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Musetti & Rune Among #NextGenATP Stars In 2022

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2022

Musetti & Rune Among #NextGenATP Stars In 2022

Draper, Nakashima & Lehecka feature

The 2022 season saw a host of #NextGenATP stars make their mark on Tour, with Holger Rune and Lorenzo Musetti among those capturing their maiden tour-level titles.

From Top 10 wins to career-high Pepperstone ATP Rankings, looks back at the brightest young prospects of 2022.

Holger Rune, 19 years old
Holger Rune’s rise in 2022 was nothing short of remarkable. The 19-year-old started the season at No. 103 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings but ended the year as the World No. 11, having climbed to a career-high No. 10 following his dream run to the Rolex Paris Masters title.

After a consistent start, the Dane’s season took off in May when he defeated then-World No. 3 Alexander Zverev en route to his maiden tour-level title in Munich. A quarter-final run at Roland Garros followed, with Rune upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas in Paris.

The 19-year-old saved his best until the end of the year, though, winning 19 of his final 21 matches of the season. Rune lifted the trophy in Stockholm and reached finals in Sofia and Basel in October. Arriving in Paris in confident mood, Rune beat Top 10 stars Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev, Carlos Alcaraz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Novak Djokovic to win the biggest title of his career.

Lorenzo Musetti, 20 years old
Lorenzo Musetti had shown fans glimpses of his potential in 2021, reaching tour-level semi-finals in Acapulco and Lyon. However, the Italian took his game to a new level this season, climbing to a career-high No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The 20-year-old impressed on clay across Europe, reaching the third round at ATP Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo and Madrid before he won an ATP Challenger Tour crown on home soil in Forli. Musetti’s best result came in Hamburg, where he won his first tour-level title. He saved match points in his opening match to claw past Dusan Lajovic before he then defeated Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling final to triumph.

Musetti transferred his impressive clay-court form to hard courts in the final months of the year. He captured the crown in Naples in October and advanced to the quarter-finals in Paris, ending the season holding a 34-27 tour-level record.

Jack Draper, 20 years old
With his big lefty serve and explosive forehand, Jack Draper made his mark in 2022. The 20-year-old entered the year at No. 265 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with just two tour-level wins to his name.

Fast forward 11 months and the Briton is the World No. 41, having earned 21 tour-level victories this year. Draper, who missed the second half of 2021 due to a ruptured ligament in his ankle, started the season on fire, winning four ATP Challenger Tour titles in the opening four months.

The 20-year-old then quickly impressed on the ATP Tour. He won main draw matches at ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami and Madrid before he soared to his first tour-level semi-final on home soil in Eastbourne. Draper made his biggest splash in North America, where he earned his first Top 10 win against Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals in Montreal before he upset Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open.

Brandon Nakashima, 21 years old
Brandon Nakashima is next. The American ended his season in style in Milan where he became the fifth player to capture the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals title. The 20-year-old, currently No. 47 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, blitzed through the field at the 21-and-under event to become an undefeated champion in Italy.

Earlier in the season, Nakashima clinched his first tour-level title in San Diego, defeating Marcos Giron in the final to triumph on home soil. He also impressed at the Grand Slams, reaching the third round at Roland Garros and the US Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon.

The American will look to follow in the footsteps of previous the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champions Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz and crack the Top 10 in the future.

Jiri Lehecka, 21 years old
For Jiri Lehecka, sporting success runs in the family, with his father a former swimmer and his mother a track and field star. In 2022, the Czech made his mark in the tennis scene with a series of impressive results on both the ATP Challenger Tour and ATP Tour.

The 21-year-old’s breakthrough season started in Rotterdam. After coming through qualifying, he earned his maiden tour-level win against Denis Shapovalov. He then defeated Botic van de Zandschulp and Lorenzo Musetti to reach the semi-finals in a run that lifted him into the Top 100.

Lehecka struggled for consistency in the following months but did lift an ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Liberec in August before finishing the year impressively in Milan, where he advanced to the final on debut at the 21-and-under event.

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Krutykh Produces Best Challenger Season Despite Turmoil In Ukraine

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2022

Krutykh Produces Best Challenger Season Despite Turmoil In Ukraine

The 22-year-old is at a career-high 190

Despite facing unique challenges this season, Ukrainian Oleksii Krutykh’s perseverance has led to his career-best results on the ATP Challenger Tour.

With his home country under attack, the Kyiv native’s ability to see family and friends at home has been limited since the Russian invasion in February. Despite the worry for his loved ones, Krutykh (pronounced KROT-ic) has shown the mental strength to produce the best season of his young career. 

“It’s a difficult situation,” Krutykh said. “When it all started, I was out playing tournaments and my family was still in Ukraine. I said to myself I had no other options and I needed to play.”

ATP Challenger Tour 

The 22-year-old, who has won two Challenger titles this season, has drawn motivation from Ukrainian soldiers, such as former World No. 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky, who retired earlier this year and began fighting for his home country.

Stakhovsky, who is a four-time Tour titlist, hasn’t lost touch with the sport. When Krutykh won the Prague and Valencia Challengers, which helped him reach a career-high 190 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Stakhovsky contacted the youngster and congratulated him on his successes.

<a href=''>Oleksii Krutykh</a> in action at the 2022 Valencia Challenger.
Oleksii Krutykh in action at the 2022 Valencia Challenger. Credit: Raul Piles

“I told myself I needed to fight on the court because of all the people back home that are fighting for Ukraine,” Krutykh said. “Stakhovsky is a brave man, he is there fighting… He’s cheering me up after my Challenger wins. He is supporting me, it’s so nice. I’m not a big player like him, but to get messages from Sergiy, that’s big for me.”

‘Alexey’ seemed unfazed during his first Challenger final in August, when he defeated German Lucas Gerch to triumph at the Challenger 50 event in Prague. Krutykh’s aggressive game style continued to prove effective as he claimed his second Challenger trophy of the season this past week in Valencia, Spain, where he rallied from a set down in his quarter-final and semi-final matches to keep his title run alive.

To his surprise, Krutykh also lifted the doubles trophy in Valencia. Partnered with Spaniard Oriol Roca Batalla, the pair went from ‘the last team to sign in’ to champions at the Challenger 90 event.

<a href=''>Oleksii Krutykh</a> (left) and <a href=''>Oriol Roca Batalla</a> are crowned doubles champions in Valencia, Spain.
Oleksii Krutykh (left) and Oriol Roca Batalla are crowned doubles champions in Valencia, Spain. Credit: Raul Piles

Amidst a rollercoaster season filled with immense trials back home, ‘Alexey’ has seen positives on-court, including becoming Ukraine’s highest-ranked player.

“It’s an amazing feeling for me,” Krutykh said. “I didn’t think that this year would be so good. It’s a great achievement for me. I didn’t expect that this year I would become Ukrainian No. 1. It’s a good achievement, we don’t have a lot of players, but it’s nice.”

After starting the season at No. 398 and playing mostly ITF Futures events, the 22-year-old transitioned to the Challenger Tour, which helped launch his career to new heights and achieve his goals for 2022.

“It was my goal [at the beginning of the season] to reach Grand Slam qualies for next year,” Krutykh said. “The perfect goal was to finish in the Top 200. The last tournament of the year, now I’m 190, for me it’s a great success.

“I [started the year] playing Futures and when I won a tournament [M25 Antalya], I decided to play only Challenger tournaments. For me it was a big step up. It’s a huge opportunity and it’s worked out well.”

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