The 2018 season, in terms of youth dominance, was all about 21-year-old Naomi Osaka. Now that she's safely inside the Top 5, let's take a look at six other young players who could make a similar seismic splash in 2019.
The 21-year-old made her debut inside the Top 5 in March, but she's starting the 2019 season ranked No. 22. Though she endured some dips in 2018, she still reached the final in Miami with wins over Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina. Her next highlight was reaching her first Wimbledon semifinal, which marked her deepest Grand Slam run since winning the 2017 French Open.
The 2018 season was a successful comeback campaign after wrist surgery in 2017. The 21-year-old opened her year by winning the Hopman Cup alongside Roger Federer. Bencic then defeated Venus Williams at the Australian Open, and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. The former world No. 7-ranked Swiss reached her first WTA final since 2016, in Luxembourg, before winning an ITF crown in Las Vegas. After ending her 2017 season with a ranking of No. 165, she's up to No. 54.
The American posted a breakout season in 2018, where she briefly broke into the Top 50 after starting her year at No. 108. Kenin reached her first WTA quarterfinal in Auckland before making it to the second round of Indian Wells as a qualifier—a result that propelled her into the Top 100. The 20-year-old reached her first WTA semifinal in Mallorca, followed by her second in Quebec City. The world No. 52 ended her season by making her Fed Cup debut in the final against the Czech Republic.
Even though we didn’t get the win, we all fought till the end and never gave up. I’m so proud to have represented my country this week and to have been a part of this amazing team ????????❤️???????? We all became so close and really happy to share these memories with you @captain_kathy @lisamraymond @danimalcollins @riske4rewards @nmelicha ❤️ I’d also like to thank everyone for supporting me and believe in me, this means so much to me.. Thank you for coming and being here for me ❤️ I’ve had a great year and couldn’t be more proud to have ended my season playing in the Fed Cup Final:) This was an experience I’ll never forget and will remember forever!
The 18-year-old finished 2018 ranked No. 58 with her first WTA title in tow. She made her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open, where she fell in the final round of qualifying. Yastremska reached two ITF $100,000 finals, in Cagnes-Sur-Mer and Ilkley, and won a $60,000 in Rome. She reached the WTA semifinals in Budapest and Luxembourg. In October, the Ukrainian won her first WTA title in Hong Kong, where she defeated Qiang Wang in the final.
The 19-year-old ended 2018 ranked No .72 after reaching a career high of No.50 in March. Her season was highlighted by a fourth round run at the US Open, where she defeated Kiki Bertens, and a semifinal appearance in Gstaad. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round in Stuttgart and Indian Wells, where she took out Johanna Konta in straight sets.
The 17-year-old is the youngest up and comer on this list to watch closely in 2019. Anisimova got a hot streak going with a semifinal run at the Indian Wells 125k. At the Premier Mandatory Indian Wells the next week, the world No. 92-ranked American defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Petra Kvitova in straight sets to reach the fourth round. She made her first appearance in a WTA final in September in Hiroshima after coming back from a foot injury that sidelined her for four months.
Those are the young faces to watch in the new season, but expect plenty more to challenge for the spotlight.