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 to have never 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 players who are less known 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 hopefuls to follow in 2021: from 30th to 26th place
10) Jenson Brooksby (USA, 2000, best ranking: 266th on 11/25/2019)
Unfortunately, after an extraordinary season in 2019, Jenson didn't play any games in 2020. With three ITF titles but most importantly a first Grand Slam victory at the US Open against Tomas Berdych (after coming out of the qualifiers) for the Czech's last career match. There was a lot to expect from him in 2020. Unfortunately hampered by an injury, we couldn't see this evolution. It is only a postponement if he regains his 2019 level of play. Some people think he has the ability to get into the top 100, but at the moment he only has three wins against the top 200 (Sugita and Portero). He was also a semifinalist at the 2018 US Junior Open where he lost to another top prospect, Lorenzo Musetti.
9) Holger Rune (Denmark, 2003, best ranking: 472nd on 12/21/2020)
This very young player resident of the Mouratoglou Academy is already known in France thanks to his title at the Roland Garros Junior tournament in 2019. This very precocious player is an excellent clay court player. He was noticed this year after his excellent end of season where he won three ITF tournaments and made a final. After making great progress in the rankings in 2020, we will certainly see him in 2021 as a challenger or even in ATP as he may be lucky enough to have wildcards. His victories against Trungelliti, Blancaneaux and Kuzmanov do not yet allow us to evaluate the true potential of this young Danish tennis hopeful.
8) Chun Hsin Tseng (Taiwan, 2001, best ranking: 272nd on 24/02/2020)
The Taiwanese is one of the best players in the history of the Junior Grand Slam. He did not win all 4 tournaments like Edberg in 1983, nor even 3 like Gaël Monfils in 2004 or Nicolas Perreira (1988) and Mark Kratzmann. But he still lifted the Roland Garros and Wimbledon trophies in 2018 and lost in the final of the Australian Open. A rare performance that shows the potential of the player but does not guarantee success on the ATP circuit like the courses of Daniel Elsner or Filip Peliwo, twice titled in junior like Tseng. The hardest thing for Tseng will therefore be to confirm this potential and his ability to shine on all surfaces. At 19 years old, he already has a good experience in Challenger (29 victories for 27 defeats). This season, he has a mixed record on the ITF circuit with one final and two semi-finals. His challenger career in 2021 should allow us to learn more about his ability to win at the highest level.
7) Jeffrey John Wolf (USA, 1998, best ranking: 120th on 09/14/2020)
Here is a player who has already begun to confirm the hopes placed in them in this ranking. Indeed, Wolf has achieved a very good 2020 season with two titles as a challenger in Noumea and Colombus. He also came out of the Cincinnati tournament qualifiers by beating Gerasimov and Munar. These good results allowed him to have a wildcard for the US Open where he spent two rounds (Pella, Carballes) before losing to Daniil Medvedev. We saw him again in St-Petersburg resisting during a set against Milos Raonic (7-6, 6-1). The peculiarity of this player is that he started at high level "late" as he started playing at semi-pro level at the age of 18 in 2016. Since then, he has continued to progress and achieve great performances. His entry in the top 100 could be a matter of weeks...
6) Tomas Machac (Czech Republic, 2000, best ranking: 193rd on 23/11/2020)
Here is a very good and interesting player to follow who is good on all surfaces. If you've been following Roland Garros this year, you should know him as he qualified for the main draw by coming close to a first round win over Taylor Fritz (defeated in 5 sets). After three ITF titles, he won his first Challenger in Koblenz last February. He is a player that we will see more and more in the ATP tournament tables and could soon be in the top 100 as well. Together with Jonas Foretjek, he represents the next generation of Czech tennis after the retirement of Tomas Berdych. Like his illustrious compatriot, he is at ease on all surfaces. Not very tall (1m83), he is nevertheless very powerful and swift. His footwork allows him to be hardly overwhelming. His forehand can go fast and technically, he masters the whole range of play, especially on the backhand side.
5) Brandon Nakashima (USA, 2001, best ranking: 166th on 23/11/2020)
This is a hope that has been much talked about in 2020. In his first ATP tournament at Delray Beach - where he had won a wildcard - he made it to the quarter-finals by defeating Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie. Since then, he has had a string of strong performances as a challenger: a semi-final in Indian Wells in February and a title in Orlando in November. He recorded his first Grand Slam victory at the US Open (against Lorenzi) and tied with Zverev in the second round for two sets. He finally lost in 4 sets. He is expected to play much more on the ATP circuit next year and quickly enter the top 100. The young Brandon showed an aptitude for the sport. Both his parents were struck by their toddler's exceptional hand-eye coordination. By the age of 5, he showed above-average concentration and physical stamina. Today he has a powerful backhand, good feedback and improving service. He has a perfect mastery of court geometry. Over the years, he will be able to add power and muscle to his game. Will he be the lucky one able to bring back a Grand Slam to Uncle Sam who has been waiting for him since 2003? Nakashima worked with Pat Cash for eight months, an experience that should allow him to continue his progression. He is now coached by Dusan Vemic, a former member of Novak Djokovic's team, who allowed him to train with the world number one during the last US Open.
4) Thiago Seyboth Wild (Brazil, 2000, best ranking: 106th on 09/14/2020)
Here it is! After his very nice victory at the Santiago tournament by beating excellent clay court players like Garin or Ruud, he is the first player to have won an ATP tournament by being born in the 2000s (before Sinner titled in Sofia and Auger always in waiting). At the resumption in August, it seemed to start on the same basis with a final to the challenger - very tough - of Aix en Provence. However, he unfortunately experienced a slowdown afterwards by losing his last six games of the season against players who should have been within his reach (Gomez, Rola, Kohlschreiber, Pellegrino, Luz, Tabilo). That's why he is not on the podium of this ranking. The fact remains that he is one of the best hopes on the planet and that he could well make us lie in 2021.
3) Francisco Cerundolo (Argentina, 1998, best ranking: 139th on 07/12/2020)
Bronze medal for the Argentinean! Of course, his brilliant performance at the end of the season with three titles won in the challenger category was a major factor. However, this is not a big surprise since he already had good performances in ITF (8 titles). He has two matches on the ATP circuit and largely held his own against Pella and Djere (two defeats in three sets). He now seems to have the level to come and show his face on the main circuit and compete with the clay specialists. He has won 20 of his last 23 matches and will approach 2021 with great ambition.
2) Lorenzo Musetti (Italy, 2002, best ranking: 123rd on 19/10/2020)
The Italian could have finished at the top of the standings. Revealed to the general public in Rome thanks to his two victories over Wawrinka and Nishikori, he continued his run by winning the challenger in Forli and then reaching the final four of the ATP 250 tournament in Sardinia. This player, good on all surfaces, was already known as a junior, as he was in the final of the US Open junior (beaten by Seyboth Wild) and won the Australian Open in 2019. Is he going to make the same meteoric rise as his compatriot Jannik Sinner? He doesn't have quite the same characteristics, but it will be interesting to see how he approaches this season of confirmation after the season of revelation. However, he has only won one challenger title and two ITF titles. He has been working with the same coach for the last ten years or so, Simone Tartarini. Tartarini recently revealed that Musetti was already playing with a one-handed backhand at the age of eight with great dexterity but little power, unable to find diagonal angles. He has since changed his grip and now finds diagonal angles that have allowed him to quickly climb the rankings. The quality of his backhand appealed to former world number one Jim Courier. With an aggressive game, a lot of confidence and cold blood, the Italian has a lot of assets to shine at the highest level. In any case, he has the ambition and the desire to do so.
1) Carlos Alcaraz (Spain, 2003, best ranking: 136th on 19/10/2020)
He was only 10 years old on the front page of the article, yet already at that time he was predicted to have a bright future. When Albert Ramos won his first ATP point in 2004 in Futures, his young compatriot had just turned one year old. Yet they crossed paths in Rio 16 years later and it was the youngest who won a prestigious victory in 3h36, his first on the main circuit... and certainly not the last! Following the example of Fransisco Cerundolo, Carlos Alcaraz whistled three titles in Challenger in 2020 and could have added a fourth in Cordenons (beaten in the final by Zapata). To achieve such a performance at the age of 17 is simply extraordinary! This player who is very complete on all surfaces (two ITF titles on hard court at the beginning of 2020) may be one of the future great champions of this sport but he still has a long way to go: to disregard comparisons with Rafael Nadal, to manage the waiting, the pressure and the aggressiveness of his opponents who will dream of beating "the prodigy of the circuit". His entry into the top 100 is no longer a debate. Displaying such a level of play and such physical power at only 17 years old is of a rare precocity. He is the only minor player in the top 600 and won his first ATP 500 match at 16 years and 288 days, 34 days earlier than Rafael Nadal. But the comparison will stop there when we recall Rafa's record of achievements at the end of 2005 at only 19 years old: one Grand Slam, 5 Masters 1000 and a world number two ranking... Coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero, the young Alcaraz can nevertheless see far, very far. The rigor of the former world number one is a good school for his player: "Since we started working together, we have made one thing clear: this is Carlos Alcaraz and comparisons are not welcome. He likes to play aggressively and, as I said, he has the right mentality, but he still needs to improve to be compared to the best players in the world. First of all, if he stays as "hungry" as he is now and if his career goes well, he can actually make it to the Top 50. It is very important for this type of player to understand that what they do off the court affects their tennis. They watch a lot of tennis, rest and eat properly. Of course, you should always make room for fun and to clear your mind. Carlos now knows how to do this. He started playing golf, loves go-karting and playing video games with others at the academy. He is finally a modest child who loves sports. »
Watch out! If you haven't seen players like Korda, Gaston, Altmaier, Sinner in this ranking... it's normal since the players in the top 100 or qualified in the second week of Grand Slam didn't match the selection criteria, the goal being to discover new players.
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