By Evan Valeri
Summer has arrived in Australia and the first ATP tournaments of the year are underway. This means it’s time to start making some hot predictions for the 2013 season. The ATP tour has been dominated by the big four in recent years, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray. But for 2013, change is in the air. Many young players have infiltrated the top 60 in the world and you can count on the five below to make their mark in 2013.
The Canadian youngster, nicknamed “The Missile”, has already made waves with his cannon of a serve and fierce forehand. Not only can he hit serves upwards of 140 mph, he has one of the nastiest kick serves I have seen in years. This is a serious threat on any surface, especially the faster ones. Milos is a good mover and prefers to run around his backhand to hit devastating inside out forehands whenever he gets a chance.
Having won two titles and making two more finals in 2012 proves that Milos is a legitimate threat in 2013. Raonic went 6-6 against the top ten last year, including two wins over Andy Murray. He has a more well-rounded game than other huge servers such as Isner and Karlovic. I expect Milos to make his first Grand Slam quarterfinal this season and finish the year in the top ten.
Jerzy Janowicz was an unknown player to most fans until the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Paris. The number one ranked Pole tore through the field all the way to the final, which he lost to David Ferrer in straight sets. Along the way, he beat three top twenty and two top ten players.
The 6 foot 8 inch monster of a 22 year old has a modern game with the tools to be successful at the highest level. He moves well for a big man, reminiscent of a 2009 U.S. Open Del Potro. His serves appear to be shot down from the sky, he can end the point with big flat winners on both ground stroke wings, and he isn’t afraid to follow his big shots into the net with solid volleys. Besides the physical tools, the kid has something hard to teach, heart. Saving a match point against Murray in Paris and coming back to win proves this. Look for Jerzy to break into the top twenty this season with more consistent results.
The top ranked player from Slovakia had a great 2012 season, winning his first ATP title in St. Petersburg and finishing ranked inside the top 50 for the first time in his career. Some people will recognize Klizan’s name because of his run to the round of 16 at the U.S Open, where he lost to Cilic. Along the way he took down number six seed Tsonga in four lopsided sets.
Klizan has a big game and when he is on, opponents better look out. Martin can blast forehand winners from anywhere on the court and if he is having a good day, he is capable of beating anyone. If Klizan can tame his heavy southpaw groundstrokes and reduce his unforced errors, look for him to make a run to the quarterfinals of a major and break into the top 20.
Baby Fed. This kid has been touted for years as the next Roger Federer. He moves gracefully around the court like a gazelle, and has one of the best looking one handed backhands in today’s game. Grigor is also one of the most pure shot-makers around. If you haven’t seen his behind the back, half volley, drop shot winner against Victor Troicki, its worth a look, as it was one of the best shots of the 2012 season.
Dimitrov reminds me of a young Federer at times, in that he can get too creative on court. He will go for shots that are totally unnecessary, almost out of pure boredom with working the point any further. In 2013, we will see a smarter Dimitrov on court. A guy who instead of going for the flashy crowd pleasing shot, learns to play the percentages and wins more matches. Expect him to make a final in 2013, improving on his three semifinal appearances during 2012.
Australian Bernard Tomic had a rough finish to 2012, after a good start which included a semifinal in Brisbane and a round of 16 result at the Aussie Open. These results catapulted him to a career high ranking of 27. Pressure from the Australian media may be of some blame for Tomic’s lack of results thus far. He had a very promising junior career and is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 for the second straight year. As Tomic matures and spends another year on tour, look for him to relax and embrace his role as heir to the Australian tennis throne.
Tomic has a very smooth, effortless counter punching game. Bernard is a player who possesses a great arsenal of shots. Often luring opponents into a consistent crosscourt rally, just to run around his backhand and slap a forehand winner. With a solid serve, modern two handed backhand, biting slice backhand, deft touch, and an unorthodox but effective forehand, he’s got the game to become a top player. With a nice 6-4, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup this week, Tomic will roll with his newfound confidence in 2013, making his first final appearance.
2013 is bound to bring dark horses, upsets, surprises and lots of excitement. Be sure to keep an eye on these five youngsters. They all feature games with the potential to rise in the rankings, shaking things up at the top, and taking down the big four at any time.
Evan Valeri is a USPTA P2 tennis teaching professional and has a USTA Sports Science Level 1 certification. He graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in Professional Tennis Management/Marketing and enjoys the technical and coaching side of tennis. You can view his website here: www.totaltennisplayer.com.