The Longines Rising Stars

Longines Watches has it’s Longines Ambassadors.  Rising Stars of the sports world.  There are seven tennis rising stars.  In the coming year I will update their performance.

Tiago Fernandes / Brazil.  Tiago is currently 636th in the world (619th in doubles) after rising to a career high 371st in early 2011 (483 in doubles).  Tiago is the 2010 Australian Open Junior Boys Champion.  He is currently 19 years old.  On April 26, 2010 he became the #1 ranked junior player in the world.  Before his ranking dropped he was the youngest player in the top 500.  He is coached by Larri Passos – coach of former world #1 Gustavo Keurten – so he often gets compared to Kuerten.

Sabine Lisicki / Germany.  One of the better known names on the list.  Sabine was a Wimbledon finalist (2011) in doubles with Samantha Stosur.  She was also a semi finalist in singles that year.   Her best results at the U.S. Open was last year’s 4th round loss which matched her results at this years Australian Open.  She has 3 career titles in singles and 1 in doubles.  She also finished 4th in the Olympics in mixed doubles with Christopher Kas.  Sabine is currently ranked 33rd and has been ranked as high as 12th in singles.  In doubles she is ranked 72nd and has been as high as 35th.  Since 2004 Lisicki has trained at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, USA, where she is sponsored and managed by IMG. She is coached by her father, who studied sport science in Wrocław and Cologne.  This 23 year older has won $2,471,183 in prize money so far in her career.

Coincidentally, today (September 22nd) is Sabine’s birthday.  At the U.S. Open, even her dog had to have credentials to get in the player gate (see picture on the right).   I’ll finish with her August 19th Tweet.  ”

7am doping test on a SUNDAY…!?!? Really?”


Grigor Dmitrov / Bulgaria.  Grigor is one of the the other well known players on this list.  In 2008 he won 2 Boys Grand Slams – Wimbledon and the U.S.Open where he was also a doubles finalist with Vasek Pospisil.  At 21 years old he has a lot of great tennis ahead of him.  Dimitrov is an all court player with a heavy emphasis on baseline play. He plays right-handed and employs a single-handed backhand. He considers the backhand down the line as his favorite shot and his favorite surfaces are hard court and grass.  Despite this he has had notable success on clay courts as well. His game has been often compared to Roger Federer‘s (earning him the nickname “Baby Fed”) due to the similarity in their ground strokes, particularly off the backhand side. He manages to duplicate the fluid motions of Federer’s forehand, backhand, serve and volley with relatively ease, and has shown himself capable of performing shots that continue the comparisons between him and Federer. Dimitrov has stated however that he would like people to appreciate his game to himself and not Federer. Despite his recent improvement several areas, some people believe his movement and balance needs to be improved if he wants to reach the top of the game. His return of serve has also been cited as a weakness. His own serve, while somewhat powerful and precise, is often inconsistent, with speeds that range from 130 mph to almost 110 on a first serve. His speed and hustle is quite remarkable from someone his age, but is noted that with his poor balance he is often falling over himself, running past balls and with an eagerness to reach every ball; tires himself out quickly.

This year was Dimitrov had his best slam results so far as he lost in the second round in all of the slams except the U.S. Open where he lost in the first.  In addition, he lost in the 2nd round of the Olympics.  As a child, Dimitrov was coached by his father, Dimitar, at Tennis Club Haskovo. As his talent became more apparent he started to receive coaching from abroad, most notably from Spaniard Pato Alvarez, who has also coached Britain’s Andy Murray. Alvarez has reportedly said that Dimitrov is the best 17 year old he has coached. Around the time of his success at the 2009 ABN AMRO in Rotterdam, Dimitrov formally began a coaching relationship with Peter Lundgren, former coach of world number ones Marat Safin andRoger Federer. Lundgren has also been quick to praise Dimitrov, saying that “he is better than Federer was at his age.”   In June 2010 he ended his coaching relationship with Lundgren and was subsequently coached by Australian pro Peter McNamara.  Dimitrov and McNamara have ended their coaching relationship at the end of the 2011 season.    As of 2012, Dimitrov is being coached by Patrick Mouratoglou.

Roberto Carballes Baena / Spain.  Currently ranked 403rd, just a few spots lower than his career high 364th.  His doubles ranking is 845th.  Baena is another 19 year old.  He had an impressive 71-20 singles record as a junior in ITF events and a doubles record of 46-17, which is also impressive.  He reached a high of 8th in the world as a junior.  His favorite surface is clay. Roberto lives in Barcelona and his coach is Miguel Sanchez. Since the beginning of the year 2012, he played 16 “future” tournaments and won 2 titles (in Spain and Croatia).

Tsung-Hua Yang / Chinese (Taiwan).  Tsung-Hua Yang is currently ranked 225th/270th (singles/doubles).  Tsung-Hua Yang is the first player from Taiwan to be awarded with the title of number one junior player in the world. Best ranking of  No. 164 on the ATP Tour rankings, Yang competes on the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP World Tour, both in singles and doubles. In 2008, he won the Junior Grand Slam at Roland-Garros and he was the first from Asia to win the 2008 Junior World Champion Award. Besides these achievements he defends his country as a member of the Chinese Taipei Davis Cup Team. Yang represented Chinese Taipei and won two gold medals at the 2010 Asian Games, in Guangzhou (China). In 2010 he was awarded Athlete of the year for Chinese Taipei.

As a junior Yang compiled a 66-23 win/loss record in singles (and 61-16 in doubles), achieving his combined ranking of No. 1 in the world in July 2008.

Junior Slam results – Singles:

Australian Open: F (2008)
French Open: W (2008)
Wimbledon: 3R (2008)
US Open: SF (2008)

Junior Slam results – Doubles:

Australian Open: W (2008)
French Open: QF (2008)
Wimbledon: W (2008)
US Open: QF (2008)

Ryan Harrison/USA.  Ryan began playing at the age of 2.  He is currently 20. He was one of the youngest players ever to win an ATP Tour match at the age of 15. He lives in Bradenton (USA) and trains at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Ryan considers grass as his favorite surface. He reached a career-high No. 7 in world junior rankings in April 2008. Best ranked No. 48 on the ATP Tour rankings, he reached the Fourth Round of Indian Wells in 2011 where he beat Chardy, Garcia-Lopez and Raonic before losing to Federer. Ryan won the Singles and Doubles titles at the Honolulu Challenger in 2011. This was his first singles title at the Challenger level. In 2012, Ryan reached twice the semi-final in a tournament (San José and Eastbourne).

Ryan Harrison

As a junior Harrison compiled a 60-24 win/loss record in singles, reaching as high as No. 7 in the world (achieved in April 2008).

Junior Slam results:

Australian Open: SF (2008)
French Open: 3R (2008)
Wimbledon: 2R (2008)
US Open: 3R (2008)

Ryan Harrison

Harrison is notable for being the third youngest player since 1990, after Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal, to have won an ATP level match, defeating world #130 Pablo Cuevas in the 2008 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships. Entering the tournament as a qualifier ranked #1000, he was only the tenth player in the history of the ATP Tour to have won a match before turning 16.

Harrison has a younger brother, Christian, who currently plays tennis on the ITF juniors circuit. Christian joined Ryan to play doubles together at the 2012 US Open, where they reached the quarterfinals.

Harrison is currently signed with IMG Academy.

Sai-Sai Zheng / China.   Zheng was given a wildcard to the 2012 Guangzhou International Women’s Open – which is currently being played –  where she defeated Julia Cohen in the first round.   In the second round, she is up against Mathilde Johansson.  She is 131st in the singles race and 93rd in the doubles.  In the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore she won a Silver medal in singles and won the gold in doubles with partner Tang Haochen.  In this video she is the player who starts out serving.

In the U.S. Open Qualifyers she beat 10th seeded Aravane Rezai of France and Brooke Austin of the United States.  Sai-Sai lost to Julia Glushko of Israel 6-3, 6-3.  Glushko got to the Main Draw and lost to 25th seeded Vanina Wickmayer of Belgium.  In doubles, Shi-Shi and Varvara Lepchenko lost to 2nd seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-4, 7-5.  Errani and Vinci ended up winning the tournament.

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