MILAN, November 7 , 2018
The ATP World Tour’s brightest young stars are in Milan for the second edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals. The #NextGenATP campaign began at the BNP Paribas Open on 8 March 2016, shining a light on 21-and-under players rising up the ATP Rankings. Seven of the eight men in Milan are in the Top 100, led by No. 1 seed and World No. 15 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.
The top favourite opened his campaign with a 4-3(5), 4-3(3), 3-4(4), 4-2 win over No. 8 seed Jaume Munar of Spain in Group A. The 20-year-old Greek star, who was an alternate in last year’s tournament, has compiled a 41-27 record, highlighted by his first ATP World Tour title in Stockholm and runner-up finishes in Barcelona and ATP Masters 1000 Toronto. Tsitsipas converted two of his eight break points chances to prevail after one hour and 52 minutes.
“It was very stressful from the beginning of the match. Every point counts. You can get broken any moment. So there was a lot of stress, many tie-breaks,” Tsitsipas said. “Great performance. Going to try to work on my serve in my next match and… grab my opportunity a little earlier because I didn’t do so today.”
In the next match on, a Group B contest featured No. 4 seed Taylor Fritz from the United States against No. 5 Andrey Rublev of Russia, who is the only returning player from last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals tournament. Rublev, who peaked at a personal-best World No. 31 in February and is No. 68 this week, emerged victorious 4-2, 1-4, 3-4(4), 4-3(2), 4-2 in one hour and 55 minutes.
“I played really well for this first match and I’m really happy because I beat such a great player, especially since the last time I lost against him,” Rublev said. “I’m really happy with my first match.”
Tiafoe, De Minaur successful
In Tuesday’s evening session Group A action, No. 3 seeded US-American Frances Tiafoe defeated No. 6 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland for the second time this season. In August, the 20-year-old won in the second round of his hometown tournament in Washington, D.C. Tiafoe captured his first ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach in February and also was runner-up in Estoril. The World No. 40 secured a 4-1, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3(10) victory in one hour and 22 minutes.
In the final match in Group B, No. 2 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia beat Italian wild card and No. 8 seed Liam Caruana, who also lost to the Aussie in a 2015 junior match in Brazil, 4-1, 4-2, 4-2. The 19-year-old de Minaur is the youngest player in the field and he is a two-time finalist on the ATP World Tour this season in Sydney and Washington. He is ranked a career-high No. 31. The encounter lasted 55 minutes.
“It was fun. The whole week I was really looking forward to playing with this new format and it was great,” De Minaur said. “I actually didn’t feel too much of a difference. I enjoyed every second out there. The atmosphere was great and I couldn’t think of a better way to start.”