2014 has been a year of shocks and surprises in the world of tennis, and the biggest stories have been the emergence of some of the next generation’s players that are sure to claim Grand Slam titles and top the rankings for long periods of time. I take a look at some of the biggest stars of the year and see how they’ll manage in 2015.
The 20 year old Canadian has taken the WTA Tour by storm in 2014 as she started the year 32nd in the world, following ending 2012 in 144th, to sit as high as seventh in the latter stages of the summertime. She is currently ninth in the world and has recorded her first WTA Tour victory as she claimed the title in Nurnberg, Germany in May. She also reached her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon after falling at the semi final stage at the Australian and French Opens, but was beaten by the much more experienced Petra Kvitova. What does next season hold for the North American? She will continue to learn, grow and add more tournament wins to her card. Her maiden Grand Slam title is also a very real possibility too.
Bencic is a player that has belied her youthful years throughout this season as she has moved 212th in the WTA rankings at the start of 2014 to 33rd right now. She has been impressive despite being just 17 years of age and her march to the semi finals at Charleston at the start of the clay court season thrusting her into the spotlight. She returned to the eyes of the world at the final Grand Slam event of the year at Flushing Meadows too as she saw off two of the top ten seeds in Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic as she reached the Quarter Finals of the US Open. She also partnered with former world number one Martina Hingis in a Tokyo tennis event in September too and the future is certainly bright for the young Swiss player. Expect her to reach her first WTA Tour final in 2015
Although just 16 years old and having spent the majority of the season playing on the ITF Tour Naomi Osaka from the Japanese city of the same name shocked the tennis world this year. After qualifying for the tournament in Stanford at the end of July she shocked the odds to defeat then world number 19 Samantha Stosur, who won the US Open in 2011, to win her first WTA Tour match. She was easily beaten by Andrea Petkovic in the next round, but it was a massively impressive debut and something that she can build upon for 2015. I expect to see more of Osaka on the WTA Tour as she comes through the qualifiers and moves up the rankings, perhaps even breaking into the top 100.