10 to watch – the rising stars of tennis

Ten grand slam title prospects and young British hopefuls to watch.

Dominic Thiem heads the list of likely first-time grand slam winners
Dominic Thiem heads the list of likely first-time grand slam winners

Tennis’ enforced hiatus will not stop players working as hard as they can ahead of the hopeful resumption in June.

A potential glut of grand slams will see female players hoping to follow in the footsteps of surprise Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, while the breaking of the big three’s stranglehold is an ongoing mission for the next generation of male players.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the leading candidates to lift slam trophies and the young British hopefuls aiming to make their mark.

Dominic Thiem

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Thank you Australia ??

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Of all the men who have tried to end the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal over the last three years, no one has come closer than Austrian Thiem. He has reached three slam finals and was agonisingly close to defeating Djokovic in the Australian Open final in January. Clay is his best surface but he has improved immensely on hard courts.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas won the ATP Tour Finals last year
Stefanos Tsitsipas won the ATP Tour Finals last year (John Walton/PA)

It has been an up-and-down 14 months for the 21-year-old Greek since his breakthrough run to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2019. Tsitsipas struggled with expectation, particularly his own, but winning the title at the ATP Finals in November was a big moment and his all-round game makes him stand-out from his peers.

Coco Gauff

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sweet 16??

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Gauff has only just turned 16 but such is the rate of her improvement it is far from impossible to think she could win a slam in the next couple of years. Her backhand is already one of the best in the game and she was one of only two players to take a set off Kenin in Melbourne, where she made the fourth round.

Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka's power game marks her out
Aryna Sabalenka’s power game marks her out (Paul Harding/PA)

At the start of last year, the name on everyone’s lips as the next likely slam winner was Belarusian Sabalenka. Instead, it was Ashleigh Barty and Bianca Andreescu who took that mantle while Sabalenka struggled for consistency and confidence. But the 21-year-old won her most recent tournament in Doha in fine style and her prodigious ball striking makes her a danger to all.

Elena Rybakina

There are clear parallels between Andreescu’s breakthrough 2019, which ended with a US Open title, and Rybakina’s 2020. The 20-year-old, who plays for Kazakhstan, only broke into the top 100 last July and has soared from 36 to 17 this year on the back of one WTA Tour title and three more finals, posting victories over Kenin and Karolina Pliskova in Dubai last month.

Jack Draper

Jack Draper was the runner-up in the boys' singles at Wimbledon in 2018
Jack Draper was the runner-up in the boys’ singles at Wimbledon in 2018 (Nigel French/PA)

Young British diamonds are as rare as ever but in 18-year-old Draper the country has a very bright one. The son of former Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger, Draper is a tall lefty with a strong all-round game and mentality. He is the second youngest player in the top 300 and has made an excellent transition to the second-tier Challenger Tour.

Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu in action at Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu in action at Wimbledon (John Walton/PA)

Another diamond is 17-year-old Raducanu, who has been the most promising British girl for a number of years. A mature right-hander with a powerful game, persistent injuries are a concern but hopefully something she can grow out of. She already has three professional titles to her name and is at a career-high ranking of 333.

Harriet Dart

Dart is much more established at 23 and recently made her Fed Cup singles debut for Britain but – assuming it does resume – this should be the season in which she breaks through into the top 100. An impressive run at the Australian Open showed the strengths in her game – particularly her backhand and athleticism. Her serve remains a weakness but is improving.

Paul Jubb

Jubb was the feelgood tennis story of last summer – the orphan from a Hull council estate who was given a Wimbledon wild card after becoming the first British player to win the American college singles title. Jubb is about to turn professional and has showed enough in his senior career so far to indicate he can follow in the footsteps of Cameron Norrie.

Aidan McHugh

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King Roaster ? @andymurray

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The young Scot mentored by Andy Murray, McHugh has not made as swift progress as Draper but broke into the top 500 last year and remains one of Britain’s strongest prospects. The 19-year-old has three senior titles to his name and possesses a stylish game, including a one-handed backhand.

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