Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Where is the young talent?

The ATP: Is Young Talent Obsolete?

Who is Grigor Dimitrov?

The young Bulgarian tennis player has been publicized as the ‘new Roger Federer’ for some years now; he scored himself impressive victories at the juniors at Wimbledon and the US Open, and may indeed be an exciting fresh talent. He turned professional in the year 2008, and has won seven ATP matches since then. His appearance at the Grand Slam events is equal to just one match.

Grigor Dimitrov is 19 years old, and he is the highest-ranked teenager in men’s tennis.
But what is his ranking?

World Number 136. In a sport where the entire mode of playing is structured around youth and younger talent, this number is shocking. The highest ranked teenager on the Association of Tennis Professionals these days is in fact very widely out of the Top 100 Players loop. There are, in fact, only three teenagers on the ATP’s Top 200 Players list. The other two players are Milos Raonic of Canada at World Number 155 and Russian player Andrey Kuznetsov at 197. Both these players are 19 years old, the same age as Dimitrov.

The question that remains to be asked is this; what does this mean for the world of tennis? It may not mean that younger players are losing talent, or branching out to different sports, indicating a lack of interest in tennis. The point remains that many of the Top 20 Players are still relatively young – the current World Number 1, Rafael Nadal, is only 24 years old – and they will probably still be competing in the same top positions for several years to come.

In addition to the ages of Top 20 Players, the fact remains that the average age of top-100 tennis players has been increasing for the last 15 years. From a low of 25 years in 1995, it has reached 27 today. However, it should be kept in mind that most top players begin to show their mettle just before their 20th birthday.

This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that all five players – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro -  at the top of the ATP rankings at the end of the last season, were all well into the Top 100 Players before their 19th birthdays. Nadal, in fact, broke into the upper century at the age of 16.

To add to those numbers, Rafa and Nole were in the top five before they turned 20, and Murray made it to the top 10 at 19 as well. Other greats who may be mentioned here in the same category as winning Grand Slam titles as teenagers are Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Mats Wilander and Michael Chang. In recent years, Rafael Nadal has also joined that list. Andre Agassi, meanwhile, made it to the World’s Top Five at the age of 18.

Players such as Dimitrov, Kuznetsov and Raonic are becoming a rarity in the tennis world. Players such as them: for example, Bernard Tomic (17, World Number 220), Ryan Harrison (18, World Number 213) and Filip Krajinovic (18, World Number 215) may be encouraged by Roger Federer, who won his first Grand Slam at the comparatively “old” age of 22.

However, the fact remains that the tennis world needs to see some turnover from a fresh new generation, or the top players at the upper-tier will dominate the rankings without competition. One player who will benefit the most from this arrangement is Nadal; if there are no new champions on the horizon, Rafa will soon defeat Federer’s records to become GOAT – he is, after all, only 24.

Courtesy: Bettor


  1. its a copied article

  2. Yes it is a copied article hence the "courtesy" at the bottom. To avoid further confusion i have re-written the intro.