The Next Generation: Strengths and Weaknesses!

Mr Topspin

The grass court season has now come to a close and tennis season prepares for a short clay and North American Hardcourt season. Who will be the stars of this next chapter of the season? If Roland Garros and Wimbledon is anything to go by then the future is very bright indeed.

Three of the semifinalists at Wimbledon were all below the age of 22. And if we look at the quarter finalists 5 of the last 8 are all part of the new 'balls please' group of young players.

I believe that this new group of players who i will list below are finally making their mark on the tour and in the next 12 months i believe that one of that group will win their first grand slam or first slam on their least favourite surface. I will also conduct an analysis on the pro's and cons of their game, highlighting why i think they have the tools to suceed.

Rafael Nadal:

He is on top of the class at the moment. Although he has won 3 slams he is still part of the next generation and is proving that he is not a one surface wonder. His strengths are his physical durability, mental fortitude and incredible resilience. He never knows when he is beat and his run to his 2nd straight final against guys that most critics thought would give him trouble like Soderling, Youzny, Berdych and Djokovic suggest that he is capable of suceeding on grass after all and may well be joint favourite next year at Sw19.

His weaknessess IMHO are his return of serve on fast surfaces. He doesn't get enough purchase on the ball and tends to bunt the ball back which puts him in a defensive position. On clay this style of return works but on grass or on hardcourt he is inviting his opponent to attack him. His defensive mentality is also a major weakness. Rafa is content to play his defensive game on grass and on hardcourts and only resorts to aggressive tactics when he is losing or in trouble. He also adopts a conservative approach whilst serving when he has the ability to go for bigger 1st serves. Instead he prefers to play the percentage game which puts greater pressure on his groundstrokes.

Novak Djokovic:

This years MVP! He has been outstanding all year. He has made two masters finals, 2 grandslam semi-finals and is up to 3rd in the world. He has won a TMS shield, won on clay and won a hardcourt title. His strengths are his forehand, backhand and serve. He has incredible resilience and mental strength.

His flaws are his forehand return of serve which is relative weakness compared to his backhand return. He also lacks supreme fitness in long matches and lacks experience in big matches. However, all he needs is time; time to grow and develop.

Richard Gasquet:

One of the most talented players in the world. This guy has all the shots and has been nicknamed 'baby Fed'. If there is one man that can match Federer shot for shot it must be Gasquet. His strengths are his shotmaking which is at times simply breathtaking. He can hit winners all day and on both wings. His backhand in particular is poetry in motion.

However, like most geniusus he has his flaws. Gasquet's main problem is his ambition. He has all the shots so shot selection for him at present is a huge problem. He also lacks stamina in long matches and his work ethic is also questionable. He is also mentally fragile and can tank matches if he doens not get his way or take his chances.

Marcos Baghdatis:

He is the modern day 'Andre Agassi'. He amiable and likeable and has a natural charm for fans and supporters alike. He is extremely talented and can hit every shot in the book. His strengths are his shotmaking abilities and his composure in big matches. He is a big time player and saves his best efforts for the big stage.

His weakness is his mental fragility. Like Gasquet, he fears his own talent and gets tight when he should be confident. He also suffers with nerves and emotions ala Mauresmo and this affects his serve in particular which can deteriorate when the going gets tough.

In conclusion, the above group i believe will win a slam in the next 12 months on a non clay surface (If i include Nadal). They are all ready and will all be in the top 10 soon (Only Baghdatis is outside the top 10 at present but that will change after US Open.


Hall of Fame
great post....i really like what i see in djokavic and baghdatis, and i'm hoping for a great showing from both of them at the us open....

actually i'd like to see an absolutely electrifying run by baghdatis, one where he beats so many good players and takes federer deep into the 5th set before finally bowing out....just imagine the atmosphere at arthur ashe stadium if this happened....