3 young guns ready to erupt in 2016

Sunday, Feb 28

Has the changing of the guard started right under our noses?

Tennis legends Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova will not be around forever, no matter how much we want them to be. Who is the next world No.1? Who will carry the tennis torch?

Let’s take a look at three young players who are primed for monster years in 2016.

*Note: The list below includes only ATP and WTA players, but be sure to follow rising Canadian stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca Andreescu who we will be covering all year.

Nick Kyrgios

The 20-year-old Australian is off to a roaring start in 2016, sporting a 10-1 record on his way to his first ATP title in Marseille. He did not drop a game or set in the tournament, once again showing the flashes of brilliance he demonstrated when arriving on tour. Building off his success in Marseille, he made the semis of Dubai, where he was forced to retire against Stan Wawrinka with a back injury. He has thrashed some high-level players this year, including Tomas Berdych twice consecutively.

Kyrgios’ success begins with his monster serve. His ace rate is up over 20% in 2016, which rivals the best on the men’s tour, i.e. Ivo Karlovic, John Isner, Milos Raonic. Along with an improved return, the serve is allowing him to absolutely demolish his opponents, demonstrated by a 1.36 dominance ratio – trailing only Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

If Kyrgios can keep his emotions in check and shake off a back injury, he is in for a BIG year. Rest easy, Nick.

rest easy nick1

Sloane Stephens

BOLD PREDICTION ALERT – Sloane will be in the finals of a Grand Slam in 2016.

She is off to the races this year, already taking home the Auckland and Acapulco trophies while amassing a 10-1 record. Although the one loss came in the first round of the Australian Open, she is ready to take the next step on the biggest stage.

The last time she has been to the QFs of a Grand Slam was Wimbledon 2013, but her 2016 results are making any recent Slam troubles fade into the past.

sloane smile

Dominic Thiem

Through the first two months of 2016, Thiem is the most active player on the men’s tour with a record of 18-4 (13-1 in February). He added two more titles to his collection, including his first hard-court and ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco. In fact, he has won five titles in the past nine months, AS A 22-YEAR-OLD. He has accumulated the same amount of wins in the first two months of this season than he did in all of 2015.  If that doesn’t spell bright future, I don’t know what does.

Thiem’s game embodies steady improvement – his ace rate, 1st serve in, 1st and 2nd serve win %, return win %, and DR all improved a few ticks from 2015. The stats that jumps off the page is his 9-3 tiebreak record – he is learning to solidify his game in high-pressure situations, following in the footsteps of Federer and Djokovic. His 75% tiebreak win rate in 2016 is up from a career 54%.

If Thiem continues his great play and success on clay, he can make serious waves at Roland Garros this year.