Is the Changing of the Guard Coming?

The Next Gen have been center stage throughout the Sunshine Masters this year. How can we size up the success of the young guns? And what does their success mean for the rest of the 2018 season?

Today, 20 year-old Alexander Zverev takes on Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the Miami Open finals and a chance for his third Masters title. It is just one of a number of signs in recent weeks that the Next Gen are answering the hype with some impressive results.

How impressive? A useful way to measure any player’s rise over a period is by the points gained in their Elo rating. With Elo, players gain more points with more wins and even more points if those wins were unexpected.

In 2018, from the start of Indian Wells thru the semifinals of the Miami Open, the total improvement, using gained Elo points, among players age 23 and younger has been +327. Even with the finals left to play at Miami, the 2018 Sunshine Masters can already boast of the highest improvement among the tour’s youth since 2000. Interestingly, the only other years with >250 points of improvement among the youngest players were 2004, 2005, and 2007— a period when the likes of Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Porto were in their teens and starting to make big moves on the professional circuit.

The improvement stats have to raise our expectations for a strong season from the Next Gen. Who have been the most stand out performances at the first Masters events of the year?

Below is the top 10 most improved thru the quarterfinals of Miami. Borna Coric has the most wins with 8 matches won, Hyeon Chung just a 2 matches behind with 6. Both Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev have 4 each, though Zverev has a chance to still gain 2 more and equal Chung before Miami is over.

All of those names are ones that have been in the conversation for some time. The more surprising results have been from the lesser known youngsters like Michael Mmoh and Maximilian Marterer, the two most improved by these rankings. These are the only 23 and unders with more than 100+ Elo points gained, each taking 2 main draw wins between Indian Wells and Miami that no one expected.

Player Age Wins Improved
Michael Mmoh 20 2 124.6
Maximilian Marterer 22 2 108
Denis Shapovalov 18 4 46.1
Borna Coric 21 8 39.4
Thanasi Kokkinakis 21 2 36.4
Frances Tiafoe 20 3 24.3
Hyeon Chung 21 6 23.7
Jared Donaldson 21 3 22.9
Taylor Harry Fritz 20 3 18.4
Alexander Zverev 20 4 16.7
Stephanie Kovalchik avatar
About Stephanie Kovalchik
Tennis Data Scientist at the Game Insight Group at Tennis Australia and researcher at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University.
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