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In the second part of the article, I look at a variety of current players and see what their statistics were at young ages, with a view to seeing how far the current young players can go in the rankings.
I’ve split the statistics into 2 categories – current top 20 players and players ranked 40-60. This should give us an idea of which players can make the top 20 (or higher), who will struggle to get past the top 50, and who will struggle to get towards the top 50.
Current Top 20 Players:-
Djokovic age 22, 79% ATP (58-15) 86.9% hold, 30.1% breaks
Murray age 22, 77% ATP (51-15) 81.6% hold, 28.3% breaks
Berdych age 22, 63% ATP (32-19) 84.1% hold, 23.9% breaks
Del Potro age 21, 76% ATP (52-16) 84.2% hold, 27.3% breaks
Del Potro age 20, 76% ATP (44-16) 83.1% hold, 32.3% breaks
Gasquet age 22, 60% ATP (31-21) 84.1% hold, 24.1% breaks
Nishikori age 22, 69% ATP (37-17) 78.6% hold, 31.2% breaks
Nishikori age 21, 59% ATP (32-22) 76.1% hold, 25.2% breaks
Nishikori age 20, 25% ATP (3-9) 67.8% hold, 13.1% breaks
Nishikori age 20, 90% Challengers (27-3) 85.9% hold, 35.6% breaks, 121.5% combined
Raonic age 22, 62% ATP (18-11) 90.8% hold, 15.7% breaks
Raonic age 21, 68% ATP (42-20) 92.4% hold, 15.4% breaks
Raonic age 20, 62% ATP (29-18) 88.2% hold, 15.9% breaks
Raonic age 19, 43% ATP (3-4) 84.8% hold, 7.4% breaks
Raonic age 19, 52% Challengers (11-10) 85.5% hold, 21.8% breaks, 107.3% combined
Raonic age 18, 0% Challengers (0-2) 85.2% hold, 10.7% breaks
Almagro age 22, 67% ATP (33-16) 84.3% hold, 25.1% breaks
Cilic age 22, 65% ATP (40-22) 82.9% hold, 23.9% breaks
Cilic age 21, 64% ATP (38-21) 84.0% hold, 23.8% breaks
Cilic age 20, 69% ATP (45-20) 83.6% hold, 27.1% breaks
Cilic age 19, 60% ATP (33-22) 82.8% hold, 22.1% breaks
Janowicz age 22, 55% ATP (17-14) 85.1% hold, 17.2% breaks
Janowicz age 21, 69% ATP (9-4) 89.3% hold, 16.3% breaks
Janowicz age 21, 78% Challengers (32-9) 87.1% hold, 24.4% breaks, 111.5% combined
Janowicz age 20, 50% Challengers (18-18) 84.8% hold, 17.8% breaks, 102.6% combined
Janowicz age 19, 58% Challengers (11-8) 82.6% hold, 17.1% breaks, 99.7% combined
Janowicz age 18, 37% Challengers (7-12) 78.3% hold, 19.4% breaks, 97.7% combined
Fognini age 22, 36% ATP (14-25) 65.9% hold, 24.7% breaks
Fognini age 21, 40% ATP (17-26) 65.7% hold, 24.9% breaks
Fognini age 20, 45% ATP (13-16) 70.7% hold, 25.0% breaks
Querrey age 22, 63% ATP (38-22) 86.1% hold, 19.9% breaks
Querrey age 21, 65% ATP (41-22) 86.4% hold, 19.5% breaks
Querrey age 20, 55% ATP (27-22) 80.8% hold, 19.7% breaks
Players ranked 40-60:-
Tomic age 22, 52% ATP (23-21) 83.6% hold,13.8% breaks
Tomic age 21, 47% ATP (22-25) 76.9% hold, 18.9% breaks
Tomic age 20, 50% ATP (14-14) 78.6% hold, 17.6% breaks
Tomic age 19, 25% ATP (2-6) 70.0% hold, 19.3% breaks
Tomic age 19, 61% Challengers (11-7) 83.1% hold, 20.2% breaks, 103.3% combined
Tomic age 18, 70% Challengers (7-3) 76.9% hold, 29.6% breaks, 106.5% combined
Bautista-Agut age 22, 54% Challengers (19-16) 73.7% hold, 25.4% breaks, 99.1% combined
Bautista-Agut age 21, 38% Challengers (3-5) 77.5% hold, 17.4% breaks, 92.9% combined
Andujar age 22, 33% ATP (3-6) 69.2% hold, 25.6% breaks
Granollers age 22, 41% ATP (13-19) 73.6% hold, 21.1% breaks
Zemlja age 22 53% Challengers (25-22) 75.3% hold, 26.0% breaks, 101.3% combined
Troicki age 22 51% ATP (19-18) 77.5% hold, 23.3% breaks
Brands age 22 58% (7-5) 84.9% hold, 18.6% breaks
Brands age 22 61% Challengers (34-22) 83.6% hold, 17.6% breaks, 101.2% combined
Monfils age 22 63% ATP (27-16) 79.7% hold, 25.3% breaks
Haase age 22 71% Challengers (5-2) 87.5% hold, 21.5% breaks, 109.0% combined
Haase age 21 45% ATP (10-12) 77.5% hold, 20.4% breaks
Sijsling age 22 57% Challengers (21-16) 81.2% hold, 18.4% breaks, 99.6% combined
Sijsling age 21 48% Challengers (11-12) 75.6% hold, 21.8% breaks, 97.4% combined
First of all I will take a look at some of the older ATP and see how they performed when they were younger.
As you can see, it’s no surprise to see Novak Djokovic as world number one based on his stats at the age of 22. They are head and shoulders above any other player at that age, with the possible exception of Juan Martin Del Potro. Serious injury robbed Del Potro of a year at the age of 22 and it may well be that has permanently hindered his career – his stats at the age of 20 and 21 were highly impressive. Winning 76% of ATP matches at the age of 20 is truly incredible.
Kei Nishikori had elite-status Challenger stats at 20, and at 23 has a 70% win-loss record in ATP matches. Can he develop into a top 5 player? The stats say he can.
It could be argued that Nicolas Almagro’s career hasn’t developed as it should have. He also had a very good win percentage of 67% in ATP matches at the age of 22, and he hasn’t kicked on from that at all (currently 67% at age 27).
Marin Cilic is another interesting case. He burst onto the scene winning 60% of his ATP matches at 19, following this up with 69% at 20. This should have seen him develop into an elite player but this hasn’t happened at all. He’s not really improved since then, only winning 68% in the last 12 months (at July 25th, 2013). Milos Raonic also falls into this category – he’s still only 22 himself but has not shown a statistical improvement since 20 – so unless things change in his career dramatically he may be a player never destined to fulfil his potential. You could also put Sam Querrey into that bracket – although as with Del Potro, he spent time out with an injury and had to work back his ranking, to some extent.
Many people think that Jerzy Janowicz can achieve great things. His results currently as a 22 year old would indicate differently, with only a 55% win record. Perhaps, with him being a slightly late developer (we can see a big development from his stats between the ages of 20 and 21) and showing no fear of top players, this may still happen, but he will need to improve this significantly in the next year or two.
Bernard Tomic hasn’t lived up to his hype at all yet. I’ve read comments from the media saying he was the best teenage player they’ve ever seen but at the moment he has a lot of improving to do. A 50% win record at 22 indicates he will struggle to break the top 20. Out of my statistics, only Fabio Fognini (a recent late entrant into that group) had a worse win percentage at that age.
Viktor Troicki, fresh from yesterday’s controversy, is another that didn’t develop. At 22, he won 51% of ATP matches. At the time of writing he has actually deteriorated from that level! He has won a mere 45% of ATP matches in the last 12 months.
All this proves that success in the age of 20-22 is definitely not a guarantee that success will be achieved after this, at ATP level. It’s far from a given that an individual player develops as they should. Several players who didn’t had long term injuries, which clearly isn’t helpful for this – and it’s harsh to criticise the likes of Del Potro for not reaching the potential they demonstrated because of this.
Looking at the current 22 year olds currently ranked outside the top 50 from Part 1 of the article series, we saw that Andrey Kuznetsov had the best Challenger record at the age of 22 with a combined 118.0% serve and break percentage. Compared to the players on the list here this should ensure he makes the top 20 at some point, based solely on the Challenger stats. However his ATP stats contest that view. 31% win success at the age of 22 is worse than any player in the current top 60, in the above sample. At some point he will have to address why he has failed to convert his overwhelming Challenger success to the ATP tour. David Goffin has a similar issue.
Federico Delbonis has an excellent chance of breaking the top 40, and possibly even the top 10 with an ATP win percentage of 61% at 22. This win percentage puts him on a similar level to Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych at 22. For this to happen I do feel he will have to work on his game away from clay courts, but with a good work ethic this can happen (similar to David Ferrer).
I was asked on Twitter yesterday how far Gastao Elias can go. He has a 111.7% combined serve and break percentage at the age of 22 in Challengers, which is better than the likes of Daniel Brands, Roberto Bautista-Agut and Grega Zemlja, all ranked around the world’s top 50, at that age. So breaking the top 50 is definitely a possibility for the Portuguese.
Ryan Harrison is the top ranked 21 year old. No matter what anyone says, he wouldn’t have the Challenger record he has without ability. However, currently he has issues converting this to the ATP level, similar to Kuznetsov. If he’s able to, he would stand a good chance of breaking the top 50. Much higher than that, I’m not sure of.
The rest of the Challenger players aged 22 I don’t have that high hopes for – with the possible exception of Pablo Carreno-Busta. He’s had to deal with a long-term injury and his Challenger sample is small. The likes of Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Rhyne Williams, Bradley Klahn and Marius Copil can hope for a rank of around the top 40 at best in their careers.
Jiri Vesely is one player I was keen to analyse. At the age of 20 he has a superb 81% win record in Challengers in the last 12 months, and has a 112.7% combined serve and break percentage. Comparing this to previous top players at 20, he is worse than Nishikori, better than Janowicz, and immeasurably better than any player currently ranked amongst the 40-60 bracket. I’d be shocked if he didn’t make the top 20, and the top 10 is a definite possibility for him.
Jack Sock would appear to be another with a bright future. He’s managed to achieve a reasonable ATP win-rate for a 20 year old, and with his stats should have a very high chance of breaking the top 40, and possibly a fair bit higher still. I’m not sure I’d go as far as top 20, but he’d have a chance. His countryman, Denis Kudla, should achieve similar too.
It’s really hard to assess how the 18 and 19 year olds on the list will develop their careers. Most don’t have the sample size required to make a quantitative judgement on their future and are still developing their careers rapidly at that age. However, as I mentioned yesterday, clearly Nick Krygios, Christian Harrison and Gianluigi Quinzi, in particular, could be very good prospects.
The final conclusion we can draw from this is the lack of phenomenal talent currently amongst 20-22 year olds on the ATP tour. At 22 years old, both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray had a win percentage in excess of 75% on the main tour and no young player comes remotely close to that. Even Kei Nishikori (69%) and Marin Cilic (65% but achieved 69% at 20) achieved well above what any 22 year old can currently boast (Raonic currently has 62%, Janowicz 55%, Grigor Dimitrov 58% and Tomic 52% out of the current top 50) so do we currently have a severe dearth of talent? From the statistics, it looks like the majority of the top players will hang on to their status for a fair bit longer…
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