What The Next Generation of Tennis Stars Have to Offer
2023 will signal the changing of the guard in the tennis world. So, who should you keep an eye on?
The recent retirements of Roger Federer and Serena Williams will undoubtedly leave noticeable holes in the world of tennis; however fans should not despair. Although the past twenty years have been characterised by the dominance of the Big Four and the Williams sisters — with the occasional challenge from a plucky competitor — there are new, young, dominant stars emerging who are worth paying attention to.
First up is Carlos Alcaraz. Just 19 years old, Alcaraz is already a household name for tennis fans everywhere. He has held the world number one ranking since September after winning his first Grand Slam at the US Open. His meteoric rise through the rankings is something unseen since his compatriot Rafael Nadal’s success in the mid-2000s. 2021 was Alcaraz’s breakout year, and given he followed this up with a grand slam and world number 1 ranking in 2022, the sky's the limit for the young Spaniard heading into 2023.
Although he hasn’t achieved the same accolades as Alcaraz, an equally exciting prospect is the world number 12, Jannik Sinner. Sinner showed his skills against Alcaraz at Wimbledon this summer in one of the matches of the tournament, with Sinner winning three sets to one. He went on to lose to the eventual champion, Novak Djokovic, in the quarterfinals. Sinner is yet to advance to the next stage of a major tournament, but he is only 21 years old and a player to keep an eye on into 2023, when he is a sure bet to reach the semis and possibly the finals of a Grand Slam. What is even more exciting is the potential rivalry between Sinner and Alcaraz. They have played each other four times now on tour, and with two wins each, this will be a key match-up to keep an eye on heading into next year.
Another 21-year-old to take note of is women’s world number 1, Iga Swiatek. Swiatek’s accomplishments at events over the past two years have arguably been overshadowed by both Serena Williams’ and Ashleigh Barty’s retirements; with Swiatek inheriting Barty’s world number one position in March. However, her achievements speak for themselves, with three major titles and a 37-match winning streak in 2022, the Polish player is in a league of her own in terms of performance and consistency. In 2023, Swiatek will be looking to defend her French and US Open titles, as well as bagging a couple more finals in Melbourne and London.
Despite Swiatek’s dominance, the WTA is not short of stars. The final hot prospect to look out for is Coco Gauff. Gauff splashed onto the scene in SW19 in 2019 by beating five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in straight sets at the age of 15. Since then, Gauff has made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open, the quarterfinals in the US, and the 2022 French Open final, defeated by Swiatek. It is easy to forget Gauff is still only 18 years old after the impact she has had on the women’s game in the past few years.
Although consistency has been the primary issue for those hoping to challenge the tennis establishment, Alcaraz, Sinner, Swiatek, and Gauff have already demonstrated in their few years on tour that they have what it takes to stick around. There has been a degree of disappointment amongst tennis fans that nobody has made a consistent challenge to the great players we have witnessed in the 21st century. However, with these four players we will be treated to some great rivalries and even better tennis for the next ten years and beyond.
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