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The future's bright...

Nick Kyrgios raises his arm as he leaves Centre Court
Sunday 6 July 2014

The 2014 gentlemen's singles final may have been contested by two players with age and experience under their belts, but this year's Championships have shown us who's waiting in the wings. 

Grigor Dimitrov

Like so many of his spellbinding, sprawling rallies over The Fortnight, Dimitrov has taken the long route to the top but the results have been nothing short of spectacular.

The Bulgarian will break the top 10 thanks to his run to the semi-finals, collecting his first Grand Slam victory against a top-10 opponent by dismantling defending champion Andy Murray in the last eight, then cementing that by pushing Novak Djokovic far futher than fellow semi-final debutant Milos Raonic could manage against Roger Federer.

With Roger Rasheed in his corner, the 23-year-old is finally living up to a billing that has been more of a curse than a blessing over the past five years – and with a new-found steeliness, court acumen and physique, this is surely just the start.

Nick Kyrgios

Few players have arrived on Centre Court with more swagger than 19-year-old Kyrgios did in the fourth round to face Rafael Nadal – and fewer still have backed it up with such a bombastic display of ball-striking and bravado.

Proud owner of Shot of The Championships for his nonchalant through-the-legs forehand winner against the two-time Wimbledon champion, the Australian understandably ran out of steam against Milos Raonic a day later.

Nevertheless, Kyrgios leaves the All England Club with a top-100 ranking, an explosion in his Twitter followers and a cheque that doubles his career prize money. And to think that this time last month he had fallen in the first round of a Nottingham Challenger.

Jeremy Chardy

For years the Frenchman has been overshadowed by compatriots Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils, but Chardy had the measure of them all at The Championships, just reward for redoubling his efforts under new coach Magnus Tideman.

Since teaming up in the US last summer, Chardy has spent more time on the practice court than ever before and is now reaping the rewards – having won 24 matches in 2012 and 22 last year, he is already through the 20-match barrier in 2014 in July, notching a win over Roger Federer in the process.

With his serve greatly improved and fitter than he’s looked in years, Chardy will be one to avoid on the US hard courts this summer...

Marin Cilic

...as will the man who ended his run in the last 16.

Rating a former Grand Slam semi-finalist as one to watch may seem a little simplistic, but he must be considered in the context of Cilic’s past 12 months.

He left Wimbledon under a cloud in 2013, only for it to emerge later that he had commited a doping offence, albeit inadvertedly according to the ITF’s decision on the matter.

A backdated nine-month ban followed, and the absence convinced Cilic that the only thing to do was to come back stronger. He hired Goran Ivanisevic, sharpened his serve and won titles in Delray Beach and Zagreb.

His run to the quarter-finals, where he took Djokovic to five sets, is his best Wimbledon performance to date and will propel him back towards his career-high No.9 ranking.

Jiri Vesely

While Kyrgios was making a name for himself with a five-set second-round win against Richard Gasquet on No.2 Court, next door on Court 12 Vesely was powering his way to a hard-fought five-set victory against Gael Monfils.

At 6’6” and set to turn 21 just days after The Championships, the Wimbledon debutant proved to be well equipped to mix it with the big boys, even if he did fall short with a far flatter performance against the Australian in the next round.

Having learned his trade largely on the Challenger Tour to date – warming up for Wimbledon with back-to-back clay court final appearances in the Czech Republic – the ATP World Tour now surely beckons.

Jack Sock

Now a two-time Grand Slam champion following his gentlemen’s doubles victory alongside Vasek Pospisil, Sock has long had all the attributes to make an impression on the top 50 – the challenge now will be to translate the high of his Cinderella run into singles success.

Bowing out to semi-finalist Raonic in straight sets might have been the best thing for him in some ways – the Canadian is a fine role model for how to maximise the impact of a huge serve and forehand against the best the game has to offer.

Patience and composure will be top of the list for Sock, but confidence shouldn’t be a problem for the next few weeks. 

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