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Top eight battle for glory in Milan

By Tobi Awodipe
10 November 2021   |   3:00 am
A the world awaits this year’s ATP world tour finals kicking off in Turin next week, under-21 players known as ATPNextGen are already doing battle in Milan, fighting for who will be crowed NextGen star

France’s Hugo Gaston returns a shot to USA’s Sebastian Korda during the Next Generation ATP Finals on November 09, 2021 at the Allianz Cloud venue in Milan. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

The world awaits this year’s ATP world tour finals kicking off in Turin next week, under-21 players known as ATPNextGen are already doing battle in Milan, fighting for who will be crowed NextGen star come Sunday night.

All eyes are on Carlos Alcaraz, Sebastian Korda, Hugo Gaston, Lorenzo Musetti and the rest of the stars at this week’s showdown as history shows that players who compete in the 21-and-under season finale move towards the top of the game very quickly.

Daniil Medvedev is the only player to defeat Novak Djokovic in 28 major matches this season. The Russian’s maiden Grand Slam trophy made him the first champion from his country in New York since Marat Safin 21 years ago. He also became the first Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus to win a major, nearly four years after his debut in Milan.

In the three years the championships have held, many have made huge strides on the main tour with six of the current Top 10 – Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Rublev, Ruud, Sinner and Hurkacz – having contested the event. As fans descend on Milan for the fourth edition, they have ample reason to believe the likes of Alcaraz and Korda could go on to stamp their respective marks as among the sport’s very best.

Medvedev, who reached his first tour-level final in 2017, was the final automatic qualifier for the inaugural edition that year and fell to eventual champion, Hyeon Chung in the semis. He landed his maiden Grand Slam match win that season over World No. 3, Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon.

Like Medvedev, 18-year-old Alcaraz notched his biggest career victory to date over World No. 3, Tstisipas, in the third round of this year’s US Open. A protégé of former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, he already claimed his first title this season in Umag and was one of the first four qualifiers for Milan.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are the two players who have competed in Milan and become Nitto ATP Finals champions; however, Tsitsipas is the only player who has won both titles.

The Greek was an alternate at the 2017 event in Milan but defeated Alex de Minaur for the trophy in 2018. Only 12 months later, he beat Medvedev, Zverev, Federer and Thiem to land the Nitto ATP Finals crown.

In yesterday’s debut, USA’s Brandon Nakashima made an early charge, downing Juan Manuel Cerundolo in four sets whilst Alcaraz defeated Rune in straight sets to move on to the next stage.