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Fils Meets Medjedovic: Who Will Join Exclusive Club In Jeddah?

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

Fils Meets Medjedovic: Who Will Join Exclusive Club In Jeddah?

Pair faces off in Saturday’s final at Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM

The final chance for title glory of the 2023 ATP Tour season also represents an opportunity for Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic to join an impressive list of champions at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM.

Top seed Fils and sixth seed Medjedovic face off at 8 p.m. local time Saturday at King Abdullah Sports City, where they are each hoping to join current Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas as champions at the season-ending 21-and-under event.

Both players head into the championship match undefeated for the week in Saudi Arabia and their maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting promises to be an intriguing one. Despite Fils sitting 74 places higher than Medjedovic in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the Frenchman will take nothing for granted against a player who has thrilled fans this week with his powerful groundstrokes and huge serving.

“We’ve known each other a long time,” said the World No. 36 Fils on Friday in Jeddah. “We played juniors together, so I know that he has an unbelievable serve. The fastest of the tournament. It’s going to be a tough one. I’m going to need to know exactly how to play, with good tactics, but I think that it’s going to be a good match for sure.

“With his tennis and my tennis, we are altogether playing [well]. Let’s see tomorrow, but he’s a nice guy. I hope he will be very good for the next generation [on Tour], but not tomorrow I hope.”

Fils showed impressive composure to down his friend and countryman Luca Van Assche in four sets in the semi-finals on Friday, before Medjedovic advanced after Dominic Stricker (back) retired in the second set of their last-four clash. The 20-year-old Serbian is looking forward to reigniting his junior rivalry with Fils when the pair steps out in the first ATP-sanctioned title match on Saudi Arabian soil.

“I think it’s going to be a really good match,” said Medjedovic on Saturday. “Arthur is a really good player, he’s already [World No.36]. He’s a really good friend of mine as well. I’ve known him for a long time and I’m excited to play him tomorrow.”

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Fils won 19 tour-level matches in 2023 and lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in Lyon in May, while Medjedovic reached his first semi-finals at that level in Gstaad and Astana and also lifted three trophies on the ATP Challenger Tour. Having each enjoyed breakthrough years, both will want to finish 2023 with a flourish by becoming Next Gen ATP Finals champion in Jeddah.

“To end the year like this is always nice,” said Medjedovic when asked how much winning would boost him heading into 2024. “Especially if I win the whole tournament. I’m happy to be in the final, but the job is not done yet and I want to win tomorrow.”

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Medjedovic Sets Fils Final After Stricker Retires

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

Medjedovic Sets Fils Final After Stricker Retires

Serbian will face Fils in final

Hamad Medjedovic advanced to the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM title match on Friday when Dominic Stricker was forced to retire in the second set due to a back injury in the pair’s semi-final.

Medjedovic was leading Stricker 4-3(5), 2-1 when the Swiss walked to the net and ended the clash. The 20-year-old Medjedovic struck 12 winners and three unforced errors during the 32 minutes they were on court before the match came to an early close.

Medjedovic, who went 3-0 in the round-robin stage on debut in Jeddah, will face top seed Arthur Fils in the title match. Both are looking to become the sixth champions at the 21-and-under event, joining previous winners Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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In a heavy-hitting first set, both players took large cuts at the ball to try and dictate, with serve dominating on the fast courts. Medjedovic won 93 per cent (14/15) of his first-serve points in the opener with Stricker not losing a point behind his first delivery (11/11). With little to separate them, Medjedovic produced his best level in the tie-break, hitting through the Swiss lefty to lead.

The 20-year-old then earned an early break at the start of the second set before Stricker retired.

Medjedovic, who is coached by former-World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, has enjoyed a standout season. The Serbian reached tour-level semi-finals in Gstaad and Astana and won three ATP Challenger Tour events.

Stricker was making his second appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals. The 21-year-old Swiss, who reached the fourth round at the US Open, also fell at the semi-final stage in 2022.

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'It's A Dream Come True': Saudi Fans Loving Next Gen ATP Finals

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

‘It’s A Dream Come True’: Saudi Fans Loving Next Gen ATP Finals

21-and-under event first-ever ATP Tour sanctioned event in Saudi Arabia

History is being made this week in Jeddah, where the first-ever ATP Tour sanctioned event on Saudi Arabian soil is taking place.

The top eight 21-and-under stars have been battling it out at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, with fans coming from all corners of Saudi Arabia to catch a glimpse of the action at King Abdullah Sports City.

Ahmed Aljefri has travelled to London, New York and Miami in the past to watch his favourite players compete. Attending Saturday’s semi-finals with his family, the local fan is excited to watch the sport live in Saudi Arabia.

“It is a dream come true to have tennis here,” said Aljefri, who was cheering for Jordanian star Abdullah Shelbayh this week. “I have been a fan of tennis for more than 20 years, so it is great to see the ATP Tour here. It is great the Tour has a presence in Saudi Arabia and it is amazing it is in my hometown.

“Lots of people have been watching tennis here in the past 15 years, so to bring a permanent tournament here is great.”

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The Next Gen ATP Finals will be held in Jeddah until 2027 after a five-year agreement was signed earlier this season.

Another fan, Ahmed Alazzni believes the sport has the potential to grow rapidly in Saudi Arabia.

“We went inside and watched the first match. It is my first time watching tennis live and it was quite amazing,” Alazzni said. “It is the first tournament here in Saudi Arabia so we are excited and it is an unbelievable experience for me.

“There are so many fans who like tennis. We know everyone and watch the sport. We love the Next Gen players. We are looking forward to more events coming in the future to this country hopefully.”

Jeddah Fans
Ahmed Alazzni [left] with friend Mohammed Bulushi [right]

Majdi Saber is attending the tournament with his son. He is pleased with the organisation at the tournament.

“The whole arrangement is good and we love it,” Saber said. “The event here is really well run and fans have a great experience. The sport is spreading all the time. The youngest people are trying to get used to the sport and it is getting there.”

Jeddah Fans
Majdi Saber [left] with his son [right]

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Friendly Fire: Fils Ousts Van Assche, Reaches Jeddah Final

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

Friendly Fire: Fils Ousts Van Assche, Reaches Jeddah Final

Frenchman will next face Medjedovic

Arthur Fils maintained his perfect record at this year’s Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM on Friday when he moved past countryman and close friend Luca Van Assche to reach the final in Jeddah.

The top seed Fils, 19, downed Van Assche 2-4, 4-1, 4-3(1), 4-3(6) after producing heavy-hitting and clean ball-striking for one hour, 37 minutes. The World No. 36 struck several monstrous forehands and was dominant on serve as the match wore on, winning 23 of his 24 first-serve points across the third and fourth sets. Fils booked his ticket to the final on his fourth match point and celebrated the victory by doing Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘Siu’ celebration.

“Today was a tough match against a great, great friend. We’ve known each other since we were nine, so it was a little bit tough and I’m happy with the win,” Fils said on his on-court interview. “I came onto the court with the mindset that I can win. The first set was tough, he was playing very good and defending so well, running very fast. I kept my focus and I’m really happy about this win.”

A key moment came in the third set when Fils held his nerve during a no-ad point at 2-3, which doubled as a set point for Van Assche. Fils then jumped to a 5/0 lead in the third-set tie-break, delivering a blow to Van Assche’s chances of ousting the top seed.

“I played every point trying everything with my forehand, moving very good. I was quite happy about that tie-break,” Fils said.

In a rematch of the 2021 Roland Garros boys’ singles final, which Van Assche won, Fils struck 24 winners to set a championship match clash against Serbian Hamad Medjedovic. 

In the six-year history of the 21-and-under event, Fils is the first Frenchman to make the championship match. Fils is 4-0 this week after ending Van Assche’s season.

“It was an amazing tournament and a great experience for the players,” Van Assche said. “It was a tough loss today but it’s been a great week.”

At World No. 70 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Van Assche now looks to build upon his breakthrough season and go even further in 2024.

“Every year there are a lot of players at the Next Gen who perform well the next year, so I hope it’s the same again next year,” Van Assche said. “I want to play better and win some titles and win a lot of matches in the Grand Slams.”

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Physicality Index Insights Preview: SFs In Jeddah

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

Physicality Index Insights Preview: SFs In Jeddah

Fils meets Van Assche, Medjedovic plays Shelbayh

The ATP and Tennis Data Innovations (TDI) will deliver unprecedented insights at the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. Using state-of-the-art tracking metrics, the insights will assess the physical capacity required to compete at the highest professional level of our sport.

Read more to learn about Friday’s semi-final matchups in Jeddah.

Arthur Fils vs. Luca Van Assche

Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche will face off for the first time on the ATP Tour on Friday. Both players have advanced to the semi-finals of the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, by using their physical make-up in two very contrasting ways. In the three matches of pool play, Van Assche has played the most physical brand of tennis, leading all competitors with the most distance covered, highest workload output, and largest total of explosive movements. He closed out the group stage by playing the second-longest match in Next Gen ATP Finals history, recording a Physicality Index rating of 10, the second-highest rating in tournament history, only behind his opponent in that match, Alex Michelson.

What we know from the data is that Van Asche has no problem responding to high volume and intensity matches, as earlier this year he defeated three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in a match that was comparable to the output of last nights match against Michelson. He came back the next day and pushed Novak Djokovic to three sets, again pushing his PI rating upward of 9.0.

Fills has spent 25 minutes less of active hitting time on court than Van Assche during the course of the first three matches. His first match against Luca Nardi was his most physical match of the Next Gen ATP Finals, recording a Physical Intensity rating of 7.6. Dominic Stricker was able to force Fils into executing his highest number of explosive movements per minute in their four-set match, forcing him to change direction more often in that match.

Keys to Match

Both of these players are physically prepared to compete in the semi-final match-up. They have both proven they can compete physically with the best players in the world, in consecutive matches back to back. The tactical game plan is going to dictate a lot of how the physicality of this match looks. In the one loss Van Assche experienced this week, he moved at a much slower rate than in his other two wins. The amount of high-speed distance he covered was way below his average for the season. That was largely due in part to Medjedovic dictating early in the rallies, keeping the rally count below his season average of 4.5 shots per rally. When Fils is playing his best tennis, he is dictating play with his forehand left of centre, and hitting his forehand over 60% of the time. Van Assche is going to need to get him changing direction more frequently. In the matches Fils has lost this year, he has been forced to change direction almost 25% more.

Hamad Medjedovic vs. Dominic Stricker

Hamad Medjedovic and Dominic Stricker are tactically looking to accomplish the same thing. Strike early and strike often. In their Next Gen ATP Finals matches, both players are averaging 5% more of their points in attack than their opponents. Both players have executed the least amount of high-speed distance and explosive movements in the tournament.

Medjedovic has shown that he is a competitor and he is not going to shy away from the physical pain that comes with going deep into the match. He overcame cramping in his first-round match against Michelson, and followed that up with another tough four-set match against Van Assche.

Keys to Match

Win or lose, we know one thing, both these players are going to try and keep the points short. They are both looking to serve big and take advantage of the balls in the mid-court. Look for Medjedovic to dictate with his forehand, forcing Stricker to have to defend his forehand on the run. Stricker will look to push Medjedovic off the baseline with good depth and then use his lefty forehand to make Medjedovic defend outside the singles sideline with his backyard. Both players have the ability to use their offense to move forward and finish the points off at the net. I would not expect very high PI metrics for this match, as the rallies will look to be short.

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Fils Reveals Action-Packed Plans For Post-Tennis Career

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

Fils Reveals Action-Packed Plans For Post-Tennis Career

Frenchman is top seed in Jeddah

At the close of a standout season in which he won his first ATP Tour title in Lyon, Arthur Fils entered the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM at a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 36.

But what is the 19-year-old like off the court? caught up with the Jeddah top seed for a Q&A that covered his post-tennis career plans, his favourite sports and a holiday adventure.

If you could have dinner with three people, who would they be and why?
Cristiano Ronaldo first, because for me he’s the best footballer who exists in the world. I would say also Michael Jordan, because I’ve watched him a lot. And, third, I’m going to say The Rock. 

So you’d say Ronaldo is better than Messi?
For me, yeah. My coach, Sergi Bruguera, loves Messi. So we have a little fight about it.

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If you weren’t a tennis player, what job would you want and why?
An actor, for sure. That’s what I’m going to do after my career, for sure. Action movies, like Michael B. Jordan.

If you had to choose between attending a music concert or a sporting event, what would you choose and why?
Sports. I don’t like to go to concerts. To be in the crowd and jumping, I don’t like it. If I’m going, I have to be sitting. Of course I enjoy with friends and everything. But to jump and to be close with all the people in the crowd, that’s not something that I like. And I love sports.

What sports would you want to watch?
Soccer for sure. I support PSG. And probably basketball. I would also love to try Formula 1, in the paddock.

What is one of the most interesting things you have done in your life?
I went swimming with dolphins two weeks ago, in Mauritius. I’d never been to Mauritius for a holiday, so I swam with dolphins.

How well do you know the other competitors here in Jeddah? Are you good friends with anyone?
I’m very close to Luca Van Assche because we’ve played since we were very young together. So Luca, and the other guys here are very nice… Alex Michelsen, Abdullah Shelbayh. Everyone is very nice. We have some good times and we are enjoying it.

Like every year at the Next Gen ATP Finals, the tournament will be trialling a lot of different rules and innovations. What are your thoughts on them? Is there one that you’re interested to try out?
No warm-ups. It’s going to be good or very bad. I don’t know if it’s possible to come on the court without a warm-up. You don’t play, you don’t hit one ball. So first serve, maybe you’re going to frame the ball or double fault. Some guys are going to be very good, and probably some others are going to be broken every time in the first game. Let’s see.

Is there another rule that you’re more excited about?

The free fan movement. I will love to see. I heard that it’s not behind us and in front of us, just on the side, so this should be good. It’s nice because it’s like in basketball and American football or soccer. It’s quite nice. We’ll see how it is.

You’ve had a great season, including winning your first ATP Tour title in Lyon. What is the biggest thing you learned from this year?
Never quit, because things can change very quickly. I would say that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned this year. I’ve played some matches and things were changing so quick, my opponent or I didn’t quit, and it was a great match, and we are enjoying playing this type of match. So never quit.

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Nadal Announces He Will Return In Brisbane

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2023

Nadal Announces He Will Return In Brisbane

Rune, Shelton, Murray, Dimitrov also to compete in ATP 250

Rafael Nadal announced on social media Friday that he will make his return in the first week of the 2024 season at the Brisbane International presented by Evie.

“Hello everyone. After a year away from competition, it’s time to come back,” Nadal said in Spanish in a video that has garnered millions of views. “It will be in Brisbane the first week of January. I’ll see you there.”

Two weeks ago the Spaniard confirmed that he would make his return. Now he knows where and when.

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The former World No. 1 played two tournaments this year — the United Cup and Australian Open — before missing the rest of the season due to an injury to the iliopsoas muscle in his left leg, for which he later underwent surgery.

Nadal will compete in Brisbane for the second time. The lefty played the ATP 250 in 2017, when he advanced to the quarter-finals before losing to then-World No. 3 Milos Raonic in three sets.

The tournament has not yet announced Nadal’s participation, but organisers have revealed that Holger Rune, Ben Shelton, Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray will also compete in the event. 

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