injury lay-off in 2012, but soared into the Top 70 in 2013, earning him the distinction of Most Improved Player of the Year in the ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moet & Chandon.
The Spaniard shined on all three levels of men’s professional tennis. He was invincible on the Futures circuit, winning seven titles and 35 matches in succession. On the ATP Challenger Tour, he put together a 15-match winning streak and a 4-0 mark in finals. After recording his first ATP World Tour win in Casablanca, he strung together six straight wins in qualifying and reached the semi-finals in Oeiras. He also qualified for his first Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros.
Carreno Busta broke into the Top 100 in August and had reached a career-high No. 65 by November, when he was recognised in an on-court ceremony at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. “I could never have imagined this,” the 22 year old said of his success. “It was an incredible season, winning seven Futures titles. I improved my tennis and my [Emirates ATP] Ranking and I would love to be here next year at The O2.
Jiri Vesely, No. 84 (20 years, 5 months)
The ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moet & Chandon introduced a new category this year: ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, awarded to the youngest player in the year-end Top 100. The distinction went to the Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely, who finished at No. 84 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“I started the year No. 263; I never expected to make the Top 100,” admitted Vesely, who broke through on 8 July, two days before his 20th birthday. The 6’6” left-hander made his tour-level main draw debut as a qualifier at Roland Garros and captured three ATP Challenger Tour titles from five finals, contributing to his rise to a career-high No. 78 by August.
At the top of Vesely’s priority list for 2014 will be recording his first tour-level win. He opens the year at the Aircel Chennai Open.
Nick Kyrgios, No. 186 (18 years, 7 months)
Winning the boys’ single title on home soil would be the pinnacle of the year for most teens, but not Australia’s Nick Kyrgios. For the Canberra native, it paled in comparison to his first-round win at Roland Garros.
Kyrgios entered the main draw as a late replacement for injured countryman John Millman, a wild card recipient, and in his tour-level debut, upset former World No. 8 Radek Stepanek in three tie-break sets. “It felt about ten times better than the championship point at junior Australian Open,” he said. Later that night, he wrote in a post on his official website, “I am so excited to get my first Grand Slam win under my belt against such an accomplished and successful warrior as Radek Stepanek, it really does feel great and although I knew I had a chance, I wasn’t expecting to go out there and win.”
The 6’4” Australian also won his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Sydney, two months before his 18th birthday, and qualified for the US Open. He finished the season as the youngest player in the Top 200, reaching a high of No. 177 in October.
After competing predominantly on the Futures circuit in 2012, Pouille got his first taste of playing on the ATP World Tour in February at the indoor hard-court tournaments in Montpellier and Marseille. His first tour-level win came a few months later. With 30 family members and friends supporting him from the stands on his Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros, Pouille clinched a straight-sets win over Alez Kuznetsov.
“When I ended the match I was just on Cloud 9,” he said. “But if that was the case, it was because people believed in me, believed I could go into the second round. So I’m very proud to win here, to go into the next round.”
Pouille lost to Dimitrov in the second round, but the next week qualified for the grass-court tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He broke into the Top 200 in October after reaching the semi-finals of the Kazan Challenger.