When ATP created the Next Gen campaign, I found it really interesting and fascinating for two reasons: it helps the youngsters get more recognition and grow in a controlled environment. Also, the competition among the next generation players motivates them more and helps the game. The second reason I got excited is the fact that we can see the players’ progress and get to know them better, in order to realize where Tennis will go.
Their interviews, events and the ATP’s support are a great asset for the future of this sport and keeps the players focused and eager to prove themselves among their peers.
Roger Federer was asked what’s his opinion on the Next Gen concept and joked that his generation were ”next balls generation”. The Swiss Maestro criticized the youngsters for not being aggressive and not strong enough to push him and his generation into retirement. More than that, him, Rafa and so on can still dominate the game.
The problem with the Next Gen is that even though there is plenty of talent, they are often too soft, lack the willing to sacrifice, the hunger to win and sometimes even the manners.
Sascha Zverev can’t be called a future hope anymore, he is already established. His achievements, mental toughness and maturity surpass a long way the ones of his peers. He is the only one able to challenge the top players on a regular basis and even the elite. I will enumerate his biggest accomplishments and then speak about his Next Gen colleagues.
Zverev is number four in the world and the third in the ATP Tour Finals race. He won five titles this year alone, as much as the tennis gods, Federer and Nadal. Not any titles, two came in Masters events, where he won in the finals against Djokovic and Federer respectively. And don’t forget he is only twenty. If he stays healthy, humble and keeps up the hard work, the sky’s the limit. This is one of the reason for his success. His coach, former world number one Ferrero, said that the youngster’s discipline, commitment, determination and passion for the game are just outstanding. He is a hard worker and never skips steps in his training.
Even though he is a bit older, Nick Kyrgios can still be considered part from the Next Gen. He has an amazing talent and a spectacular style of play. He is really fast and powerful. But his short career was plagued by his bad temper, attitude and this year by injuries as well. One of his biggest issue is that he is not passionate and hungry to grow. He is suffering from the spoiled brat syndrome, just like Bernard Tomic. Even though he cleaned his act a bit this year, he still has a long way to go in order to be worthy for this sport. He even said this: ”I’m not good enough for him (Grosjean, his coach). He deserves a better athlete than me. I’m not dedicated to the game at all.” Enough said…
Borna Coric is another big talent. The Croat stays well mentally and has a versatile style of play. His problems came when the multiple injuries started to appear. Way too many set backs because of it and that slowed down his progress a lot. He is known for his fighting spirit, but his inconsistency drags him down.
The two Russians, Rublev and Khachanov already established themselves as redoubtable opponents. They both have a solid style of play, but they still have a lot to work on the mental side and consistency. Also, they need a little bit more power.
Tiafoe is another exciting player. Very explosive and an all around player. He is fast and he is able to stay in long rallies with the top players. A proof of his qualities were shown when he pushed Roger in US Open in a five setter. Only his lack of experience made him lose that match.
Probably the next big thing in tennis, a future superstar, is Denis Shapovalov. The eighteen years old still has a lot to prove and to establish himself, as it is too soon to predict his future. The lefty has a spectacular style of play, a beautiful one-hand backhand and a great fighting spirit. He won against the likes of Nadal, Del Potro and Tsonga. Even though he is one of my favorites from the youngsters, I won’t say more, as I already wrote an entire article about him.
What about Next Gen Tour Finals, the tournament that puts together the best youngsters in the game? Being a good idea in theory, in practice looks like a bad one. They just need to continue to battle with the top players, improve and push the old generations into retirement. This tournament is like the prize for the fourth place that is given in school or in various competitions. It makes you think you already accomplished something and gives you the false feeling of achievement. In this way, you don’t really feel the need to work harder. I hope they will prove me wrong.