After another near-miss last week when each-way pick Belinda Bencic quit her semi-final injured, Andy Schooler brings you his Next Gen ATP Finals betting preview – the action gets under way in Milan on Tuesday.
Milan, Italy (indoor hard)
The Next Gen ATP Finals, a showcase for the best male players aged 21 and under, takes place for the third time this year.
It remains in Milan but changes venues in 2019 – the first two tournaments have been staged at the Fiera Milano but the 2019 renewal will take place at the Allianz Cloud.
Organisers have, however, kept the same GreenSet court surface which has played fairly slow in the last two years.
It’s an event which continues to trial innovation.
The match format is significantly different. It’s the best of five sets but each set is the first to four games. A tie-break is played if they reach 3-3.
This means those players with a strong tie-break record are worth noting as there will be plenty of them this week, no matter how slow the court may play.
Coaching is allowed (via a headset) and this year players will also be able to use wearable technology with the data gained able to assist performance.
However, one trial dropped this year is no service lets – these return for 2019.
While the organisers continue to attract attention with their use of new rules, they sadly are struggling to do so by attracting the top players.
Three of the four leading qualifiers – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov – won’t be in attendance. Last year’s winner Tsitsipas has qualified for the main ATP Finals which will be held in London next week, while the Canadian duo have cited physical issues for opting out, perhaps with one eye on the forthcoming Davis Cup Finals.
Here’s my look at the eight players who will compete for the prize from Tuesday – they are split into two groups of four with the top two in each progressing to Friday’s semi-finals.
2019 ATP win-loss record: 34-19
2019 best performances: W Sydney, Atlanta, Zhuhai, RU Basel
Recent form (most recent first): L16 Paris, RU Basel, L64 Shanghai, L32 Tokyo, W Zhuhai
Record v group opponents:
v Ruud – overall: 0-1; hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
v Kecmanovic – overall: 0-0; hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
v Davidovich Fokina – overall: 0-1; hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
The highest-ranked player in the field by some distance, De Minaur also has the advantage of being one of only two players to have played in the event before, thus being used to its considerably different format. Twelve months ago he played well in Milan, losing only one set in winning his group before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. Owns a strong tie-break record in 2019 (17-11) and also has impressive service stats – he’s won 84