Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray… these are the household names that most Rogers Cup presented by National Bank fans are familiar with. But the main draw hosts 56 players – not just three – and there are plenty of exciting up-and-coming stars to look out for.
Here’s a look at the rising #NextGenATP of the ATP World Tour: 21-and-under players who are delivering big results at the top levels of the game thanks to their style, talent and youthful ambition. In a couple years, who knows – maybe these will be the household names on everyone’s mind when they come to Rogers Cup.
He’s been as high as World No. 3. He’s our defending Rogers Cup champion. And he’s still only 21 years old.
Zverev took the ATP World Tour by storm last year, becoming the youngest player since Novak Djokovic in 2007 to win two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in a season. The champion in Rome, Montreal and, this season, Mardid, the 6’6” German wunderkind possesses the powerful serve expected of a player his height, but also world-class movement around the court and a bludgeoning backhand that has as much finesse as it does ferocity.
Seeded No. 2 at this year’s tournament, Zverev has every chance to become a repeat champion and is absolutely going to be one to watch throughout the week.
Shapovalov became an overnight sensation last year at Rogers Cup when he defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in front of an electric crowd at Montreal’s IGA Stadium. His run included a win over 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and an epic first-round comeback in which he saved a match point with a brilliant drop-volley winner.
Just under a year later, Shapovalov has thrilled crowds across the globe with his thrilling brand of high-risk tennis. At the Mutua Madrid Open in May, he reached his second Masters 1000 semifinal following big wins over compatriot Milos Raonic and burgeoning rival Kyle Edmund of Great Britain. The 19-year-old packs a stadium wherever he plays, and he’s sure to sell out the Tuesday night session at Rogers Cup this year when he plays his first-round match.
Rublev is not the biggest player out there, but he certainly packs a punch. The Russian, who claimed his first ATP World Tour title last season in Umag at just 19 years old, has a brilliant forehand that he takes extremely early and that changes the direction of the ball with ease – mildly similar to the forehand of Roger Federer.
He’s a fiery figure on court who wears his emotions on his sleeve and is always sure to put on a show for the crowd. Although he missed a large chunk of the 2018 season due to a back injury, he’s made his return to tour this month and is looking on track to make some noise in Toronto in a few weeks’ time.
Pundits have been talking a lot about Tsitsipas lately – and it’s for a reason.
The Greek possesses an elegent game – a smooth forehand and a picturesque backhand with a lovely follow-through that finishes just above his 6’3” figure. Better yet – he’s passionately competitive and has proven he has what it takes to make it at the top of the game. He’s risen over 50 places in the ATP Rankings this season and continues to impress on all surfaces.
August will be his first time playing at Rogers Cup and you won’t want to miss a chance to see this rising star in his Rogers Cup debut
Although he’s not technically an #NextGenATP anymore, the South Korean was the winner of last season’s inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. He translated his success at the 21-and-under event into a deep run at this year’s Australian Open, where he stunned six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round before bowing out to eventual champion Federer in the semifinals.
Chung, like his idol Djokovic, plays a baseline game predicated on world-class movement and defense. He can hit his backhand in an open stance as he slides to retrieve seemingly impossible shots, and can dictate with his unique abbreviated forehand when he gets the chance. Like Rublev, Chung has sat out a big chunk of 2018 due to injury, but, when healthy, he has all the tools he needs to continue his progress up the rankings. Can he make a deep run this year in Toronto?
(Feature photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour)