Tennis: Changing of the guard set to continue

28 November 2021 01:23:33 GMTPlus11
Daniil Medvedev enjoyed a Major breakthrough in 2021

Three stars dominated the men's tennis scene in 2021, but there are a number of up-and-coming talents with high hopes of breaking the current stranglehold next year.

With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both spending much of the year on the treatment table and in the twilight of their careers, world number one Novak Djokovic capitalised and claimed three of the four Grand Slam titles.

The super Serb moved level with Nadal and Federer on 20 Major titles with his successes at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, but was unable to complete the calendar Grand Slam.

Daniil Medvedev ended those hopes with a straight-sets victory over Djokovic in the US Open final and, as well as claiming his first Grand Slam crown, the Russian ace added three further titles.

It was also a successful year for German Alexander Zverev, who clinched gold at the Tokyo Olympics, before winning the year-ending celebration that is the ATP Tour Finals.

But 2022 promises to be a cracker and there are a few rising stars who should be confident they can make their mark and upstage the game's top talents, while you can follow much of the action on the Sports Live Streaming platform.

Greek star Tsitsipas should soon have his day

Stefanos Tsitsipas is knocking on the door of a Grand Slam crown and he went agonisingly close in this year's French Open.

The Greek star was two sets to the good in the final in Paris before falling victim to a remarkable comeback from Djokovic, who had previously got the better of King of the Clay Rafael Nadal.

Tsitsipas had previously clinched clay-court titles in Lyon and Madrid and he is a leading candidate to conquer Paris if Nadal falters again.

The 23-year-old is very much a star and is going to be at the top of the men game for years to come, so 2022 could be when he finally makes his mark.

The world number four, who is a seven-time winner on the ATP Tour, also made the semi-finals at the Australian Open, so is versatile regarding surface and Tsitsipas is 20/1 to hit the ground running in Melbourne and 9/2 for victory at the French Open.

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Sinner a man to follow

Italian tennis is in a healthy place with Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini carrying the flag, but his compatriot Jannik Sinner is another who continues to blossom.

The 20-year-old has risen to tenth in the world and is consistently performing to a high standard, suggesting his time could be fast approaching.

Sinner claimed four titles in a fruitful 2021 and also made his debut at the ATP Tour Finals, where he was drafted in as Berrettini's replacement and was able to beat Hubert Hurkacz, before taking Medvedev to three sets.

The Monte Carlo resident has made only one Grand Slam quarter-final to date, but it shouldn't be long until he challenges at the business end of Major tournaments.

The Italian, who is blessed with an exceptional two-handed backhand, has claimed all five of his titles on hardcourts and is 20/1 to win the Australian Open, while he is 20/1 for US Open glory.

Ruud a force to be reckoned with

Casper Ruud was tennis' big improver this season as he jumped from world number 27 to all the way up to eighth.

At still only 22 years of age, that is a remarkable achievement and there was nothing in his performances to suggest it was a flash in the pan.

Ruud landed five titles in 2021 and clay appears to be his favoured surface, as he won four of those on the slower terrain.

The Norwegian prodigy was a third-round casualty at the French Open this year, but there is definitely better to come in Paris and he is 20/1 to break his Grand Slam duck there in 2022.

The Oslo ace is the highest-ranked Norwegian player in history and his ability to wear down opponents from the back of the court, relying on his big forehand to control points, makes him a formidable force.

Spaniard Alcaraz can show his class

There have been some exceptional Spanish tennis talents over the years, none more so than Nadal, and teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz may be able to follow in his footsteps.

It is too soon in the career of Alcaraz to suggest he could be a multiple Grand Slam winner, but early evidence suggests he certainly could be.

The 18-year-old is already up to world number 32 and he recently defeated American Sebastien Korda to win the Next Gen ATP Finals.

Alcaraz is also a winner on the ATP Tour following his title triumph on the clay of Umag in Croatia and his run to the quarter-finals of the US Open, where he dumped out Tsitsipas, suggested that he is a star of the future.

The Murcia man is versatile regarding the surface and is 40/1 to triumph at the Australian Open, while he is 20/1 to claim victory at the French Open.

Brooksby an American worth noting

If there is to be one player who can shoot up the rankings next year, then American ace Jenson Brooksby may well be the man to do so.

Korda, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul are three Americans with obvious chances of progressing, but Brooksby, who was relatively unknown at the start of last season, could be up to surpassing the achievements of all three of his compatriots.

The 21-year-old is already up to 56th in the world and 2022 could be when he claims his first ATP Tour title.

The 6ft 4in Californian is blessed with a power-packed serve and that is a weapon that could see him go all the way to the top.

Brooksby took Djokovic to four sets in the US Open and ended the season with a semi-final run in Antwerp, where he was eventually beaten by Diego Schwartzman.

He is a lively outsider at 80/1 to land a first Grand Slam crown in front of home support at the US Open.

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