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Medjedovic On Next Gen ATP Finals Title: 'I Feel Amazing'

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2023

Medjedovic On Next Gen ATP Finals Title: ‘I Feel Amazing’

Serbian defeated Fils in final

Beaming from ear to ear, Hamad Medjedovic was proud of his achievements on Saturday in Jeddah, where he reflected on winning the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM title. The 20-year-old Serbian defeated Arthur Fils in the title match.

I feel amazing,” Medjedovic said in his post-match press conference. “It was unreal and still is. It was tough to process everything. It was a really tough match. I was on the edge of going crazy after the first set as I had two set points but I managed to stay relaxed and focused and it is an unreal feeling.”

Medjedovic is the sixth champion in the tournament’s history, a list that includes Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 20-year-old is delighted to join such elite company and hopes it will help him push on further in 2024 as he aims to break the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.

“It means a lot. To know that all the great champions [won here], it gives you a lot of confidence and a boost for next season,” Medjedovic said. “I will be coming into next year with a lot of confidence.

“I have a big game and big shots but I still have a lot of things to work on with my coach. Physically I need to get much better and I will use preseason for this and I need to improve my focus on the court more.”

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Saturday’s triumph meant it was a clean sweep for Serbia at the ATP Tour’s year-end events after Novak Djokovic captured his record seventh Nitto ATP Finals title in Turin earlier this month.

Medjedovic is pleased to have delivered more success for Serbia.

“It is a great thing. He won the Finals and I won Next Gen,” Medjedovic said. “It is a great thing for our country. I am really proud to get this title for my country. I have not opened my phone yet, but I am sure he has sent a message to congratulate me.”

The Next Gen ATP Finals was the first ever ATP Tour sanctioned event to be held in Saudi Arabia. Medjedovic enjoyed playing in front of the energetic crowds in the King Abdullah Sports City.

“I was really lucky to have them on my side since the first match,” Medjedovic said when asked about the Saudi fans. “They were cheering for me and I was feeling the love. I am really happy and grateful I had them on my side.”

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Fils Answers Nadal's Call For Training Camp In Kuwait

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2023

Fils Answers Nadal’s Call For Training Camp In Kuwait

Teen, who had not won a tour-level match before this year, finishes season World No. 36
As he closes the books on his breakthrough 2023 season, French teen Arthur Fils is wasting little time in preparing to push even higher in 2024.

The 19-year-old, who finished runner-up to Hamad Medjedovic Saturday at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM in Jeddah, will remain in the Middle East for a practice week with Rafael Nadal at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Kuwait.

“I was very happy, very surprised when he asked me to practise with him,” Fils said in his post-match press conference. “It’s such a big thing for me to play with one of the greatest players of all time. I will try my best for him but I have a big season coming so I will also try my best for myself. I will try to enjoy it as well.”

Despite the disappointment of losing in five sets to Medjedovic after saving two match points in the fourth set, Fils can be justifiably happy with his banner year in 2023. He shaved more than 200 places off his Pepperstone ATP Ranking during the year to finish inside the Top 40.

“It was a nice year for sure. I started at 250 but finished at 36, so that’s pretty good. It still could have been better. I lost some close matches, like I did today, but it’s just experience and I will try to do better next year.”

Fils, who had not won a tour-level match before this year, finishes 2023 with a 23-18 match record, including his 4-1 mark in Jeddah. He won his first title in Lyon and also reached the Antwerp final.

Although Fils said he has been inspired by the rapid rise of Carlos Alcaraz, who became World No. 1 last year at 19, he is not putting pressure on himself to emulate the Spaniard, at least in the short term.

“My goal is not to be No. 1 in the world in three months, because it’s not possible,” Fils said. “I have to work, to work, to work. I have to work in the gym, work on the court, try my best in every match I play and then maybe one day I will be a champion. I hope it comes fast, but not as fast as Carlos, because what he did was crazy.”

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Saudi No. 1 Alhogbani's Twin Tennis Missions

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2023

Saudi No. 1 Alhogbani’s Twin Tennis Missions

25-year-old aiming to revive his playing career while growing the sport at home

When Ammar Alhogbani stepped on court to take on Zhang Zhizhen at the Asian Games in September, it was more than just an opportunity for the Saudi Arabian to prove himself against a Top 100 player.

Despite falling to a 7-5, 6-2 defeat in Hangzhou, the 25-year-old Alhogbani’s performance against Chinese star Zhang made him realise he was ready to make a full-time return to professional tennis after time away working as National Teams Development Officer for the Saudi Tennis Federation.

“I played Zhang, and I almost took the first set,” the No. 1 Saudi player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings told on Saturday in Jeddah. “I was like, ‘If I’m almost taking the first set against a guy like this, there is a good possibility I can do well with [full-time] training. I almost took the first set when I’m training three or four times a week and with no coach’.”

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Born in Saudi Arabia, Alhogbani and his family moved to the United States when he was three years old. After growing up in Ohio and then Virginia, he played college tennis at the University of Virginia, where he was part of a NCAA Championship-winning team in his first year. Due to a variety of reasons, however, Alhogbani’s playing career stalled after he graduated and returned to Saudi Arabia in 2021.

“After college I hurt my wrist, at the beginning of when I wanted to make a push [up the rankings],” said Alhogbani. “Then I got the role at the federation, so that slowed it down. This year, [I played] at the Asian Games and some other ITF events, when I had limited training.

“My brother (fellow Saudi Davis Cup player Saud Alhogbani) is now playing U.S. college tennis at Wake Forest, so I don’t really have anyone to train with. So I go to Futures events and train for the first week. I’ve had some good results, so I want to give it a full shot in the coming years, just to see how far I can take it on the court.”

Finding hitting partners has been less of a problem for Alhogbani this week at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, where the Saudi has practised with several of the competitors at the season-ending 21-and-under event in Jeddah. On Saturday, he hit with top seed Arthur Fils to help warm up the Frenchman ahead of the championship match against Hamad Medjedovic.

“I’ve hit with the majority of the guys [this week],” said Alhogbani. “I hit with Arthur the most. It’s a good time. Obviously, they have different gamestyles. Some guys like to be on top the baseline and bully me around, but I got to play a couple of sets against some of the guys, so that was really cool.”

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Alhogbani (centre) tossed the coin for the group-stage match between Dominic Stricker and Arthur Fils. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

As a big advocate of Saudi tennis, Alhogbani is delighted to have been part of the first ATP-sanctioned event in his homeland. He sees it as a milestone moment for tennis in a country making big strides across a variety of sports.

“This is a huge step. Obviously, we have had [exhibitions] in the past, but this is the first ATP-sanctioned event, so this is something that’s really big for us,” said Alhogbani. “The sports industry is booming, and football has been king here for so long. Now tennis is a priority sport, so having tennis at the forefront and having this event just goes hand in hand.

“It’s really cool. The kids get to see all the players, and seeing it is believing it. I think it’s going to inspire a lot of the kids to come and play.”

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Whatever the future of Saudi tennis, Alhogbani is not likely to be the only member of his family playing a big role. He competes alongside his 20-year-old brother Saud in the nation’s Davis Cup team, and he also made history alongside his 19-year-old sister Yara Alhogbani at this year’s Asian Games.

“This time around was really cool, because I went with my sister,” said Alhogbani, who first played the Asian Games as a 15-year-old in 2014. “We played mixed doubles, and that was the first ever mixed doubles team from Saudi Arabia.”

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Yara Alhogbani and Ammar Alhogbani at September’s Asian Games in Hangzhou. Photo courtesy of Ammar Alhogbani.

With so many recent groundbreaking moments for Saudi tennis, Alhogbani hopes his family’s on-court achievements and hosting the Next Gen ATP Finals can be a starting point for continued development.

“Obviously tennis culture here isn’t so big, and it’s something that is a dream, to make it bigger,” he said. “I would love to see more people in general picking up racquets and see more facilities… For me as a player, I want to see Saudi tennis at the highest level. I think we’re all looking for a player to break through, and just more of these events would help with that.”

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Medjedovic Is Next! Serbian Triumphs At Next Gen ATP Finals

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2023

Medjedovic Is Next! Serbian Triumphs At Next Gen ATP Finals

20-year-old becomes sixth champion at 21-and-under event

Hamad Medjedovic capped his breakthrough season by lifting the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM trophy on Sunday in Jeddah, where he recovered from squandering two match points in the fourth set against Arthur Fils to win the first five-set final in tournament history.

The 20-year-old played aggressively in front of a packed crowd in King Abdullah Sports City, where he received loud support from energetic fans. The Serbian took large cuts at the ball, won 88 per cent (61/69) of points on his first delivery and converted his third match point to fire past the 19-year-old Frenchman 3-4(6), 4-1, 4-2, 3-4(9), 4-1 after two hours and 11 minutes.

It also capped a great end of the season for Serbia after Novak Djokovic clinched a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown in Turin earlier this month. The World No. 1 has been sending Medjedovic messages of support this week.

“Two of us from Serbia. He won the big Masters, the real one, and I won the Next Gen. Obviously it’s a huge thing and I’m happy to follow in his footsteps in some way,” Medjedovic said.

Medjedovic did not lose a match en route to becoming the first Serbian to triumph at the tournament, taking home a tournament-record $514,000 in prize money.

At No. 110 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 20-year-old is the lowest-ranked champion in tournament history, while he is the sixth Next Gen ATP Finals titlist, joining Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I can’t believe I have won this title, but it’s going to give me a lot of confidence for 2024,”Medjedovic said. “Arthur is an amazing player; he’s Top 40 for a reason, so I’m really happy.”

“It was tough after the first set. I changed my clothes and recovered and started to play good again. I didn’t play good when I had match points in the fourth set. I wasn’t relaxed, I was very stiff. Thank God I recovered and I was just trying to stay relaxed as much as I could and I managed to do it in the end.”

Both players come out firing on serve in their first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting. They dropped just one point each on their first deliveries, with Fils hitting six aces and Medjedovic seven. With little to separate them, the Frenchman came to life deep in the tie-break, saving two set points before he clinched the opener on his first set point.

After taking a toilet break, Medjedovic found his best level at the start of the second set. He flew through his service games, making use of the shortened shot-clock rule between aces to gain momentum and level. The Serbian then broke in the first game of the third set and continued his impressive level on serve in the third set, winning all 10 points behind his first delivery.

The fourth set then went to a tie-break and Medjedovic moved to match point at 6/4. Fils saved both on second serves, before clinching the set to force a deciding set. The Serbian, who struck 34 winners, including 19 aces, would not be denied though. He raced through the decider, collapsing to the floor after converting on his third match point.

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Medjedovic, who is coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, won three ATP Challenger Tour trophies in 2023, while he reached tour-level semi-finals in Gstaad and Astana.

Fils, who won his maiden tour-level title in Lyon in May, started the season at No. 251 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings but arrived in Jeddah at a career-high No. 36. He is the first French teenager to finish the season inside the Top 50 since then-19-year-olds Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils in 2005.

Did You Know?
Medjedovic hit 69 aces during the event. No player in tournament history has hit more aces at the event than the Serbian.

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Physicality Index Insights: Final Preview

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2023

Physicality Index Insights: Final Preview

Fils faces Medjedovic in Next Gen ATP Finals title match

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 Saturday’s final in Jeddah.

Arthur Fils vs. Hamad Medjedovic

The road to the final has been a physical journey at times for Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic. Both players have been pushed by their opponents physically and mentally. So, as the players and their teams are looking to put together the final touches on their game plan for Saturday’s match, here are a few key insights that have come through when looking at the tactical and physical data.

The on-court performance from both of these players during the course of the entire week has been extremely high. They have both done an amazing job of converting on the offense they have created with their easy power, staying in attack over 28% of all points played. Fils has been able to steal 34% of the points using a combination of his speed and power, whereas Medjedovic has been able to steal 33% of his points using mostly great anticipation and strength. On average, the players are hitting their forehands over 80 MPH and their backhands over 70 MPH. Fils will tend to look for his forehand a little more, especially from the AD court, where Medjedovic is more balanced with his attack off the ground, settling for a few more backhands from the middle. They are both very comfortable spreading the court with their forehands to both sides of the court, and they love to finish with their forehands down the line (both of their #1 hot play).

Coming into this match Fils and Medjedovic have put in a similar volume of work, running similar distances and accumulating comparable workloads. Where their physicality profiles begin to diverge is around the high-intensity movements (high-speed distance & explosive movements). Fils has performed 33% more high-speed distance and 25% more explosive movements. This is where the physical profile of athletes can dictate the tactical game planning. The number one cold play of Medjedovic is his defending with the backhand through the middle from the backhand corner. Fils is clearly more explosive with his movements in and out of the corners, allowing him to defend a little more efficiently by using his speed.

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Physical Keys to the Match

Coming out of the gates fast and matching the physical intensity of Medjedovic from the start of the match will only favour Fils. Fils has been able to significantly increase his overall work rate over the course of each match. His movement has only improved as the matches have progressed, where Medjedovic has seen a decline in his overall work rate in each of his three round-robin matches. He had come out fast and physical in each match but then seen a steep decline in his work rate as the matches progressed. Can Fils match the early intensity of Medjedovic, using his high-speed distance and explosive movements to counter the pace of Medjedovic, making the Serbian hit one or two more balls each point. Or can Medjedovic take the racquet out of Fils’ hands by keeping the rallies short and making this match more about volume (distance and work load) and less about intensity (high-speed distance and explosive movements). Volume favours Medjedovic and Intensity favours Fils.

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