All eight players at the Next Gen Finals this year will be debutants, it is a mixture of some of the most experienced players under 21 on the ATP tour and some who have not had that exposure on the tour yet and it is set to be a fascinating five days of tennis in Milan but who is playing?
Juan Manuel Cerundolo
Carlos Alcaraz – 18
It still baffles me that Carlos turned 18 a few months ago, he is playing tennis of a seasoned professional.
He has been a quarter finalist at the US Open this year, won his first ATP title in Croatia and impressive wins over Tsitsipas, Berrettini and Sinner.
His relentless power and presence around the baseline is captivating to watch. Forehand or backhand he hits the ball soo cleanly it is exciting for mens tennis to have him leading the line for this next generation.
His time in New York was special as was this performance against Tsitsipas:
Brandon Nakashima – 20
Brandon has only recently turned 20 and is one of two American’s in the draw. He has found some good form on the Challenger circuit and on the main ATP tour. Brandon comes into Milan having won a Challenger in France and before then was a quarter finalist in Antwerp.
He had some good form a couple of months ago with back to back ATP Finals in Los Cabos and Atalanta losing to Cam Norrie and John Isner respectively. One of the highlights of his year has been the win over John Isner at the US Open.
Juan Manuel Cerundolo – 19
I’m excited to see Juan Manuel in Milan, he plays such a wonderful brand of tennis. He has great variety on the baseline and has worked hard to get to Milan.
It feels like a long time ago now the Argentine came through qualifying in Cordoba and went onto win the title in an incredible week of tennis. He hasn’t had the luxury that some players have had this year of being handed wildcards when he has deserved them.
Juan has also played in five Challenger finals this year winning three of them and began his season ranked at 341 and is now up at 85 in the world and will be a direct entrant at the Australian Open when in January he wouldn’t have made qualifying.
Holger Rune – 18
Holger plays his best tennis when he does get his forehand into play, he of course did take a set off Djokovic in New York but there has been a lot of noise made this year outside of his game.
The Dane did take to social media to apologise as a video of him using a homophobic slur during a match surfaced online and recently took a hit at the rankings system as he is lower than he should be. I think he should let his tennis do the talking as he has had his fair share of wildcards this year more than quite a few in Milan have had, some haven’t had that luxury.
Sebastian Korda – 21
Probably one of my favourite players to watch this season. His game reminds me of Tomas Berdych, he has such precision on his groundstrokes he has to be one of the favourites in Milan.
Consistency has been tough to come by for Seb this year, it has been a little broken up since the early stages of the year but I don’t think it is too long until he will be in the top 20 in the world.
After wins over De Minaur, Hoang, Evans and a five set loss to Khachanov at Wimbledon the momentum did break and retirement at the US Open was a shame. It is just a little reminder to the rest of the field that Seb will be a contender having beaten Karatsev and Cilic in Paris before pushing Medvedev to three sets.
Lorenzo Musetti – 19
There is no doubting the talent of this guy it’s just we haven’t seen it since Roland Garros. Lorenzo saw off Cecchinato in five sets and then led 7-6 7-6 vs Djokovic. The Italian could’ve caused the upset of the year but Novak fought back winning 16 of the next 17 games. It was when Novak was up 4-0 in the fifth the Italian took the bizarre decision to retire which he then announced was because the contest was over which didn’t go down well.
We saw explosive tennis against Djokovic, Cecchinato, Nishioka and Goffin in a wonderful run tainted by these actions. Since then coming into Paris he had won just 3 of his 13 matches. Musetti did lose to Gaston in qualifying but finished his week with two wins and two defeats as a lucky loser in the main draw.
Sebastian Baez – 20
This will be such a great experience for the Argentine, it is a chance to rub shoulders with those who have also had an excellent year on the tour. Sebastian is another player who doesn’t have the luxury of calling on wildcards to get into draws and has only played two tour level matches in his career so far.
He was ranked at 312 at the beginning of the season and is now up to 111 in the world following a year which has seen the Argentine winning five of the eight challenger finals he has played this year with all five being on clay.
Hugo Gaston – 21
It has been a late run for Hugo following his phenomenal run through qualifying and to the quarter finals of the Paris Masters before losing to Daniil Medvedev despite being the better player in the first set. Hugo showed this bouncy and energetic style of tennis at Roland Garros last year, the next step is consistency.
Hugo was ranked at 103 before going into Paris and leaves there just inside the top 70 in the world with next season being big for the Frenchman as is this tournament. I like the way he thrives off the crowd but I want to see more bite behind his slice and ground strokes, it did become a little circus-like and to be a permanent member of the top 50 he needs to be a bit more composed.