The ATP Next Gen Finals got underway on Tuesday at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with top-seed Arthur Fils taking on seventh-seed Luca Nardi. Nardi appears to be yet another Italian who is going to force the ATP to take notice of him. Whatever Italy has been feeding tennis players over the last 10 years is working because Nardi, along with Jannik Sinner and others, is probably among the best group of young Italian players in decades. Perhaps ever.
But while Nardi surprised a bit on the first day of the ATP Next Gen Finals round-robin stage – he took Arthur Fils to five sets – Nardi couldn’t quite come through in the end. This was so even though Nardi was much more efficient than Fils as Fils finished with 16 winners against 33 unforced errors while Nardi had 19 and 28, respectively. The main difference was Fils’ serve is better developed at this point than Nardi’s.
31 of Fils’ 73 serves were unreturned while Nardi managed only 27 of 89. When the Frenchman needed to make a big serve, he could and he did. Meanwhile, Nardi had to be more content with playing out rallies. Fils won the match (which has different scoring than normal ATP matches) 2-4 4-3 4-2 1-4 4-2.
Fils squeaks by and Cobolli overpowers on Day 1 of the ATP Next Gen Finals
Each player still has a chance to make the semifinals, however, as each player will play the other three players in their group once. Nardi likely needs to win his next two matches, however, while Fils can relax a bit more.
Getting back to Italian tennis, fifth-seed Flavio Cobolli swept away third-seed Dominic Stricker in four sets. 4-2 3-4 4-1 4-2. Cobolli is currently ranked 100 on the ATP tour and has c career record of 5-9. The issue is that his contemporaries Carlos Alcaraz and Sinner have already accomplished quite a bit more and Alcaraz is younger than Cobolli and Sinner is just a year older than his countryman.
Still, Flavio showed good pace and power and hit his groundstrokes deep and Stricker was simply overpowered. If Cobolli can be more consistent and maybe make a run at the ATP Next Gen Finals, his confidence would be helped. Cobolli would add just another good young player for Italy and don’t they have enough already?