The Young Rising Stars Of Tennis
2019’s Grand Slam season is nearly over – these are new guys who caught our eye at the US Open
Mr Stefanos Tsitsipas (L) and Mr Félix Auger-Aliassime (R) at the men’s singles quarter final, Fever-Tree Championships, Queen’s Club in Hammersmith, 21 June 2019. Photograph by Mr Glyn Kirk/Getty Images
One of the greatest shows on Earth, New York City's US Open tennis tournament is among the largest sporting events in the world, attended by nearly 800,000 people every year. On the sticky late nights of the big matches, regulars such as Mr Alec Baldwin and Ms Anna Wintour take their seats, along with about 23,000 others in Arthur Ashe Stadium, to watch as the mononymous icons Rafa, Roger and Novak (not to mention Serena and Venus) play their particularly quick and slick styles on the hardcourt under the blazing lights.
But the real action happens during the early rounds of the tournament’s two-week run, when the smaller and more intimate outer courts offer sports fans the opportunity to watch the ball fly from 50 feet away. This is where you’ll find the next generation of greats, some of them just beginning to reach their final form and playing peak. In the sweltering late-summer heat, surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable fans in the sport, you can feel the thump and excitement when these youthful, surging stars-to-be hit what may soon be a signature shot. This might be the last big show of the season, and they’re leaving it all out on the court. We’ve compiled a list of guys who, even if they didn’t make it to round of 16 – let alone the semis – have proven themselves to be the ones to watch, both for their strokes and for their styles.
Mr Félix Auger-Aliassime
Mr Félix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, 3 July 2019. Photograph by Mr Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
If you don’t speak French, Mr Félix Auger-Aliassime may have one of the hardest-to-pronounce names in tennis. But this is definitely a name worth getting right. With one of the smoothest hi-top fades, the strapping 6ft 4in talent from Montreal has the coolest look in the game. He’s not all style, though. At just 19 years old, he is already the youngest player in the Association of Tennis Professionals’ top 20. Although he lost to good friend and fellow Canadian Mr Denis Shapovalov in the first round, his impossibly elegant footwork and efficient stroke production still places him on the list of future Grand Slam winners.
Mr Nick Kyrgios
Mr Nick Kyrgios at the US Open, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York, 20 August 2019. Photograph by Getty Images
The Australian made a splash as a teenager at Wimbledon 2014 when he beat Mr Rafael Nadal en route to a quarter-final appearance. Mr Nick Kyrgios, now 24, has his very own Nike shoe, the Vapor X Kyrie 5 – a collaboration with NBA star Mr Kyrie Irving. He’s also the notorious bad boy of tennis, with a record-setting six-figure fine for his on-court behavior to prove it. For all his flash, the basketball jersey-wearing player is also a human highlight reel. He delights with an entertaining game that frustrates some of the best players – including the current number one Mr Novak Djokovic, who has yet to beat him.
Mr Stefanos Tsitsipas
Mr Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Fever-Tree Championships, Queen’s Club in London, 20 June 2019. Photograph by Getty Images
Mr Stefanos Tsitsipas has those golden, perpetually beach-tousled locks that inspire the deepest hair envy. The 21-year-old is fast becoming Greece’s most famous export, but it’s not just for his hair game. Earlier this year, he beat his idol Mr Roger Federer at the Australian Open (and, just as importantly, starred in MR PORTER’s Hampton Summer Classic last month) and is now ranked number eight in the world. Still, his all-court game, replete with a powerful eastern forehand grip, wasn’t enough to overcome a tough first-round match against another promising youngster, Mr Andrey Rublev.
Mr Daniil Medvedev
Mr Daniil Medvedev at the Western & Southern Open, Lindner Family Tennis Centre in Ohio, 18 August 2019. Photograph by Mr Adam Lacy/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press
This Russian player can simply flatline a tennis ball. Just ask Mr Novak Djokovic, who recently faced him in the Cincinnati Masters. Or maybe don’t, because he blew Mr Djokovic, the best returner in the game, off the court (and surely left behind a trail of deflated tennis balls). The lanky 6ft 6in powerhouse is now number five in the world rankings and, given his performance in the tournaments leading to the US Open, he is a contender no one wants to face – with the potential to go all the way.
Mr Dominic Thiem
Mr Dominic Thiem at the French Open, Stade Roland Garros in Paris, 9 June 2019. Photograph by Photoshot
The Austrian has a blistering forehand that makes a sound like a bomb coming off his racket – and his grunts are just as loud. The 26-year-old, who is regarded as the second-best clay court player today, after Mr Nadal, has yet to prove his noisy game can take him beyond the terre battue in Paris (he reached the French Open final in 2018 and 2019). If there’s a place to do it, it’s in New York. Last year Mr Dominic Thiem was a quarter-finalist there, but this year, he lost in the first round to Mr Thomas Fabbiano, an Italian player who also beat Mr Tsitsipas during Wimbledon’s first round.
Mr Karen Khachanov
Mr Karen Khachanov at the BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, 15 March 2019. Photograph by Ms Cynthia Lum/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press
He might be Mr Liam Hemsworth’s doppelgänger, but Mr Karen Khachanov is his own special kind of brute force on the tennis court. The Russian’s big and powerful game has led him to a number nine world ranking, and though his wristy, whipping forehand looks a bit unconventional, the ball will zoom past just about anyone. At his best, Mr Khachanov, who is 6ft 6in, can serve heavy, punishing strokes all day long. But all that flair wasn’t enough against Mr Vasek Pospisil, who beat him in five sets last week.
Mr Alexander “Sascha” Zverev
Mr Alexander Zverev at Wimbledon, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, 1 July 2019. Photograph by Mr Toby Melville/Action Images
The first of the next-gen players to make it big, Mr Alexander Zverev was just 20 years old when he was ranked number three in the world. Though he has subsequently struggled to live up to the expectations he set with his initial rise, the now 22-year-old is still in the top 10. The 6ft 6in German wears necklaces on court, a nonchalant individuality of style that’s the template for his generation. It’s no wonder he was a face of last year’s Adidas x Palace collaboration.
Mr Andrey Rublev
Mr Andrey Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters, Monte Carlo Country Club in Monaco, 15 April 2019. Photograph by Ms Ella Ling/Shutterstock
On the comeback trail after an extended layoff due to a lower-back stress fracture, the 21-year-old player is known to hit shots on the run with a velocity that can leave opponents dead in their tracks. The slender 6ft 2in Russian, however, can be error-prone when he’s too eager to blast winners. However, when his aggression is under control, he can unleash a torrent of forehand and backhand screamers that can crush anyone – as illustrated last month in Cincinnati, when he beat Mr Roger Federer in just two sets.
The men featured in this story are not associated with and do not endorse
MR PORTER or the products shown