2011 saw the emergence of some fantastic talents on the ATP World Tour. The three players that stand out as emerging from the Challenger tour on to the main tour are Australia’s Bernard Tomic, Canada’s Milos Raonic and America’s Ryan Harrison.
Bernard Tomic, who has been tipped by some to be a future top four player, made the biggest rankins jump of the three players as he started 2011 off at 208 in the world and finished at 42. The nineteen year olds highlight of the year came at Wimbledon where he reached the quarter finals before losing out in four sets to world number one Novak Djokovic. Tomic has a lot of Masters series points to chase and we are anticipating him making the world’s top 30 and possibly even the top 20 in 2012.
Milos Raonic ends 2011 as the highest ranked of the three players at world number 31, although he did reach a high of 25 in June before he was struck down with a hip injury. Raonic relies on his big serve and big forehand and can be compared to the likes of Juan martin Del Potro, Robin and Sodelring and even Pete Sampras in the way that he plays. He captured his first Tour title in February at the san Jose 250 event by defeating Fernando Verdasco in the final and also made the final in Memphis where he lost out in a tight three setter to Andy Roddick. Like Tomic, Raonic has a lot of rankings points to chase in 2012 as he missed a lot of the summer stretch with the hip injury as we can expect Raonic to make inrodes in to the world’s top 20 if he can remain injury free.
Ryan Harrison, who like Tomic is just nineteen years of age, had been tipped at America’s next top tennis star and rose almost 100 places in 2011 from 173 to 79 with a career high of 66. Harrison has a solid game that seems to particularly come to life on the American hard courts. He made two consecutive semi finals in Atlanta and LA, losing out to Mardy Fish on both occasions, and also enjoyed an impressive run at the Masters event in Inidan Wells before losing out in the fourth round to Roger Federer. Harrison will probably make the worlds top 50 in 2012 and in a few years time, could well be challenging the worls top 10.
These three players caught the eye in 2011 and it is always intriguing to think about what players might make an impression on the ATP world tour in any new season. A few players have caught our eye on the ATP Challenger and Futures tour this year and we have picked out a few players that we expect to make their mark on the ATP World tour, in one way or another, in 2012:
Cedrik- Marcel Stebe- End of season ranking: 81
Cedrik Marcel- Stebe has recently risen in to the worlds top 100 following his victory at the inaugural ATP Tour Challenger finals. The German has had a meteoric rise through the world rankings in 2011 having started 2011 down at 375. He is only 21 years old and a tough left hander. He took two Challenger titles in 2011 and two futures titles. He is adept on both the clay and the hard courts and made inrodes to the Stuttgart 250 clay court event in July with massive wins over former world number 3 Nikolay Davydenko and Italian clay court specialist Fabio Fognini. With such a massive rise through the rankings in 2011 behind him and the Challenger finals win, Marcel Stebe will go in 2012 with bundles of confidence and could easily make his mark on the worlds top 50.
Vasek Pospisil- End of season ranking: 119
Vasek will be 22 in 2012 but in the back end of 2011 he has shown some great potential and could certainly make a move in to the world’s top 100. The Canadian will end 2011 around the 120 mark but has had a very good reason having risen 219 places this year. As we said, the back end of 2011 is where he has made his real move. He earned a very impressive win over Juan Ignacio Chela at the Montreal Masters in Auhust before coming through qualifying and making the second round at the U.S Open before losing to the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. His biggest win to date then came in Valencia where he beat the big serving American John Isner in a third set tie break to advance to the second round before losing to David Ferrer. Pospisil’s biggest weapon is his serve, which in 2011 he has won 75% of first serve points, and that is a key attribute to have in the modern game. He will not be a world beater but we should certainly be hearing a lot more of this young man next year.
Andrey Kuznetsov- End of season ranking: 222
This young Russian has begun making the step up in world tour qualifiers already and 2012 will be a big year for him. He impressively reached the quarter finals of the Casablanca 250 event in April, knocking out former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis along the way. The 20 year old prefers the clay courts so expect to see a lot more of him in the first half of 2012 during the clay court season. He does not have any particular big weapons but it very consistent and his ground strokes are very solid indeed.
Federico Delbonis- End of season ranking: 166
Federico Delbonis is a 21 year old clay court specialist from Argentina who has made an impression in 2011. Delbonis started the year at 160 and so did not really progress much in 2011. We reckon that 2012 could be his year to rise in to the world’s top 100 though. Delbonis’s best result this year was an impressive run to the semi finals at the 250 event in Stuttgart in July where he knocked out German number one Florian Mayer. The first half of the year will be important for Delbonis as he competes on the clay court swing and particular look out for him at the south American events.
Jiri Vesely- End of season ranking: 603
Jiri Vasely will end 2011 as the worlds junior number 1 after a very successful year on the junior circuit. The 18 year old Czech rose over 300 places in 2011 and already has one futures title to his name which came in Turkey. 2012 will be his first, full time, professional year on the circuit and he will be one to watch out for as he looks to make his debut on the ATP World Tour.
And for the Brits
Oliver Golding- Currently ranked 709
Oliver Golding will end 2011 at the number 3 junior in the world but his big success came at the U.S Open as he won the junior title. The last British player to have won the junior U.S Open was of course, Andy Murray. Golding has already made his debut on the ATP World Tour as a wildcard at the Queens 250 event where he more than held his own against Nicholas Mahut. Golding has a mighty serve and some powerful ground strokes that will serve him well on the world tour and he will be looking to make his mark on the worlds top few hundered and, who knows, maybe even higher?