2018 was the year for Naomi Osaka as she did the unthinkable in defeating arguably one of the best tennis players to ever take to the field i.e. Serena Williams. Though her moment to celebrate was overshadowed by controversies surrounding her opponent as well as the umpire, she indeed announced herself to the world in style. In recent times, this has become the trend as young emerging stars have announced their arrival on the big stage by defeating established world stars. As we look ahead to 2019, we hope that once again this will be the case as we want to see another young talent making it.
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It’s always a great thing when you win the ‘Most Improved Player of the Year’ award as it shows that you are doing something right. At the end of 2018, Stefanos Tsitsipas was awarded the most improved award to cap off a brilliant year for him. At the start of the year, Stefanos Tsitsipas was ranked 91st on the list of top professional tennis players in the world by ATP. However, at the end of the year, he has risen remarkably to occupy position 15th. On this own, this just demonstrates the good work that Stefanos Tsitsipas did in the calendar year of 2018. One of the reasons which catapulted Stefanos Tsitsipas to the dizzy heights of 15th on the ATP rankings is the fact that he won 41 matches in 2018 alone! Before that, he had won just four professional matches. Among the 41 matches he won, they include wins in the Stockholm Open Final and a quarterfinals appearance at the Dubai Tennis Championships and at the Qatar Open.
In 2017, Denis Shapovalov received the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ award after posting some impressive wins against two of the world’s finest tennis players in Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. From thereon, he was dubbed the next big thing and indeed, in the whole of 2018 he showed that he has what it takes to reach the dizzy heights in world tennis. Though he failed to win any title in 2018, he put in consistent performances which indicate that with a little improvement, a title is not very far (probably one will come his way this year). In 2018, Denis Shapovalov reached a career-high ranking of number 23.
Alex de Minaur
Denis Shapovalov’s successor as the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in 2018 was Alex de Minaur. The Australian teenager had his best year to date in professional tennis in 2018 as he managed to rise from outside the world top 200 at the start of the year to finish at an impressive position 31 at the end of 2018 on the world rankings. Alex’s year started off brilliantly as he reached the semifinals of the Brisbane Open before he did the unthinkable to reach the final of the Washington Open towards the end of the year. Alex’s exploits in 2018 certainly make him a man to watch in 2019.