Best of 2017: Five #NextGenATP Who Impressed
Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks back at five #NextGenATP players who impressed in 2017.
Daniil Medvedev, 21
Medvedev was the last player to qualify directly for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, but the Russian made good use of his time in Milan. The Moscow native upset second-seeded countryman Karen Khachanov and American Jared Donaldson to reach the semi-finals, where he fell in five sets to eventual champion Hyeon Chung, 1-4, 1-4, 4-3(4), 4-1, 0-4.
Earlier in the year, Medvedev earned his first Grand Slam win and his first Top 5 victory by beating Stan Wawrinka on Centre Court at The Championships, Wimbledon. Medvedev also reached his first ATP World Tour final at the Aircel Chennai Open in India (l. to Bautista Agut).
Denis Shapovalov, 18
As far as breakout stretches go, the Canadian had one of the best in recent memory this season. Shapovalov stunned Juan Martin del Potro and No. 2 Rafael Nadal en route to reaching his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final (l. to Zverev) at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Shapovalov became the youngest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-finalist.
Weeks later, at his first US Open, the Canadian upset another ATP World Tour mainstay in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before reaching the fourth round at the season's final Grand Slam. The left-hander enters 2018 at No. 51 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Karen Khachanov, 21
The 6'6” Russian might have the biggest game of all of his #NextGenATP peers, a key reason many pundits and fans have compared him to countryman and former World No. 1 Marat Safin. This season, Khachanov, who won his first ATP World Tour title in October 2016 (Chengdu), made four quarter-finals – Barcelona, Lyon, Bastad and Hamburg – and the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 500 event in Halle, the Gerry Weber Open. Khachanov, who turns 22 in May, can't return to the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals, but he'll go for his second tour-level title in 2018.
Andrey Rublev, 20
The top seed at the Next Gen ATP Finals, who is already No. 39 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, showed all week why he could be a Top 10 player in the very near future. After a slow start in Milan – a five-set win against Italian wild card Gianluigi Quinzi and a straight-sets loss to Chung – Rublev gained his composure, beating Shapovalov and Croatian Borna Coric to make the first Next Gen ATP Finals championship match (l. to Chung).
Rublev sat atop the Milan bracket because of his stellar second half of 2017. The Russian won his maiden ATP World Tour title in Umag and made the US Open quarter-finals (l. to Nadal).
Hyeon Chung, 21
South Korea's No. 1 entered the Next Gen ATP Finals under the radar: Chung was the second to last player to qualify directly for the tournament, and the trio of Russians, along with Shapovalov, had garnered much of the attention in the tournament preamble.
But that all changed once Chung took the court. The 21-year-old finished the week 5-0 and captured the title at the 21-and-under event. The sixth-seeded Chung had reached only a tour-level semi-final before Milan, but he beat Rublev twice – in group play and in the final – to celebrate the perfect ending to his 2017 season.
In Milan, Chung was at his best when he needed to bail himself out of trouble. The right-hander saved 77 per cent of his break points (34/44) in Italy.