Next Gen ATP Finals Field Is Set
Editor's note: This story was originally published on 25 October 2019 but was updated on 1 November 2019 to reflect Alejandro Davidovich Fokina's entry into the Next Gen ATP Finals field after Denis Shapovalov withdrew due to fatigue.
The field for the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals is set. A trio of first-time qualifiers – Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic, Ugo Humbert of France and Sweden's Mikael Ymer – qualified for the award-winning eight-man event. Additionally, 18-year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy completes the field as a wild card for the tournament, to be held 5-9 November at the Allianz Cloud in Milan.
The four players join Australian Alex de Minaur, American Frances Tiafoe and Norwegian Casper Ruud at the 21-and-under tournament, which features eight players from eight countries and three continents.
Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas will not compete because of his Nitto ATP Finals participation, at The O2 in London, from 10-17 November, and Canadian qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime was forced to withdraw (left ankle) from the tournament, which will feature a series of rule changes and innovations for the third consecutive year.
De Minaur climbed 177 spots in the ATP Rankings during his breakout season that ended in the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals title match. The 20-year-old raised his level this year, going unbeaten in ATP Tour title matches at the Sydney International, his hometown tournament in January, the BB&T Atlanta Open in July and the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships in September.
Tiafoe will look to reach the semi-finals in Milan for the first time after falling short on debut last year. The American made his first major quarter-final in January at the Australian Open and his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in March at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
Norway's Casper Ruud will become the first player from the Nordic nation to compete in Milan. The 20-year-old, who is coached by his father and former World No. 39 Christian Ruud, reached his first ATP Tour final in April (l. to Garin) at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston and made the semi-finals at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo (l. to Garin) in February and the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel in August.
Serbia's #NextGenATP star Miomir Kecmanovic has climbed 77 spots in the ATP Rankings this year, from No. 131 to No. 54. The 20-year-old made his first ATP Tour final at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya (l. to Sonego) in June and earned his first Top 10 win in August, at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati against 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev.
Ugo Humbert finished one spot away from qualifying in 2018, but the 21-year-old Frenchman will be competing in Milan next month. The left-hander made the fourth round of Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic) and three semi-finals, at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, the Hall of Fame Open in Newport and the European Open in Antwerp.
Sweden's Ymer won back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles during the past month to thrust himself into Milan contention. The 21-year-old, who reached the second round of Roland Garros (l. to Zverev), is at a career-high No. 74 in the ATP Rankings and has won four Challenger titles this season.
Watch: Spotlight Series: Jannik Sinner
Sinner is on the cusp of becoming the youngest player inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, a status currently belonging to Auger-Aliassime. The 18-year-old Italian, who is 373 days younger than his Canadian counterpart, is No. 101 and surged forward 18 spots last week by beating World No. 13 Gael Monfils and making the European Open semi-finals (l. to Wawrinka). The teenager became the youngest ATP Tour semi-finalist in five years (Borna Coric, Basel 2014). Sinner was close to making Milan on his own merit as he is one spot away from qualifying in the ATP Race To Milan.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina made a late surge in the ATP Race To Milan by winning the 2019 Liuzhou Open in China, his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the season (Seville). Davidovich Fokina also cracked the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings with the title in China on 27 October and enters Milan at a career-high No. 82 in the ATP Rankings.
The third edition of the event in Milan will see the continuation of a number of innovations, including a best-of-five set format, shorter sets to 4 (tie-break at 3-All) and No-Ad scoring. Other innovations include Electronic Line Calling through Hawk-Eye Live, a 25-second Shot Clock, In-Match player coaching via head-sets, Video Review and more.
The tournament’s pioneering role in innovation was recognised at the 2018 Yahoo Sports Technology Awards in London, where ATP & ATP Media won the Most Innovative Governing Body or Rights Holder Award, as well as at the 2018 Leaders Sports Awards, where the tournament was recognised with the award for Best Innovation.