Ugo Humbert and Mikael Ymer open the night session of the Next Gen ATP Finals on Tuesday, with both players seeking winning debuts at the year-end tournament.
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Ugo Humbert (3) vs Mikael Ymer (6), 7:30pm local time/ 6:30pm GMT
Frenchman, Humbert just missed out on qualification for the Next Gen ATP Finals last season, when he jumped almost 300 spots in the rankings to break into the top 100, but he’s consolidated his position in the top-100 this year, and has got into the Next Gen Finals quite comfortably.
Humbert finished sixth in the Race to Milan, following a fine season during which he reached three tour-level semi-finals- Marseille, Newport and Antwerp, while he also made the fourth round at Wimbledon, beating Gael Monfils, Marcel Granollers and Felix Auger-Aliassime before falling to Novak Djokovic.
The 21-year-old also added Challenger titles in Cherbourg, Istanbul and Brest to his 2019 collection, and peaked at a career-high No. 46 in the world in July. He faces Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in his Milan opener on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Ymer has raced up the rankings this year, climbing from outside the top-250 at the start of the year to his current ranking of 73rd.
Ymer’s rise been built on a strong 39-10 run on the Challenger Tour, winning titles in Noumea, Tampere, Orleans and Mouilleron-de-Captif, and making finals in Murcia and Bordeaux. He was only 3-4 at tour-level, but he has certainly laid strong foundations for a big push next season. The Swede finished ninth on the ATP’s Race to Milan, but he is in very good form and is certainly capable of upsetting some of the higher-ranked players in this tournament. He will look to do just that against Humbert in his tournament debut on Tuesday.
Frances Tiafoe (2) vs Jannik Sinner (8, WC), to follow
Competing at the Next Gen ATP Finals for the second straight season, can Frances Tiafoe make it out of the round-robin phase this year, and possibly go on to win the title? The second seed opens against home favourite, Jannik Sinner in the final match of Day 1.
Tiafoe went 1-2 at the Next Gen Finals last year, beating Hubert Hurkacz, and losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jaume Munar, failing to make the semi-finals as a consequence.
The American ended last season inside the top-40, but he has not exactly built on that this season, as reflected in his current ranking of 47th. Tiafoe promised plenty at the start of the season, when he made the quarter finals at the Australian Open in January, and reached the last eight in Miami in March, peaking at No. 29 in the world somewhere in between, but his results have faded through the course of the year, and has made just three more quarter finals- Estoril, Winston-Salem and Antwerp- in his eighteen tournaments after Miami.
Can he end the season on a high with a strong showing at the Next Gen ATP Finals?
Italian wildcard, Sinner is the youngest player in the field, and takes his place in Milan following a superb season during which he has jumped from outside the top 500 into the top-100. Currently ranked 95th in the world, he is also the youngest player in the top-100. The highly rated 18-year-old has claimed Challenger titles in Bergamo and Lexington this season, while he reached a final in Ostrava, and the semi-finals at Mouilleron-Le-Captif.
Sinner also won his first tour-level matches in 2018, with his marquee performance coming in Antwerp, where he scored notable wins over Gael Monfils and Tiafoe before falling to Stan Wawrinka in the last four. Overall, the Italian has put together a 7-9 run at tour-level this season.
Sinner defeated Tiafoe in their only previous meeting- the aforementioned Antwerp quarter final- and with a strong home backing behind him, there’s a good chance he could upset the second seed on Tuesday.