In the week ending 14th October, seven players reached new career highs in the ATP rankings. Borna Coric continued his inexorable progress towards the top ten, while Marco Cecchinato made an unlikely bow in the top twenty. Yet perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the ranking changes is that three of those seven players reaching career bests are Australian. Alex de Minaur, John Millman and Matt Ebden have reaped the rewards from extremely consistent seasons, giving Australian fans lots to look forward to when they host the first Grand Slam of 2019.
De Minaur’s rise to 31 is perhaps the least surprising of the three, although the speed at which he has developed has been startling. The teenager burst onto the ATP tour at the start of 2018, with a semi-final in Brisbane and a final in Sydney turning a relative unknown into the name on everyone’s lips. De Minaur has continued his progress at an impressive rate, with Denis Shapovalov the only other teenager to have had comparable success in 2018.
Despite arriving at the Australian Open in a fine vein of form, de Minaur lost in the first round in a respectable defeat to the experience and class of Tomas Berdych. De Minaur will be keen to make more of an impression in 2019’s tournament, with a likely seeding aiding his cause. The latest tennis odds place de Minaur at 125/1 with bet365 to win the Australian Open, although this price will be far shorter in years to come if de Minaur delivers on his huge promise.
Nick Kyrgios is sixth favourite as of 16th October to win the Australian Open, with odds of 18/1 a judgement on how Kyrgios can beat anyone on his day. Those days have been scarce this year, with Kyrgios likely to lose his crown as top Australian to de Minaur in the end-of-year rankings. Kyrgios’ decline has been much slower than his similarly volatile compatriot Bernard Tomic, who has become a regular on the Challenger Tour as he seeks to recapture his form.
Kyrgios and Tomic have courted controversy frequently in their career, but the new Australians making waves in the rankings are a different class of player. John Millman is frequently regarded as one of the nicest and most dedicated professionals on the tour, with the 29-year-old reaching a new high of 33 in the rankings. While Millman may not have the natural flair of a Kyrgios, he is a difficult man to dispose of. Roger Federer found this out the hard way, falling to Millman in a stunning defeat in the US Open’s round-of-sixteen.
Ebden may not have a spectacular victory to define his 2018, but he has enjoyed an incredibly solid year to climb the rankings. The 30-year-old has breached the top 40 for the first time as a result of his consistency. Winning the Busan Challenger helped, while Ebden will reflect on a victory over Dominic Thiem on the way to a Shanghai quarter-final as another highlight. This strength in depth has developed at the perfect time, with players arriving at the Australian Open on a high. While an Australian may not take the title this year, the future of Australian tennis is looking increasingly bright.