Next Gen ATP Finals Semifinals Locked In

Following the grueling group-stage matches at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, the names of the semifinalists who will battle for the title surged on Thursday in Jeddah.

Frenchman Arthur Fils became the first of the world’s top eight 21-and-under singles players to qualify for the last four at the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM.

The Lyon champion notched a 4-2, 3-4(3), 4-2, 4-3(5) victory over Swiss player Dominic Stricker, rounding up a perfect campaign to win Green Group in the round-robin stage on Thursday.

In his on-court interview, the top seed outlined: “I knew before the match [that I had qualified], but I just want to win every match I’m playing.”

I think I put a little bit more focus out there today than the first two days because I know this opponent, and he already beat me this year. It was a tough match, but I’m really happy to win.”

Earlier in the day session, Italian Luca Nardi recorded a 3-4(4), 4-2, 4-3(1), 1-4, 4-3(3) triumph over countryman Flavio Cobolli, sending Fils to the semifinals.

During the week, Fils, at a career-high No. 36, defeated both Italian players in the group stage before overcoming the Swiss player to earn the best overall record.

For his part, Stricker, who needed to win one set against the 19-year-old, nailed the other available place in the group, progressing at the 21-and-under event semifinals for the second consecutive time in his young career.

Those results ended Nardi and Cobolli’s chances to reach the next step.

Meanwhile, night session play determined Red Group qualifiers in Jeddah.

Second seed Luca Van Assche opened play against American Alex Michelsen at the first ATP-sanctioned event in Saudi Arabia.

The World No. 70 earned a dramatic 4-3(0), 3-4(4), 4-3(4), 4-1, 4-3(6) win after two hours and 36 minutes, moving to the top of Red Group standings, keeping his chances to qualify alive.

It was a very tough match, very difficult,” he said after the clash. “There were four tiebreaks in the match, so it was really close.

I’m very happy to win today… I hope that the next result in the next match will qualify me.”

Red Group’s deciding match featured eighth seed Abdullah Shelbayh against Serbian Hamad Medjedovic, who got the better of the Jordanian to remain undefeated after producing a 3-4(6), 4-2, 4-3(5), 4-2 win, finishing first in his group, handling the second and last spot to Van Assche.

It was a great match. I played really well after the first set,” outlined Medjedovic.

Speaking about Shelbayh, the first player from Jordan to compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals, Medjedovic remarked: “He’s a good friend of mine, he’s a very good player. Obviously, the crowd here loves him, and I respect that. It was a pleasure to play in front of [the crowd].”

En route to the semifinals, the Serbian, mentored by Viktor Troicki, moved past fourth seed Michelsen, Van Assche, and eventually, Shelbayh.

With the group-stage matches completed, the semifinals are locked in; the 20-year-old, who holds a 17-9 Challenger record this season, will face Stricker on Friday.

Talking about his next opponent, Medjedovic commented: “I’ve known Dominic for a long time. He’s a great player and a great guy.”

Adding: “I think it’s going to be a great match, and I’m happy to be in the semis.”

The other semifinal will feature an all-French duel between Fils and Van Assche, as the second-place finisher in the Red Group plays the Green Group winner on Center Court.

The Next Gen ATP Finals run from November 28 to December 2 in Jeddah.

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