Carlos Alcaraz and Lorenzo Musetti practice together on the eve of the Nitto ATP Finals in Milan - UBITENNIS
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Carlos Alcaraz and Lorenzo Musetti practice together on the eve of the Nitto ATP Finals in Milan

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Carlos Alcaraz, Lorenzo Musetti and Sebastian Korda are getting ready to make their debut at the Intesa San Paolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. 

 

Alcaraz and Musetti hit together to adjust to the conditions on the indoor hard-court at the Allianz Cloud in Milan, which hosts the under 21 tournament for the second time. 

Alcaraz has been drawn in Group alongside Brandon Nakashima, Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Holger Rune. 

The Spanish teenager lifted his first ATP title in Umag during his breakthrough 2021 season becoming the youngest ATP Tour champion since Kei Nishikori at 2008 Delray Beach and the youngest Spanish ATP Tour titlist since Rafael Nadal in Sopot 2004. 

At the US Open the Spanish rising star claimed his first top 10 win against world number 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round en route to his first Grand Slam quarter final. At the age of 18 he became the youngest quarter finalist at the US Open and a Grand Slam tournament since Michael Chang at 1990 Roland Garros. 

Alcaraz began playing at the age of 4 thanks to his father. He is coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero, who won the French Open title and became world number 1 soon after Alcaraz was born in 2003. Carlos was named ATP Newcomer of the Year in 2020 after moving up from world number 491 to 141 in the ATP Ranking. He climbed to world number 35 at the end of 2021. Alcaraz beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round of the US Open, former world number 1 and double Olympic champion Andy Murray and Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini in Vienna. 

“I am so excited to play here against the best young players of the year. I am really happy to be here. I am feeling comfortable and have a lot a confidence with myself. It has been a brilliant year and I hope to show a good level here at the Next Gen Finals”, said Alcaraz to the ATP Tour website. 

Musetti rose from world number 128 to a career-high 57 last June following his run to the French Open fourth round. He will make his debut at the Next Gen finals. Two years ago he made an attempt to book a spot for the Next Gen Finals at the qualifying tournament for the best under 21 Italian players, but he lost in the semifinal. 

“Two years ago I played a lot of matches on clay. For this reason I was not in my best form, but I really enjoyed playing the qualifying tournament with the new rules. This year I played a lot of indoor matches and I hope I will not have problems to adapt to the court conditions”

Musetti became world junior number 1 after winning 2019 Australian Open boys’ singles title. He also reached the 2018 US Open boys’ singles final. 

In 2020 Musetti advanced to the semifinal at the Sardinia Open and beat Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori to reach the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, becoming the first player born in 2002 to win an ATP Tour match and the youngest player to reach the Rome third round since Fabrice Santoro in 1991. After Rome he beat four top 100 players to win his first Challenger title at the tournament in Forlì as wild card. 

The 19-year-old Italian rising star claimed his first top 10 when he beat Diego Schwartzman and beat Frances Tiafoe and Grigor Dimitrov en route to the semifinals at the Abierto Mexicano in Acapulco last March before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Two months later the 19-year-old player beat Felix Auger Aliassime and Sebastian Korda en route to reaching his third ATP 250 semifinal in Lyon. 

At 2021 Roland Garros Musetti led Novak Djokovic by two sets to love before the world number 1 player came back to win the fourth-round match in five sets. 

The young player from the Tuscan town of Carrara will carry the hopes of Italian fans at the Allianz Cloud in Milan. He is looking forward to playing on home soil and aims at following in the footsteps of his compatriot Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals title in 2019. Musetti has been drawn in the same draw as Sebastian Korda, Sebastian Baez and Hugo Gaston. 

“I watched the matches from Jannik Sinner when he won, so I hope to do the same and win the trophy. I think everyone is honoured in this competition and playing the event this week”, said Musetti. 

Musetti lost in the semifinal of the ATP Challenger tournament in Milan losing to Hugo Dellien in June 2019. 

“I have improved a lot physically since 2019 and I have more experience, especially this year in my first year on the ATP Tour. I will have more expectations. I will be very pleased to receive the support from the crowd”. 

Sebastian Korda won his first ATP Tour title in Parma without dropping a set in the whole tournament and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and the quarter finals at the Miami Masters 1000 tournament. In his breakthrough season Korda rose from outside the top 100 at the start of the year to a career-high number 38 in October.

The 21-year-old player also claimed his first ATP Challenger Tour title last January and earned two top 10 wins against Diego Schwartzman in Miami and Roberto Bautista Agut in Halle. 

“My main goal at the start of the year was to finish the season in the top 50. Ending the season in the top 40 means that I have  enjoyed a fantastic year. I have learnt a lot from playing on the Tour. I have become more confident match after match. I feel that I am ready to play at high level. This is the most important thing. There are a lot of good players coming up right now. You have to be so mentally focused throughout the whole match. One point, one game, you could lose the match easily. You have to grind for every point and figure things out”, said Korda. 

The US player of Czech player joined his father Petr Korda as third father-son duo to win an ATP title in the Open Era. Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open, reached the 1992 French Open final and moved up to a career world number 2. His son won the Australian Open Junior title in 2018. 

“My father is a secret weapon in a way. He has been on the Tour for a long time. He has made it to the top, won a Grand Slam, and coached someone who has made it to the top 10, so he knows what to do. The tough decisions look easy sometimes, so I am super grateful to have him in the corner”. 

Sebastian’s mother Regina Rajchrtova peaked at world number 26 in the WTA Ranking and coached him as a child. His sisters Jessica and Nelly are pro golfers on LPGA Tour. Korda began playing hockey and dreaming of pursuing a NHL career. He started playing tennis at the age of 9 after attending the US Open. His idols growing up were his father, Radek Stepanek and Rafael Nadal. 

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Lorenzo Sonego continues his winning streak with a victory over Barnabe Zapata Miralles in Sofia

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Lorenzo Sonego beat Barnabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 19 minutes to reach the second round at the Sofia Open. Sonego won 86% of his first serve points. 

 

Sonego broke serve in the second game at 30, but he missed a double break point in the third game. The Italian player dropped just three points in his next three service games to close out the first set 6-3.  

Sonego broke serve in the ninth game at love, as Zapata Miralles made a double fault. He made a double fault and a forehand error at 5-4, but he won four consecutive points to close out the second set on his first match point. 

Last week Sonego won his title in Metz without dropping a set. 

Sonego will face Danish Next Gen player Holger Rune in the second round. 

“I am really happy because today I was really aggressive on court. I played so well. I did my best thing today. I am really happy for that. Zapata is a big wall. He served really well, but I started so good today, with good variation. The key was my performance on serve, and to be aggressive on serve”, said Sonego. 

Lorenzo Musetti battled past Alexander Lazarov 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 after 2 hours and 42 minutes. 

The first set went on serve with no break points. Lazarov earned his mini-break at 4-2 to win the tie-break 7-5. Musetti saved two break points at 4-4. The Italian player wasted a set point at 5-4 on Lazarov’s serve and dropped his serve in the next game. Lazarov earned his chance to close out the match at 6-5, but he was broken at 30. Musetti went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Lazarov  won four consecutive points to take a 5-4 lead. Lazarov had the chance to close the match, but he dropped two points on serve.  Musetti sealed the tie-break on his fourth set point. 

Musetti earned two breaks and held his next service games to win the third set 6-2. 

Ilya Ivashka upset Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 1 hour and 52 minutes to reach the quarter finals. Ivashka saved all seven break points he faced. Dimitrov saved two match points in the second set forcing the match to the tie-break. Ivashka earned two mini-breaks to take a 7-3 lead. 

Ivashka will face either Sonego or Rune in the quarter final. 

“It was a very tough match and I am very happy that I got the victory at the end. It is very hard to play against Grigor, especially at his home”, said Ivashka.  

Fernando Vedasco edged past Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 to set up a second round match against Alexander Vukic. 

Jan Lennard Struff came back from a set down to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6 6-3 6-2. 

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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