Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The 5 relatively-unknown players with the best chance at cracking the top 100 before year's end

*PABLO CARRENO-BUSTA (’91/ESP):  The Spaniard has advanced over 160 ranking spots in 2011 alone. He became a mainstay at the challenger level, winning his first title in Alessandria (Italy) in late May. For the rest of the year, he only has to defend 50 points (thanks to 3 futures finals from 2010), showing he has a lot of room to improve his ranking. He currently sits 183 in the world and is about 225 points away from the 100th spot. Look for him to clinch at least one more challenger title and to win a couple of ATP matches by year’s end.

*JAVIER MARTI (‘92/ESP): Marti is another highly touted Spaniard who has made great strides in 2011. This year he improved his ranking by over 100 spots as of now, and he already won his first ATP level match, a R1 match against Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the Hertogenbosch grass. He also qualified to his first Grand Slam, defeating American Ryan Harrison along the way, before losing to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 5 sets in the first round. Marti has to defend about a third of his points, and more than double his current harvest, but with a bevy of clay challengers in Europe and his track record of consistent improvement I believe it’s possible. It’s probably the longest shot of the 5, but I also believe he’s the one that will have the better career in the long-run.  

*CEDRIC-MARCEL STEBE (‘90/GER): The former ITF No.6 (2008) is having a breakthrough year, holding a 26-9 record and jumping nearly 200 spots in the ranking. He sits at 197 in the world and this week he claimed the best win of his career, defeating Russian Nikolay Davydenko in Stuttgart. Earlier in the year he won back to back futures in Turkey, and he reached his second challenger final in Kyoto, Japan. The young German has to defend only 9 points the rest of the year and is only 250 points out of the top 100. Stebe has shown his versatility, making his way to the Wimbledon main draw from the qualys, and reaching semi-finals in challengers in both clay and hard courts. He also reached the quarter-finals of the Junior US Open so expect him to have a good performance in New York.

*ULADZIMIR IGNATIK (‘90/BLR): The talented player from Belarus has already jumped 70 spots since the end of 2010. Ignatik is a former ITF No.1 back in 2007, when he won the Junior French Open and reached the final at Wimbledon. He won a challenger title in China this year has jumped to 153 in the world. Despite his young age, he is a fixture in the Belarus Davis Cup team, where he’s had mixed results. He has to defend the majority of his points due to a very successful latter part of 2010, but I believe that he will do it. As of right now, he’s about 160 points away from the top 100, and I think his talent and versatility will be enough to get him there, or at least very close.

*KENNY DE SCHEPPER (‘87/FRA): This giant Frenchman has seemingly come out of nowhere. With no junior record to speak of, De Schepper has gone from 726 in the world at the end of 2009 to 144 in the world starting this week. This comes on the heels of winning his first challenger title at Pozoblanco, Spain. De Schepper, who stands at 6’6 (2.02 meters) tall, has been almost unstoppable at the futures level, and also reached the final at another challenger (at home in Quimper in early February). In 2011, he also played his first ATP match, at Wimbledon of all places. He made his way through the qualy before losing in R1 to Olivier Rochus in 5 sets. The lefty only has to defend 50 of his 375 points and seems to be hitting his stride with the win at Pozoblanco. Being 150 points way from the top 100, I believe he’s the one with the best chance of cracking it on this list.


  1. Ignatik is not 5-foot-5. He is at least 6 feet tall.

  2. I havent had the privilege to see him play. Got it from here though:

    I've seen places that say 170 cm and 183 cm. Do you know exactly? Thanks for pointing it out!

  3. Sorry, I don't know exactly. But having interviewed him many times when he was a junior, I can say for certain he is at least 183 cm.

  4. Oh wow cool! I'll fix it as soon as I get a chance. Thank you!