2018 Year in Review:
Arthur Kapetanakis | December 19, 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, USTA.com is taking a look back at the Top 15 storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Now up, we look at the success of the next generation of American talent at the professional level.
The American youth movement gained steam in 2018, with five players aged 21 or younger finishing in the year-end Top 100 across the ATP and WTA. The rising stars – Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Sofia Kenin and Amanda Anisimova, five of a world-leading 22 Americans to end the year in the Top 100 – earned their stripes with big-time breakthroughs, signaling the emergence of a new generation in American tennis. Michael Mmoh and Whitney Osuigwe also made waves in 2018, with the Top 100 firmly in their sights.
Tiafoe, who finished the year as the ATP’s No. ADVERTISEMENT 39-ranked man, won his first career Tour-level title at the Delray Beach Open, in his home state of Florida, to become the youngest American to win an ATP event since Andy Roddick in 2002. The recipient of a late wild card, the 20-year-old took out Juan Martin del Potro, Hyeon Chung and Denis Shapovalov on the way to the winner’s circle in February. After a career-best major run to Round 3 at Wimbledon, Tiafoe secured his first career US Open victory and, soon after, made his Davis Cup debut in the semifinals against Croatia.
Fritz, 21, put together a consistent year, highlighted by a third-round performance at the US Open and a place in the last 16 at Indian Wells. A title at the Newport Beach Challenger in January, not far from his Southern California home, set the stage for the best year of his young career. Alongside Tiafoe, he ended his campaign at the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan.
Opelka, also 21, cracked the ATP’s Top 100 for the first time in his young career behind three ITF Challenger titles, two final runs and a quartet of semifinal appearances. He also reached the quarters at Delray Beach. The 20-year-old Michael Mmoh, who won two Challenger crowns of his own, also broke into the Top 100 for the first time in 2018, finishing the year at No. 103.
Twenty-year-old Sofia Kenin led the women’s charge, competing in the singles main draw at all four Grand Slams for the first time in her career, and reaching the third round at the US Open for the second straight year. The WTA’s year-end No. 52, she also reached the third round as a Miami Open qualifier and scored her fourth career ITF title at the $60,000 event in Berkeley, Calif. Her 2018 campaign ended with a Fed Cup debut, as she represented Team USA in the final against the Czech Republic.
Ansimova, 17, may well have joined Kenin near the Top 50, had a foot injury not kept her out of competition for four months. Prior to her hiatus, Anisimova notched her first career Top-10 victory (over Petra Kvitova) en route to the Round of 16 at Indian Wells, in March. The 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, who ended 2017 as the ITF's world No. 1 junior, finished her first full professional season just outside the Top 200 and capped the year by winning the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, behind her first career ITF title at the $80,000 event in Tyler, Texas.
For more American tennis highlights from 2018, be sure to check out our Year in Review page here.