`I had intended to write an article excerpting a great article on Parenting Aces (CLICK HERE) based on a great article on Zoo Tennis (CLICK HERE). When I started writing I ended up with a different article. I hope you read both of the above articles too.
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Can a Player who never broke into the Top 100 win 10 Grand Slam Titles?
Okay, so it’s a trick question. Rafael Nadal has 10 Grand Slam titles but he was never ranked in the top 100 as a junior. His highest ITF ranking was 145. So does junior success really equate to being a top pro and does being a top junior mean you will at least be a successful pro? American Donald Young was the youngest player ever to be #1 in the world in the juniors (16 years, 5 months old at the time). At age 22 his story is still being told. But at this point Donald Young is #46 in the world and his career high is 37th. His career earnings total is at $1,149,766. Donald Young’s career record stands at 34-66, not a winning record. By contrast, Richard Gasquet of France is the second youngest to ever be ranked #1 in the juniors. He is currently #17 in the world with a career high of #7. He has career earnings of $6,038,563. He has a career record of 265-170. Of course Gasquet is older. Donald Young is 22, Richard gasquet is 25. Maybe Donad Young’s career at age 25 will surpass Gasquet’s.
So Donald Young was #1. Did he do better than the guy that was #2? Marin Cilic is currently #23 and reached a career high of 9th so far. His career earnings are $4,515,471. There are a few players in the top 100 year end (2004) that prove a high junior ranking does not assure you have more sucess in the pro’s. These players were ranked below Donald Young. Sam Querrey was 17th that year. While Sam is currently #102, he reahced a career high of 17th before a freak accident happened involving his arm and a glass table. His career earnings are $3,628-861. And then there was #36 Kei Nishikori. Kei is currently ranked 16 in the world which is his highest ranking. His career earnings so far is $1,644,149. Alexandr Dolgopolov was 65th that year but his career has far exceeded Donald Young’s. Dolgopolov is currently ranked 18th and has been ranked as high as 13th. His career earnings of $2,008,101 exceeds that of Donald Young. So what about the failures. In 2004 Brendan Evans was ranked 3rd in the world in the juniors. His pro career topped out at #117. He had a career won loss record of 6-15 (1-5 in doubles). His career earnings was $409,806.
Now, the women’s top 5 from that very same year (2004) reads like a who’s who list. Victoria Azarenka is currently #1. Agnes Szavay got to be #13 in the world. Agnieszka Radwanska is currently #4 in the world. Caroline Wozniacki was #1 in the world for 67 weeks. Dominika Cibulkova was ranked 12th in the world.
So how bout the #1 juniors who are in the top 10 in the world. Roger Federer was #1 in the juniors, so was Janko Tipsarevic. Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were both #2 in the world. We know Azarenk was #1. Radwanska was also #1 in the juniors. Marion Bartoli was #2 and Vera Zvonareva was #3. Of course, even in the Women’s, you have a player like Andrea Petkovic who never made it past 36th in the world in the juniors and is #10 in the world in singles.
The only conclusion I can reach is that being the top junior makes you more likely to be a top professional player, but it is no guarantee. Being ranked any where in the top 100 outside of the top 10 does not mean you won’t be a top pro. But if you aren’t in the top 200 in the world in the juniors, you might want to look at other professions. Side note:David Ferrer was never ranked in the juniors.
Here is a video of Nadal vs. Gasquet when they were young. You can see why Hadal was not as highly ranked in the juniors.