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NEXT GEN ATP Finals 2018.

Staff forge for adult tournaments

The final youth tennis tournament NEXT GEN ATP Finals 2018 was held in Milan from 6 to 10 November. It was attended by 8 of the best tennis players under 21 inclusive. The favorites were Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, Australian Alex de Minaur and Russian Andrey Rublev. As a result, they took the first three places, although these victories were given to them very difficult.

First, the German athlete Alexander Zverev and Canadian Denis Shapovalov were declared for the tournament, but Alexander was removed from this tournament for the second time for a very good reason - he was selected for the final adult ATP tournament in London (last year he was third, now the fifth), and did not want spend strength on the youth tournament. And Denis Shapovalov refused because of fatigue.

Alex de Minor took second place

Alex de Minaur took second place, photo © Evgeny Utkin

This only gave more intrigue in the tournament, where all players were fairly even (world rating from 15 to 80), and the results were less predictable. Perhaps it was only easier to play with Italian Liam Caruana (Wild card, 622).

The players were divided into two groups, A and B. In the first one, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (15 ATP), was immediately distinguished. Stefanos (or Stepan, he has a Russian mother and coach Yulia Salnikova) - a very original player, as they say, is very similar in style to Roger Federer. He completed the games in Group A with three wins, while all his contenders won only one match each. So the second player in the group was determined by the best difference of sets. It turned out to be the Spaniard Jaume Munar (7, 80), who bypassed American Frances Tiafoe (3, 44) and Pole Hubert Hurkacz (6, 79).

Jaume Munar

Jaume Munar, photo © Evgeny Utkin

In group B was notices Australian Alex de Minaur (2, 33). He also won all three matches. By the way, Alex de Minaur is the youngest athlete in the tournament, and he made the biggest take-off in a year (rising by about 200 positions in the adult ATP ranking). Therefore, they predict a bright future to him. Russian Andrey Rublev won 2 matches, the match with American Taylor Fritz (4, 49) was especially dramatic, which took 5 sets.

Fritz won only one match against Caruana. Caruana lost all matches. Andrey Rublev was one of the victory's contender, because he was the only participant of last year’s tournament, and he played there in the final and lost to South Korean representative Chun Hyun. In addition, Andrey has the strongest serve, a huge potential, but not enough stability (and he had an injury).

Taylor Fritz

Taylor Fritz, photo © nextgenfinals

The semifinals turned out to be very tense, at both it took 5 sets. Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Andrey Rublev, and only at tie-break. At some point, Tsitsipas became so nervous that he smashed his headphones, his hand into the blood - but then he calmed down. In another semi-final, Alex de Minaur defeated Jaume Munar.

The final matches took place on Saturday. Andrey Rublev knocked out the “bronze”, at tie-break of the fifth set, beating Jaume Munar. About the drama of the match can says score - 1: 4, 4: 3 (7: 4), 2: 4, 4: 2, 4: 3 (7: 3) - and statistics. Rublev 10 times made aces, made 7 double faults. Munar made 15 aces, not a single fault on the serve. Rublev realized only 2 break points out of 12 possible, Munar implemented 3 breaks out of 8 possible. And despite such statistics, Andrey won. And he received 116 thousand dollars in prize money.

Andrey Rublev (left) and Evgeny Utkin (right)

Andrey Rublev (left) and Evgeny Utkin (right), photo © Evgeny Utkin

In the final, Tsitsipas beat Alex de Minaur in four sets with a score of 2: 4, 4: 1, 4: 3 (7: 3), 4: 3 (7: 3). Tsitsipas made 10 aces, did not make a single double fault and realized one break-point of 8. De Minaur made 4 aces, one fault in the serve and one realized break of three. Tsitsipas earned a little more than 400 thousand dollars in prize money.

It is worth telling about the new rules that were introduced last year at this tournament. In particular, the match is played not from three, but from five sets, but they are played not up to 6 won games, but only up to 4. With the score 3: 3 a tie-break is assigned. With the score 40:40, the decisive point in the game is played immediately (no-ad). This greatly reduces the match time.

Stephanos Tsitsipas won the tournament

Stephanos Tsitsipas won the tournament, photo © nextgenfinals

In addition, no more than five minutes are given for a warm-up before the match from the moment that the second player arrives, no more than 25 seconds to prepare to serve, no more than one medical timeout per game for the player. The game does not stop when you touch the rope at the serve. Linear judges have disappeared, only electronics helps the referee on the tower. The boys, who served towels to the players, also disappeared, but this is already a trifle compared to the enormous changes listed above. Who knows which of these innovations will take root in adult tournaments?

But without a doubt, the participants of this tournament will soon compete with the leaders of world tennis, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Evgeny Utkin, Milan, Italy