Just over a week ago, American Brandon Nakashima became the fifth winner of the prestigious Nexgen finals, an event running in the lead up to the ATP finals.
The honour board is turning into an impressive one and not surprisingly it has been a great launching pad for a generation of stars.
All four previous winners went on to improve their rankings significantly in the next year, all performed strongly in slams in their next season and all of them would beat a player ranked in the top 5 within 6 months of claiming the title.
Nakashima, currently ranked 49 in the world is tipped to be one of the big movers in 2023 as tennis shapes up for the changing of the guard which is creeping closer.
History certainly looks kindly on the American’s chances based on those that have either won or gone close to winning the Nexgen finals in recent years.
Below is a rundown of who won and who was present in the fast paced, almost T20 version of tennis that has helped fast track and, in many cases, confirm the status of some elite talent.
The first winner of the Nexgen finals was talented but luckless South Korean Hyeon Chung, who has been cursed on tour in the past three years.
Chung defeated Rublev (twice), Medvedev and Shapovalov on the way to the title that year.
He started 2018 by making the quarter-finals in Auckland before a brilliant run to the Australian Open semis which included a win over Novak Djokovic and another over Sasha Zverev.
He would reach quarter-finals in Miami, Indian Wells and Stockholm, peaking at No.21 in the world with wins over Hurkacz, Berrettini and Fritz during the season.
Unfortunately, injuries have ruined his career, with a solid US Open run in 2019 almost the last time we’ve seen him.
He hasn’t played singles since September of 2020, with a recent return to doubles action an encouraging sign.
YEAR AFTER WINNING NEXGEN: 29-18 (62%) 1 TITLE (RANKING MOVE: 55-23)
Tsitsipas had lifted his ranking from 91 at the start of the year to 15 by the time the finals rolled around. He would defeat Rublev, Tiafoe, Hurkacz and De Minaur on the way to the crown.
Just like Chung, he would reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open in his very next slam event, eliminating Federer in the same fashion as Chung had rolled Novak.
Tsitsipas has never been ranked lower than the 15 he was leading into that event and has been in the top 10 every week for 4 years.
A year after winning the Nexgen finals, he won the ATP finals.
YEAR AFTER WINNING NEXGEN: 54-25 (68%) 3 ATP TITLES – Ranking move (15-6)
2019-PRESENT: 198-81 (71%) 8 TITLES, CURRENT RANK: 3
2019- JANNIK SINNER
Sinner hadn’t spiked as rapidly as Tsitsipas had during the year leading in, hitting the event at 95 in the world having only just entered the top 100 for the first time.
He would defeat a slightly lesser field, with Tiafoe and De Minaur the pick of the bunch, with his straight sets’ demolition of the Aussie in the final the most impressive performance possibly in the events history.
12 months later his ranking would be 44, and he’d spend the next 2 years inside the top 15, having reached 4 grand slam quarter finals.
YEAR AFTER WINNING NEXGEN: 20-14 (59%) RANKING MOVE (95-44)
SINCE 2020 (116-52) 68%
CURRENT RANK: 12
2020- NO EVENT DUE TO COVID
Few players have made an impression on the tennis world as quickly as Carlos Alcaraz.
If not for injury he would be a key pillar in the ATP finals currently underway and would be a very real chance of winning it.
Alcaraz would beat Rune, Nakashima and Korda on route to the title last year and would drop only 1 set throughout (to Cerundolo in the second round).
His ranking had jumped from 114 to 32 in the 6 months prior to the finals and it has never been lower in the time since.
He had already reached a US Open quarter-final by the time the Nexgen event rolled around.
Alcaraz would lose a 5-set epic in the third round of the 2022 Australian Open before reaching the quarters at the French Open and winning a maiden grand slam title at the US Open.
He hit number 1 in the world within 10 months of the Nexgen finals and has won 5 ATP titles in the last year.
YEAR AFTER WINNING NEXGEN: 57-13 (81%) 5 ATP TITLES – Ranking move (32-1)
Nakashima had wins over Lehecka (twice) and Draper from this year’s run to the title. Having reached the semi-finals last year, the American went a step further and in the process has entered the top 50 for the first time.
YEAR AFTER WINNING NEXGEN: TBC
THE BEATEN PACK
Others to play in the finals without winning, who have kicked on to positions in the top 20
Hurkacz, De Minaur, Rune, Rublev, Medvedev, Berrettini and other talented prospects like Draper and Korda.