Kyrgios, Zverev, Edmund Lead Best Next Gen Stars Of 2016
Next November, the ATP World Tour’s brightest young stars will take the stage in Milan for the Next Gen ATP Finals. Billed as the ‘Next Generation’ during the campaign launch this past March in Indian Wells, this group of players unleashed their potential in 2016.
In total, 22 players aged 21 and under finished in the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, including eight inside the Top 100. Continuing our season in review series, we look back on the 2016 campaigns of the top NextGen players.
No. 13 Nick Kyrgios (21 years, 7 months)
The Australian clinched a trio of titles in 2016 to place fifth among tour leaders behind Andy Murray (9), Novak Djokovic (7), Dominic Thiem (4) and Stan Wawrinka (4). Kyrgios held all 47 service games en route to his first title in Marseille, where he defeated No. 10 Richard Gasquet and No. 8 Tomas Berdych – two of his six victories against Top 10 players this season. He dethroned three-time defending champion John Isner at the BB&T Atlanta Open in August, and followed with the ATP World Tour 500 crown in Tokyo, where he rallied to defeat David Goffin in the final. Kyrgios also reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami, helping him finish with 39 match wins and a career-high No. 13 Emirates ATP Ranking.
No. 24 Alexander Zverev (19 years, 8 months)
With his triumph at the St. Petersburg Open, the 19 year old became the youngest player to win an ATP World Tour title since Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic in 2008. He also became the first teen since Boris Becker in 1986 to defeat three Top 10 players in succession (d. No. 9 Berdych, No. 3 Wawrinka and No. 10 Thiem). Zverev, the 2015 ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, reached two other finals – on clay in Nice (l. to Thiem) and on grass in Halle, where he upended eight-time champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Zverev reached four other semi-finals – Montpellier, Munich, Washington and Stockholm – finishing his campaign with 44 match wins, which was 10th among tour leaders (tied with Monfils). Zverev rose from a year-end No. 83 Emirates ATP Ranking in 2015 to World No. 20 by October.
No. 45 Kyle Edmund (21 years, 11 months)
From a No. 85 Emirates ATP Ranking going into the US Open, Edmund rose to a career-high No. 40 in October. At Flushing Meadows, he defeated No. 15 Richard Gasquet and Americans Ernesto Escobedo and John Isner before falling to No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Edmund broke into the Top 50 after reaching the Beijing quarter-finals as a qualifier (l. to Murray) and into the Top 40 after making his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Antwerp (l. to Gasquet). Ranked just outside the Top 100 to start the 2016 season, the Brit advanced to his first tour-level quarter-final in Doha as a qualifier in the opening week of the season (l. to Berdych). He also won a pair of ATP Challenger Tour titles in Dallas and Rome, and followed with a quarter-final showing at The Queen’s Club (l. to Murray).
No. 48 Borna Coric (20 years, 1 month)
Though no longer the youngest player in the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 20-year-old Coric still enjoyed a couple age-related distinctions in 2016. In Chennai during the first week of the season, he became the first teenager to play in an ATP World Tour final since fellow Croatian Marin Cilic in 2008. Coric, the 2014 ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, followed with another runner-up showing in Marrakech (l. to Delbonis). In Cincinnati this summer, Coric became the youngest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-finalist since Novak Djokovic in 2006 as he defeated Benoit Paire, Nick Kyrgios and No. 5 Rafael Nadal in succession. Though his season was cut short a month later when he underwent right knee surgery, Coric still finished inside the Top 50 for a second straight year.
No. 53 Karen Khachanov (20 years, 7 months)
The 20 year old joined Kyrgios and Zverev as one of three first-time winners from the group of NextGen stars in 2016, rising from a No. 101 Emirates ATP Ranking to No. 55 in the space of a week. At the inaugural Chengdu Open, Khachanov knocked out four seeded players, beating Joao Sousa, Feliciano Lopez and Viktor Troicki in straight sets before capping his week with a 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 comeback against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final. Only four months earlier, Khachanov had broken into the Top 100 after lifting his second ATP Challenger Tour trophy. He made a winning Grand Slam main draw debut as a qualifier at the US Open and finished his breakthrough season with a quarter-final result in Vienna.
No. 76 Taylor Fritz (19 years, 1 month)
The American followed in Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev’s footsteps this year, finishing as the youngest player in the Top 100 to be named the ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates. Fritz, who celebrated his 19th birthday at the end of the October, rose from No. 694 in October 2015 to the Top 100 by the end of February. Following success on the ATP Challenger Tour, where he claimed three titles from four finals, Fritz became the youngest finalist on the ATP World Tour since 2008 when he finished runner-up at the Memphis Open – only his third tour-level event. The California native won 15 tour-level matches and reached a career-high No. 53 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in August.