Jannik Sinner Carlos Alcaraz US Open 2021

Top 5 most exciting ATP rising stars

The future is fast approaching for these ATP sensations. Join us for a guide to the top young guns on tour.

With five players under the age of 21 ranked inside the top-100, the ATP has its fair share of future talent.

Here, Tennishead looks at some potential contenders for future Slam glory. All rankings are current at time of publication

1. Jannik Sinner – 20 years, 1 month – No. 14 (career-high)

Hyped as a turbo-charged Novak Djokovic type, Sinner has been prolific in his short ATP career to-date.

Playing very little at junior level and not competing in any junior Slam events, Sinner came to the attention of the tennis world as the Italian wildcard at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Though an exhibition event, Sinner still turned heads by winning the tournament as the lowest ranked player at world number 93.

But the young Italian really got the tennis world talking come the 2020 French Open. Now ranked 75 in the world, Sinner started his campaign by ousting 11th seed David Goffin in the first round, before conquering French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi, both in straight sets.

He then defeated Federico Coria, again in three sets, before pulling off a huge upset against world number seven Alexander Zverev, claiming the victory in four sets.

In doing so, Sinner became the youngest men’s quarter-finalist at Roland Garros since Novak Djokovic in 2006, and the first player to make the quarter-finals on his debut since Rafael Nadal in 2005.

Nadal would be the one to end the streak for the Italian, securing a straight sets win against the underdog.

Sinner’s strongest result to-date came at the 2021 Miami Open, reaching the Masters 1000 final before losing to Hubert Hurkacz.



2. Carlos Alcaraz – 18 years, 4 months – No. 38 (career-high)

Often drawing comparisons to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal, this hot prospect is the youngest player ranked inside the top-100, and the only one under the age of 19.

Beginning 2021 ranked at 141 in the world, Alcaraz got off to a solid start with a first top-20 career win over David Goffin, before qualifying for his first Slam main draw at the Australian Open, reaching the second round.

A first ATP tour semi-final soon followed in Marbella, then a Challenger title in Oeiras, Portugal saw the teen break into the top-100 for the first time.

From there, Alcaraz bettered his Australian Open result by one step to reach the third round of Roland Garros, before bowing out at Wimbledon in the second round to world number two Daniil Medvedev.

Then came a career milestone. In Umag, Croatia, the Spaniard reached the final and overcame tour veteran Richard Gasquet to claim a first ever ATP tour title.

With it the 18-year-old jumped to 55 in the world, where he hovered until the US Open.

Alcaraz equalled his best Slam result before coming up against world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas, a huge test.

But the youngster was unfazed and upset the Roland Garros finalist in five sets to reach the fourth round, before backing it up with another five-set triumph over qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.

He was eventually forced to withdraw from his quarter-final due to fatigue, but not before becoming the youngest man to reach the last eight of the US Open since Andre Agassi in 1988.

The brilliant run will see Alcaraz break into the top-40 for the first time.



3. Lorenzo Musetti – 19 years, 6 months – No. 57 (career-high)

A player known for his style and flair, Musetti has the air of Roger Federer about his play.

Another Italian star, the 19-year-old was a top junior talent before going pro. He won the 2019 Australian Open boys’ singles, and did reach the top of the junior rankings.

After making his ATP tour debut at the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships, Musetti would go on to qualify for the Rome Masters in September, going on to defeat Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in two brilliant displays to reach the third round.

After finishing 2020 ranked at 128 in the world, Musetti would make his next tour level appearance at the Mexican Open in Acapulco, making another impressive run.

After coming through qualifying, the teen defeated world number nine Diego Schwartzman for a first ever top-10 win, before overcoming Frances Tiafoe and Grigor Dimitrov.

His streak was stopped by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals. The result saw Musetti crack the top-100 for the first time ever.

Perhaps the most notable display from Musetti came at the 2021 French Open when facing none other than world number one Novak Djokovic in the fourht round.

With nothing to lose, the Italian came out swinging to claim a two set lead over the Serb with two tiebreak wins. From there his body broke down, and was forced to retire in the fifth set, but he had certainly stirred up conversation.

Nudged closer to the top-60 after the Slam, Musetti has hovered around that mark since.



4. Jenson Brooksby – 20 years, 11 months – No. 80 (career-high)

This American is an unorthodox individual to watch on-court. But where his shots look unusual his game is top-notch.

Having twice appeared at the US Open, as a wildcard in 2018 and a qualifier in 2019, Brooksby did not play on the tour in 2020, starting 2021 ranked at 310 in the world.

From there, the 20-year-old began grinding the Challenger Tour, claiming a title in Potchefstroom, South Africa, in February.

Following a failed attempt to qualify for the Miami Masters, Brooksby buckled down and won back-to-back Challenger titles in the Florida, in Orlando and Tallahassee.

After making his non-US Open Slam debut as a qualifier at the French Open, he reached a first career tour level final at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island, losing to former top-10 player Kevin Anderson.

Come August, Brooksby received a wildcard into the Washington Open, taking full advantage to reach the semi-finals before losing to fellow list member Jannik Sinner, the eventual champion.

The event launched Brooksby into the top-100 for the first time, going into the US Open as a wildcard ranked world number 99.

Brooksby shone in New York, scoring wins over Mikael Ymer, Taylor Fritz and Aslan Karatsev before facing three-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Despite taking the first set off the Serb 6-1, Brooksby eventually lost out in four. It means the 20-year-old will break into the top-80 for the first time.



5. Brandon Nakashima –  20 years, 1 month – No. 85 

Last but not least, another American rounds out the list. Nakashima made his tour debut thanks to a wildcard at the 2020 Delray Beach Open, while ranked 294 in the world.

There he secured two victories over Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie, before losing out in the quarter-finals to Yoshihito Nishioka.

With another wildcard, this time into the 2020 US Open, Nakashima made the second round before losing to eventual runner-up Alexander Zverev.

The American’s next tour level appearance would come at the Mexican Open in Acapulco in 2021, losing to compatriot Frances Tiafoe in the first round.

Nakashima’s first non-US Open main draw Slam appearance then arrived at Wimbledon, qualifying before losing to another American in Taylor Fritz.

Now ranked world number 136, Nakashima then performed brilliantly to reach back-to-back ATP tour finals, the first of which was a first tour final, at Los Cabos, Mexico and Atlanta USA.

He lost each respectively to Cameron Norrie and John Isner, but registered two top-40 wins over the two weeks against Isner and Milos Raonic.

This saw the 19-year-old break the top-100 ceiling, taking a wildcard into the  Washington Open where he made the third round.

Despite a loss in the second round of the US Open, Nakashima now sits just below his career-high ranking of world number 83.



Can’t get enough of future stars of the game? Check out our look at the best young women on the WTA tour.


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