Emirates ATP Race To Milan Is Underway
The Emirates ATP Race To Milan is officially underway. Released this week are the first standings in the season-long race to the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Italy, from 7-11 November.
Russian 20-year-old Daniil Medvedev has the honour of being the Race leader after week one of the 2017 ATP World Tour season after he reached his first tour-level final in Chennai.
Medvedev has 150 points to start the battle for one of eight spots in Milan, well clear of second-placed Australian Omar Jasika (48 points), who reached the final of the Happy Valley Challenger in Australia.
Both ATP World Tour champions and #NextGenATP players have shared their excitement for the tournament, which will help introduce the top 21-and-under players to tennis fans around the world. The event will award $1.275 million in prize money and will follow a similar format to the ATP Finals, with a round-robin group stage followed by a knock-out semi-finals and a final.
“I think this is a great idea. It's good for tennis. It's great to promote these young players,” Stefan Edberg said when the tournament was announced in November.
Eighteen-year-old Frances Tiafoe, who was on hand for the announcement in London, said he and his American peers already have their eyes on qualifying for the event. “It's a great opportunity to compete against the top young guys,” he said.
Seven spots will be determined by the Emirates ATP Race To Milan standings. The eighth player will be chosen by wild card.
Stefan Kozlov, another #NextGenATP American, said he'll be watching the leaderboard right along with ATP World Tour fans. “Hopefully I have a good year so that I can always check the leaderboard,” Kozlov said. “It will be fun. It's really competitive. I think it's a wonderful idea.”
Next Gen ATP Finals contenders currently in the Emirates ATP Rankings Top 100
Alexander Zverev (Rank: 24; Age: 19): The 6'6” German thrilled tennis fans throughout the world in 2016 with his rock-solid backhand, easy power and big-match prowess. In September, the Hamburg native ended Stan Wawrinka's 11-match win streak in finals by winning the St. Petersburg Open. The right-handed Zverev also became the first teenage titlist on the ATP World Tour since 19-year-old Marin Cilic won New Haven in 2008.
Karen Khachanov (Rank: 51; Age: 20): All season long, the Moscow native had been hovering outside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, working hard to break through on the ATP World Tour. Then, at the inaugural Chengdu Open in China, Khachanov beat four Top 35 players to win his maiden ATP World Tour title.
The next week, he jumped 46 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings, from No. 101 to No. 55, and solidified himself as one of the top #NextGenATP players. In 2017, the right-hander will look to show he belongs in the Top 50.
Borna Coric (Rank: 57; Age: 20): The determined Croatian put together another impressive season in 2016, finishing in the Top 50 for the second consecutive year. Coric played in his first two ATP World Tour finals in 2016, falling in Chennai to Stan Wawrinka and in Marrakech to Federico Delbonis of Argentina.
In Cincinnati, the 20-year-old Zagreb native brought his best tennis to one of the game's grandest stages, reaching the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Coric beat Benoit Paire, Nick Kyrgios and then-No. 5 Rafael Nadal to become the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist since Novak Djokovic in 2006.
Daniil Medvedev (Rank: 65; Age: 20): The Russian snuck into the Top 100 at the end of 2016 in part because he reached his first ATP World Tour quarter-final at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Medvedev's hometown. Along the way, the 6'6” right-hander earned the biggest win of his career by beating then-No. 28 Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the second round.
Medvedev, who uses Tecnifibre gear, was also named the Tecnifibre Young Gun on the Road in 2016 for his on-court success and social media skills.
Taylor Fritz (Rank: 91; Age: 19): The American burst onto the scene in early 2016, reaching the Memphis Open final in only his third tour-level event. He improved throughout his first year on the ATP World Tour as well, winning 15 tour-level matches and reaching a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 53 in August.
The California native punctuated his debut season by being named the ATP Star Of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, which is given to the youngest player in the Top 100 and also had been awarded to Coric (2014) and Zverev (2015).
Jared Donaldson (Rank: 101; Age: 20): The 6'2” American savoured his Grand Slam breakthrough in New York, reaching the third round of the US Open. Donaldson, who trained in Argentina as a teenager, will try to make successive wins at big tournaments a pattern in 2017.
Hyeon Chung (Rank: 104; Age: 20): An abdominal injury forced Chung to miss June through August but the Korean rebounded by winning an ATP Challenger title in September (Kaohsiung, Taiwan) and November (Kobe, Japan). Chung reached his career-high ranking of No. 51 in October 2015.
Frances Tiafoe (Rank: 107; Age: 18): The next young talent in an impressive group of Americans showed promise in 2016, holding two match points against David Goffin in Indian Wells and taking his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Granby. After cracking the Top 100 for a week at No. 100 in October, the Maryland native will try to earn a two-digit ranking for all of 2017.
Stefan Kozlov (Rank: 117; Age: 18): The Macedonia native, who moved to the U.S. with his parents when he was about 1, celebrated his first ATP World Tour victory in 2016. The right-hander beat #NextGenATP player Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan at the Ricoh Open in 's-Hertogenbosch before following it up with a straight-sets win against then-No. 39 Steve Johnson.
Ernesto Escobedo (Rank: 133; Age: 20): The California native beat countryman Tiafoe in July for his first ATP Challenger title. A month later, Escobedo celebrated his first Grand Slam win by beating Lukas Lacko at the US Open.
Duckhee Lee (Rank: 148; Age: 18): The Korean might have the most fascinating story on the ATP World Tour: Lee is deaf and is one of the best young talents. He spent all of 2016 at ATP Challenger tournaments or playing qualifying matches. But look for Lee to reach the main draw of an ATP World Tour event in 2017.
Quentin Halys (Rank: 154; Age: 20): The 6'3” Frenchman took his first ATP Challenger title in April in Tallahassee (d. Tiafoe). Halys made another Challenger final in October in California (l. to Giraldo).
Andrey Rublev (Rank: 156; Age: 19): The 6'2” Russian finished 2016 by making his second ATP Challenger final in Mouilleron Le Captif, France, where he lost to Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the final but beat World No. 47 Benoit Paire in the semi-finals.
Elias Ymer (Rank: 161; Age: 20): The right-hander reached his first ATP World Tour quarter-final in July at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad. Three months later, he partnered with his younger brother, Mikael Ymer, to win his first ATP World Tour doubles title at the If Stockholm Open.
Michael Mmoh (Rank: 195; Age: 18): Another young American ranked inside the Top 200, Mmoh won his first ATP Challenger title in Knoxville in November and earned a wild card into the 2017 Australian Open.
Noah Rubin (Rank: 197; Age: 20): The 5'10” Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon boys' singles champion, struggled with an ankle injury for part of 2016 but regained his health in time to reach his second ATP Challenger final in October in Stockton (l. to Tiafoe).