Patrick Mouratoglou

The young guns set to challenge big four

Patrick Mouratoglou

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Everything
that has needed to be said about the rise of Novak Djokovic has been said.

His main
rivals - Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray - will have to get back on
track quickly after some rest days if they are to live with him.

But
behind this now famous big four, the next generation is arriving and starting
to look very interesting, with some players already ready for the top 20 and
even top 10 in the years to come.

Bernard Tomic

Bernard
Tomic made waves at Wimbledon by reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
His path to stardom had been slowed by a growth spurt which had affected his
physical development. But since the start of the season he has made big
improvements and he doubtless won't spend much longer ranked 71 in the world.

His
serve has been changed for the better and his movement shows huge improvements
- crucial because it was one of his biggest issues impeding his progress. Tomic
is amply gifted and reminds me a bit of Miroslav 'The Cat' Mecir because of his
style, which looks as if he plays the game in slow motion with his feet plugged
to the ground on every shot.

He's
playing with a mix of natural strokes and sudden power which is disguised by
his body language, which stays relaxed all the time. Tomic also possesses a a
quite unique inside-out short forehand, which goes very flat over the net. Like
Djokovic, his main weapon is that he always seems one shot ahead and
anticipates the ball well. His anticipation will still have to improve - and
his footwork with it - but once it does, he'll be very dangerous.

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Milos Raonic

Raonic
missed out on a clash with Rafael Nadal in the third round of Wimbledon this
year after suffering an injury during his match with Gilles Muller. Raonic, as
opposed to the other starlets, has had a very successful start of the season
and is already in the top 30.

His game
is built around an outstanding serve, with power and precision which allows him
to dictate so many points. It also benefits him on return games because he's
more relaxed and the pressure applied by his serve weighs his opponents down.

For me,
he's the model of the player of the future - very tall, and very powerful.

He's not
doing anything extraordinary from the baseline and he's clearly lacking some
speed, but it's still possible to compare him to someone like Andy Roddick who
always relied on two big shots - serve and forehand - for his success.

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Ryan Harrison

Another
player to follow is Ryan Harrison, now on the cusp of the top 100. He's an
example of an American player with huge mental strength, a fighting spirit and
a determination never to give up on court. He's versatile enough to adjust to
every surface and that's impressive.

The way
he fought against Robin Soderling and David Ferrer at Roland Garros and
Wimbledon proves his temperament, and even while he has little experience of
this level of play, he can shine from the baseline by counterpunching or even
serve and volley when needede.

A note
of caution - to me it seems that he has less room for improvement than some of
his rivals. But such mental strength should not be undervalued.

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Grigor Dimitrov

Dimitrov
is training in my academy and seems the most complete player of this generation
of rising stars. His technical ability is above the level of his peers, and his
huge battle against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon put him firmly in the
spotlight.

He won
two Grand Slams at Junior level, and is nicknamed by some as 'Little Federer'
because of a similar way about the two on court.

He's
been watched a lot in the last couple of years - perhaps too much if you
consider his world ranking.

For the
moment he can still be overwhelmed by the wealth of tactical options he has and
a wish to do too much.

His
current ranking of 60 suggests he's going the right way, though.

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Andrey Kuznetsov

He's a
little behind the rest, but I really like what I've seen of the Junior
Wimbledon winner.

His flat
shots and ability to play some high quality points mark him out, but he'll need
to make improvements on his shot placement particularly - as well as his
movement.

If he
can gain some co-ordination and strength to go with it, Andrey would quickly
climb the rankings because his game is no instinctive and natural, with a
desire to come forward and a top quality backhand.

He could
very soon catch up to the rest.

And while we're at it...

Among
these five players we have an American, a Bulgarian, a Russian, an Australian
and a Canadian. But if you look closer, four of the five of them have Eastern
European backgrounds and ancestry. Tomic and Raonic are from the former
Yugoslavia. Let's also not forget that before getting injured another player,
Filip Krajinovic, was on his way to being amongst this list. At a time when
Novak Djokovic is the undisputed top player in the world, it's clear that
Serbo-Croatian tennis has never been stronger.

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