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After a strong showing from the 2017 #NextGenATP class, the 2018 #NextGenATP group has performed even better so far.

Tiafoe, Tsitsipas Show Strength of 2018 #NextGenATP Class

The top five in the 2018 ATP Race To Milan all have more than 1,000 points

If Frances Tiafoe had accumulated 1,020 points in the ATP Race To Milan by this time last year, the #NextGenATP American would have already all but assured himself a spot in the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals. Tiafoe would have been only 64 points away from second place in the Race.

But this year, even with more than 1,000 rankings points in late September, the 20-year-old Tiafoe is still fighting to ensure that he'll make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November at the Fiera Milano.

ATP Race To Milan

Tiafoe is in fifth place in the Race, 325 points ahead of seventh-placed Andrey Rublev, last year's finalist. But Tiafoe's position shows how well the 2018 #NextGenATP group has done this season, even after the 2017 class set a high bar.

The current top five players in the Race all have more than 1,000 points. By this time last year, however, only two players – first-placed Alexander Zverev of Germany and second-placed Rublev – had earned more than 1,000 points.

“That's unheard of for right now. A lot of guys in the Top 50, Top 40, 30. There's a good level between all of us,” said Tiafoe, who's at No. 41 in the ATP Rankings, three spots off his career-high. “It's just shocking how well we're doing at such a young age. But no reason to get satisfied. There's plenty more to chase, plenty more things to get.”

The top seven players in the Race will qualify automatically, while the eighth spot will be reserved for the winner of an all-Italian qualifier tournament to be held just prior to the prestigious 21-and-under tournament.

Comparing ATP Race To Milan Leaderboards

Place

Player

Points on
25/9/17

Player

Points on 24/9/18

Difference between 2018 and 2017

1

Alexander Zverev

4220

Alexander Zverev

4365

145

2

Andrey Rublev

1084

Stefanos Tsitsipas

1827

743

3

Karen Khachanov

990

Denis Shapovalov

1270

280

4

Denis Shapovalov

926

Alex de Minaur

1115

189

5

Borna Coric

876

Frances Tiafoe

1020

144

6

Jared Donaldson

800

Taylor Fritz

748

-52

7

Daniil Medvedev

717

Andrey Rublev

695

-22

For Tiafoe, that means aiming for a strong finish to guarantee himself a position at the 21-and-under event. Players must have been born in 1997 or later to be eligible. Last year, Tiafoe narrowly missed out, finishing 110 points behind final qualifier Daniil Medvedev of Russia.

“I'm liking my spot right now. It would be fun to end the year out there,” Tiafoe said.

This year's #NextGenATP players have implicitly motivated each other throughout the season. One person will do well – such as when Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas beat four Top 10 players en route to the Rogers Cup final in Toronto, or when 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada become the youngest semifinalist in Mutua Madrid Open history – causing another #NextGenATP player to sit up on his sofa.

“You see a young guy do well, you're like, 'Screw that. If they can do it, why not?' It's kind of been [doing] the domino effect that way,” Tiafoe said.

He has done some of the motivating as well. Tiafoe won his maiden ATP World Tour title in February at the Delray Beach Open, becoming the youngest American champion on tour since 19-year-old Andy Roddick at 2002 Houston. The 20-year-old Tiafoe also reached the fourth round at two ATP Masters 1000 events – Miami and Toronto – and made his first Grand Slam third round at Wimbledon.

I feel on any given day I'm ready to beat anyone. I'm not really nervous walking on the court. I feel right at home,” Tiafoe said.

The ATP Race To Milan standings on 29 October 2018, the Monday after the Swiss Indoors Basel and the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna, will determine the seven qualifiers. While ATP Rankings points for the 2018 season decide who qualifies for the event, rankings points will not be awarded at the Next Gen ATP Finals.