As the U.S. Open gets underway, young athletes from all over are preparing to battle for a Grand Slam win. Here is who you should keep an eye on…
Dominic Thiem Age: 24 Ranking: 8
Thiem is ranked No. 8 and has won 10 singles titles on the ATP tour by the age of 24. One of his most notable moments was beating Rafael Nadal on clay at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open. The Austrian reached his first Grand Slam final at the French Open this year losing to current No. 1-seed Rafael Nadal in 3 sets. Thiem has managed to earn a total of $12,541,945 in prize money. Although Thiem’s preferred surface is clay, he has the talent and experience to make some noise in New York this summer.
Alexander Zverev Age: 21 Ranking: 3
Ranked No. 3 in the world, 21-year-old Zverev is currently the youngest player in the ATP top 20. The German has won 2 career titles in the last year by defeating both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. He has pocketed $11,001,889 in total career prize money. Although his performance at Grand Slams has been less than stellar, he is due for a break through and has a great chance to win his first Grand Slam at the Open this year. He also recently won the Washington Open, a lead up tournament to the US Open by defeating 19 year old Australian Alex de Minaur in the final.
Denis Shapovalov Age: 19 Ranking: 26
Shapovalov (nicknamed “Shapo”) turned pro in 2017 at age 18. The Canadian was born in Tel Aviv, Israel but currently resides in The Bahamas. Last year was a huge success for his career by landing No. 26-seed in the ATP ranking. Shapovalov reached the semi-final of the Rogers Cup in 2017, eliminating Rafael Nadal in the process. He also made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year, which sets him on the right track for this year.
Karen Khachanov Age: 22 Ranking: 38
Khachanov is the third-youngest player in the top 50 and holds 2 hard court titles. Achieving a career-high ranking of No.29 in 2017, he has wins over former top 10 players David Goffin and Kei Nishikori. The Russian player of Armenian descent made the Round of 16 of the French Open this year, losing a tough 5 set match to Zverev. He more recently made it to the 4th round of Wimbledon, losing to Novak Djokovic in three sets. There’s a strong sense the best is still to come for the 22-year-old.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Age: 19 Ranking: 32
Tsitsupas is currently at his career high at No. 32 at age 19. The Greek has made his mark in the ATP tour by reaching the quarter-final of the Qatar Open with an impressive win over the experienced Richard Gasquet in the Round of 16 before losing a tough match to Dominic Thiem. This year at Wimbledon was a highlight of his career losing to American John Isner in the fourth round. Still in his teens, Tsitsipas has a long way to go.
Now for the ladies…
Jelena Ostapenko Age: 21 Ranking: 11
It’s hard to compare Ostapenko to any other typical 21-year old. The Latvian won her first title at the 2017 French Open by defeating the current number 1 in the world, Simona Halep, making Ostapenko the first unseeded player to win the French Open since 1933 and the first Latvian to ever win a Grand Slam tournament. Ostapenko pocketed a whopping $2.4 million in prize money for winning Roland Garros, effectively tripling her total career prize money in a two-week span. She is currently ranked No. 11 in the WTA ranking, making her the second youngest player in the top 20.
Naomi Osaka Age: 20 Ranking: 17
Raised in Orlando, Florida, Naomi Osaka is of Haitian and Japanese descent, and chooses to play for her mothers nation of Japan. She is currently sitting at her highest singles ranking at No. 17 after a successful first half of the 2018 season. She beat former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the first round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and continued on in the tournament to win her first singles title. After her win, she said, “There are three people I wanted to play, Venus, Sharapova, and Serena. Now I’m just waiting to play Serena.” Luckily enough, she got to play Serena in the first round of the 2018 Miami Open a couple days later. Williams was playing her fourth comeback match following the birth of her first child. Osaka won in straight sets. The 20-year-old has earned $3,213,199 in career prize money.
Daria Kasatkina Age: 21 Ranking: 12
With an impressive $4,600,275 made in prize money, 21-year-old Kasatkina has made her way up the ladder to No. 12. The Russian has posted solid results all season long, making the finals of the BNP Paribas Open and the quarterfinals of the French Open. She also made it to the quarterfinals of Eastbourne and Wimbledon losing to Angelique Kerber both times. “The main goal for this girl is to win one of the four Grand Slams,” said her coach Philippe Dehaes. So if she makes it passed the quarterfinals, it’s possible that the U.S. Open could be her breakthrough.
Belinda Bencic Age: 21 Ranking: 43
The Swiss player reached a career-high of N0. 7 in 2016 at age 18 and held two WTA titles. She rose in the rankings by defeating Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, world No. 1 Serena Williams, and Simona Halep, and looked to be on her way to Grand Slam success. Now ranked No. 43 in the world, the 21 year-old has dealt with injury problems in the last couple years but seems to be on her way back to the top 10. This year, Bencic defeated Venus Williams at the Australian Open and reached the fourth round of Wimbledon. She has earned $3,554,726 since turning pro when she was 16-years-old.
Tune in August 27 – September 9 to watch!