Australian Open 2023: five rising stars to watch at Melbourne Park | Tumaini Carayol

As another year of grand slam tournaments begins, more younger players outside the top 10 are determined to break through and leave a mark at the highest levels. Next week, at the Australian Open, they will have their first chance of 2023.

Zheng Qinwen, 20, China

As Iga Swiatek marched to the French Open title last year, her dominance was tested not by any of the seasoned, capable professionals she faced but by a newcomer. In the fourth round, for a brief moment, Zheng went blow for blow with the best player in the world, demonstrating her excellent serve, her supreme heavy topspin forehand and her athleticism as she forced a third set. After finishing 2021 ranked 143, Zheng broke into the top 30 for the first time last year. As China looks for a successor to their 2014 Australian Open champion, Li Na, Zheng’s rise continues.

Linda Fruhvirtova, 17, Czech Republic

The continued success of Czech tennis remains fascinating. Not a single Czech player can offer a comprehensive explanation of why their women are so good, but they keep on coming. Last year it was Fruhvirtova’s turn to make a name for herself as she defeated Victoria Azarenka en route to the fourth round in Miami. She finished the season by winning her first WTA title, in Chennai, and positioning herself for an enormous 2023.

The Czech pipeline does not end with Fruhvirtova. This season began with another teenage breakthrough as the 18-year-old Linda Noskova announced herself on the tour by defeating Azarenka on her way to the semi-finals of the WTA 500 event in Sydney. Brenda Fruhvirtova, Linda’s 15-year-old sister, has been attempting to navigate the Australian Open qualifying draw after an incredible 2022 when she won eight titles on the ITF Circuit and came close to the top 100.

Quick Guide

Boulter and Burrage keep qualification hopes alive


Tuesday proved to be a mixed day for British hopes in Australian Open qualifying, with Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage and Yuriko Miyazaki battling through but a trio of players crashing out.

Boulter battled her way past the American Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted more than two hours.

“I knew it was going to be tough going into it,” Boulter told the tournament’s official website. “I’ve played a lot of matches this year and they’re physical but I’m in a good place. It’s just keeping my head straight and working really hard. It’s tough to come off a tournament win and start all over again, so I’m really proud of myself getting through that today.

“[Canberra] was a really strong tournament and to go in there and have no expectations and end up winning the tournament, I’m pretty happy to do that – but I’m not finished there, I’m just starting.”

Burrage advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Australia’s Elysia Bolton and Miyazaki saw off Hailey Baptiste of the US 6-4, 7-5.

However, there was defeat for Katie Swan, beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Jessika Ponchet of France.

Liam Broady endured defeat in qualifying for the Australian Open but only after a battle against the Colombian Emilio Gomez which lasted almost three hours. Gomez took the final three points of a tiebreaker to prevail 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (10/7).

Broady had fought back from 3-1 down in the deciding third set to lose 4-3 but Gomez then broke back and each held serve as a second consecutive set went to a tiebreaker.

Broady’s defeat means that no British men have made it through qualifying with Ryan Peniston having been beaten 7-6 (5), 6-2 by Canada’s Alexis Galarneau, a day after Paul Jubb went out in the opening round. PA Media

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Ben Shelton, 20, USA

A year ago, Shelton was one of hundreds of players who declined the traditional route of turning professional in favour of heading to university. While he competed under the tutelage of his father, Bryan, the head coach at the University of Florida, Shelton took the Gators to their first NCAA championship final and then he clinched the title himself.

At 20, it was time to move on from college in order to tackle the professional ranks. The results have been excellent. Shelton has won three challengers and reached three other finals since May, his ranking rocketing from 548 to 92. He arrives in Melbourne for his first grand slam tournament outside the US Open with the hype set to explode.

Lorenzo Musetti, 20, Italy

Musetti’s talent has been well known since his junior days and it has been further underlined in his professional career. Armed with a vicious topspin forehand, a sweet single-hander and a vast arsenal of shots, Musetti has broken through brilliantly, winning an ATP 500 event in Hamburg last year. One week into this season, he has climbed to 19 in the world and his game is flowing as seamlessly as ever although the faster courts in Melbourne may not be to his preference.

Jack Draper, 21, Great Britain

Draper has gained an increasing awareness of his destructive style of play and how to use it to crush his opponents. He likes to keep things simple – his head down and mind focused, Draper has risen more than 200 places in the past year and as he continues to improve it is only a matter of time before he puts together a big run at the biggest tournaments.


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