Five players who can win their first tennis Grand Slam in 2019
2018 was a year for the old guard in men’s tennis, whilst it was 18 months of change for the women of the WTA Tour. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer picked up the Grand Slam titles in the ATP, as they have been doing seemingly forever. However in the women’s game, we finally saw Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep lift major silverware whilst Naomi Osaka emerged as a superstar by winning the US Open.
With Serena Williams now 37-years-old, it certainly seems like there is room for new blood at the top of the game. The American legend can certainly still compete with the very best, but the idea of her scooping up all four Grand Slams now seems a little fanciful.
The men’s game is different as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer still occupy the top three places in the ATP rankings, despite being 31, 32 and 37 respectively. These three giants of the game can’t keep going forever, but they are going to give it a good try.
But new champions will come and they are emerging. Here are five players across the ATP and WTA tours that could join the Grand Slam-winning club.
Alexander Zverev has been on the radar since 2014 when he reached the semi-finals of the International German Open as a 17-year-old. Since then he has made impressive, deliberate, significant progress which now sees him sitting at number five in the world at just 21-years-old.
He won five ATP tournaments in 2017 and three more in 2018 and achieved his best Grand Slam finish this year, a quarter-final run at the French Open. He has not fully made his mark on the major tournament just yet, with his best performances elsewhere being third round exits in Australia and the US, and the fourth round at Wimbledon.
He is set to be a threat in every major in 2019, though, with his game so well-rounded to all courts. Wimbledon might be the one out of his reach at this point, but he is extremely dangerous on clay and hard, winning ATP events on both this year. Beating Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open in 2017 showed how good he is on clay, and he reached the final again in 2018, losing to Nadal, but beating him 6-1 in the second set.
The German looks absolutely nailed on to be picking up multiple Grand Slam titles in the next five years and he could just start doing so in 2019.
Alexander Zverev to win the Australian Open Each-Way at 18/1 with Black Type
Also vying to take over from Nadal as the dominant force on clay is Dominic Thiem, and he looks ready to give the Spaniard a run for his money on his favourite surface.
Thiem has reached two semis and a final at the French Open in the last three years, whilst he has reached nine other finals on the surface in that time, winning five of them. Nadal has proven to be his nemesis, beating him in three finals with Thiem yet to crack Rafa in a final. However, Thiem does have three wins over Nadal on clay since the start of 2016, so he is not too far away.
The 25-year-old Austrian reached the fourth round at the Australian and quarter-finals at the US Open this year. That represented his equal best in the former and best finish at the latter, so he is heading in the right direction everywhere, except maybe the grass courts.
Similarly to Zverev, Thiem is a genuine contender in Melbourne, Paris and New York. London might be a bit soon for him just yet, but he has every chance of lifting a Grand Slam at the other three as he continues to improve.
Dominic Thiem to win the French Open at 10/1 with 188bet
Maybe a year or so behind Zverev and Thiem in his progression, but still set to be a serious dangerman in 2019, Karen Khachanov can certainly mix it with the very best.
The giant 6’6” Russian has been making waves for the last two years, but his most significant splash so far came in November 2018 when he beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win the Paris Masters. The Serb had won the Parisian event four times previously and never lost in the final, so this was some achievement for the 22-year-old, one that saw him shoot up to number 11 in the world.
It was Khachanov’s third ATP Tour win of the season and his fourth overall, all coming on hard courts. This would suggest he is to be especially threatening in Australia and the US, and whilst this should be the case, his Grand Slam performances have not shown this strength as yet. His best finishes have been fourth round runs in France and England, which is odd. But with a much improved ranking, his draw will be more favourable on his preferred surface and it will be Melbourne and New York where he shines in 2019.
The Aussie Open may still be a bit soon for the Moscow behemoth, but come Flushing Meadows, he will have his eyes on the biggest prize.
Karen Khachanov to win the US Open Each-Way at 80/1 with William Hill
The 24-year-old Ukrainian rubber stamped her Grand Slam credentials in Singapore in October when she won the WTA Finals, winning all three of her round robin matches before beating Sloane Stephens in the final.
Svitolina is now number four in the world and is going to be a very real contender on the clay and hard courts in 2019. What has been so impressive about the Ukrainian his her record in WTA finals, where she has played 15 and won 13 of them. Since 2016 she has played in nine and won all of them, peaking with that win in Singapore. She is yet to reach a Grand Slam final, but her past suggests that the big stage will not rattle her.
Of those nine wins since 2016, six have come on hard courts and three on clay, she is yet to win a tournament on grass. As a result, she is probably not worth investing in at Wimbledon, but she will be in the mix for the other three.
With winning records against the likes of Wozniacki, Kerber, Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta, she is no doubt amongst the very best and ready to win a big one.
Elina Svitolina to win the French Open Each-Way at 14/1 with Boyle Sports
Another Eastern European force emerging at the top of the women’s game is 21-year-old Daria Kasatkina. She might be a few years from her peak as yet, but such is the open nature of the women’s game, the Russian may have an excellent chance to sneak a Grand Slam in 2019.
Kasatkina certainly showed she can compete in the Grand Slams in 2018 as she reached the quarter-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon, having never reached the last eight at any major before. Having managed this, she was very disappointed with a tame second round exit at the US Open, having gone in as the 11th seed.
She is now number 10 in the world and her odds are tumbling for the Grand Slams in 2019. However, it shows that she has not convinced everyone that she is 20/1 for the Australian Open in some places and all the way out at 66/1 in others.
In the constant hunt for value in the markets, there is no doubt that the young Russian has got to be worth a punt at that whopping great price.
Daria Kasatkina is 66/1 to win the Australian Open with Unibet
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November 6th, 2018 by Simon A
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