As we approach the final two months of the 2022 ATP Tour season, it’s time to check out who we’re buying and selling for the final stretch — and beyond.
Who will thrive the rest of the season and into the future?
And who will fade down the stretch — and possibly into 2023?
We have your answers below. Let’s dive right in.
Buy: Brandon Nakashima
After capturing his first ATP title last week in his hometown San Diego, Nakashima is up to a career-high ranking of 48.
While he dropped just one set in five matches in the tournament, the American was playing elite tennis even before he entered the Barnes Tennis Center in California.
Naka showed out in New York for the US Open, impressing in a second-round, straight-set win over Grigor Dimitrov before taking a set off Jannik Sinner in Round 3. He also reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, defeating Denis Shapovalov in the process.
I’m buying Nakashima now because I believe his upside is even greater.
I truly think he can be the best American tennis player. Yes, yes, I know Frances Tiafoe has beaten him four times (plus he just made the semis of the US Open), Taylor Fritz is ranked No. 12 and Tommy Paul had an excellent summer, but Naka is only 21 years old and has showed an advanced baseline game and elite decision-making skills.
If Nakashima can continue to develop his serve (it has looked a lot better over the last two tournaments), I think he is capable of becoming a top-20 player in no time.
Sell: Lorenzo Sonego
I’m going the opposite way for the other ATP Tour title winner last week. The 27-year-old Italian won Metz (250), failing to drop a single set (!) against Aslan Karastev, Gilles Simon, Sebastian Korda, Hubert Hurkacz and Alexander Bublik.
But let’s be honest, the Italian hasn’t had a great season overall.
He’s under .500 (23-24) in 2022 and had a single top-50 win all season before last week. He was ranked as high as No. 21 in the world in 2021, but there’s no better time to sell his stock than now.
Sonego can get a bit wild at times on both wings, and that’s why his game can be streaky. I’m not going to discredit him for his excellent play in Metz, but I’ll bank on last week being about him catching lightning in a bottle.
Sell: Aslan Karatsev
Karatsev doesn’t have a high stock at this point, but the Russian has just been flat out bad this season. Even though he won a title in Sydney to start the 2022 campaign, Karastev is 15-23 overall and has won more than one match in a tournament just twice since then.
He’s currently on a four-match losing streak, and lost in the first round in two of the three majors he’s competed in during 2022.
Most recently, Karatsev bowed out in the first round of Tel Aviv, losing to No. 87-ranked Tomas Martin Etcheverry in three sets, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.
I wouldn’t want to back him from any perspective moving forward, especially after a match-fixing scandal earlier this year.
He’s also 29 years old, so the career trajectory isn’t there. Plus, players showing zero confidence is a bad, bad sign in an individual, mental-based sport like tennis.
Buy: Juncheng Shang
This one may seem odd, as Shang is not a regular on the ATP Tour. He’s lost all three of his ATP main draw matches this season, and is not a name casual tennis fans have come across yet.
If you follow the Challenger Tour, though, you have a pretty good idea of who Shang is and what his potential is.
First, here’s some background on Shang. He’s a 17-year-old Chinese player who is ranked just inside the top 200. His forehand is potent and his backhand has potential. His serve isn’t the biggest, but his groundstrokes give him an ability to control points despite his young age.
Obviously Shang has a ton of development to go and you can see his youth in a lot of his matches, but I’m buying his stock now while it’s as low as it can get. He’s completely under the radar, and that’s what I like for the purposes of this exercise.
Again, Shang isn’t going to breakout on the ATP Tour this year — or even next year — but the future is there — and is noticeable.
He passes the eye test — I’ve watched multiple matches of his, including his most recent loss to Jordan Thompson.
But most importantly, look at his results this season.
Shang won a Challenger Tour event in Lexington, reached the finals in Granby and won an ITF event in Naples.
His other notable results include:
- Beating Francisco Cerundolo (who is now 27th in the world) in qualifying at Indian Wells
- Playing Soonwoo Kim (who beat Felix Auger Aliassime two weeks ago in the Davis Cup) to three tough sets in Madrid qualifying
- Upsetting Etcheverry in Eastbourne qualifying
- Beating Brandon Holt in Indianapolis qualifying
- Beating Thompson during his Granby run
And these are his losses since the beginning of June:
- Thompson (Ranked 102)
- Gabriel Diallo (Ranked 519) (Came in Final)
- Christopher Eubanks (Ranked 153)
- J.J. Wolf (Ranked 111)
- Thiago Monteiro (Ranked 94)
- Evan Furness (Ranked 223)
Diallo and Furness are tough defeats, but one of those came in a Challenger Tour final. The other losses come to respectable players who play more tour-level events than Shang.
Seriously, watch out for this kid.