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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