fbpx
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Challengers to the throne

While Federer proved why he’s regarded as the greatest, here’s a look at four young and exciting players from this year’s Australian Open 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutesFor some time now, many have proclaimed that an end to the long reign of tennis’s Big Four hegemony is nigh; with injuries to Federer and Nadal, followed by Djokovic and Murray, it seemed a mere formality that the next generation would finally usurp the powers that be.
Yet a stunning 2017 renaissance by the oldest pair of the quartet saw those claims silenced; it was almost as if the rising stars were reluctant to extinguish the last embers of the trailblazing flames left behind by their idols.
At the 2018 Australian Open, that reluctance has, in a subtle sense, given way to urgency. It is most rare that three of the big four enter a slam and only one reaches the semi-finals.
Although it was a very familiar face holding the trophy aloft – with no doubt now that the sporting world has never seen an athlete of the pedigree, humility and longevity of 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer – the way the tournament unfolded was proof: a change in the guard is now upon us.
In the lead-up to his truncated semi-final against 21 year-old South Korean sensation Hyeon Chung, Federer noted the wondrous uncertainty of playing, this late in a grand slam, someone about whom he knows so little.
Indeed, as intimately as each fan knows and loves everything about their Big Four favourite, there’s a dearth of knowledge when it comes to the next generation – so we’ve picked out a few of this year’s rising stars who fans don’t know quite so well – for now.
Chung Hyeon (South Korea)
Ranked 58 going into AO2018, the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals champion became a household name when he defeated his boyhood idol and former world number one Novak Djokovic in a stunning straight-sets fourth round upset.

21-year-old Chung Hyeon

The first South Korean to ever reach a grand slam quarter final, let alone semi-final, Chung only took up tennis as a way to improve his eyesight, having required glasses at a young age.
Although his glasses have now become a signature trait, it would be unfair to label Chung a cult hero; with his combination of movement, mental strength and power from both wings, he is destined for bigger things.
Dominic Thiem (Austria)
One of the few youngsters to use a single-handed backhand, Thiem’s on-court flair is matched equally by his quiet and steadfastly private off-court persona.
Dominic Thiem.IndianLink
24-year old Dominic Thiem

A strong baseliner, and the only player to beat Nadal during the Spaniard’s otherwise unblemished 2017 clay court season, Thiem has long been touted as one of the more exciting prospects in the tour, and has locked himself into the top 5 having already racked up 8 ATP titles, with over $10 million in prize money, to boot.
Yet, despite his undeniably abundant talent, the 24 year-old is yet to reach the quarter-final stage of a grand slam other than on his favoured clay.
Having fallen in the fourth round to unheralded American Tennys Sandgren, who was eventually brushed aside by Chung, Thiem will rue having failed to make a deeper run in AO2018.
Kyle Edmund (Great Britain)
Yet another English athlete born in South Africa, Edmund took up tennis at the age of 10 after his exasperated mother attempted to burn off his excess energy on weekend mornings.
Kyle Edmund.IndianLink
23-year-old Kyle Edmund

Britain’s number 2 began the year by beating two of the most exciting prospects on the tour in Chung and Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, and then backed it up with a stunning defeat of world number 3, Grigor Dimitrov, in the AO quarter-finals.
In fact, if Edmund had reached the final, he would have overtaken Murray in the rankings – a feat that was unthinkable even a month ago.
With British number 1 Murray struggling to return from a debilitating hip injury, 23 year-old Edmund has finally given British fans hope of life after Murray, and may well eclipse his compatriot sooner rather than later.
Yuki Bhambri (India)
This year marked the third time that India’s number one player qualified for the Australian Open main draw, almost a decade since he won the junior title here in 2009.
Yuki Bhambri.IndianLink
25-year-old Yuki Bhambri

Having lost in the first round to Murray and Berdych in 2015 and 2016, Bhambri may have entertained hopes of finally recording a win having drawn fading Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, but he was brushed aside in straight sets.
A child prodigy, Bhambri was the world’s top-ranked junior in 2009 at just 16 years of age.
But if there were a story of unfulfilled talent, Bhambri would be it – with injuries halting his rise into the top 100, Bhambri’s body has so far prevented from reaching the heights that have long been expected of him.

- Advertisement -
Ritam Mitra
Ritam Mitra
Ritam recently discovered that after years of repeatedly losing his off stump, it's more advisable for him to write about cricket than to play it. Ritam was the 2014 Young Journalist of the Year (Premier's Multicultural Media Awards)

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

0
Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Latest News

parent teacher meeting

How to engage with your child’s school

0
  After nearly a year of restrictions placed on parents, schools have finally re-opened. Parents can drop little ones off to Year 1, they can...
david shoebridge nsw parliament

Queries on ‘far-right extremism’ raised with NSW Minister

0
  Questions have been asked to NSW Minister of Multiculturalism Geoff Lee about recent incidents in Sydney’s Indian community that have raised concerns about social...
Siji Krishnan, Father’s portrait 2016 (watercolour on rice paper) 134.6 x 315.0 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Indian art at Melb’s NGV Triennial 2020-21

0
  The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Triennial is an art exhibition organised every three years which displays works of contemporary artists and designers across...
mitali modi with kamala harris

Shattering glass ceilings: Mitali Modi on working with Kamala Harris

0
  Emboldened to take action in an era of heightened political polarisation, racial unrest and an uncontainable pandemic, young Indian American Mitali Modi talks here...
The free dialysis centre in Delhi's Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Source: @mssirsa/Twitter

Free-of-charge dialysis hospital at Delhi’s Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

0
  A 101-bedded dedicated free-of-charge kidney dialysis centre is up and running at the premises of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara...