April 1, 2020

The Best of 2020 -- Some Surprising Shout Outs

Hi everyone! Welcome to the second edition of my #SociallyDistanced "Best of 2020" list -- the players who've caught my eye in the few weeks of the tennis season we've had so far.

After all, with Wimbledon officially cancelled this year -- for the first time since World War II -- and tennis now on hold until at least mid-July, there's not a ton of live action to speak of. So why not look back on what's already happened this season. And there have been some highlights.

So coming in at #4 on my list are a man and woman who you might not expect to see in these countdowns, but they've both pulled off some solid wins this year and show promise to rise even higher whenever we get back on court. They may not have established themselves as consistent threats just yet, but hopefully that day is not too far in the future.

The Men: Tommy Paul

Age: 22
Current Ranking: #57
Title(s): None yet

I've said it before, but I'd been a little absent from the game for a few years before this season started -- great time to get back in, right? So I had never heard of Tommy Paul before this season. Since winning the French Open Juniors title in 2015, the American had spent the vast majority of his career on the Challengers Tour and trying to qualify for ATP events. He had to prove himself to start 2020 too, but made it to the semis as a qualifier in Adelaide with wins over Pablo Cuevas and Albert Ramos.

His more impressive wins, though, came after that -- he outlasted Grigor Dimitrov in a nail-biting second round at the Austalian Open and stunned Alexander Zverev a few weeks later in Acapulco -- the first top ten win on his resume. Now he's at a career high ranking, and while he still lags many of his fellow Americans, he seems to be on the rise. And I'd love to see him make a big run on the other side.

The Women: Ekaterina Alexandrova

Age: 25
Current Ranking: #27
Title(s): Shenzhen

The Russian is a little further along in her development than Paul, getting seeded at a Slam for the first time at this year's Australian Open. She was riding a pretty impressive win streak into that event too, winning a 125K tournament in Limoges to end the 2019 season and claiming her maiden WTA trophy in Shenzhen to start this year. For that win, she'd claimed victories over eventual Melbourne runner-up Garbiñ Muguruza and a red-hot Elena Rybakina. Alexandrova had some nice results after that too -- a win over Donna Vekic (and a walkover by Petra Kvitova) got her to the semis in St. Petersburg and earned her a career high ranking at #25 back in February.

She's a little older than most of the players on my list, but she still seems to have a lot of potential that she's just coming into now. And hopefully we'll get to see it come to fruition soon.

There's still more to come in by "Best of 2020" list, so check in soon. But in the meantime, check out who else made the cut here!

And here's today's #TennisAtHome moment:

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