Top 5 WTA teen sensations
With much of this year’s US Open defined by the success of youngsters in both draws, here’s a guide on WTA talents to keep your eye on.
Following impressive displays from a number of teen stars at the US Open, the WTA now boasts six players under the age of 20 ranked in the top-100.
Here, Tennishead looks at ones to watch in the months and years ahead on the tour. All rankings are current at time of publication.
1. Coco Gauff – 17 years, 6 months – No. 19 (career-high)
If you have not yet heard of Coco, chances are you are not a tennis fan. The American wonder burst onto the world stage at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships when she was merely 15 years old.
Coming into the main draw as a qualifier, the then world number 313 came up against a compatriot almost 24 years her senior, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams.
What came next appeared a proverbial ‘passing of the torch’, as Gauff dismantled the veteran legend 6-2, 6-3 to secure a first Slam main draw win.
She sent on to reach the fourth round before losing to eventual champion and world number seven Simona Halep.
Gauff has since gone on to reach two more Slam fourth rounds, a quarter-final at the 2021 French Open and has claimed two WTA tour titles, the 2019 Upper Austria Ladies Linz (hard) and the 2021 Emilia-Romagna Open (clay), both 250 level events.
Following the 2021 US Open, Gauff is set to reach a new-career-high of world number 19, her first venture into the world’s top-20.
2. Leylah Fernandez – 19 years old – No. 28 (career-high)
Staying with North American talent, Canadian star Fernandez has been a huge disruptor at the 2021 US Open. Having entered the tournament as world number 73, the teen is set to at least cut that in half following the event to world number 36.
While Fernandez did not make such an illustrious Slam debut as Gauff, she registered three main draw Slam wins in 2020 across the Australian Open (debut, out in first round), French Open (two wins) and US Open (one win).
Beginning the 2021, Fernandez was stop-start before securing a maiden WTA title at the Monterrey Open, a WTA 250 level event, defeating Viktorija Golubic in the final.
Despite lacklustre Grand Slam displays across 2021, securing just a single main draw win, at the French Open, Fernandez has taken the US Open by storm.
She overcame Ana Konjuh and Kaia Kanepi in the opening two rounds before kicking off an unprecedented run of results.
In the third and fourths rounds, she beat two former US Open champions back-to-back in Naomi Osaka (2018 and 2020 champion) and Angelique Kerber (2016 champion), both from a set down.
She then ousted world number five Elina Svitolina in three sets to reach the US Open semi-finals and take on world number two Aryna Sabalenka.
3. Emma Raducanu – 18 years, 10 months – No. 23 (career-high)
Along with Fernandez, this British trailblazer is rocking New York at the US Open.
Having entered Wimbledon 2021 as a wildcard ranked at 338 in the world, Raducanu whipped her nation into a frenzy by registering three consecutive wins on her Slam debut to reach the fourth round.
Bowing out at that stage after being forced to withdraw from her match with Ajla Tomljanovic, praise surrounding her was prominent but measured.
Entering qualifying for the US Open, few could have predicted what the teen would go on to achieve.
After qualifying with ease through three straight sets battles, Raducanu produced five more straight sets victories, including over former world number four Belinda Bencic, to become the first qualifier ever to reach the semi-finals of the US Open.
The 18-year-old has experienced a meteoric rise over the course of just three months, what more could be in store for her?
4. Marta Kostyuk – 19 years, 2 months – No. 55 (career-high)
Having won the 2017 Australian Open girls’ singles, and peaking at number two in the junior rankings, Ukraine’s Kostyuk made her Slam debut at the 2018 Australian Open as a qualifier.
After dispatching 25th seed Shuai Peng, the then 15-year-old backed up the result by overcoming home talent Olivia Rogowska.
She was eventually stopped by compatriot and fourth seed Elina Svitolina, but the stage seemed set for a new star to emerge in Kostyuk.
But the Ukrainian had to wait another two years before her next opportunity in a Slam main draw, coming at the 2020 French Open.
After failing to get out of the first round there and again in Australia in 2021, she secured a career-best result at Roland Garros 2021, defeated in the fourth round by eighth seed and defending champion Iga Swiatek.
Despite just one win across Wimbledon and the US Open to follow, Kostyuk now sits at a career-high ranking of world number 55, well within automatic Slam qualification.
5. Clara Tauson – 18 years, 9 months – No. 70 (career-high)
This Danish prospect only made her Slam debut at the autumn Roland Garros of 2020, but is making waves on the women’s tour.
Having started the 2021 season ranked 152 in the world, Tauson made a major breakthrough in March.
The 18-year-old came into the WTA 250 Lyon Open as a qualifier, but began her campaign by overthrowing number one seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets.
She went on to oust seventh seed Paula Badosa in the semi-finals, before defeating fellow qualifier Viktorija Golubic in the final for a maiden career title on the WTA tour.
This saw the Dane thrust into the top-100 for the first time at 96, before just dropping out again in August.
Just prior to the US Open, Tauson played the WTA 125 Chicago. There she met wildcard and fellow member of this list Emma Raducanu in the final, which the Dane claimed 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
This pushed her back into the top-100 and a new career-high of world number 77.
After bowing out in the second round of the US Open Tauson now sits at a career-high 70 in the world.
Honourable mention – Camila Osorio Serrano – 19 years, 9 months – No. 73
The final teen in the top-100, this Colombian star has begun making a name for herself on the tour on clay courts in particular.
For a look at her credentials and emotion on-court, just take a look at the highlights from her maiden title triumph in Bogota.
Fancy another guide to the top prospects? Have a look at our guide to the best young pros on the ATP tour.
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