Milan | Rublev recovers to win Next Gen opener
It was time to get the real show on the road following the dubious draw ceremony involving models and a catwalk with the new ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan launched into its ground-breaking format which includes the first-to-four games in each set, best-of-five-set matches, no-let rule on serves, no linesmen with HawkEye Live covering them, coach contact allowed via headset between sets, free movement of public during play and a stop-clock on court.
There was some ‘show-time’ with ironically, Alexander Zverev putting on an exhibition match during the break between the two sessions. Zverev, at 20, was eligible to compete in the event but having also qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals next week, elected to play just the O2.
The eight finalists were all under 21 and included a wildcard from Italy, Gianluigi Quinzi who provided the top seeded Andrey Rublev with a surprisingly tough first match.
Quinzi, ranked 306 on the main tour rankings and won Junior Wimbledon in 2013, took early control of the match and while Rublev, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open, levelled and went on to lead two-sets to one.
The Italian though fought back to the delight of the crowd o force a tie-break in the fifth where again his Russian opponent lifted his game to secure a 1-=4 4-0 4-3(3) 04 4-3(3) victory.
Earlier in the day the second seed and world No.45, Karen Khachanov was beaten 2-4 4-3(6) 4-3(3) 4-2 by fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev, the seventh seed.
In Tuesday’s other Group B fixture, fourth seed Borna Coric of Croatia coasted past Jared Donaldson in straight sets, defeating the American 4-3(2) 4-1 4-3(5).
In Group A, Hyeon Chung of South Korea remained patient and composed against the flamboyant third seed, the 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov who stormed into a lead only to be pulled back and be subjected to 1-4 4-3(5) 4-3(4) 4-1 loss.
Another slow start was produced by Borna Coric but the Croat recovered against American Jared Donaldson to dismiss him 4-3(2) 4-1 4-3(5) in 77-minutes.