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Talented Bulgarian Adrian Andreev got a chance to write a small chapter of ATP history, becoming the first player born in 2001 who played in the main draw of an ATP tournament. Reigning Eddie Herr champion fought well against Denis Istomin but his journey had to end in the opening round, gathering some nice experience that will help in his development in the years to come.This is a nice occasion to remember all the players who were the leaders of their generation in the ATP tournaments, starting from 1980 and Marat Safin.
Of course, it has to be said that this doesn't necessarily have to indicate a successful career or a super talented player but it is nice to see the list and some big players on it. Players who made the first appearance in ATP tournament per generations:
↓ SHOW RANK ↓
1980: Marat Safin (Moscow 1997) 1981: Lleyton Hewitt (Australian Open 1997) 1982: Pedro Leao (Estoril 1999) 1983: Sunil Kumar (Chennai 2000) 1984: Dennis Peschek (Umag 2000) 1985: Guillermo Hormazabal (Vina Del Mar 2002) 1986: Richard Gasquet (Monte Carlo 2002) 1987: Ervin Eleskovic (Bastad 2004) 1988: Marin Cilic (Umag 2005) 1989: Donald Young (San Jose 2005) 1990: Gastao Elias (Estoril 2006) 1991: Grigor Dimitrov (s'Hertogenbosch 2008) 1992: Ryan Harrison (Houston 2008) 1993: Jason Kubler (Australian Open 2010) 1994: Jabor Al-Mutawa (Doha 2012) 1995: Nick Kyrgios (Roland Garros 2013) 1996: Christian Garin (Vina del Mar 2013) 1997: Alexander Zverev (Hamburg 2013) 1998: Stefan Kozlov (Newport 2013) 1999: Marvin Moeller (Hamburg 2016) 2000: Rudolf Molleker (Hamburg 2017) 2001: Adrian Andreev (Sofia 2018)
As we already said, our first player is Marat Safin who had a meteoric rise through the rankings, becoming the US Open champion at the age of 20. Safin didn't spend too much time on ITF junior circuit, carving his professional journey on Satellites in 1995 and 1996, and he made a Challenger debut in July 1997 in Scheveningen when he reached the semi-final. He won the title in Espinho and this was a clear signal to the organizers of ATP tournament in Moscow to give the 17-year-old the main draw wild card, making an ATP debut for the players born in 1980. Marat was beaten by Kenneth Carlsen in the first round, dropping the third set tie break, but he bounced back to win 17 matches on the Tour in 1998, entering the top 50 for the first time.
Another amazing player had a chance to make the first step on the Tour before any of his coevals, and that's Lleyton Hewitt, making a debut at the Australian Open in 1997. He was still 15 but he qualified for the main draw and lost to Sergi Bruguera in straight sets, kicking off his career on a big scene and within a few years he became a Grand Slam champion and the youngest world number 1. Portuguese Pedro Leao used the fact he came from a small tennis nation that hosts ATP event, making his ATP debut in Estoril in 1999 and never playing on the Tour again! In fact, he won just one Challenger match in his career, ending it in 2003 when he realized that tennis is probably not the smartest job that he could do for a living. Another anonymous player was the first from 1983 generation who had the opportunity to make an ATP debut, Sunil Kumar from India.
Kumar's tennis life lasted for about a month, playing two Challengers at the end of 1999 and in Chennai in 2000 before he decided to stay away from the court even before turning 17. Some solid players were born in 1984 but it was the German Denis Peschek who played the first match in the ATP tournament before Mario Ancic, Gilles Simon, Robin Soderling or Janko Tipsarevic. He received a wild card in Umag at the age of 16 and that was his only match on the ATP Tour. In fact, Peschek never won a match above Satellites level and this list is the only for what we should remember him. Chilean Guillermo Hormazabal stole the thunder before Tomas Berdych, Nicolas Almagro or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, making a debut for 1985 generation at home in Vina del Mar in 2002. He received a wild card just before turning 17 but he lost to Markus Hipfl in the opening round, winning just three games.
After four unknown players, the next competitor on the list is a familiar name, making his first ATP appearance in Monte Carlo 2002. Richard Gasquet was one of the most promising youngsters in the first years of the new millennium and he showed it in Monte Carlo as well, beating Franco Squillari 7-6 3-6 7-5 to score his first ATP win at the age of 15! Just a few weeks later, Rafael Nadal played his first ATP match at home in Mallorca and they continued to push the boundaries that were unmatched for any of their coevals.
One could have expected Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray as the first player born in 1987 with an ATP match, but it was Ervin Eleskovic who did that before them in Bastad 2004. He was just 17 when he was given this opportunity but he couldn't use it properly, losing to Jarkko Nieminen 6-0 6-2 in 55 minutes and he scored just two wins on the Tour, never entering the Top 350. Marin Cilic led the 1988 generation and he got a wild card in Umag in 2005 at the age of 16, losing to Kristof Vlieneg in straight sets.
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