It’s been hard for the ‘Next Gen’ of tennis players to make that step up and start challenging the big 4 in the sports biggest events. In the last few seasons we have started to see more of a ‘surge’ in these young players; whether it’s Auger-Aliassime breaking into the Top 20, Tsitsipas winning the ATP Finals or Humbert winning the ASB Classic, to name a few. I believe there are more players that we may see reaching similar heights in the next 1-2 years in the hope that we will see some new grand slam champions.
1. Miomir Kecmanovic (Serbia)
Miomir is 20yrs old and ranked 47 in the ATP rankings, a current career high ranking. He made his mark last year in 2019 which was his first and still his only full season on the ATP Tour, having a 24-22 win/loss record in the year. His most notable results on the tour so far have been an ATP 250 final in Analyta (grass), a SF at Next Gen Finals, QF at Indian Wells and a R16 performance in Cincinnati (beating Auger-A and Zverev along the way).
Miomir has many similarities to his Serbian counterpart Novak Djokovic, even mimicking some of Novak's style and personality on court. I got the opportunity to watch him at the Australian Open in 2019 where he qualified into the main draw and played Verdasco in Round 1. Miomir was ranked outside the top 120 at the time but I was instantly impressed with his confidence and shot-making on court. He has an extremely solid backhand and relies on it to start rallies, stay in neutral points and defend. Although his forehand is slightly more erratic, he can hit big winners of this wing and will improve this shot if he can develop more consistency, especially under pressure.
For only being 20 yrs old Kecmanovic has already made big strides in the ATP rankings and found himself to be a tough player to beat for his opponents. His work ethic, confidence and talent on court is second to none and I feel he still has so many aspects of his game he can still improve (e.g. forehand, serve and finishing points at net) which is extremely exciting for him. With the guidance and mentorship of his idol (Djokovic) on his side, alongside his current team/coaches, Miomir Kecmanovic has the ability to reach the Top 20 in the world at the very least and even push on for more lucrious titles in our sport.
2. Thiago Seyboth Wild (Brazil)
Thiago Seyworth Wild may be a name you have not heard of before. He is 20 yrs old and ranked just outside the top 100, at 114. His career so far has predominantly been playing at the ATP Challenger level on clay and Davis Cup events for his country. Wild’s biggest result of his career (by a long way) was winning his maiden ATP 250 title in Santiago, which in fact was the latest event held before Covid-19 halted the circuit. This was only Wild’s 7th ATP event he had participated in, managing to beat the likes of Londero, Garin and Ruud along the way.
Wild’s game style is incredibly powerful for a player who predominantly plays and prefers the clay court surface. He gets extreme power from both sides, especially forehand, as well as a strong first and second serve. Wild reminds me of how Berrettini plays (ATP Top 10 player); both tactically, technically and physically on court. I recently watched Wild come against John Millman at the Davis Cup in Australia and the first thing you notice about his game is his relentless power and intensity. His game style is made for all surfaces as he has the ability to play both short and long points depending on the situation/opponent.
He has a very solid build for his age which enables him to have these attributes at such a young age; this is a big advantage for his career in the next 1-2 years and something players like Zverev/Auger-Aliassime did not get the luxury to have (both have had to work on their body/physicality hugely from junior to senior level).
It will be very interesting to see how Wild can progress his game into grand slam events and playing on different surfaces. I believe he will be inside the Top 50 in no time and be the most successful Brazilian tennis player since Thomas Bellucci, but whether he can reach Kuerten’s milestones is another question.
3. Carlos Alcaraz (Spain)
Carlos Alcaraz is only 16yrs and already ranked inside the top 350 in the world which is already an incredible record. Getting the chance to watch him once I was instantly in shock… and had never seen someone play at that ‘level’ since Nadal at 16, or Auger-Aliassime at 16. Similar to Wild, he is incredibly built for his age standing at 6ft 1 tall and having an attacking/powerful game style. Carlos made his mark recently at the ATP 500 Rio event winning the first ATP match he has played, beating Ramos-Vinolas (41 ranked at the time) 7-6 in the 3rd set.
It’s easy to ‘assume’ Carlos is a typical spanish grinder; the likes of Ferrer, Nadal, Ferrero, Moya etc… but you would be wrong. Carlos idolizes his game of Roger Federer and implements this exciting volleying, stepping inside the baseline game style, even on clay court surfaces. He seems to be different from the rest and has an ‘aura’ of being a very, very special player. I think it would be great to see him play some Grand Slam events (in qualifying) to get some exposure to that higher level on a regular basis in 2020/2021. Remember the name, Carlos Alcaraz. He WILL be a top 10 player, I’m sure of it.