The last clay Masters 1000 of 2016 was played in Rome with eight ATP Young Guns seeing main draw action.
“Lucky Loser” Lucas Pouille — who qualified for the tournament after compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew with an abductor injury — had the deepest run of the all participating ATP Young Guns. He made it to the semifinals after Juan Monaco, who stunned fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka in three sets, withdrew with a injury on his left side. However, it wasn’t purely luck that brought Pouille to his career-best Masters 1000 appearance. After a grinder three-set win over 2014 French Open semifinalist Ernest Gulbis, the 22-year-old Frenchman stunned ninth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-1. It was Pouille’s second consecutive win over the Spaniard. Due to his deep run in Rome, Pouille jumped a massive 21 spots in the rankings, up to a career-best No. 31.
The Grand-Synthe native has had quite the notable European clay court swing, perhaps the most impressive one of the ATP Young Guns besides Dominic Thiem. He’s currently the highest-ranked ATP Young Gun, perched at No. 15 in the rankings. The 22-year-old stunned nearly everyone after defeating an ailing Roger Federer in straight sets. The Austrian has compiled an impressive 32-10 record this season and be on a steady incline since breaking into the Top 100 in 2014. His rapid climb up the rankings has many wondering if he could be a future No. 1.
With great performances by various ATP Young Guns along the road to Roland Garros, it seems that they are poised to break through and make an impact on the aging tour.