Next Gen Masters: Son and Van Assche off to a good start, rules criticized by players!

The Next Gen Masters, in an ever more innovative format, takes place this week with two French people competing, who won their first match.

Next Gen Masters: Son and Van Assche off to a good start, rules criticized by players!

The Next Gen Masters, in an ever more innovative format, takes place this week with two French people competing, who won their first match.

Bringing together the eight best players under the age of 22, the tournament has in the past crowned some of the best tennis players of the moment: Stefanos Tsitsipas (2018), Jannik Sinner (2019), Carlos Alcaraz (2021). This year, the two main contenders are French, while the Next Gen Masters is taking place for the first time in Saudi Arabia this week. And many innovations are being tested again this season. Sets of four games, no warm-up before matches, eight seconds between each serve, no ties in games... Many of these experiments aim to limit downtime and shorten matches, but some of them they are unpopular with the players themselves.

Arthur Fils got off to a good start in a tournament that he approaches as a big favorite, since he is the only participant ranked in the world's top 50, winning his first group match against Luca Nardi in five sets (2-4, 4-3 , 4-2, 1-4, 4-2). Luca Van Assche, the other Frenchman in the running and seeded number 2, also made his entry by beating Abedallah Shelbayh, the Jordanian 187th in the world who benefits from a Wild Card (4-3, 3-4, 4-1 , 4-1). The other matches saw the victories of the Italian Flavio Cobolli against the Swiss Dominic Stricker (4-2, 3-4, 4-1, 4-2) and the Serbian Hamad Mededovic against the American Alex Michelsen (4-2 , 4-3, 3-4, 3-4, 4-3).

Like most players, Arthur Fils is not a fan at all of the lack of warm-up on court: “I spent a few minutes with my coaches, but the time came to come to the center from court no. 1, with extra air conditioning... You don't arrive as hot as usual." Generally speaking, the young Frenchman is far from convinced by the set of rules tested by the ATP: "It's the first time I've played in this format, the dynamics can change so quickly. These rules are really weird . I don't think we'll ever see them on the ATP circuit."

To the point of not really taking the tournament seriously: "It's a pretty prestigious tournament to win, but I don't focus 100% on it like if it was the normal circuit or a Grand Slam." To make matters worse for the very mixed results of this start of the tournament, the stands are empty or almost empty, and the screens supposed to allow coaches to access videos and statistical data in real time are broken.

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