Tennis - ATP World Tour News - powered by FeedBurnerenSun, 03 Dec 2023 15:06:18 -0500 Gen ATP FinalsMatch ReactionHamad Medjedovic2023Medjedovic On Next Gen ATP Finals Title: 'I Feel Amazing'<p>Beaming from ear to ear, Hamad Medjedovic was proud of his achievements on Saturday in Jeddah, where he reflected on winning the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM title. The 20-year-old Serbian defeated Arthur Fils in the title match.</p> <p>I feel amazing,&rdquo; Medjedovic said in his post-match press conference. &ldquo;It was unreal and still is. It was tough to process everything. It was a really tough match. I was on the edge of going crazy after the first set as I had two set points but I managed to stay relaxed and focused and it is an unreal feeling.&rdquo;</p> <p>Medjedovic is the sixth champion in the tournament&rsquo;s history, a list that includes Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 20-year-old is delighted to join such elite company and hopes it will help him push on further in 2024 as he aims to break the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.</p> <p>&ldquo;It means a lot. To know that all the great champions [won here], it gives you a lot of confidence and a boost for next season,&rdquo; Medjedovic said. &ldquo;I will be coming into next year with a lot of confidence.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have a big game and big shots but I still have a lot of things to work on with my coach. Physically I need to get much better and I will use preseason for this and I need to improve my focus on the court more.&rdquo;</p> <p>[ATP APP]</p> <div>Saturday&rsquo;s triumph meant it was a clean sweep for Serbia at the ATP Tour&rsquo;s year-end events after Novak Djokovic captured his record seventh Nitto ATP Finals title in Turin earlier this month.</div> <p>Medjedovic is pleased to have delivered more success for Serbia.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is a great thing. He won the Finals and I won Next Gen,&rdquo; Medjedovic said. &ldquo;It is a great thing for our country. I am really proud to get this title for my country. I have not opened my phone yet, but I am sure he has sent a message to congratulate me.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Next Gen ATP Finals was the first ever ATP Tour sanctioned event to be held in Saudi Arabia. Medjedovic enjoyed playing in front of the energetic crowds in the King Abdullah Sports City.</p> <p>&ldquo;I was really lucky to have them on my side since the first match,&rdquo; Medjedovic said when asked about the Saudi fans. &ldquo;They were cheering for me and I was feeling the love. I am really happy and grateful I had them on my side.&rdquo;</p>Sat, 02 Dec 2023 20:57:00 Z ReactionArthur FilsNext Gen ATP Finals2023Fils Answers Nadal's Call For Training Camp In KuwaitAs he closes the books on his breakthrough 2023 season, French teen Arthur Fils is wasting little time in preparing to push even higher in 2024. <p> The 19-year-old, who finished runner-up to Hamad Medjedovic Saturday at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM in Jeddah, will remain in the Middle East for a practice week with Rafael Nadal at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Kuwait. </p> <p> "I was very happy, very surprised when he asked me to practise with him," Fils said in his post-match press conference. "It's such a big thing for me to play with one of the greatest players of all time. I will try my best for him but I have a big season coming so I will also try my best for myself. I will try to enjoy it as well." </p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p> Despite the disappointment of losing in five sets to Medjedovic after saving two match points in the fourth set, Fils can be justifiably happy with his banner year in 2023. He shaved more than 200 places off his Pepperstone ATP Ranking during the year to finish inside the Top 40. </p> <p> "It was a nice year for sure. I started at 250 but finished at 36, so that's pretty good. It still could have been better. I lost some close matches, like I did today, but it's just experience and I will try to do better next year.&rdquo; </p> <p> Fils, who had not won a tour-level match before this year, finishes 2023 with a 23-18 match record, including his 4-1 mark in Jeddah. He won his first title in Lyon and also reached the Antwerp final.</p> <p>Although Fils said he has been inspired by the rapid rise of Carlos Alcaraz, who became World No. 1 last year at 19, he is not putting pressure on himself to emulate the Spaniard, at least in the short term.</p><p> "My goal is not to be No. 1 in the world in three months, because it's not possible,” Fils said. “I have to work, to work, to work. I have to work in the gym, work on the court, try my best in every match I play and then maybe one day I will be a champion. I hope it comes fast, but not as fast as Carlos, because what he did was crazy."</p> Sat, 02 Dec 2023 20:53:00 Z FeaturesAmmar AlhogbaniNext Gen ATP Finals2023Saudi No. 1 Alhogbani's Twin Tennis Missions<p> When Ammar Alhogbani stepped on court to take on <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="" target="_blank">Zhang Zhizhen</a> at the Asian Games in September, it was more than just an opportunity for the Saudi Arabian to prove himself against a Top 100 player. </p> <p> Despite falling to a 7-5, 6-2 defeat in Hangzhou, the 25-year-old Alhogbani&rsquo;s performance against Chinese star Zhang made him realise he was ready to make a full-time return to professional tennis after time away working as National Teams Development Officer for the Saudi Tennis Federation. </p> <p> &ldquo;I played Zhang, and I almost took the first set,&rdquo; the No. 1 Saudi player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings told on Saturday in Jeddah. &ldquo;I was like, &lsquo;If I&rsquo;m almost taking the first set against a guy like this, there is a good possibility I can do well with [full-time] training. I almost took the first set when I&rsquo;m training three or four times a week and with no coach'.&rdquo; </p> <p> [ATP AWARDS] </p> <p> Born in Saudi Arabia, Alhogbani and his family moved to the United States when he was three years old. After growing up in Ohio and then Virginia, he played college tennis at the University of Virginia, where he was part of a NCAA Championship-winning team in his first year. Due to a variety of reasons, however, Alhogbani&rsquo;s playing career stalled after he graduated and returned to Saudi Arabia in 2021. </p> <p> &ldquo;After college I hurt my wrist, at the beginning of when I wanted to make a push [up the rankings],&rdquo; said Alhogbani. &ldquo;Then I got the role at the federation, so that slowed it down. This year, [I played] at the Asian Games and some other ITF events, when I had limited training. </p> <p> &ldquo;My brother (fellow Saudi Davis Cup player Saud Alhogbani) is now playing U.S. college tennis at Wake Forest, so I don&rsquo;t really have anyone to train with. So I go to Futures events and train for the first week. I&rsquo;ve had some good results, so I want to give it a full shot in the coming years, just to see how far I can take it on the court.&rdquo; </p> <p> Finding hitting partners has been less of a problem for Alhogbani this week at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, where the Saudi has practised with several of the competitors at the season-ending 21-and-under event in Jeddah. On Saturday, he hit with top seed Arthur Fils to help warm up the Frenchman ahead of the championship match against Hamad Medjedovic. </p> <p> &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve hit with the majority of the guys [this week],&rdquo; said Alhogbani. &ldquo;I hit with Arthur the most. It&rsquo;s a good time. Obviously, they have different gamestyles. Some guys like to be on top the baseline and bully me around, but I got to play a couple of sets against some of the guys, so that was really cool.&rdquo; </p> <p><img src="-/media/3451c1fba5d1431680130c300179ad77.ashx" style="width: 100%;" alt="Dominic Stricker/Ammar Alhogbani/Arthur Fils" /><br /> <em><sub><sup> Alhogbani (centre) tossed the coin for the group-stage match between Dominic Stricker and Arthur Fils. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour </sup></sub></em></p> <p> As a big advocate of Saudi tennis, Alhogbani is delighted to have been part of the first ATP-sanctioned event in his homeland. He sees it as a milestone moment for tennis in a country making big strides across a variety of sports. </p> <p> &ldquo;This is a huge step. Obviously, we have had [exhibitions] in the past, but this is the first ATP-sanctioned event, so this is something that&rsquo;s really big for us,&rdquo; said Alhogbani. &ldquo;The sports industry is booming, and football has been king here for so long. Now tennis is a priority sport, so having tennis at the forefront and having this event just goes hand in hand. </p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really cool. The kids get to see all the players, and seeing it is believing it. I think it&rsquo;s going to inspire a lot of the kids to come and play.&rdquo; </p> <p></p> <p> Whatever the future of Saudi tennis, Alhogbani is not likely to be the only member of his family playing a big role. He competes alongside his 20-year-old brother Saud in the nation&rsquo;s Davis Cup team, and he also made history alongside his 19-year-old sister Yara Alhogbani at this year&rsquo;s Asian Games. </p> <p> &ldquo;This time around was really cool, because I went with my sister,&rdquo; said Alhogbani, who first played the Asian Games as a 15-year-old in 2014. &ldquo;We played mixed doubles, and that was the first ever mixed doubles team from Saudi Arabia.&rdquo; </p> <p><img src="-/media/997b521c29044b9b9706d3481ee4bfa5.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Yara Alhogbani/Ammar Alhogbani" /><br /> <em><sub><sup> Yara Alhogbani and Ammar Alhogbani at September's Asian Games in Hangzhou. Photo courtesy of Ammar Alhogbani. </sup></sub></em></p> <p> With so many recent groundbreaking moments for Saudi tennis, Alhogbani hopes his family&rsquo;s on-court achievements and hosting the Next Gen ATP Finals can be a starting point for continued development. </p> <p> &ldquo;Obviously tennis culture here isn&rsquo;t so big, and it&rsquo;s something that is a dream, to make it bigger,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I would love to see more people in general picking up racquets and see more facilities&hellip; For me as a player, I want to see Saudi tennis at the highest level. I think we&rsquo;re all looking for a player to break through, and just more of these events would help with that.&rdquo; </p>Sat, 02 Dec 2023 17:25:00 Z ReportNext Gen ATP Finals2023Story of the SeasonPremiumHamad MedjedovicMedjedovic Is Next! Serbian Triumphs At Next Gen ATP Finals<p>Hamad Medjedovic capped his breakthrough season by lifting the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM trophy on Saturday in Jeddah, where he recovered from squandering two match points in the fourth set against Arthur Fils to win the first five-set final in tournament history.</p> <p>The 20-year-old played aggressively in front of a packed crowd in King Abdullah Sports City, where he received loud support from energetic fans. The Serbian took large cuts at the ball, won 88 per cent (61/69) of points on his first delivery and converted his third match point to fire past the 19-year-old Frenchman 3-4(6), 4-1, 4-2, 3-4(9), 4-1 after two hours and 11 minutes.</p> <p>It also capped a great end of the season for Serbia after Novak Djokovic clinched a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown in Turin earlier this month. The World No. 1 has been sending Medjedovic messages of support this week.</p> <p>"Two of us from Serbia. He won the big Masters, the real one, and I won the Next Gen. Obviously it's a huge thing and I'm happy to follow in his footsteps in some way," Medjedovic said.</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p>Medjedovic did not lose a match en route to becoming the first Serbian to triumph at the tournament, taking home a tournament-record $514,000 in prize money.</p> <p>At No. 110 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 20-year-old is the lowest-ranked champion in tournament history, while he is the sixth Next Gen ATP Finals titlist, joining Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.</p> <p>"I can&rsquo;t believe I have won this title, but it's going to give me a lot of confidence for 2024,"Medjedovic said. "Arthur is an amazing player; he's Top 40 for a reason, so I'm really happy."</p> <p>"It was tough after the first set. I changed my clothes and recovered and started to play good again. I didn't play good when I had match points in the fourth set. I wasn't relaxed, I was very stiff. Thank God I recovered and I was just trying to stay relaxed as much as I could and I managed to do it in the end.&rdquo;</p> <p><img src="-/media/c96a9aaecef540298816f7cf57100050.ashx" style="width: 100%;" alt="Hamad Medjedovic Fuel Gauge" /><br /> <em><sub><sup> Fuel Gauge shows how much a player should have left in the tank based on historical benchmarks.</sup></sub></em></p> <p>Both players come out firing on serve in their first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting. They dropped just one point each on their first deliveries, with Fils hitting six aces and Medjedovic seven. With little to separate them, the Frenchman came to life deep in the tie-break, saving two set points before he clinched the opener on his first set point.</p> <p>After taking a toilet break, Medjedovic found his best level at the start of the second set. He flew through his service games, making use of the shortened shot-clock rule between aces to gain momentum and level. The Serbian then broke in the first game of the third set and continued his impressive level on serve in the third set, winning all 10 points behind his first delivery.</p> <p>The fourth set then went to a tie-break and Medjedovic moved to match point at 6/4. Fils saved both on second serves, before clinching the set to force a deciding set. The Serbian, who struck 34 winners, including 19 aces, would not be denied though. He raced through the decider, collapsing to the floor after converting on his third match point.</p> <img src="-/media/8cc3bb82c5e74707aac47bd98b9fac07.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Hamad Medjedovic celebrates his Next Gen ATP Finals title with Jeddah fans." />&nbsp; <p>Medjedovic, who is coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, won three ATP Challenger Tour trophies in 2023, while he reached tour-level semi-finals in Gstaad and Astana.</p> <p>Fils, who won his maiden tour-level title in Lyon in May, started the season at No. 251 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings but arrived in Jeddah at a career-high No. 36. He is the first French teenager to finish the season inside the Top 50 since then-19-year-olds Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils in 2005.</p> <p><strong>Did You Know?</strong><br /> Medjedovic hit 69 aces during the event. No player in tournament history has hit more aces at the event than the Serbian.</p>Sat, 02 Dec 2023 16:07:00 Z IndexMatch PreviewNext Gen ATP Finals2023Physicality Index Insights: Final Preview<p>The ATP and Tennis Data Innovations (TDI) will deliver unprecedented insights at the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. Using state-of-the-art tracking metrics, the insights will assess the physical capacity required to compete at the highest professional level of our sport.</p> <p>Read more to learn about Saturday's final in Jeddah.</p> <h3>Arthur Fils vs. Hamad Medjedovic</h3> <p>The road to the final has been a physical journey at times for Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic. Both players have been pushed by their opponents physically and mentally. So, as the players and their teams are looking to put together the final touches on their game plan for Saturday&rsquo;s match, here are a few key insights that have come through when looking at the tactical and physical data.</p> <p>The on-court performance from both of these players during the course of the entire week has been extremely high. They have both done an amazing job of converting on the offense they have created with their easy power, staying in attack over 28% of all points played. Fils has been able to steal 34% of the points using a combination of his speed and power, whereas Medjedovic has been able to steal 33% of his points using mostly great anticipation and strength.</p> <p>On average, the players are hitting their forehands over 80 MPH and their backhands over 70 MPH. Fils will tend to look for his forehand a little more, especially from the AD court, where Medjedovic is more balanced with his attack off the ground, settling for a few more backhands from the middle. They are both very comfortable spreading the court with their forehands to both sides of the court, and they love to finish with their forehands down the line (both of their #1 hot play).</p> <p>Coming into this match Fils and Medjedovic have put in a similar volume of work, running similar distances and accumulating comparable workloads. Where their physicality profiles begin to diverge is around the high-intensity movements (high-speed distance &amp; explosive movements). Fils has performed 33% more high-speed distance and 25% more explosive movements. This is where the physical profile of athletes can dictate the tactical game planning. The number one cold play of Medjedovic is his defending with the backhand through the middle from the backhand corner. Fils is clearly more explosive with his movements in and out of the corners, allowing him to defend a little more efficiently by using his speed.</p> <p>[ATP APP]</p> <p><strong>Physical Keys to the Match</strong></p> <p>Coming out of the gates fast and matching the physical intensity of Medjedovic from the start of the match will only favour Fils. Fils has been able to significantly increase his overall work rate over the course of each match. His movement has only improved as the matches have progressed, where Medjedovic has seen a decline in his overall work rate in each of his three round-robin matches. He had come out fast and physical in each match but then seen a steep decline in his work rate as the matches progressed.</p> <p>Can Fils match the early intensity of Medjedovic, using his high-speed distance and explosive movements to counter the pace of Medjedovic, making the Serbian hit one or two more balls each point. Or can Medjedovic take the racquet out of Fils' hands by keeping the rallies short and making this match more about volume (distance and work load) and less about intensity (high-speed distance and explosive movements). Volume favours Medjedovic and Intensity favours Fils.</p>Sat, 02 Dec 2023 15:31:00 Z PreviewNext Gen ATP Finals2023Arthur FilsHamad MedjedovicFils Meets Medjedovic: Who Will Join Exclusive Club In Jeddah?<p> The final chance for title glory of the 2023 ATP Tour season also represents an opportunity for Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic to join an impressive list of champions at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. </p> <p> Top seed Fils and sixth seed Medjedovic face off at 8 p.m. local time Saturday at King Abdullah Sports City, where they are each hoping to join current Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas as champions at the season-ending 21-and-under event. </p> <p> Both players head into the championship match undefeated for the week in Saudi Arabia and their maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting promises to be an intriguing one. Despite Fils sitting 74 places higher than Medjedovic in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the Frenchman will take nothing for granted against a player who has thrilled fans this week with his powerful groundstrokes and huge serving. </p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p> “We’ve known each other a long time,” said the World No. 36 Fils on Friday in Jeddah. “We played juniors together, so I know that he has an unbelievable serve. The fastest of the tournament. It’s going to be a tough one. I’m going to need to know exactly how to play, with good tactics, but I think that it’s going to be a good match for sure. </p> <p> “With his tennis and my tennis, we are altogether playing [well]. Let’s see tomorrow, but he’s a nice guy. I hope he will be very good for the next generation [on Tour], but not tomorrow I hope.” </p> <p> Fils showed impressive composure to down his friend and countryman Luca Van Assche in four sets in the semi-finals on Friday, before Medjedovic advanced after Dominic Stricker (back) retired in the second set of their last-four clash. The 20-year-old Serbian is looking forward to reigniting his junior rivalry with Fils when the pair steps out in the first ATP-sanctioned title match on Saudi Arabian soil. </p> <p> “I think it’s going to be a really good match,” said Medjedovic on Saturday. “Arthur is a really good player, he’s already [World No.36]. He’s a really good friend of mine as well. I’ve known him for a long time and I’m excited to play him tomorrow.” </p> <p></p> <p> Fils won 19 tour-level matches in 2023 and lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in Lyon in May, while Medjedovic reached his first semi-finals at that level in Gstaad and Astana and also lifted three trophies on the ATP Challenger Tour. Having each enjoyed breakthrough years, both will want to finish 2023 with a flourish by becoming Next Gen ATP Finals champion in Jeddah. </p> <p> “To end the year like this is always nice,” said Medjedovic when asked how much winning would boost him heading into 2024. “Especially if I win the whole tournament. I’m happy to be in the final, but the job is not done yet and I want to win tomorrow.” </p>Fri, 01 Dec 2023 21:41:00 Z ReportNext Gen ATP Finals2023Hamad MedjedovicMedjedovic Sets Fils Final After Stricker Retires<p>Hamad Medjedovic advanced to the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM title match on Friday when Dominic Stricker was forced to retire in the second set due to a back injury in the pair's semi-final.</p> <p>Medjedovic was leading Stricker 4-3(5), 2-1 when the Swiss walked to the net and ended the clash. The 20-year-old Medjedovic struck 12 winners and three unforced errors during the 32 minutes they were on court before the match came to an early close.</p> <p>Medjedovic, who went 3-0 in the round-robin stage on debut in Jeddah, will face top seed Arthur Fils in the title match. Both are looking to become the sixth champions at the 21-and-under event, joining previous winners Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.</p> <p></p> <p>In a heavy-hitting first set, both players took large cuts at the ball to try and dictate, with serve dominating on the fast courts. Medjedovic won 93 per cent (14/15) of his first-serve points in the opener with Stricker not losing a point behind his first delivery (11/11). With little to separate them, Medjedovic produced his best level in the tie-break, hitting through the Swiss lefty to lead.</p> <p>The 20-year-old then earned an early break at the start of the second set before Stricker retired.</p> <p>Medjedovic, who is coached by former-World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, has enjoyed a standout season. The Serbian reached tour-level semi-finals in Gstaad and Astana and won three ATP Challenger Tour events.</p> <p>Stricker was making his second appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals. The 21-year-old Swiss, who reached the fourth round at the US Open, also fell at the semi-final stage in 2022.</p> Fri, 01 Dec 2023 18:49:00 Z Gen ATP Finals2023'It's A Dream Come True': Saudi Fans Loving Next Gen ATP Finals<p>History is being made this week in Jeddah, where the first-ever ATP Tour sanctioned event on Saudi Arabian soil is taking place.</p> <p>The top eight 21-and-under stars have been battling it out at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, with fans coming from all corners of Saudi Arabia to catch a glimpse of the action at King Abdullah Sports City.</p> <p>Ahmed Aljefri has travelled to London, New York and Miami in the past to watch his favourite players compete. Attending Saturday&rsquo;s semi-finals with his family, the local fan is excited to watch the sport live in Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is a dream come true to have tennis here,&rdquo; said Aljefri, who was cheering for Jordanian star Abdullah Shelbayh this week. &ldquo;I have been a fan of tennis for more than 20 years, so it is great to see the ATP Tour here. It is great the Tour has a presence in Saudi Arabia and it is amazing it is in my hometown.</p> <p>&ldquo;Lots of people have been watching tennis here in the past 15 years, so to bring a permanent tournament here is great.&rdquo;</p> <p></p> <p>The Next Gen ATP Finals will be held in Jeddah until 2027 after a five-year agreement was signed earlier this season.</p> <p>Another fan, Ahmed Alazzni believes the sport has the potential to grow rapidly in Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>&ldquo;We went inside and watched the first match. It is my first time watching tennis live and it was quite amazing,&rdquo; Alazzni said. &ldquo;It is the first tournament here in Saudi Arabia so we are excited and it is an unbelievable experience for me.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are so many fans who like tennis. We know everyone and watch the sport. We love the Next Gen players. We are looking forward to more events coming in the future to this country hopefully."</p> <p><img src="-/media/6ee430a3cf8846acbadfb559ce068923.ashx" alt="Jeddah Fans" style="width: 100%;" /><br /> <em><sub><sup>Ahmed Alazzni [left] with friend Mohammed Bulushi [right]</sup></sub></em></p> <p>Majdi Saber is attending the tournament with his son. He is pleased with the organisation at the tournament.</p> <p>&ldquo;The whole arrangement is good and we love it,&rdquo; Saber said. &ldquo;The event here is really well run and fans have a great experience. The sport is spreading all the time. The youngest people are trying to get used to the sport and it is getting there.&rdquo;</p> <p><img src="-/media/5e29c6f9c4d047b5ab4c5f520b85f5db.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Jeddah Fans" /><br /> <em><sub><sup>Majdi Saber [left] with his son [right]</sup></sub></em></p>Fri, 01 Dec 2023 17:38:00 Z ReportNext Gen2023NextGenArthur FilsFriendly Fire: Fils Ousts Van Assche, Reaches Jeddah Final<p>Arthur Fils maintained his perfect record at this year&rsquo;s Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM on Friday when he moved past countryman and close friend Luca Van Assche to reach the final in Jeddah.</p> <p> The top seed Fils, 19, downed Van Assche 2-4, 4-1, 4-3(1), 4-3(6) after producing heavy-hitting and clean ball-striking for one hour, 37 minutes. The World No. 36 struck several monstrous forehands and was dominant on serve as the match wore on, winning 23 of his 24 first-serve points across the third and fourth sets. Fils booked his ticket to the final on his fourth match point and celebrated the victory by doing <a href="">Cristiano Ronaldo's 'Siu' celebration</a>.</p> <p>"Today was a tough match against a great, great friend. We've known each other since we were nine, so it was a little bit tough and I'm happy with the win," Fils said on his on-court interview. "I came onto the court with the mindset that I can win. The first set was tough, he was playing very good and defending so well, running very fast. I kept my focus and I'm really happy about this win."</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p>A key moment came in the third set when Fils held his nerve during a no-ad point at 2-3, which doubled as a set point for Van Assche. Fils then jumped to a 5/0 lead in the third-set tie-break, delivering a blow to Van Assche&rsquo;s chances of ousting the top seed. </p> <p>"I played every point trying everything with my forehand, moving very good. I was quite happy about that tie-break," Fils said.</p> <p>In a rematch of the 2021 Roland Garros boys' singles final, which Van Assche won, Fils struck 24 winners to set a championship match clash against Serbian Hamad Medjedovic.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the six-year history of the 21-and-under event, Fils is the first Frenchman to make the championship match. Fils is 4-0 this week after ending Van Assche's season.<p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Turning it ??<br><br>Fils lifting his level when it mattered most ??<br><br>Fh and Bh <a >#ShotQuality</a> for the match ?? <a >#ShotQuality</a> for the x2 tiebreaks combined ??<br><br>Fh avg. speed in the 3rd set TB = 86 mph??<a >#TennisInsights</a> | <a >@atptour</a> | <a >@nextgenfinals</a> <a ></a></p>&mdash; Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) <a >December 1, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>"It was an amazing tournament and a great experience for the players," Van Assche said. "It was a tough loss today but it's been a great week."</p> <p>At World No. 70 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Van Assche now looks to build upon his breakthrough season and go even further in 2024.</p> <p>"Every year there are a lot of players at the Next Gen who perform well the next year, so I hope it's the same again next year," Van Assche said. "I want to play better and win some titles and win a lot of matches in the Grand Slams."</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div>Fri, 01 Dec 2023 17:15:00 Z IndexNext Gen ATP FinalsMatch Preview2023Physicality Index Insights Preview: SFs In Jeddah<p>The ATP and Tennis Data Innovations (TDI) will deliver unprecedented insights at the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. Using state-of-the-art tracking metrics, the insights will assess the physical capacity required to compete at the highest professional level of our sport.</p> <p>Read more to learn about Friday's semi-final matchups in Jeddah.</p> <h3>Arthur Fils vs. Luca Van Assche</h3> <p>Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche will face off for the first time on the ATP Tour on Friday. Both players have advanced to the semi-finals of the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, by using their physical make-up in two very contrasting ways. In the three matches of pool play, Van Assche has played the most physical brand of tennis, leading all competitors with the most distance covered, highest workload output, and largest total of explosive movements. He closed out the group stage by playing the second-longest match in Next Gen ATP Finals history, recording a Physicality Index rating of 10, the second-highest rating in tournament history, only behind his opponent in that match, Alex Michelson.</p> <p>What we know from the data is that Van Asche has no problem responding to high volume and intensity matches, as earlier this year he defeated three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in a match that was comparable to the output of last nights match against Michelson. He came back the next day and pushed Novak Djokovic to three sets, again pushing his PI rating upward of 9.0. </p> <p>Fills has spent 25 minutes less of active hitting time on court than Van Assche during the course of the first three matches. His first match against Luca Nardi was his most physical match of the Next Gen ATP Finals, recording a Physical Intensity rating of 7.6. Dominic Stricker was able to force Fils into executing his highest number of explosive movements per minute in their four-set match, forcing him to change direction more often in that match.</p> <p><strong>Keys to Match</strong></p> <p>Both of these players are physically prepared to compete in the semi-final match-up. They have both proven they can compete physically with the best players in the world, in consecutive matches back to back. The tactical game plan is going to dictate a lot of how the physicality of this match looks. In the one loss Van Assche experienced this week, he moved at a much slower rate than in his other two wins. The amount of high-speed distance he covered was way below his average for the season. That was largely due in part to Medjedovic dictating early in the rallies, keeping the rally count below his season average of 4.5 shots per rally. When Fils is playing his best tennis, he is dictating play with his forehand left of centre, and hitting his forehand over 60% of the time. Van Assche is going to need to get him changing direction more frequently. In the matches Fils has lost this year, he has been forced to change direction almost 25% more.</p> <p></p> <h3>Hamad Medjedovic vs. Dominic Stricker</h3> <p>Hamad Medjedovic and Dominic Stricker are tactically looking to accomplish the same thing. Strike early and strike often. In their Next Gen ATP Finals matches, both players are averaging 5% more of their points in attack than their opponents. Both players have executed the least amount of high-speed distance and explosive movements in the tournament.</p> <p>Medjedovic has shown that he is a competitor and he is not going to shy away from the physical pain that comes with going deep into the match. He overcame cramping in his first-round match against Michelson, and followed that up with another tough four-set match against Van Assche.</p> <p><strong>Keys to Match</strong></p> <p>Win or lose, we know one thing, both these players are going to try and keep the points short. They are both looking to serve big and take advantage of the balls in the mid-court. Look for Medjedovic to dictate with his forehand, forcing Stricker to have to defend his forehand on the run. Stricker will look to push Medjedovic off the baseline with good depth and then use his lefty forehand to make Medjedovic defend outside the singles sideline with his backyard. Both players have the ability to use their offense to move forward and finish the points off at the net. I would not expect very high PI metrics for this match, as the rallies will look to be short.</p>Fri, 01 Dec 2023 15:35:00 Z FeaturesArthur FilsNext Gen ATP Finals2023Fils Reveals Action-Packed Plans For Post-Tennis Career<p>At the close of a standout season in which he won his first ATP Tour title in Lyon, Arthur Fils entered the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM at a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 36.</p> <p>But what is the 19-year-old like off the court? caught up with the Jeddah top seed for a Q&amp;A that covered his post-tennis career plans, his favourite sports and a holiday adventure.</p> <p><strong>If you could have dinner with three people, who would they be and why?<br /> </strong>Cristiano Ronaldo first, because for me he&rsquo;s the best footballer who exists in the world. I would say also Michael Jordan, because I&rsquo;ve watched him a lot. And, third, I&rsquo;m going to say The Rock.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>So you'd say Ronaldo is better than Messi?<br /> </strong>For me, yeah. My coach, Sergi Bruguera, loves Messi. So we have a little fight about it.</p> <p>[ATP AWARDS]</p> <p><strong>If you weren&rsquo;t a tennis player, what job would you want and why?<br /> </strong>An actor, for sure. That&rsquo;s what I'm going to do after my career, for sure. Action movies, like Michael B. Jordan.</p> <p><strong>If you had to choose between attending a music concert or a sporting event, what would you choose and why?<br /> </strong>Sports. I don't like to go to concerts. To be in the crowd and jumping, I don&rsquo;t like it. If I'm going, I have to be sitting. Of course I enjoy with friends and everything. But to jump and to be close with all the people in the crowd, that&rsquo;s not something that I like. And I love sports.</p> <p><strong>What sports would you want to watch?<br /> </strong>Soccer for sure. I support PSG. And probably basketball. I would also love to try Formula 1, in the paddock.<br /> <br /> <strong>What is one of the most interesting things you have done in your life?<br /> </strong>I went swimming with dolphins two weeks ago, in Mauritius. I&rsquo;d never been to Mauritius for a holiday, so I swam with dolphins.</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p><strong>How well do you know&nbsp;the other competitors here in Jeddah? Are you good friends with anyone?<br /> </strong>I'm very close to Luca Van Assche because we've played since we were very young together. So Luca, and the other guys here are very nice&hellip; Alex Michelsen, Abdullah Shelbayh. Everyone is very nice. We have some good times and we are enjoying it.</p> <p><strong style="color: #1f2223; background-color: #ffffff; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; line-height: inherit;">Like every year at the Next Gen ATP Finals, the tournament will be trialling a lot of different rules and innovations. What are your thoughts on them? Is there one that you're interested to try out?<br /> </strong>No warm-ups. It&rsquo;s going to be good or very bad. I don't know if it&rsquo;s possible to come on the court without a warm-up. You don't play, you don't hit one ball. So first serve, maybe you're going to frame the ball or double fault. Some guys are going to be very good, and probably some others are going to be broken every time in the first game. Let's see.</p> <p><strong>Is there another rule that you're more excited about?<br /> </strong> The free fan movement. I will love to see. I heard that it's not behind us and in front of us, just on the side, so this should be good. It's nice because it's like in basketball and American football or soccer. It&rsquo;s quite nice. We'll see how it is.</p> <p><strong>You've had a great season, including winning your first ATP Tour title in Lyon. What is the biggest thing you learned from this year?<br /> </strong>Never quit, because things can change very quickly. I would say that's the biggest thing that I've learned this year. I've played some matches and things were changing so quick, my opponent or I didn&rsquo;t quit, and it was a great match, and we are enjoying playing this type of match. So never quit.</p>Fri, 01 Dec 2023 14:58:00 Z NewsRafael Nadal2023Nadal Announces He Will Return In Brisbane<p>Rafael Nadal announced on social media Friday that he will make his return in the first week of the 2024 season at the Brisbane International presented by Evie.</p> <p>&ldquo;Hello everyone. After a year away from competition, it&rsquo;s time to come back,&rdquo; <a rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Nadal said in Spanish</a> in a video that has garnered millions of views. &ldquo;It will be in Brisbane the first week of January. I&rsquo;ll see you there.&rdquo;</p> <p>Two weeks ago <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="" target="_blank">the Spaniard confirmed</a> that he would make his return. Now he knows where and when.</p> <p></p> <p>The former World No. 1 played two tournaments this year &mdash; the United Cup and Australian Open &mdash; before missing the rest of the season due to an injury to the iliopsoas muscle in his left leg, for which he later underwent surgery.</p> <p>Nadal will compete in Brisbane for the second time. The lefty played the ATP 250 in 2017, when he advanced to the quarter-finals before losing to then-World No. 3 Milos Raonic in three sets.</p> <p>The tournament has not yet announced Nadal's participation, but <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="" target="_blank">organisers have revealed</a> that Holger Rune, Ben Shelton, Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray will also compete in the event.&nbsp;</p> <p>[NEWSLETTER FORM]</p>Fri, 01 Dec 2023 14:57:00 Z PreviewNext Gen ATP FinalsArthur FilsLuca Van AsscheHamad MedjedovicDominic Stricker2023SF Preview: Medjedovic Meets Stricker In Big-Hitting Jeddah Clash<p>Hamad Medjedovic and Dominic Stricker's maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting is set for Friday night in Jeddah, where the winner will advance to a championship-match clash against Arthur Fils at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. </p> <h3>[3] Dominic Stricker (SUI) vs. [6] Hamad Medjedovic (SER)</h3> <p>While Stricker and Medjedovic are not countrymen, their relationship goes back many years to their early junior days.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve known Dominic for a long time,&rdquo; Medjedovic said after beating Arab hope Abdullah Shelbayh to secure his semi-final place. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a great player and a great guy obviously. I think it&rsquo;s going to be a great match and I&rsquo;m happy to be in the semis.&rdquo;</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p>The Serbian leads the Jeddah field in a number of key metrics on both serve and return, including aces (45), service games won (37 of 39, 95%) and points won against first serve (32%). Those numbers added up to a perfect 3-0 record and a first-place finish in the Red Group.</p> <p>Stricker posted a 1-2 record in the Green Group and advanced with a better percentage of sets won (45%) than Italians Flavio Cobolli and Luca Nardi, who were also 1-2. While he has not sustained top form so far in Jeddah, he has the advantage of experience: The lone returning competitor at this year's Next Gen ATP Finals, Stricker also reached the semis last season in Milan. He has picked up considerable big-match experience since then, with a run to the US Open fourth round that helped him achieve a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 88 in October.</p> <p>For all the top-level matches the four Jeddah semi-finalists have played this season, none have had the opportunity to compete under the bright lights of the Next Gen ATP Finals title match. That reward &mdash; a chance to put the perfect cap on a breakout season &mdash; is on the line Friday night.</p> <h3>[1] Arthur Fils (FRA) vs. [2] Luca Van Assche (FRA)</h3> <p>Top seed Fils and second seed Van Assche played once before at the junior level, in 2021. In the final of Roland Garros, their home Grand Slam, Van Assche earned a straight-sets victory. By becoming the first Frenchmen to reach the semi-finals in the six-year history of the Next Gen ATP Finals, they have set up another high-stakes encounter in Jeddah.</p> <p>Fils enters as winner of the Green Group with a perfect 3-0 record. This year's Lyon champion leads the field in both second-serve points won (60%) and return games won (9 of 35, 26%). Van Assche, who finished second in the Red Group at 2-1, is second in return games won (9 of 37, 24%) but has faced a tournament-high 37 break points, saving 31 of them.</p> <p>With three matches under their belts, both players are now accustomed to the innovations and new rules on trial at the event &mdash; including no on-court warm-up and a reduced shot clock.</p> <p>"It is exciting to have new rules and I am adapting after three matches," Van Assche said. "I think most of the rules are pretty cool. The no warm-up is a bit difficult."</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 22:27:00 Z ReportNext Gen ATP FinalsHamad Medjedovic2023Medjedovic Books Jeddah SF Place, Qualifies Van Assche<p>Hamad Medjedovic put himself in a commanding position in the Red Group by winning his first two matches at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. On Thursday, he completed a perfect 3-0 group campaign to soar into the semi-finals in Jeddah.</p> <p>The Serbian's 3-4(6), 4-2, 4-3(5), 4-2 victory against Abdullah Shelbayh earned him a first-place finish in the Red Group and also qualified Luca Van Assche at Shelbayh's expense. Entering the match, Medjedovic needed to win at least a set to advance to the semis, while Arab hope Shelbayh needed a victory in three or four sets.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was a great match. I played really good after the first set,&rdquo; said Medjedovic in his on-court interview. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a good friend of mine, he&rsquo;s a very good player and obviously the crowd here loves him and I respect that. It was a pleasure to play in front of [the crowd].&rdquo;</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p>The semi-final stage is now set in Jeddah: As winner of the Red Group, Medjedovic will face Dominic Stricker on Friday. Van Assche, the second-place finisher in the Red Group, will meet Green Group winner Arthur Fils.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve known Dominic for a long time,&rdquo; said Medjedovic. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a great player and a great guy obviously. I think it&rsquo;s going to be a great match and I&rsquo;m happy to be in the semis.&rdquo;</p> <p>Medjedovic will hope to continue his stellar serving in the knockout rounds. He hit 18 aces on Thursday against Shelbayh and won 88 per cent of his first-serve points, saving all three break points against him. Across his three group-stage matches, he fired a tournament-leading 45 aces and was broken just twice.</p> <p>"After the first match I started feeling really good on the court," added the Serbian, who said he quickly adapted to the new rules at the Next Gen ATP Finals. "I think each match I'm playing better and better."</p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 21:41:00 Z FeaturesArthur Fils2023Next Gen ATP FinalsThe Real Reason Why Fils Is Doing Ronaldo’s ‘Siu’ Celebration In Jeddah<p> Arthur Fils has been in scintillating form this week at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. Yet the top seed’s post-victory celebrations have been almost as eye-catching as his on-court prowess in Jeddah. </p> <p> The 19-year-old has celebrated each of his three wins in Green Group at the 21-and-under season finale by performing Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘Siu’ celebration inside King Abdullah’s Sports City. Fils is a long-time admirer of the Portuguese football star, who has played for Saudi Pro League team Al Nassr since January. </p> <p> “I was a huge fan when I was young of Ronaldo,” Fils told on Thursday after maintaining his perfect record at the 21-and-under event by beating Dominic Stricker. “Now it’s a little bit tough to follow the football [and Ronaldo], especially when he’s here. I’m really a fan of him and I know he is playing here in this country, so I’m really happy [to do it] when I win.” </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Come for the victory, stay for the celebration ??<a >@ArthurFils1</a> | <a >#NextGenATPFinals</a> <a ></a></p>&mdash; Next Gen ATP Finals (@nextgenfinals) <a >November 29, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> The reference to Ronaldo’s connection with Saudi Arabia may have been obvious to many in the crowd when Fils celebrated. Yet the Frenchman later revealed an ulterior motive for emulating the Portuguese football legend, who formerly played for Spanish giants Real Madrid. </p> <p> “My coach Sergi [Bruguera] is a huge fan of Barcelona and Lionel Messi, so I just wanted to make him crazy,” joked Fils. “That’s why I’m doing it, and I think I’m doing it well.” </p> <p> So will Fils continue to bring out his version of the ‘Siu’ for the 2024 season, even when he is playing outside of Saudi Arabia? </p> <p> “Probably not, but [maybe] sometimes," he said. "Why not? I don’t know when [exactly] Sergi will be with me, but if I want to make him crazy, I will do it for sure.” </p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 20:24:00 Z ReportNext Gen ATP FinalsLuca Van Assche2023Van Assche Keeps SF Hopes Alive With Marathon Michelsen Win<p>Luca Van Assche kept alive his semi-final hopes at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM with a marathon five-set win against Alex Michelsen on Thursday night. The second-seeded Frenchman earned a 4-3(0), 3-4(4), 4-3(4), 4-1, 4-3(6) victory to move into first place in the Red Group after two hours, 36 minutes &mdash; the second-longest match in the event's history.</p> <p>"It was a very tough match," said the 19-year-old. "It was very difficult. There was four tie-breaks 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."</p> <p>Following the win, there is only one scenario in which Van Assche will not advance to the Jeddah semi-finals: if Abdullah Shelbayh beats Hamad Medjedovic in exactly four sets in the evening's final match. In that case, Shelbayh would win the group and Medjedovic would finish second.</p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p> Van Assche and Michelsen dominated on serve in the first three sets, with both saving all five break points they faced across that period. The first breaks of the match came in the fourth set, when there were three in a row. Van Assche earned two of them by dragging Michelsen into longer rallies on return, with the American unable to break down the agile Frenchman's defenses.</p> <p>The opponents would again trade breaks in consecutive games in the final set, with Van Assche fashioning an opportunity to serve for the match before Michelsen answered to force a tie-break. The Frenchman built a 3/0 lead with steady play and never trailed in the decisive tiebreak, though he had to hold his nerve late after Michelsen saved two match points to level at 6/6.</p> <p>"He was playing very well the whole match," Van Assche said of his opponent. "It was really, really close. Not a lot of breaks and it was difficult for me today but I am happy."</p> <p>[ATP AWARDS]</p> <p>The opponents combined for 61 winners in the match (31 for Michelsen), with the American's 38 net approaches often forcing the action. He won 24 of those net points (68%), repeatedly stretching every inch of his 6-foot-4 frame to deny would-be passing shots form Van Assche &mdash; though the Frenchman snuck his fair share of winners beyond his opponent at net.</p> <p>There were also a combined 20 break points in the match, with Van Assche saving seven of nine and Michelsen erasing eight of 11. In his three group-stage matches, Van Assche saved a combined 31 of 40 break points (78%).</p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 20:00:00 Z Gen ATP Finals2023Young Fans Key To Tennis' Rise In Saudi Arabia<p>Anyone for tennis? In Saudi Arabia, the answer is increasingly &lsquo;Yes&rsquo;.</p> <p> With a growing fan and player base, tennis is fast capturing the hearts and minds in the Kingdom, which boasts a 50 per cent sports participation rate. The Saudi Tennis Federation has a clear target demographic: the country&rsquo;s 20m citizens under the age of 30. </p> <p> A look at the faces this week in the Fan Zone at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM in Jeddah and in the stands at the King Abdullah Sports City confirms that young Saudis are quickly warming to the sport.</p> <p> &ldquo;Our strategy is to nurture young players, develop infrastructure, and invest in grassroots initiatives because youth is the key to any sport&rsquo;s long-term success,&rdquo; said President of the Saudi Tennis Federation (STF), Arij Almutabagani . &ldquo;We&rsquo;re certainly on the right path. Our strategy is working and we&rsquo;re seeing interest and participation increase.&rdquo; </p> <p> </p> <p><img src="-/media/d603eb3ee2c546fbba61582c8caf9caf.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Arthur Fils with a young Saudi tennis fan at the Fan Zone at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM in Jeddah." /> <br /> <em>Arthur Fils with a young Saudi tennis fan at the Fan Zone at the Next Gen ATP Finals.</em></p> <p>Saudi today is home to 177 tennis clubs, up 146 per cent since 2019. In the past four years, the number of registered players has increased 46% to 2,300, with a 100 per cent increase in under-14 players, from 500 to more than 1,000. </p> <p> The Saudi Tennis Federation (STF) also holds 40 national tournaments annually, including three ITF junior tournaments in the past year. </p> <p> &ldquo;Major strides have been taken and one of these was tennis being added to the school physical education curriculum earlier this year,&rdquo; revealed Almutabagani. </p> <p> Citing youth as the future, Almutabagani&rsquo;s primary aspiration is building a vibrant junior tennis scene and she is adamant that tennis can embrace the Kingdom&rsquo;s youth opportunity. </p> <p> STF&rsquo;s partnership with the Saudi Sports For All Federation (SFA) presented the &lsquo;Tennis For All&rsquo; in 2022, a 16-week mass participation program to introduce tennis to a new generation of sports enthusiasts. 13,000 were introduced to tennis in the program&rsquo;s first edition, with a much higher figure in 2023.</p> <p><img src="-/media/a75f7599053f4c7a99cf54bda8e56cee.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Young fans enjoying the Next Gen ATP Finals." /> <br /> <em>Young fans enjoying the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah.</em></p> <p> This past April, Tennis For All was introduced in the Ministry of Education's curriculum at 90 public schools, with STF training 170 physical education teachers to provide efficient and effective lessons. Participation more than doubled this time around with an estimated 30,000. </p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re targeting 200 schools in 2024 and 400 by 2025,&rdquo; Almutabagani said. &ldquo;Achieving this will support sustained growth as more tennis academies are launched and more national tennis centers are built. We already have 505 coaches and 182 officials in the Kingdom and we&rsquo;ll be rolling out more opportunities for people to get involved. Roles like these are equally as important for the sport&rsquo;s development, as are professional events.&rdquo;</p> <p><img src="-/media/de561a6fd3714957b6498a97e73b2b75.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Young girls are coming to tennis through the Tennis For All programme." /><br /> <em>Young Saudis are coming to tennis through the Tennis For All programme. Photo courtesy Tennis For All.</em> </p> <p> This week, STF is hosting the first ATP-sanctioned event in the Kingdom, the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM in Jeddah. A global, modern, and innovative competition featuring the world&rsquo;s best 21-and-under players, the event is underway at King Abdullah Sports City from 28 November to 2 December. Sanctioned by the ATP Tour and hosted by STF, this historic event marks the beginning of a five-year contract to bring the pinnacle of young global tennis talent to the Kingdom. </p> <p> Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s No. 1 male tennis player, Ammar Alhogbani, has been a hitting partner this week for the eight players competing in the Next Gen ATP Finals. He said of his excitement, &ldquo;The growth of tennis in Saudi Arabia and for Saudi Arabian&rsquo;s has been exceptional in recent years. I&rsquo;m blessed to be even a small a part of it. To now also have the first sanctioned ATP event in our backyard is an immensely exciting part of our next chapter. I&rsquo;m sure having the best young players from around the world here in Jeddah will inspire future generations of Saudi to follow in their footsteps and encourage all Saudi&rsquo;s players to come out and experience the event for themselves.&rdquo; </p> <p> The value of Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s sports event industry is growing by 8 per cent a year and will reach $3.3 billion by 2024 &ndash; a $1.2 billion increase from $2.1 billion in 2018. Additionally, significant events investments are being made with $2 billion committed to help sports grow by 2024. </p> <p> The Next Gen ATP Finals are a direct result of this opportunity. With the event sure to inspire new fans, entice a young population, and unite audiences, many more will follow in the future. </p> <p> &ldquo;Tennis will become a big part of Saudi&rsquo;s future sports event industry and this will be the first of many professional tennis tournaments that we stage,&rdquo; added Almutabagani. &ldquo;We eagerly anticipate welcoming tennis enthusiasts from across Saudi Arabia and beyond to witness the exhilarating matches and experience the innovation and excitement that the Next Gen ATP Finals will bring to Jeddah.&rdquo; </p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 18:12:00 Z Gen ATP FinalsMatch ReportDominic Stricker2023Arthur FilsFils Beats Stricker, Both Reach SFs In Jeddah<p>Despite defeat, Dominic Stricker sealed his spot in the semi-finals at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM on Thursday when he won the one set he needed against already-qualified Arthur Fils.</p> <p>After Luca Nardi defeated Flavio Cobolli earlier, 21-year-old Stricker walked onto court in Jeddah knowing that he would advance to the semi-finals if he won just one set.</p> <p>Stricker dropped the first set but responded to win the second set. Frenchman Fils eventually sealed a 4-2, 3-4(3), 4-2, 4-3(5) win after one hour and 47 minutes to end the Green Group stage with a perfect 3-0 record.</p> <p> “I knew before the match [that I had qualified], but I just want to win every match that I’m playing,” said Fils in his on-court interview. “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 and let’s see who I get in the semi-final.” </p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div> <p>Stricker has now reached the semi-finals at the 21-and-under event twice, having advanced to the last four 12 months ago. Fils qualified after Nardi defeated Cobolli, who therefore needed Fils to beat Stricker in straight sets.</p> <p>Top seed Fils is aiming to become the sixth champion at the 21-and-under event, joining Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old will find out who his semi-final opponent is after night session play in Jeddah.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A very high-level performance ?? <br><br>Arthur Fils puts on a show <a >@nextgenfinals</a> ??<a >#PerformanceRating</a> combines <a >#InAttack</a>, <a >#ConversionScore</a>, <a >#StealScore</a>, and <a >#ShotQuality</a> to measure a player&#39;s performance over the course of a match<a >#TennisInsights</a> | <a >@atptour</a> |<a >@nextgenfinals</a> <a ></a></p>&mdash; Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) <a >November 29, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Earlier this year, Fils lifted his maiden tour-level title in Lyon, while he reached the title match in Antwerp. He is playing at a career-high No. 36 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings this week.</p> <p>Stricker's best result result in 2023 was a fourth-round run at the US Open.</p> <p>Physicality Index Insights</p> <p>The key to this match was Fils making the match physical and pushing Stricker to the higher end of his Physical Intensity rating threshold of 7.5. Fils ended up having a slightly higher PI rating than Stricker, 6.8 vs. 6.7, but Fils made it the more physical when it mattered the most. There was a big difference in the over volume and intensity of work between the forth set tie-break that Fils won and the 2nd set tie-break that he lost. The forth set tie-break had a 42% higher volume and 11% higher intensity of work.</p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 16:26:00 Z FeaturesJannik Sinner2023Sinner Recognised At AC Milan Match, Meets Ibrahimovic<p>Jannik Sinner is blossoming into a superstar well beyond the tennis court.</p> <p>The Italian was recognised on Tuesday at AC Milan's match against Dortmund for his sensational close to the season. Sinner reached the championship match on home soil at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin and then led Italy to Davis Cup glory.</p> <p>During his end-of-season surge, Sinner defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic three times in less than two weeks. He upset the Serbian in round-robin action at the Nitto ATP Finals (losing to him in the final) before taking down the 98-time tour-level titlist in singles and doubles when his country played Serbia in the Davis Cup semi-finals.</p> <p><img src="-/media/55f4d626bf284016b1592dff7a08a1f7.ashx?w=100%25" style="width:100%;" alt="Jannik Sinner" /><br /> <em><sup>Photo: AC Milan<br /> </sup></em>The 22-year-old was recognised with a custom jersey at San Siro Stadium and had the opportunity to spend time with football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic.</p> <p>The No. 4 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings stayed close to his tennis roots, though. Sinner caught up at the match with countryman Matteo Berrettini, who was by his side during Italy's Davis Cup run.</p> <p><img src="-/media/f1d1893af8e14cad87487e27712e6857.ashx" style="width:100%;" alt="Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner catch up at AC Milan's match against Dortmund on Tuesday." /><br /> <em><sup>Photo: AC Milan</sup></em></p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 15:48:00 Z FeaturesNext GenNextGen2023Hamad MedjedovicMedjedovic's Hobbies: UFC & Listening To Tupac<p>Hamad Medjedovic is the youngest player to win three ATP Challenger Tour titles this season.&nbsp;The Serbian, who advanced through qualifying at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, was also a semi-finalist at the ATP 250 events in Gstaad and Astana. Coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, Medjedovic is now making his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM.</p> <p>But what is the 20-year-old like off-court? caught up with the World No. 110 in Jeddah to discuss his love for UFC and what he has learned on tour this season...<br /> <br /> <strong>If you could have dinner with three people from the past or present, who would they be and why?</strong><br /> It's a tough question but I'll go to dinner with Mike Tyson, Tupac and Kobe Bryant. I like Mike Tyson's personality, I was watching him when he was fighting. Even though I was a little kid, he was one of my role models. I love Tupac's music, I'm listening to it all the time. And then Kobe, he's one of the greatest athletes of all time and I'd love to meet him.</p> <p><strong>If you weren&rsquo;t a tennis player, what job would you want?</strong><br /> I'd love to be in the FBI or something like that.</p> <p><strong>Do you watch FBI shows?</strong><br /> Yeah, of course I watch all the shows with FBI, CIA, all this stuff. It's great to see them doing their job.</p> <p></p> <p><strong>Describe your perfect day if you are not playing tennis.</strong><br /> Sleeping long for sure to set up the day well. Then just spending time with my family, girlfriend and all the people I love since I don't get to do that during the year since we are travelling a lot. Spending time with the people who I love would be the perfect day. Maybe go somewhere or just stay home.</p> <p><strong>If you had to choose between attending a music concert or a sporting event, what would you choose and why?</strong><br /> I'd go watch a sports event. I love concerts, but I don't go so often because there's a lot of people and huge crowds. I prefer sports. I'd love to watch UFC. My favourite fighter retired, but it's Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. He was a lightweight champion and he was a perfect fighter to me.</p> <p><strong>Who are your best friends on tour?</strong><br /> The guys from Serbia, I'd say Miomir Kecmanovic being one of them and all the other Serbian guys. I'm good with all the guys that are here [in Jeddah], we have a really good relationship.</p> <p><div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"> <iframe src="" allowfullscreen="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"></iframe> </div> </div></p> <p><strong>What are your thoughts about the new rules and innovations at the Next Gen ATP Finals?</strong><br /> I love new things. I love adding something new to our sport because I feel like for so many years everything has been the same and now we get the chance to try new rules. No warm-up, shot clock, I like it and I'm happy to try it.</p> <p><strong>What's something you've learned playing this year?</strong><br /> The difference between the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Tour, I don't think there is a big change of level, they are all playing pretty similar. I will go into the new season knowing that these guys are not monsters. They are all just players and you can play with every single one of them.</p>Thu, 30 Nov 2023 15:05:00 Z 午夜伦4480YY妇女久久_国产自偷在线拍精品热乐播AV_久久久久亚洲精品无码网址色欲_99A麻豆蜜桃国产精品无码视频