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Next Gen ATP Finals Draw Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex De Minaur headline Milan draw

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 5 Nov 2018
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas headlines Group A while Alex De Minaur leads Group B at the 2018 Next Gen Finals
  • The Next Gen ATP Finals is live from Milan from 6-10 November
Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the field as the best young players in the world converge in Milan for the second edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals, live from 6-10 November. 

Tsitsipas was just an alternate in the inaugural edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2017, but such has been the rise of the Greek that he enters this year's tournament as the top seed, and favourite to go all the way in Milan.

Looking to stop Tsitsipas will be last year's beaten finalist, Andrey Rublev, while Americans Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, as well as second seed, Alex De Minaur will also have genuine designs on winning the title.

The eight players have been divided into two groups of four, with Tsitsipas and De Minaur leading the respective groups.

Who will be the last man standing in Milan?


Group A

Stefanos Tsitsipas 
Frances Tiafoe
Hubert Hurkacz 
Juame Munar

Day 1 Schedule
Tsitsipas vs Munar, live from Milan at 2:00pm local local time/ 1:00pm GMT
Tiafoe vs Hurkasz, live from Milan at 7:30pm local local time/ 6:30pm GMT


Straightaway, top seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas and America, Frances Tiafoe jump out as the heavy favourites to progress into the semi-finals. They are ranked 15th and 40th respectively, while the other two members of the group are both currently outside the top 70, and have done their best works this season on the Challenger Tour.

Tsitsipas’ rise has been especially tremendous, moving from year outside the top 90 at the start of the year to secure a top-20 finish- the youngest player within that bracket. The Greek has amassed a staggering 41 tour-level victories this year, highlighted by a title run in Stockholm and two other finals in Barcelona and Toronto, where he beat four top-ten players before losing to Rafael Nadal. He is yet to play any other member of this group at tour-level, which may just make things a life tricky, but it will be a huge surprise if he doesn't secure one of the top two places.

Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
His biggest challenge for the summit of this group will most likely come from Frances Tiafoe, who like Tsitsipas, claimed his first tour level title this year- at Delray Beach. Tiafoe also made the final in Estoril, while he attained his best Grand Slam performance by reaching the third round at Wimbledon. The American enters the tournament ranked 40th in the world, having broken into the top 40 for the first time in August.

While Tsitsipas and Tiafoe are the favourites to make the semifinals, as dictated by their rankings and their 2018 form, the other members of the group, Hubert Hurkacz and Juame Munar are not to be underrated. The 6ft 5in Hurkacz especially will relish the conditions and the shorter format of the sets. If the Pole serves as well as he can, he can rush through sets and make life very uncomfortable for the higher-ranked players in the group. Hurkacz has only managed six tour level wins the season, the most significant of which was at Roland Garros, where he defeated Tennys Sandgren in the opening set, but he was excellent on the Challenger Tour, winning titles in Poznan and Brest. He will relish the chance to have a go in Milan- and could well produce an upset or two.

Hurkacz is actually the lower ranked player in the group, below Tsitsipas and Tiafoe, as well as Spain’s Juame Munar.

Frances Tiafoe. (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
However, Munar is arguably the least likely to progress, mainly because of the surface, and the explosiveness of the other members of the group. He recorded his best results on clay, reaching the second round at Roland Garros, after beating David Ferrer, and making the semis in Kitzbuhel. He also claimed a couple of Challenger titles in Prostejov and Caltanissetta- both on clay. That said, Munar is not a complete novice on hard courts, as he reached the third round at Winston-Salem, and qualified for the US Open, making the second round, but he’ll have to play tremendously well to beat Tsitsipas and Tiafoe, especially, to the top two spots in the group.

Of the four group members, only Tiafoe and Hurkacz have met at tour level, the American winning in straight sets in Washington. That element of unknown could be a recipe for upsets.

I'll go with the books and back Tsitsipas and Tiafoe the semis, but look out for Hurkacz who could spoil the party for the big guns.

Predicted Semi-Finalists: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe


Group B

Alex De Minaur 
Taylor Fritz 
Andrey Rublev 
Liam Caruana 


Day 1 Schedule
Fritz vs Rublev, live from Milan from 4:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT
De Minaur vs Caruana, live from Milan from 9:30pm local time/ 8:30pm GMT


Group B appears to be the tighter of the two groups, as it houses three players who have either been ranked in, or are still in the top 50.

Straightaway, world number 622, Liam Caruana is the rank outsider, with the local wildcard earning his birth after winning the Italian 21-and-under play-off. I do not expect much from the Italian, who has never won a match at tour-level, but any of the other three present a formidable argument to be considered favourites for the semifinals.

Alex De Minaur. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
De Minaur and Fritz are currently ranked inside the top 50, while Rublev has a career high ranking of 31, even though he is currently down at 68th

That drop in ranking was largely as a result of an injury, with the Russian missing three months of the season due to stress fracture in his lower back. He had started the year very well, reaching the final in Doha and making quarter finals in Montpellier and Rotterdam, but the results soon dried up, preceding his injury break, which kept him on the sidelines between April and July. He has had one big result since his comeback- a semi-final in Washington, but he has struggled since then, and heads into Milan on a 2-9 run. 

His form may not be the best, but what he does have over the rest of the group is a familiarity with the tournament, given that he made the final last season. That could be a big factor in the eventual outcome.

World number 31, De Minaur leads the group following a brilliant season, during which he contested finals in Sydney and Washington and made the semi-finals in Brisbane. He was also strong in the Challengers, winning his first title in Nottingham, and contesting two other finals in Alicante and Surbiton.

 Andrey Rublev. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Fellow Milan debutant Fritz also had a good run in the Challengers, especially at the start of the year, winning at Newport Beach, making the final in Noumea and the semifinals at the Indian Wells Challenger. He recorded his best results on the 2018 ATP World Tour in Houston and Chengdu, where he made semi-finals, while he reached last eight in Basel, as well as the fourth round at Indian Wells.

The rankings suggest that De Minaur and Fritz should progress, so do the head-to-heads, as both players have beaten Rublev on the tour- De Minaur winning a dramatic match in Washington where he saved four match points from 2-6 down in the second set tie break, while Fritz defeated the Russian in straight sets at Indian Wells. De Minaur and Fritz have never met at tour-level.

However, the experience that Rublev gained from making the semifinals last year, especially given the changed format, cannot be overstated. De Minaur and Fritz may be the higher ranked players at the moment, but Rublev is a former top-40 player and Grand Slam quarter finalist who also happens to possess a bit of Next Gen Finals know.

Predicted Semi-Finalists: Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz

Semi-Finals
Tsitsipas vs Fritz
Rublev vs Tiafoe

Final
Tsitsipas vs Rublev

Winner
Tsitsipas


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Next Gen ATP Finals Draw Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex De Minaur headline Milan draw

The eight players in the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals have been drawn in two groups, with Stefanos Tsitspas and Alex De Minaur headlining each group. Read our draw preview, predictions and stream the tournament live online.

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