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For those developing faster, the needs may be different. None of the number 1s of the last decade or so spent much time in challenger land. Challenger records:

Roddick 23/4
Agassi 15/4
Hewitt 13/5
Federer 16/7
Djokovic 28/8
Ferrero 20/8
Nadal 34/10
Safin 23/11
Yep, and even who had the most matches there, Nadal for getting enough clay practice and Djokovic for getting his game more suitable for ATP main draw matches, they had it for their special needs.
Others mentioned did not even need that, their general level and confidence grow even in their teens to that magnitude that they judged it as enough to step further into ATP.

Sadly tomorrow's talents have neither the talent (in that proportion) nor the confidence, it seems so far. Maybe Tiafoe is the only exception, though it is still really too early to tell...
 

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Not really that fast - around 2 years (plus or minus) to get from top 100 to top 10 for most recent group:

Name (entered top 100) (entered top ten)

Djokovic 4.7.05 19.3.07
Nadal 21.4.03 25.4.05
Federer 20.9.99 20.5.02
Hewitt 8.2.99 10.12.01

Kyrgios is still well and truly on track with them.

And different paths might lead to different speeds down the track...
Kyrgios is nowhere near the track of the four guys listed above. Hewitt, Federer, and Djokovic all entered the top 100 shortly before or after their 18th birthdays, and Nadal did so about 1 1/2 months before he turned 17 years old. By contrast, Kyrgios didn't enter the top 100 until a couple months after he turned 19 years old, a big difference.

Now if you were talking about Coric or Zverev (and I think before October 2015, Rublev)...
 

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Kyrgios is nowhere near the track of the four guys listed above. Hewitt, Federer, and Djokovic all entered the top 100 shortly before or after their 18th birthdays, and Nadal did so about 1 1/2 months before he turned 17 years old. By contrast, Kyrgios didn't enter the top 100 until a couple months after he turned 19 years old, a big difference.

Now if you were talking about Coric or Zverev (and I think before October 2015, Rublev)...
When you enter the top 100 has a lot to do with when you launch yourself on the professional tour, and Kyrgios started rather later than most for reasons I suspect have nothing to do with ability, and everything to do with the salutary examples of fellow Australians Tomic (early promise not realised) and Hewitt (flopped in what should have been his prime tennis years).

Even so, when he did, he moved very fast - whereas they typically took some time to get from 100 to 50, he did it almost in one hop.

And in terms of age comparisons, Kyrgios did something only one of the big 4, namely Federer, managed, viz making two slam QFs as a teenager. So he is definitely up there on the age curve. This chart comparing their first full years on tour is interesting I think:



http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/tennis/nick-kyrgios-debut-grand-slam-record-better-than-federer-djokovic-and-murray-20140924-10ld58.html
 

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Kyrgios is nowhere near the track of the four guys listed above. Hewitt, Federer, and Djokovic all entered the top 100 shortly before or after their 18th birthdays, and Nadal did so about 1 1/2 months before he turned 17 years old. By contrast, Kyrgios didn't enter the top 100 until a couple months after he turned 19 years old, a big difference.

Now if you were talking about Coric or Zverev (and I think before October 2015, Rublev)...
Seeing as Kyrgios made two QF's as teenager, something Nadal Djokovic and Murray couldn't do, I think it's a bit ambiguous to say he is behind these guys. Nicks ranking is almost top 20 and even that is understating his ability. He has played least amount of tournaments for any top 100 player, and the only one he was trying in was Estoril, where he didn't even try to hard against Ramos.

Besides, Zverev has never even played a GS main draw. You should be assured that if Nick had played 25 tourneys with full effort/fitness then he would be pushing for top 10, if not there already.
 

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When you enter the top 100 has a lot to do with when you launch yourself on the professional tour, and Kyrgios started rather later than most for reasons I suspect have nothing to do with ability, and everything to do with the salutary examples of fellow Australians Tomic (early promise not realised) and Hewitt (flopped in what should have been his prime tennis years).

Even so, when he did, he moved very fast - whereas they typically took some time to get from 100 to 50, he did it almost in one hop.

And in terms of age comparisons, Kyrgios did something only one of the big 4, namely Federer, managed, viz making two slam QFs as a teenager. So he is definitely up there on the age curve.
First item to get out of the way - Hewitt didn't flop in events during his projected prime years because he played too much when he was young, he flopped because he had an early prime compared to most players and took advantage of a down period in men's tennis but ultimately proved to not be good enough. Roger Federer becoming dramatically better didn't help Hewitt (or any of the late 1970s/early 1980s cohort) either. Don't get me wrong; Hewitt deserves a lot of credit for continuing to play and compete on tour even after he became more of a journeyman type of player starting in 2006.

Getting back to Nick Kyrgios, according to the ATP website, Kyrgios played in his first professional tournament (or more accurately, first tournament with professionals in it) in January 2012 at the Australian Open. He was 16 1/2 years old, which is late to play one's first ATP/ITF pro tournament but not ridiculously so. He also received a handful of wild-cards into Challenger and ATP Tour events, which to his credit he took advantage of in some cases. On the other hand, if Kyrgios was consistently good, he would have shown strong results in non-Slams, even if he wasn't playing many tournaments. That hasn't been the case.

Here's a breakdown of the Big 4's and Kyrgios' ATP titles and finals results before age 20. (I'll even give Kyrgios credit for his finals appearance in Estoril that occurred a few days after he turned 20 years old.) In the case of the Big 4, all ATP events are shown as 1000, 500, or 250 equivalents.

Federer: 1 ATP title (1 250), 4 ATP finals (1 500, 3 250)
Nadal: 17 ATP titles (2 GS, 6 1000, 5 500, 4 250, 19 ATP finals (2 GS, 7 1000, 5 500, 5 250)
Djokovic: 5 ATP titles (1 1000, 4 250), 7 ATP finals (2 1000, 5 250)
Murray: 2 ATP titles (2 250), 5 ATP finals (5 250)
Kyrgios: 1 ATP final (1 250)

All of the Big 4, including "late bloomer" Federer, had won an ATP Tour event by their 20th birthday, and all had appeared in at least 4 ATP Tour event finals. Both Nadal (who was one the greatest young players of all-time) and Djokovic had won top level tournaments by the time they turned 20 years old.

To be fair to Kyrgios, he still has time; the next 2 years will tell us a lot more about where he's headed. All of the Big 4 had appeared in at least one Grand Slam final by the time they turned 22 years old, and more broadly most really good male players throughout the Open Era made at least one Grand Slam final by their 22nd birthday. Kyrgios has 7 more Grand Slam events (through the 2017 Australian Open) to accomplish the same feat.

Seeing as Kyrgios made two QF's as teenager, something Nadal Djokovic and Murray couldn't do, I think it's a bit ambiguous to say he is behind these guys. Nicks ranking is almost top 20 and even that is understating his ability. He has played least amount of tournaments for any top 100 player, and the only one he was trying in was Estoril, where he didn't even try to hard against Ramos.

Besides, Zverev has never even played a GS main draw. You should be assured that if Nick had played 25 tourneys with full effort/fitness then he would be pushing for top 10, if not there already.
Kyrgios' lack of fitness (or more generally, frequent injuries and breaks from tour) are part of the story he's developing and part of what he is. IMO, it's a very worrisome sign that he's missing so much time with injuries so early in his career. That's an even bigger issue with him than his fairly poor court movement and resulting relatively poor percentage of return points won, which could turn him into the next John Isner or Milos Raonic.

As for the Kyrgios/Zverev Grand Slam comparison, it helps when you are granted wild-cards into the Slams (AO Qualies 2012, AO Qualies 2013, RG/FO 2013, AO 2014, RG/FO 2014, WIM 2014); Zverev hasn't been given that luxury (zero wild-cards to the main draw or qualifying).

General statement - I personally think Thanasi Kokkinakis is the young male Australian player with the highest upside; I see him having a better career (and possibly a much better career) than Kyrgios. Only time will tell.
 

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Kyrgios has had fitness problems of course, but so has Nadal and DelPo, both GS champions. Kyrgios is at their standard in terms of talent, and so is Kokk.

The reason why Zverev does not have WC's is because he has not proven himself at a high enough level. Kyrgios does have an advantage of being Australian, but apart from the AO, RG gives QWC to junior players. Zverev had the opp. to qualify this year and lost in the second round. As for Wimbledon, TA had nothing to do with his WC, it was based on his performance in the Nottingham challenger.
 

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First item to get out of the way - Hewitt didn't flop in events during his projected prime years because he played too much when he was young, he flopped because he had an early prime compared to most players and took advantage of a down period in men's tennis but ultimately proved to not be good enough. Roger Federer becoming dramatically better didn't help Hewitt (or any of the late 1970s/early 1980s cohort) either. Don't get me wrong; Hewitt deserves a lot of credit for continuing to play and compete on tour even after he became more of a journeyman type of player starting in 2006.
Let's not getting into the Hewitt debate, going on elsewhere. I watched him through all those years, but let's just agree to differ with your analysis - think it has a lot to do with failure to adapt his game. But it is worth noting though that Hewitt's journeyman years are not entirely unrelated to ongoing injury problems.

...On the other hand, if Kyrgios was consistently good, he would have shown strong results in non-Slams, even if he wasn't playing many tournaments. That hasn't been the case.

Here's a breakdown of the Big 4's and Kyrgios' ATP titles and finals results before age 20...All of the Big 4, including "late bloomer" Federer, had won an ATP Tour event by their 20th birthday, and all had appeared in at least 4 ATP Tour event finals. Both Nadal (who was one the greatest young players of all-time) and Djokovic had won top level tournaments by the time they turned 20 years old.
The number of titles just reflects different transition strategies - Federer in 2000 (18 turning 19) played 31 tournaments; Kyrgios played just 15, and he hasn't done all that much better this year.

The reasons for his low number of outings seems to be a combination of physical and mentality issues, both of which may just be a matter of time to fix - his coach has been saying he is still gaining inches, hence the problem with stress on his body (though given some of the murmurings in the past about his training application or lack thereof may be a few other factors as well!).

So far Kyrgios has really only come out to play at Slams, skips or gives minimal effort to the rest. That obviously has to change if he wants to be no 1, but lack of titles isn't really a sign he isn't going to get there in my view.

To be fair to Kyrgios, he still has time; the next 2 years will tell us a lot more about where he's headed. All of the Big 4 had appeared in at least one Grand Slam final by the time they turned 22 years old, and more broadly most really good male players throughout the Open Era made at least one Grand Slam final by their 22nd birthday. Kyrgios has 7 more Grand Slam events (through the 2017 Australian Open) to accomplish the same feat.
Exactly.

Kyrgios' lack of fitness (or more generally, frequent injuries and breaks from tour) are part of the story he's developing and part of what he is. IMO, it's a very worrisome sign that he's missing so much time with injuries so early in his career. That's an even bigger issue with him than his fairly poor court movement and resulting relatively poor percentage of return points won, which could turn him into the next John Isner or Milos Raonic.

General statement - I personally think Thanasi Kokkinakis is the young male Australian player with the highest upside; I see him having a better career (and possibly a much better career) than Kyrgios. Only time will tell.
I do agree with this. Kokkinakis has developed fast and at the moment, he's the dark horse that I could actually see making a slam final in the near future.

Kyrgios has the capability I think, but big question mark on whether he realises it. You have wonder if he chose the wrong sport at 14 when his parents told him to choose between tennis and basketball...
 

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On the question of the relative speeds of development of these players as a result of their different approaches, there was an interesting blog post over at Heavytopspin.

Minimum viable return/service points won?

The post argues that there is a 'minimum viable' percentage of return points won (and presumably conversely of service points won) to be a top 10 player: http://heavytopspin.com/2015/05/31/nick-kyrgios-and-the-minimum-viable-return-game/

Proportions of service vs return points won obviously reflects in large part the different nature of their games.

The post argues, though, that there is a minimum level of return (and conversely service) that you need to have no matter what type of game you play overall. Makes sense on the face of it to me.

The post suggests that the viable return game is about 36% of points won (currently Ferrer is highest at 44%, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal are on 43%; Federer 41%; Wawrinka, 39%; Cilic 36%; Raonic 31%).

If you agree the concept works (and do read the full post over there), by extension, the 'minimum viable service game' looks to me to be around 64% (Ferrer, Cilic), but most of the top ten are in the 66-67% range (the exceptions being Djokovic and Federer on 70% and Raonic at 74%).

Are matchfacts strictly comparable at this stage of their careers?

The degree of difficulty in maintaining those win rates obviously increases with ranking - as you go deeper you play more higher ranked players.

Still, the absolute levels of these percentages, and the changes in the two rates over time perhaps do tell us something about where they need to work on their game. You can view the suggested 'minimum viable' levels as benchmarks they have to reach/maintain in order to make/stay in the top 10.

In addition, the change over time perhaps tells us something about the speed and directions these players are developing in that is missed in simple ranking comparisons.

So here are some comparisons and a few comments for the young guns, viz Kyrgios, currently ranked 25; Coric, 41; Kokkinakis, 69; Chung, 74; Zverev, 84.

I've mostly used the matchfacts/match stats from the ATP site (ie tour level matches only) to provide a relatively level comparison point. There are some obvious problems due to low number of tour level matches played for Zverev and Chung however, and different draws etc.

However, tennisabstract.com allows you to do the same comparisons for all matches played (ie including qualies, challenger and futures), so I've noted a few statistics from that where appropriate (and overall, the broad directions of change noted do hold up).

The other disclaimer is obviously that the year is but young...

Return points won

First in terms of return game, Kyrgios at 33% of return points won is the only one of the young guns currently below the proposed minimum viable level of 36% of return points won. Of course, that may in part reflect the fact that he has mostly/won at slams rather than the mix of matches the others have.

Zverev has by far the best percentage this year at 46% - but off only 5 matches so possibly not very representative (though his previous years were also very high at 39% for 2013 and 37% for 2014).

Coric ranks second at 38%, with Kokkinakis and Chung on 36%.

Rates of development are quite sharply different though - Zverev had the biggest jump up.

Kokkinakis though is close behind Zverev in terms of rate of improvement - from 30% in 2014 to 36% this year so far.

Coric by contrast went from 37% in 2014 to 38% (32% in 2013).

In fact Kokkinakis looks like he could soon catch up and even overtake Coric on return game. His return points won rate improved from 31% at his first tournament of the year, Brisbane; to 34% at the AO (R2); Indian Wells (R4) was 41%; RG (R3), 37%.

No useful tour level comparisons are available for Chung, but his futures/challenger etc return points won rate improved from 37.7% in 2013 (compared to 36.3% for Kokkinakis back then; 38.8% for Zverev; and 39.5% for Coric) to 43.4% (though this is obviously substantially inflated by the challenger fields he has mostly played).

By way of comparison with their slightly older competitors, Tomic won 35% of return points in 2015; Thiem and Sock 36%; Versely, 37%.

Service game

I suggested above that the minimum viable top 10 service points won percentage looks to be around 64%. At the moment, Coric is the only one of the young guns below that, at 62%. Kyrgios leads the pack at 68%; Chung is 65%; Zverev and Kokkinakis are on the line at 64%. By comparison all of the slightly older group (Tomic, Thiem, Vesely, Sock) are on 65%.

In terms of change over time, Coric has actually gone backwards a bit so far this year - made a big improvement between 2013 to 2014, from 57% to 65%, but currently at 62%.

The others have all shown improvement.

Kyrgios went from 62% (2013) to 66% and now at 68%.

Zverev made a similar sized jump to Coric one year behind, going from jumped from 56% in 2014 to 64% this year.

Kokkinakis from 63% (2014) to 64% - interestingly Kokkinakis and Coric have developed in diametrically opposite directions (probably just reflecting different starting points) - Coric made only a percentage improvement in his return game; Kokkinakis made only marginal improvements in his service points won percentage.

Again no useful improvement comparisons are available for Chung at tour level, but on the face of it he started well below the others in terms of service game (62.4% of first points won in 2013 vs 74.4% for Kokkinakis) and though he has improved, hasn't come up to the same degree as the others (currently on 69.7% of first serve points won and 52.7% for second serve for all match levels).

Could be interesting to monitor these match facts for this group of players as a way of tracking their development, particularly in testing the difference between the challengers and qualies routes...
 

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When comparing when earlier greats, you have to keep into account that there are far fewer challengers nowadays. For a future top star this may not be as relevant as for a journeyman who spends his career in the challenger tour, but it still makes it a little bit harder (more travel, less choice of surface) to progress through challengers than before.
 

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Disclosure note for Kateoz - I read the Heavy Topspin blog entry you cited above not too long before I posted my comments about Nick Kyrgios. To be fair (to myself) though, I started developing some doubts about Kyrgios when I saw him play in person at the U.S. Open last year (2nd round vs Andreas Seppi, a match Kyrgios won), and the Heavy Topspin blog post was merely consistent with what I was already thinking but put some statistical weight behind my gut feeling. Kyrgios dominated in his service games against Seppi, but to my eyes played pretty indifferently in his return games; basically the return games he won had a lot more to do with Seppi errors than excellent shots by Kyrgios. I didn't see a guy (Kyrgios) who was getting to shots and trying to dictate play in his return games. Obviously that's hard to do against the top players, but against a solid but unspectacular player like Seppi, I want to see a good player push his opponent around the court. I didn't get the impression Kyrgios could do that.
 

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Kyrgios has had fitness problems of course, but so has Nadal and DelPo, both GS champions. Kyrgios is at their standard in terms of talent, and so is Kokk.

The reason why Zverev does not have WC's is because he has not proven himself at a high enough level. Kyrgios does have an advantage of being Australian, but apart from the AO, RG gives QWC to junior players. Zverev had the opp. to qualify this year and lost in the second round. As for Wimbledon, TA had nothing to do with his WC, it was based on his performance in the Nottingham challenger.
Kyrgios (DOB 4/27/95) is almost exactly two years older than Alex/Sascha Zverev (DOB 4/20/97), so comparing Kyrgios now to Zverev now is a little unfair to Zverev; a more accurate comparison would be Zverev now vs. Kyrgios in 2013.

Incidentally, Kokkinakis (DOB 4/10/96) is almost exactly a year younger than Kyrgios and a year older than Zverev, so his results can probably be best compared to Kyrgios' a year earlier (i.e. current Kokk vs 2014 Kyrgios) and Zverev's a year later (i.e. current Zverev vs 2014 Kokk).
 

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Kyrgios (DOB 4/27/95) is almost exactly two years older than Alex/Sascha Zverev (DOB 4/20/97), so comparing Kyrgios now to Zverev now is a little unfair to Zverev; a more accurate comparison would be Zverev now vs. Kyrgios in 2013.

Incidentally, Kokkinakis (DOB 4/10/96) is almost exactly a year younger than Kyrgios and a year older than Zverev, so his results can probably be best compared to Kyrgios' a year earlier (i.e. current Kokk vs 2014 Kyrgios) and Zverev's a year later (i.e. current Zverev vs 2014 Kokk).
When I posted this Zverev had been slowly moving DOWN the rankings. He has had a really good May/June though, so he is now ahead of Kyrgios and the Kokk. Winning the Heilbronn challenger was a huge help

Most say Kokkinakis and Zverev have too many wildcards, but I think they are the best players to have adapted to tour life since the current gen emerged. Kyrgios is too inconsistent and never does well at non-slams, while Coric has a few deep runs to semis, but many poor results.

Sascha has one of the brightest futures in my mind (better than Nick and even Coric), and so does Kokkinakis, because of how they've set up a stable career, but I still think they shouldn't forget challengers altogether.

Just as Kyrgios' big test is at Wimbledon, Zverev's will be at Hamburg, but I think he will have built enough points to stay in the top 100 no matter what happens.
 
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