It’s been a quiet start to the tennis season symbolized by the fact that there are no major changes in the ATP rankings. Novak Djokovic who won the Australian Open is predictably comfortably perched on the top and Rafael Nadal whom he defeated in the title clash at Melbourne is some distance behind him. Roger Federer has fallen to No 7 chiefly because of his fourth round loss in the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas. And this brings us to the young Greek who is right now the most talked about young player on the circuit. At 20 he is the youngest player in the top 20 in the ATP rankings. And his semifinal appearance at the Australian Open where he went down to Nadal has also marked him for greater things.
For some time now the young generation has been threatening to take over from the trio of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. At the moment they are still playing catch up with the top places in the rankings generally being occupied by the Big Three who are also having a monopoly of the Grand Slam titles. However if there is a feeling that 2019 could finally mark the transition it is largely because of players like Tsitsipas. There is little doubt that he is the leader of the GenNext of players who could take over from the top three. From being nowhere at the start of 2018 Tsitsipas ended the year ranked No 15 and not unexpectedly was named the ATP most improved player following his breakthrough season.
Obviously any further progress will be a bit slower even for this prodigiously gifted youngster but despite the intensely competitive field Tsitsipas is at No 11 in the latest rankings following his winning the Marseilles Open on Sunday. His talent and impressive record as such a tender age is not the only thing that has seen grabbing the headlines. Also attracting considerable attention is his good looks, long hair, flamboyant lifestyle and the fact that he comes from a tennis playing family. But on court Tsitsipas is deadly serious about his game which is based on being an aggressive baseliner. From the backcourt he is able to send down a stream of groundstrokes which either find their mark or are difficult to return. He also has a big serve and comes to the net more often than other typical baseline players. He has earned a lot of praise not only for his talent and all court game but also for his calm temperament which has reminded the experts of Federer, his idol. Clearly among the many challengers for the top spots Tsitsipas will be the one to watch most closely in 2019.