Before continuing the ranking, it is important to explain the notion of hope. In order to be included in this ranking, players had to meet two criteria: to have been born since 1998 and never have been in the top 100. Therefore, there will not be Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov or even Tsitsipas in this ranking because the interest is to make you discover less known players but who have the potential to become very good players. Those who have played second weeks of Grand Slam like Altmaier will not appear in the ranking either.
How was this ranking done?
Several criteria were taken into account. First of all, of course the ability and potential of the player through his performances in ITF, Challenger or even on the ATP circuit (especially in qualifications) for those who already have a little experience. The players chosen in this ranking are also extremely pleasant players to watch with a significant margin of progression on the physical and technical level. Finally, some players who have been stagnating for several years after an early emergence have not been included in this ranking.
ATP / Top 50 hopefuls to follow in 2021: from 50th to 41st place
ATP / Top 50 Hopes to Watch in 2021: from 40th to 31st place
20) Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves (Brazil, 1998, best ranking: 120th on 07/12/2020)
Here is the player who has certainly made the most progress in 2020 among the players present in this top 50. This clay-court specialist (already 239 matches at 22 years old) had an exceptional year, notably thanks to his first title as a challenger at the end of November in Sao Paulo. He followed last week with a semi-final in Campinas (beaten by Francisco Cerundolo). He should arrive next year on the ATP circuit where he will have his chances to get closer to the top 100. He also beat or annoyed members of the top 100 this year as Mager (victory in 3 sets in January), Thiem in Rio (defeat in 3 sets) or Andujar (defeat in 3 sets). The nephew of the former world 25th, Fernando Meligeni, who reached the last four of Roland Garros in 1999 by dominating Corretja and Rafter. The young Felipe has evolved a lot mentally. His physique is also very good, which allows him to play one match after another. It will be to follow in particular in Cordoba, Buenos Aires and Santiago if he has the opportunity to play the qualifications according to the players present.
19) Carlos Gimenos Valero (Spain, 2001, best ranking: 385th on 02/11/2020)
This is one of the hopes that could strike a big blow in the coming months. Rather tall (1m91), very fast and at ease on all surfaces, the Spaniard had finished 2019 with two ITF titles. He won again a tournament in September in Sintra, Portugal. That's when he finally started to engage in challengers. Of the three tournaments he played at the end of the season, he had encouraging results with a semi-final in Barcelona and a quarter-final in Marbella. He notably rolled (6-0, 6-2) over Bagnis (125th) and also beat Coria (91st). A progression to be confirmed in 2021.
18) Zsombor Piros (Hungary, 1999, best ranking: 338th on 12/24/2018)
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of this player after the restart because he only played in one ITF tournament. However, before this break and in 2019, he has already achieved very good results in ITF and challenger. In February, he defeated Carlos Alcaraz in the final in Antalya, Turkey. As a challenger, he has already obtained and beaten very good players like Seyboth Wild in Cordenons. This player is currently out of place and is well into the top 200, and is expected to do very well in the rankings in 2021. He has just played an exhibition tournament in Hungary where he lost narrowly against Marton Fucsovics (7-6, 6-4) despite an ankle pain. In 2019 in Davis Cup, the young Hungarian came very close to the feat against Philip Kohlschreiber (6-7, 7-5, 6-4). He was even two points away from the match in the second set. Still in Davis Cup, he had already beaten Jiry Vesely in 5 sets at the end of 2018. Finally, in early 2018, the Hungarian had a reference success against Julien Benneteau (56th at the time) in Noumea. Let us recall that Piros won the Australian Open as a junior in 2017. For the time being, he has been slow to win on the main circuit. Perhaps 2021 will be the season of the hatching.
17) Sebastian Baez (Argentina, 2000, best ranking: 309th on 07/12/2020)
Like his Argentine compatriots mentioned earlier in this ranking, Sebastian Baez is a very good clay court player well known by the fans thanks to this final of Roland Garros in 2018 lost to Tseng. He also reached the quarter-finals at the US Open. After winning his first ITF in 2019, he now plays much more as a challenger. Nevertheless, he has already won 5 Futures titles. He hasn't played a single match on the main circuit or played against any of the top 100 players yet, and lacks experience, but it will be very interesting to follow him in 2021 to see if he continues his progress. He is currently at his best ranking, which is still far from the top 100 in the world.
16) Nicola Kuhn (Spain, 2000, best ranking: 174th on 07/10/2019)
After introducing you to Piros, here is his doubles partner! Indeed, the Spaniard won with the Hungarian the Roland Garros junior doubles tournament. At the age of 17, Nicola Kuhn was already approaching the top 200 in the world. This precociousness allowed him to win two challengers. Since then, he has been struggling to confirm. With only 4 wins in 15 matches, his 2020 season has fallen far short of his potential. He was for a long time one of the two best players of his generation (born in 2000) with Felix Auger-Aliassime but now he has been overtaken in the hierarchy by Seyboth Wild, Korda, Gaston, Machac or Molleker. A reaction is expected from him in 2021. He remains a very good hope with already a small experience of the high level for his age: a hundred matches in challenger and 6 on the ATP circuit. He has already beaten a dozen players in the top 100 (Basilashvili, Fucsovics, Delbonis, Darcis, Andujar, Berlocq, Nishioka, Jaziri) both on hard and clay courts. Of course, we all remember the Spaniard's abandonment in Miami in March 2019, collapsing on the court due to cramps. To win at the highest level, he will have to improve his physique. The 2017 Junior Roland Garros winner said he "put his dreams and goals on the back burner during the pandemic but plans to return to the fight and be stronger than ever in 2021".