With the Australian Open finishing almost a month ago, it’s now time to move ahead and predict some sleepers for the French Open. We saw the emergence of Canadian Milos Raonic during and after the Australian Open, and now has a career high ranking of 37. We can now say that he’s right now in tennis, so to speak. What I mean is, he’s that one newbie taking over the scene and raising eyebrows with his performance. Now, we’ll see how he performs playing against the best in the world. By now, many of us know his story. Born in the former Yugoslavia, moved to Canada at age 3, and represents Canada now, and now excelling as a 20-year old at the highest level thanks to a booming serve. If Sunday’s Regions Morgan Keegan Championships final against Andy Roddick was any preview to what could happen against the likes of Federer and Nadal and Djokovic, he’s bound for greatness. Even though he lost in three sets, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (11-9), 7-5 to Roddick, they were toe to toe for most of the match. Now, with Raonic’s feel-good story ending, it’s time to turn the attention to a new future phenom. I’ve got three young players who just might steal the show this year and get to career-high rankings.
1. Somdev Devvarman, India
Devvarman moved up two spots to reach a career high of #79 in the world. If the 26-year old is to move up and gain some recognition, now would be a good time. He has a losing record for his career, at 24-30, and has probably the least upside of the three potential players who could be next in tennis, but can still make a name for himself and get inside the top 50 by this year’s end.
2. Kei Nishikori, Japan
Nishikori got bumped up two spots in the recent rankings to #66 in the world. The 21-year old is more of a defensive player who relies on opponents’ mistakes to win points. He’s a pesky opponent for anyone, and rarely misses shots, but if he stays too defensive, he might not succeed at the highest level. Although he can provide an upset or two at any given time.
3. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
Dimitrov has the most upside of all of these three candidates. Nicknamed “Baby Federer”
for his resemblance of Roger Federer because of his one-handed backhand and smooth touch, Dimitrov moved up to a career high of #81 in the world. Not bad for a 19-year old. Even though a loss to Richard Gasquet in the first round 2-6, 4-6 today in Dubai hurts, if Dimitrov puts his skills together, watch out. This kid could be as high as in the top 5 in the world. He’s just that talented.