The young guns alert: Three teenagers crack the Top 50 after 10 years

Tennis - On August 18, 2008, we had Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic and Ernests Gulbis as the youngest players in that group

by Jovica Ilic
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The young guns alert: Three teenagers crack the Top 50 after 10 years

Before the latest charge of the youngsters born in 1995 or later, the last great season for the U20 players and teenagers was 2008 when Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic, Ernests Gulbis and Kei Nishikori all had a decent year that had kept them in the Top 65 in the final week of the year.

Gulbis reached the quarter-final at the Roland Garros and Cincinnati, closing the season with 24 ATP wins in total, and Nishikori became the youngest ATP champion since Lleyton Hewitt in Adelaide 1998 when he conquered Delray Beach in February.

The Japanese also played in the fourth round of the US Open and the semi-final in Stockholm, finishing the season ranked 63rd and as the youngest player in the Top 100. Marin Cilic settled into the Top 25 after 37 wins, scoring eight Grand Slam wins and lifting his first ATP title in New Haven to stand as the last teenager with an ATP crown before Alexander Zverev in St.

Petersburg 2016! Juan Martin del Potro was the leader of the pack, earning 46 wins on the Tour and finishing ninth in the standings and with a chance to compete at the Masters Cup (something that Zverev repeated in 2017).

Juan Martin played only six tournaments prior to grass, closing the first part of the season with five wins before taking his game to another level in July, rattling off four straight titles in Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and Washington and 23 wins in a row before Andy Murray stopped him in the quarter-final of the US Open.

On August 18, 2008, we had three teenagers in the Top 50 (del Potro, Cilic and Gulbis) and that was never repeated until this week when Denis Shapovalov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur found themselves in the Top 50 together for the first time.

We had to wait almost 10 years to see three teens in the Top 50 of the ATP rankings list and these youngsters have been working really hard to improve their ranking positions and get in contention for the high spots before turning 20. The Canadian has been ranked around the Top 50 for 11 months now, making a big progress after becoming the youngest player in Masters 1000 semi-final in Montreal and going deep at the US Open.

Shapovalov has won 23 matches so far in 2018 and he was on a verge of entering the Top 20 in June, having to chase that all over again after losing a lot of points in Toronto. Stefanos Tsitsipas had won just four ATP matches prior to 2018 and he has been on fire so far this year, claiming almost 30 wins and entering the Top 30 this week after the semi-final run in Washington.

His ranking will improve even more after Toronto since he reached his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final following a win over Novak Djokovic and it shouldn't take long before we see him in the Top 20. The latest addition to the leading teenagers' group is Alex de Minaur who has cracked the Top 50 for the first time this week after reaching the final in Washington, his second of the season and the first above ATP 250 level.

He kicked off the season with the semi-final run in Brisbane and that final in Sydney and he improved his ranking position with a few solid Challenger results, winning one title from three finals. De Minaur advanced into the third round at Wimbledon and he is another youngster to keep an eye on in the years to come.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Marin Cilic Ernests Gulbis
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