Naomi Osaka stole the headlines for the youth movement at the 2018 US Open, as the 20-year-old proved that her future is now by winning her first Grand Slam title. She now takes over from Jelena Ostapenko, who won the 2017 French Open just days after her 20th birthday, as the youngest active major winner on the WTA Tour.
While Osaka is the shining example from the fortnight, she was far from the only rising star to burn bright under the New York spotlight.
Aryna Sabalenka, also 20, gave the eventual champion her toughest test of the tournament in a three-set fourth-rounder. She previously upset No. 5 Petra Kvitova in straight sets as she continued the summer form that earned her US Open Series Breakout Performer honors and a new career-high ranking of No. 20.
Osaka will rise to a new career-high ranking of No. 7 following her US Open win, moving ahead of both Ostapenko and current No. 11 Daria Kasatkina, who will be the fourth 21-or-younger woman in the post-tournament Top 20.
Though Kasatkina fell to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Round 2, she reached the quarterfinals at both the French Open and Wimbledon, and was in the last 16 in New York one year ago.
While all four of those young women will continue to be major contenders in 2019 and beyond, here’s a look at four even younger players who will be looking to follow in their footsteps:
Marketa Vondrousova (19, Czech Republic): Vondrousova had the best teenage result of the fortnight, and the best Grand Slam run of her young career, as she reached Round 4. The former WTA Top 50 player knocked out two big names, former world No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard and current No. 13 Kiki Bertens, before falling in three sets to Lesia Tsurenko. She won a third-set tiebreak to complete the upset against Bertens in Round 3, but ran out of steam in the Labor Day heat, after taking the first set against Tsurenko.
Sofia Kenin (19, U.S.A.): The Moscow-born American defeated Madison Brengle and No. 32 Maria Sakkari, each in three sets, before falling to No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, 6-4, 7-6, in Round 3. Kenin reached the Top 100 for the first time in March after qualifying for Indian Wells, and will retain her place in the Top 70 after reaching the US Open third round for the second consecutive year.
Vera Lapko (19, Belarus): Lapko made her Grand Slam main-draw debut at Wimbledon, where she also notched her first major victory, and she found herself in the second round again here in New York after defeating Kateryna Bondarenko. Though she was turned back by Elise Mertens in Round 2, she earned a new career high of No. 65.
Amanda Anisimova (17, U.S.A.): The 2017 US Open girls’ singles champion burst onto the pro scene by becoming the youngest player to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells since 2005, defeating No. 9 Petra Kvitova and No. 23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the way. But a right-foot injury stopped her from building on that momentum, as she retired in her opening match at the Miami Open and was sidelined until late July. Anisimova was awarded a wild card into the US Open, but in just the third event since her injury, she struggled in a three-set opening-round loss to compatriot Taylor Townsend.