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Milan | Tsitsipas gets the ball rolling

Milan | Tsitsipas gets the ball rolling

The ATP’s Next Gen Finals which are played under experimental rules with shortened matches, no let calls, coaching via headphones during changeovers, and ball-kids relieved of ‘towel duty’ amongst the changes, got underway in Milan on Tuesday with a mixture of experienced players and relatively unknown ones playing in two round robin groups with the top two qualifying for the weekend’s final stages.

One thing that I didn’t like that much was the towel rule. I had to run for the towel which was always on my mind when I was playing. The rest was pretty okay. I am not a big fan of the coaching rule on the court, to be honest. I think a player should find solutions by himself. Stefanos Tsitsipas

And, as the event’s title implies, the field consists of the best top eight players aged 21 or under.

Favourite for this year’s title, the second edition of the event, Stefanos Tsitsipas the 21-year-old Greek world No.15, opened the proceedings for Group A against Spain’s Jaume Munar and completed his expected win after one-hour and 52-minutes 4-3(5) 4-3(3) 3-4(4 4-2 in what proved a tight contest between two players of vastly differing experience.

“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 commented after the match.

“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.”

As regards the experimental rules he added: “One thing that I didn’t like that much was the towel rule. I had to run for the towel which was always on my mind when I was playing. The rest was pretty okay. I am not a big fan of the coaching rule on the court, to be honest. I think a player should find solutions by himself.”

He will meet a much more experienced adversary in his second match, the American Frances Tiafoe who is also looking to make two wins from two matches after he beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 4-1 4-2 2-4 4-3(10).

“With this format things can get close quite quick. I like the rules but things were moving quick. The only rule I don’t like is the towel rack, especially as we are going pretty quick. I walk pretty slow, so I knew I could not get quite there so I had some time violations. I don’t know what the other guys have said, but I need the ball boys to get the towel for me – but I am having fun,” said Tiafoe.

Andrey Rublev, making his second appearance in Milan having reached the final last year, came through a five-setter to beat Taylor Fritz with the Russian scoring a 4-2 1-4 3-4(4) 4-3(2) 4-2 win.

“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.”

He will battle Alex De Minaur for top spot in Group B in his second match after the Australian secured a 4-1 4-1 4-2 win over the Italian wildcard Liam Caruana in just 56-minutes in the late match.

“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.”

 






About The Author

Henry Wancke

Henry Wancke is one of the most respected Tennis writers in the UK. Henry is the Editor of both Tennis Threads Magazine and tennisthreads.net. He previously worked as Editor of Tennis World, Serve & Volley as well as Tennis Today magazines and been stringer for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and Press Association. He also co-authored the Ultimate Encyclopaedia of Tennis with John Parsons published by Carlton, and the Federation Cup – the first 32 years, published by the ITF. Currently he is the Secretary of the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association and Hon Vice President of the Tennis Industry Association UK.

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