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Rooftop Rally Stars Attend Next Gen ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

It has been some journey for two Italian youngsters since they captured the attention of the world during the peak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Vittoria, 14, and Carola, 12, took to their rooftops in Finale Ligure, Italy, to play tennis since courts were closed, and it has been a whirlwind ever since.

After becoming internet sensations, they met Roger Federer and then visited the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar earlier this year. Now they are in Milan attending the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

The girls spent Monday evening playing with #NextGenATP Argentine Sebastian Baez – who is competing in Milan – at the Allianz Cloud and will watch play at the 21-and-under event. It is an experience the pair are thoroughly enjoying.

“It was so strange playing with him [Baez] because he is a champion,” Vittoria told “It is amazing for us to play with him. We are really happy. It is different here to play without the tramlines, though! It felt smaller.”

Italian Lorenzo Musetti is making his debut in Milan and will carry home hopes as he aims to replicate countryman Jannik Sinner’s 2019 title run. Vittoria and Carola are big fans of the 19-year-old and are excited to watch him.

“Musetti is our favourite player because he is from Italy and I also like Sebastian Korda, he is great,” Vittoria added. “We are just really happy to be here because it is our first time in Milan.”

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Tiafoe Passes Tricky Stockholm Test

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

Eighth seed Frances Tiafoe levelled out after a late wobble against home favourite Elias Ymer at the Stockholm Open on Monday, edging through to win 6-4, 7-6(2) and reach second round.

Tiafoe recently took down Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to his biggest final at the ATP 500 in Vienna (l. to Zverev), but arrived in the Swedish capital looking to shake off an early exit at the Rolex Paris Masters. He wasted no time getting back in action, winning 79 per cent (41/52) of first-serve points and saving seven of the nine break points he faced in his first meeting against Ymer. 


Wild card Ymer, 25, sits at No. 167 in the FedEx ATP Rankings – but he pushed the No. 41 American to the edge after Tiafoe raced through the first set. 

Tiafoe was in full flight as he won 94 per cent (16/17) of points behind his own first serve, including a 42-second service game in the early exchanges. With the Swedish crowd willing him on, the Stockholm native took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but he couldn’t halt Tiafoe as the American closed out the match in a tie-break.

The eighth seed will next face the winner of Spain’s Pedro Martinez or Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov also features at the ATP 250 event, and he will start his campaign in Stockholm against Andrea Vavassori. The Italian defeated fellow qualifier Pavel Kotov 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.

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From #NextGenATP To Top 10 Talent, Who'll Graduate From Class of 2021?

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

Keep your eyes on Carlos Alcaraz, Sebastian Korda and the rest of the stars at this week’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. History shows that players who compete in the 21-and-under season finale move towards the top of the game 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 that the championships for the best 21-and-under players has been held, many have already made huge strides on the ATP Tour. Six of the current Top 10 – Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz – have contested the event.

And as fans prepare to 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 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals that year and fell to eventual champion Hyeon Chung in the semi-finals. He landed his maiden Grand Slam match win that season over World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon.

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

“Carlos is an amazing player,” Medvedev said after he defeated the teenager in their only prior ATP Head2Head meeting in the second round at Wimbledon this year. “Grass is definitely not his best surface, but he was giving it all there. Of course [in the] second and third sets, maybe the gap was too high. But I’m sure he’s going to be sooner or later in the Top 10 and maybe even higher.”

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are the two players who have competed in Milan and become a Nitto ATP Finals champion. 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, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem to land the Nitto ATP Finals crown.

Tsitsipas has since soared as high as World No. 3 in a career-best season, which includes his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo and his maiden Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. World No. 6 Rublev was the only player to compete in the first two editions in Milan, finishing runner-up in 2017 and in third place in 2018.

The 24-year-old has since won a tour-leading five titles in 2020 and reached his first two Masters 1000 finals this season in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati. He also clinched an Olympic mixed doubles gold medal with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Ruud has made a habit of passing his father’s previous benchmarks for Norwegian tennis in 2021 and has surged from World No. 27 to his current mark of World No. 8 after his fifth title of the season at San Diego. Ruud competed in Milan two years ago.

In less than two years, Sinner has gone from Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion to the Top 10, following his run to the semi-finals in Vienna and on the heels of his fourth title of the season in Antwerp. In 2019, he became the first Italian wild card to win a match in Milan and went all the way to the title with victory over De Minaur.

Poland’s Hurkacz, like Ruud, will make his Nitto ATP Finals debut in 2021. The last automatic qualifier for Milan in 2018, Hurkacz cracked the Top 10 in October this year as a result of three titles, including his first Masters 1000 trophy in Miami.

This year’s competitors have earned a commendable achievement by reaching Milan. And history shows the future will be even brighter.

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Showtime! Stars Ready To Shine In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

The stars of the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals are ready for the big show at the Allianz Cloud.

Following the arrival of Denmark’s Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, who won an ATP Challenger Tour event in Bergamo on Sunday, all eight players are now in Milan for the 21-and-under season finale. They took the official photo for the 2021 edition on centre court Monday afternoon.

Carlos Alcaraz, Brandon Nakashima, Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Rune are in Group A, while Sebastian Korda, Lorenzo Musetti, Sebastian Baez and Hugo Gaston are in Group B.

The action begins Tuesday, with the standout talents trying to join Hyeon Chung, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner as tournament champions. Play starts at 2 p.m. when Nakashima faces Cerundolo.

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Hurkacz Surges For Nitto ATP Finals Spot, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

7th Hubert Hurkacz, +3
The Pole started the Rolex Paris Masters 60 points outside of the final automatic qualification spot for the Nitto ATP Finals. But with a run to the semi-finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic, Hurkacz rose three spots to seventh position in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin and secured his place at the 14-21 November season finale.

View Latest FedEx ATP Race To Turin Standings

3rd Alexander Zverev, +1
The German moved up one place to third after he advanced to the Paris semi-finals (l. to Medvedev). Since the start of the Tokyo Olympics, where he clinched the gold medal, Zverev has won 28 of 31 matches and lifted trophies at the Western & Southern in Cincinnati (d. Rublev) and the Erste Bank Open (d. Tiafoe).

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
19th Taylor Fritz, +4
24th Grigor Dimitrov, +3
49th James Duckworth, +9
55thT Marcos Giron, +11
61st Hugo Gaston, +21
67th Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, +8

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Rune: 'You Have To Be Brave With No-Ad Scoring'

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune begun the year No. 473 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Now the Dane is placed at a career-high No. 109, after triumphing at five ATP Challenger Tour events in 2021.

In a standout season, the 18-year-old also reached tour-level quarter-finals in Santiago and Metz and won a set against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round at the US Open.

Rune, who captured his latest Challenger title Sunday, will compete at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan this week and he spoke to ahead of the 21-and-under event.

A lot of the #NextGenATP players have been doing amazing things this year. How much does it motivate you, seeing the other young players doing well? Is there anyone in particular who has really impressed you?
[Carlos] Alcaraz has been doing extremely well this year. All of the guys have been doing well this year, but especially him. He did well at the US Open reaching the quarter-finals and played a good level of tennis. We are all here because we have had brilliant years and it will be interesting to see who takes the title because it is different playing players who are all similar ages.

When you were growing up there were Roger, Rafa and Novak, who created great rivalries. As you’re competing with other #NextGenATP players, have you thought about your budding rivalries and playing against them for many years?
I think rivalries are one of the most important things. When [Stefanos] Tsitsipas and [Daniil] Medvedev play, the guys who are almost the same, it is interesting to watch because it is another aspect in the match. Also when you watch Novak vs Rafa or Roger vs Rafa it is fun and I think I would like to make rivalries with some of the players here.

Have you watched the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals before and if so, what were your thoughts?
I watched it when I was very young with my mum. She bought tickets for Christmas, an early Christmas gift in 2017. I went to Milan to watch the first edition when Hyeon Chung won and [Andrey] Rublev played and Medvedev and it was fun because back then when I was watching Medvedev, I didn’t think he would get to World No. 2 and now he is almost No. 1.

I think it was really fun because there is an extra passion in it. It inspires you and makes you believe even more that you can make it. If you make the top eight at the under-21 event, you have a good chance to make it at the Nitto ATP Finals in the future.

The Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals always has many innovations. Were there any that you particularly enjoyed and look forward to using and if so, why?
I like the rule system. Especially the no-Ad scoring because you have to be brave and take your chances. Also for the crowd, when I watched it I thought it was super interesting and the adrenaline raises.

When you think of Italy, what do you think of?
The food! The pasta. I would have pasta bolognese, that is my favourite. I could eat it at lunch and dinner every single time. I had some last night.

Have you ever done some sight-seeing in Italy and if so what was your favourite place to visit?
I have been to Italy a lot of times. When I was younger, we used to go during the Christmas holidays to Milan. I know the place almost like home. I have been here tons of times, exploring different places. I have played a lot of Challengers this year in Italy. I played in Perugia, in the middle of nowhere and it was beautiful. There are so many great places here.

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Challenger Chat: Inside Kozlov's Journey Back To Titletown

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

For most players competing on the ATP Challenger Tour, the road to the top is not a straight line. There are many bumps and obstacles along the way. While the journey may become longer and more complex, it is that exact process that hardens even the toughest of competitors and shapes who they become both on and off the court.

Stefan Kozlov knows this firsthand. After many years fighting for belief and purpose on the court, the 23-year-old American is steadily carving his own path up the FedEx ATP Rankings once again. Kozlov, who achieved a career-high No. 115 in 2017, is back inside the Top 200 for the first time in three years after lifting the trophy at the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger.

Having fallen as low as No. 550 exactly two years ago, this moment takes on added significance for the Florida resident. He dropped just one set en route to securing his second Challenger title of the year, defeating Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday.

Kozlov, a former junior No. 3, had a world of expectations heaped on him from a young age. And when he became one of the youngest players to advance to a Challenger final, as a 16-year-old in Sacramento in 2014, it cemented that projection of becoming the next big star of American tennis.

But Kozlov experienced his share of bumps in the road, which forced him to dig deep and fight through the tough times, both between the lines and away from the court. Now, he says he’s better for it. A more mature and complete player, both mentally and physically, he is riding a wave of momentum that has seen him win 14 of 15 matches at this level and rise to No. 188 in the world.


The American spoke about his journey with broadcaster Mike Cation following the Charlottesville final…

Congrats Koz. You’ve been through quite the long journey. This three-month stretch has been remarkable. How have you done it seemingly so quickly?
It’s been a long, long process. Like I said a couple days ago in an interview, it’s a lot of losses and hard times. I know there are many people out there with bigger problems than I have, but for me I went through many issues – life issues – and I just came out stronger. I take the lessons with every defeat and the last couple months I’ve put myself around some very knowledgable people, who have helped me to figure out my strengths and weaknesses.

What has it been specifically for you? Has it been some fitness or all mental?
Mental is a big part of it. Fitness is at a high level for me, but I have a long way to go with it. Just playing in the high heat moments in Florida or Australia. It’s going to be the next step for sure. Mentally, it’s just being more angry. I’m coming out here now and trying to rip your head off. I’m establishing myself and in the past I would let off the gas too early. These guys are all good and it’s more or less a UFC fight in a way. That’s helped me be at my best.

How do you sustain that?
From Alexander Zverev to Reilly Opelka, I grew up with those guys, but I completely fell off the mountain while they kept rising. I’m still very far off from them, but that’s my goal, to compete with those guys again. That’s what drives me. It would be a pretty cool story.

What was your gameplan coming into this final again Vukic?
It’s very simple. What does Vukic want to come out and do today? He wants to rip inside-in and inside-out forehands and have long points. I have a general idea of how he wants to play. It’s a combination of playing my game and making them uncomfortable. I’m not going to just play my game first point to last point. Everyone has these things you have to be aware of.

There aren’t many players that have the skillset to do that. You have variety. A lot of it. When you approach a match, how do you say that this gameplan is going to work today and I’m going to use this strategy one day and a different one the next day?
For me, it’s a big deal playing in these tournaments and playing in the later rounds. It’s nerve-wracking. You start to forget about simple things. Like on Saturday, I didn’t make adjustments in the second set. I kept hitting the ball too short. It’s one thing talking about it and another being out there and trying to make those adjustments. I try to fall back to hitting big balls and sneaking in, because that gives me the best chance. But it’s a huge difference being out there and having the awareness.

When people say that I have so much variety, I don’t really know what that means. It’s foreign to me, because it’s just the way I was taught the game. That’s who I am. I know I can hit big and then use my slice, but my weapons are a huge thing. Serve needs to get better, fitness needs to get better. Everything can improve.

You are now in the mix for the USTA’s Australian Open wild card, along with J.J. Wolf and Maxime Cressy. Are you thinking about that at all?
Not really, to be honest. Sure, it would be such a cool experience to play in the main draw of a slam. I never have. But like I said, there’s so much to go and I just focus on the next match. That’s how I approach it.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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ATP Targets Net Zero Emissions By 2040

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

The ATP has this month become a signatory of UN Sports for Climate Action (UNSCA), setting ambitious sustainability targets for men’s professional tennis. The announcement comes in parallel with the COP 26 summit in Glasgow, and the rollout of a comprehensive new strategy developed under ATP Serves to accelerate and align sustainability efforts across the Tour.

The UNSCA, a major international framework that counts over 250 rights holders and governing bodies as signatories, aligns the sports industry in working towards the <2°C warming target set in the Paris Agreement. As a signatory, the ATP has adopted the framework’s two global targets: achieving a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, by 2030, and Net Zero emissions, by 2040. ATP will be responsible for tracking and reporting key sustainability data over the period and will take part in regular working group sessions with other members.

To achieve the targets set out by UNSCA, the ATP has been developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy over the past 18 months. Created in collaboration with UK-based sustainability experts Jonathan Smith, Amanda Curtis and Kate Chapman, it sets a long-term agenda for the sport to become a showcase for environmental responsibility and positive impact. It aims to reduce the impact of ATP’s operations and build on sustainability initiatives at the Nitto ATP Finals.

The strategy positions environmental sustainability as a key pillar of ATP Serves, an umbrella of new purpose-led initiatives, alongside mental health and organisational culture. Sustainability strategy rollout has cut across various initiatives to date, including agenda setting, staff travel and offices, ATP season-ending events and development of player and tournament toolkits. ATP has also established a new strategic partnership with Gold Standard, an award-winning certification standard for climate change mitigation projects based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Massimo Calvelli, ATP CEO said: “As a Tour we exist to inspire the world on the tennis court and serve beyond it. We are committed to delivering positive impact on the global stage and have been moved by the growing concern around the wellbeing of our planet. We know we cannot be distanced from helping to find solutions. This is why we are proud to roll out our new sustainability strategy and to become part of UNSCA, setting a clear agenda and ambitious goals for our sport for the coming years. This will be a long-term journey and, with everyone pulling together, we hope to make a positive impact and inspire our community.”

Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu, Sector Engagement Lead at UN Climate Change added: “We welcome the ATP into the UN Climate Change Sports for Climate Action and commend them for signing up to such ambitious climate action targets. We are also delighted to see how they are using their reach and influence to support and engage others on wider social and environmental issues.”


For a full overview of the ATP Serves Sustainability strategy, click here.

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The Challenger Connection: Cerundolo, Baez Credit South American Success For Milan Debuts

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2021

It has been a banner year for tennis in South America on the ATP Challenger Tour. With fresh faces announcing their arrival and a slew of new tournaments making their debuts, the region is making a serious statement on the global stage.

Their reward? Look no further than the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, as Sebastian Baez and Juan Manuel Cerundolo descend on Milan. The pride of Argentina, Baez and Cerundolo are the first players from South America to compete in the showpiece 21 & under event, since its inception in 2017.

“Being able to compete so close to home was really important for me this year,” said Baez. “It is not easy for players in South America, to always travel to Europe, the United States and other places. It’s more than an economic difficulty, but also a mental and personal one. To have the opportunity to play many events so close to my country, while earning [FedEx ATP Rankings] points, is incredible.”

The opportunity that Baez refers to is not only a matter of convenience and comfort, but also one of livelihood for South American players. Spending many months away from home, while traveling the world fighting for their tennis dreams, is draining for even the most promising talents on the ATP Challenger Tour.

To those ends, South American tennis has taken a giant step forward in 2021, with the addition of 13 new Challenger events. Founded by former World No. 31 Horacio de la Pena, the Circuito Dove Men+Care Legion Sudamericana has contributed five of those events this year, with two more planned in Brazil next month and many more for the 2022 season. With the goal of changing the landscape of professional tennis across the continent, as more players have opportunities to develop and grow, De la Pena saw his efforts come to fruition just last month in Buenos Aires.

Photo: Challenger de Buenos Aires

It was in his hometown that Baez took a significant step forward with a victory at the Challenger de Buenos Aires. In front of friends and family, the 20-year-old became the youngest player to win five Challenger titles in a single season. And two days prior, it was his fellow #NextGenATP countryman Cerundolo who cemented himself inside the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Baez has won four of his five titles this year in South America, prevailing three times on Chilean soil (Concepcion, Santiago I and Santiago III), before celebrating at home in Buenos Aires. He also reached the Santiago II final, falling to Juan Pablo Varillas. Those victories vaulted him into contention in the ATP Race To Milan.

“What Juan Manuel and Sebastián did is really incredible and proves that South American tennis is always strong, when it has the opportunities to grow,” said De la Pena. “The meteoric rises in the rankings of these two young guys are added to many others, like Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Juan Pablo Varillas, Hugo Dellien, Facundo Mena, Gonzalo Lama and Francisco Cerundolo. Thanks to the number of Challenger tournaments in the region, they all managed to improve their ranking and are in position to have a much more prosperous 2022. We, as the Circuito Dove Men+Care Legion Sudamericana, are very grateful for the support of the ATP, which greatly helped us with this incredible project.”


As a whole, the continent has welcomed players and fans to a combined 19 tournaments across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. Bolivia was also scheduled to host its first ATP Challenger event in 17 years, before it was postponed to 2022 due to the pandemic.

New tournaments included those in Concepcion, Chile (also organised by De la Pena), as well as Ambato, Ecuador, run by former World No. 6 Nicolas Lapentti, and Salinas, Ecuador, which was established by former World No. 4 Andres Gomez.

To say that South American players took advantage of these newfound opportunities is an understatement. Players from eight different countries reached a combined 59 Challenger singles finals, lifting 27 trophies in total. In fact, Baez and Cerundolo are two of 10 different Argentines to triumph on the circuit this year.

“To be able to play close to home was an important part of my season,” said Cerundolo, who reached his sixth final of the year last week in Lima. “It’s been good for all players from South America, like myself. I started the year outside the Top 300 playing ITFs across the world in Antalya. To get here is a dream.”

The slew of new tournaments in South America join the long-standing events in Lima, Peru, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, as well as this week’s 17-year-old tournament in Guayaquil, Ecuador and the 14-year-old event in Santiago, Chile. On Monday, the 20th edition of the Uruguay Open kicks off in the capital city of Montevideo. In addition, a five-week swing through Brazil will conclude the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour season, including events in Campinas, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

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