Cilic strengthens the generation shift

Cilic won in New Haven last night, beating (home)favorite Mardy Fish in 3 sets. The scoreline, or even the win itself, isn’t that important. Being the 8th player to win his first ATP title this year is a clear indication that new players emerge more than in quite a few years. Mix that with the Federer (not-so-dominant-anymore)fall and youngsters like Djokovic, Murray blending in, it’s beggining to look a lot like 2002-2003. That was the transistion season between Sampras, Agassi, Kafelnikov generation to Federer, Roddick, Safin, Hewitt. All world #1s and born in the early 80s. 2003 season was when we went from a RELATIVE weak no.1 in Hewitt to Ferrero and Roddick before Federer started his reign of a great no.1 player.

We have seen that Safin, Hewitt and now even Roddick maybe, are all struggling to keep up. Of course, they’ve been injured and motivation have rollercoastered, but Cilic, Nishikori, Del Potro, Gulbis, Djokovic, Murray, Young? are all still very young and seem to be some key players to look out for in the coming years, if not next year. Cilic and Del Potro have had some great wins and now both have won tournaments. Gulbis isn’t there yet, but his climb to no.40 is quite impressive for a young gun. No.419 in 2006, no.140 next year and 61 going into this year. Good and steady rise is a good sign for a talented kid like him.

Del Potro, even younger, popped up to the no158 in 2006, but has had a longer way to his top 50 spot. Regardless of time and place, they’ve all climbed fast and are in the same position Djokovic was when he was their age. The question remains; will they go all the way to the top or will they be like Gasquet and Murray who have struggled several years on the tour now to make the top 10.

Here are the hopefuls in the top 100:
Murray – still needs some work I think
Del Potro – seems like the biggest potential at the moment
Cilic – needs to gather the Del Potro consistency, but big potential
Gulbis – very clean and solid game, needs to win tournaments.
Querrey? – yet to turn 21 and without a doubt his best season, but little consistency.
Troicki? – you never know with the Serbians these days, breaking through as we speak
Fognini? – best season, age 21, slow riser, but still rising…
Bellucci – WHO? Yes has gone from 500s in the start of 07 and was 67th in the clay season.
Haase? – Same category as Cilic and the gang. Was 56th earlier this year. Probably will return.
Korolev – Has been around for some time. Still age 20 and needs a breakthrough match or tourney.
Young – Big potential and talent, but after a fast rise from 500 to 100 in one season is now stuck.

Let’s see who makes it!

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