Sky Sports takes a look at five young players who will be looking to hit the big-time
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 04/08/14 1:29pm
Jiri Vesely, Nick Kyrgios, Kyle Edmund, Pablo Carreno Busta and Dominic Thiem are the new kids on the block
With the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Jerzy Janowicz, Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire starting to establish themselves on the ATP Tour, there is now a new breed of tennis player coming through on the scene.
The latest crop of youngsters have already caught the eye of both players and experts with the tour heading into Wimbledon.
And a fearless brand of tennis could see these stars become the future of the game, eventually taking over the mantle at the top of the tree with the 'big four' - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - growing older.
We take a look at five young players who will be looking to make the grade at the All England Club this summer.
Yorkshire teenager Kyle Edmund is highly-regarded in British tennis circles and has all the potential to follow in the footsteps of current No 1 Andy Murray. The 19-year-old was a surprise call-up to captain Leon Smith's Davis Cup team for their clash against the USA in February and has shown the right attitude and desire which can potentially take him to the highest level.
Smith was so impressed with the youngster, he opted to take him to San Diego and drop seasoned professional Dan Evans for the last-16 tie which was played on clay. "Kyle has shown real flashes of potential in the last eighteen months and has shown that he can play on clay," said Smith. "I think he can really push on this year."
Edmund has already risen 92 spots to world No 284 in the latest ATP World rankings and Sky Sports tennis expert Mark Petchey believes he can go on to achieve great things in the future. "The millstone around his neck - which will stay around his neck for the next few years - will be the presence of Andy Murray," he said. "I hope for his sake that he is able to get somewhere near Andy but it will be difficult for him and other British players of his ilk because they will always be compared to Murray.
"He has to deal with that and shut it out but over the last two or three years, he has become someone tennis aficionados think can make something out of his career. The next 18 months, two years, will be crucial but if hard work pays off he'll do alright."
British crowds will see his continued development at Wimbledon, where he was among eight British players to be handed wildcards for the tournament.
One of the fastest rising stars of the game is Thiem. He recently recorded his biggest win of his fledgling career at the Madrid Open when he knocked out Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6 6-2 6-4 in the second round. "I cannot really believe it," Thiem said after his shock win. "Of course I was a little bit nervous, but it wasn't the reason for the first set, his pace was just too high for me."
The budding Austrian talent started playing the game at the age of six and was one of a select few who graduated from the ATP University in Miami.
His game was harnessed by Boris Becker's first coach, Gunter Bresnik, and he won his last three tournaments as a junior where he reached a career-high ranking of No 2. He secured the prestigious Orange Bowl before moving onto Challenger and Futures events where he won four titles. With his ranking outside the Top 300 at the start of 2013, now at the age of 20, he is already in the ATP World Tour's top 100 - currently 56 - and is climbing at a speed of knots.
At a rangy 6ft 1in and almost 13 stone, Thiem is a real athlete with a powerful forehand, a strong serve and nifty hands, although he admits needing to work more on his movement around the court. Nicknamed 'Dominator' he demonstrated his versatility by beating former top-tenner Jurgen Melzer and then pushing Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on indoor hard.
He gave Andy Murray a scare by taking him to three sets in the Rotterdam second round and he defeated both Rhyne Williams and Peter Polansky to reach the main draw of the Miami Masters in March before that massive win against Wawrinka.
At the French Open, Thiem was handed a clay-court lesson by the master Rafael Nadal, but still managed to take more games of the 'King of Clay' in their second round clash (seven) than Andy Murray did in the semi-finals (six).
The Czech left-hander is a former junior world No 1 and is both a boys' singles and doubles champion at the Australian Open in 2011.
After winning nine ITF singles titles and three Challenger events, Vesely made his Davis Cup debut for his country in February 2013 before going on to make his first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam at the French Open. He soon became the youngest player in the world's top 100 at 20 years and three months, and is currently ranked 66.
The young star has all the attributes to become a Top 10 player with a dangerous lefty serve and an all-court game powerful enough to trouble the very best. Vesely caught everybody's attention when he reached his first Masters tournament at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. After progressing to the third round, he was eventually beaten by British No 1 Andy Murray, but only after giving him a real fright.
The world No 5 required two hours and 47 minutes to overcome his opponent 6-7 6-4 6-4. Vesely broke Murray six times, but his inexperience and nerves eventually showed with a succession of missed smashes which cost him, despite winning the opening set. After the match two-time Grand Slam champion Murray told Sky Sports: "He's 6ft 6in and a lefty and is obviously going to get better. His best form has come on clay and it'll be interesting to see how he gets on (that surface) this year." He recently dispatched Filippo Volandri in the first round of the Sony Open in Miami before bowing out to Feliciano Lopez and then went out in the round of 32 in Casablanca and Bucharest as he continues his progress.
In May, Vesely stormed in to his first semi-final at a ATP tour event in Dusseldorf, but eventually lost out to the big-serving Ivo Karlovic in two tie-breaks.
At Roland Garros, Vesely upset his Davis Cup team-mate Lukas Rosol before bowing out to big-hitting Canadian Milos Roanic.
Vesely will take on Victor Estrella Burgos from the Dominican Republic in the opening round
The 19-year-old Canberra star announced himself on the world stage when he beat former world No 8 Radek Stepanek in the first round of the French Open last year. He is regarded as 'the next big thing' in Australia with Leyton Hewitt nearing the end of his career.
The teenager was a promising basketball player, but decided to focus on tennis when he was 14. He won his first ITF junior tour title at the age of 15 and by 2013 he had gained the No 1 junior ranking as well as winning the Australian Open boys' junior title.
After upsetting veteran Czech Stepanek at Roland Garros, Kyrgios qualified for the US Open in September where he lost to David Ferrer in his opening round match. At this year's first major Down Under, the proud Ausatralian of Greek and Malaysian heritage gave a glimpse of the future after falling short in a five-set thriller against Benoit Paire in the second-round. Krygios' had led by two sets to love before he began cramping and although he showed plenty of exuberance and courage, it was the Frenchman who fought back to progress.
"Playing someone who's top 30 in the world and taking him to five sets isn't a bad result," he said. "It was an honour to be out there - it's all the process and the more matches you play like that, the more experience and the more miles you get on your legs." After recently being cleared of permanent nerve damage in his elbow, his coach Simon Rea said he has no worries about the player's ability to cope with the rigours of the tour. His last appearance at an ATP event came in Memphis and has since taken a three-month stint overseas in order to help him fully recover - even training with tennis legend Roger Federer in Zurich.
Kyrgios earned his third title of the year and a Wimbledon wild card after winning the Nottingham Challenge event.
Many comparisons have already been made with the 22-year-old from Gijon and fellow countryman Rafael Nadal. The young Spaniard has excelled at the game going from year-end No 715 in 2012 to a career-high No 61 in June 2014. Not bad considering he spent seven months out of the game after undergoing back surgery.
After returning to action, Carreno-Busta beat 39 opponents in a row in 77 days and collected seven titles from eight finals on the Futures circuit. He even broke the century mark of matches played as he climbed the ATP ladder. In 2013, he made his Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros, and took out a great deal from his opening round match against 17-time major winner Roger Federer on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Nerves looked to get the better of him on the day, although he avoided the dreaded bagel, eventually losing 6-2 6-2 6-3. His highest-ranked wins came over world No 25 Fabio Fognini and No 33 Julien Benneteau in Oeiras, Portugal. Frenchman Benneteau did gain his revenge over the youngster at this year's Australian Open, winning a five set thriller. At the Monte Carlo Masters in April, Carreno-Busta won just one game against world No 2 Novak Djokovic in a 6-0 6-1 demolition job.
He has already notched seven titles this season at the third-tier Futures level, but found a match against Roger Federer on Court Philippe Chatrier a marked step up in class at this year's French Open, suffering a 6-2 6-2 6-3 loss.
Although Busta doesn't quite have the muscular build or physical brute strength of Nadal, he is still learning, but does have enough about his game to suggest he will one day compete at the highest level.