Next Gen Players
Next week, the Next Gen ATP Finals will take place in Milano. This competition will gather the best players aged 21 or under in the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
The seven best players who will take part in this event have been analysed to a minimum of 1000 points this year by Tennis Player. According to their stats results, they will be judged from 1 to 5 stars (low to high) on every basic shot: serve, return, forehand, backhand & volley. This “stars judgement” will be done mainly comparing the results among them.
The Russians Khachonov & Medvedev are the tallest players of the seven and that obviously gives them an edge with the serve (4 stars). When their first serve is in, they have between 42% (Khachanov) to 38% (Medvedev) chance to make an ace or a service winner. Like this, very often in a match they take an advantage of that weapon against their rivals.
Shapovalov also gets 4 stars with the serve. Besides having a high first serve effectiveness (38% like Medvedev), he can rely on a very good second serve (58% second serve won points).
Donaldson & Coric get a serve in the average (3 stars). It means that if they play against Khachonov, Medvedev or Shapovalov, they might be dominated by their serve (less aces/service winners) but if they play against Chung or Rublev they might get an edge with that shot (more aces/service winners).
Chung & Rublev are the players who get the least free points with the serve. 25% of first serve effectiveness for Chung & 26% for Rublev (2 stars).
Four players get 4 stars with the return: Chung, Donaldson, Khachanov & Rublev. However, we can divide these good returners into 2 groups. The steady returners (Chung & Donaldson) and the aggressive returners (Khachanov & Rublev). The steady returners take more of an edge with deep returns (low ratio of points) and the aggressive returners by taking risks (high ratio of points). Nonetheless, all these four players are really solid in the baseline rallies that follow their returns and get an excellent first (above 30%) & second serve return won points (above 50%).
Coric & Medvedev are better in the baseline rallies that follow with the return, than their very own return itself. That’s why they get 3 and not 4 stars.
Shapovalov wants to be aggressive with the return but for the moment this strategy doesn't give him positive results. He gets a very high ratio of return errors and a low first serve return won points (only 26%).
Rublev is the only player who gets 5 stars with the forehand. The forehand is his trademark and he makes on average 70% more points than his rivals with that shot in a match. He is effective in mostly every direction (down the line, cross, inside in & inside out) but this is mainly on his service game that he makes the difference against the rivals with that shot.
With 4 stars, we have Coric and Shapovalov. Both posses an excellent forehand but they don’t play this shot the same way tactically. Shapovalov is effective with the forehand by being really offensive; as the forehand approach is the shot that makes the difference for him. Coric gets an edge with the forehand by being more solid than his rivals. He makes on average 30% less errors than his rivals on that side.
Chung, Donaldson & Medvedev have a forehand in the average (3 stars) but this shot is slightly more played in a defensive than an aggressive manner.
Khachanov is the only player who gets 2 stars with the forehand. He definitely has the power with this shot but he makes far too many errors to be really effective on that wing.
Chung & Medvedev get the best backhand results (5 stars). Both are capable to take the ball on the rise and generate pace close to the baseline with that shot. However, Chung will get a double edge with the backhand against the rivals by making on average more points & less errors than them. Medvedev will only take an advantage by making much more points than his opponents.
Coric, Donaldson & Khachanov can all count on a good backhand (4 stars). All are capable of generating pace close to the baseline or counterpunch on this wing.
Rublev & Shapovalov’s game style is more around their forehand. However, they still get backhand results in the average (3 stars).
We notice that among all the shots, the Next Gen players on a global scale achieve their best result with the backhand.
Shapovalov’s volley gets 4 stars but this is in regards to more of his approaches than his volleys itself that explain such a result. The volley can still be improved but the offensive intention is excellent, especially the forehand approach.
All the other players (except Medvedev) get a volley in the average (3 stars). They are not net game specialists but know when to take their chance to get an edge.
Medvedev gets the least best volley results. First of all, he comes in less than average and at the net he can miss volleys.
As you could see, the Next Gen Players are complete players. There are much more 3 or 4 stars (77%) than 2 or 5 stars (23%). It means that all these players have developed a complete game if possible with no weakness. So, now what is the next step for them? My point of view is that they first should get a minimum of 3 stars in every category and then develop a real strengths. Chung & Rublev’s serve, Shapovalov’s return, Khachanov’s forehand and Medvedev’s volley can be still improved to reach 3 stars. Then, they should develop a very effective weapon to break through the top 20. For me at the moment, Shapovalov & Rublev are more the most rapid in developing a strengths in comparison to the other players. Chung, Donaldson & Coric are still more excellent retrievers & counterpunchers than aggressive players with a weapon. If Khachanov can improve his forehand, he has the potential to be a top player. Eventually, Medvedev could potentially develop a 5 stars serve to get even better.
I am impatient to see which one of these players will totally fulfil his potential to reach the top and maybe win a slam. To be continued…
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