The inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals are about to get underway from Milan, Italy, this week and there is a lot to know about this event. For starters, Canadian tennis fans need to know where to watch it! Click here for the full broadcast information.
To break down the field and the new rules (yes, new rules will be tested out this week), we highlight four things all viewers should know ahead of the Next Gen Finals.
This 21-and-under tournament is the first of its kind and will highlight the future of the men’s game.
The event was first announced at the end of the 2016 season. It will run in Milan for the next five years (through 2021) and will be played at the Fiera Milano Stadium.
Just as the top eight players qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, every November, the top seven ‘Next Gen’ players qualify to play in Milan. The eighth and final spot is given to a wildcard who played a pre-event tournament for their spot in the field.
Players began accumulating points to qualify for the Next Gen Finals on the first day of the 2017 season – the same process that is used to determine the field at the World Tour Finals.
The complete field (by qualification rank): Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Denis Shapovalov, Borna Coric, Jared Donaldson, Hyeon Chung, Daniil Medvedev, and Gianlugi Quinzi.
World no. 3 Alexander Zverev was the first to qualify for the event but has since withdrawn in order to focus on the ATP World Tour Finals.
— Denis Shapovalov (@denis_shapo) November 1, 2017
Even without this year’s Rogers Cup champion in Milan, the Next Gen field is full of talent and the results to back it up.
Seven of the eight players in the field are in the Top 70 in the ATP rankings. Combined, these players have 20 wins over Top 20 opponents this year. As a result of these performances, the Next Gen players have seen some extreme ranking jumps this season.
Rublev started the year at no. 152 in Australia and is heading to Milan as the world no. 37. Donaldson and Chung have respectively jumped around 50 spots each this year. And, most notable, Shapovalov has risen 200 spots this season – from 250 to the Top 50 in October.
Similar to the ATP World Tour Finals that fans have been enjoying since the 1970s, the Next Gen ATP Finals will sort players into two groups of four. The top two from each group will go on to play the semifinals and final, with a third place play-off between the two losing semifinalists.
— Next Gen ATP Finals (@nextgenfinals) November 5, 2017
The Next Gen ATP Finals does not offer players ranking points like the World Tour Finals does but has $1.2 million (USD) in prize money to be won.
Action kicks off on Tuesday November 7 on TSN. Denis Shapovalov is the second match scheduled to be played and will kick-off at approximately 9:30 A.M. E.T.
For starters, viewers will notice that there are no line judges at the Next Gen Finals. The chair umpire will be the only match official on court during the week.
Instead of players calling for a Hawk-Eye challenge, this new computer system of line calling will automatically show calls within five centimetres of the line on the video board. This system has been in the works for 18 months and will make its debut at the Next Gen Finals.
There are also new rules set to debut this week in order to make each match shorter and create a high-tempo, TV-friendly environment.
New rules: Warm-ups will be shorter, the first player to four games wins the set (a tiebreak will be played at 3-3), there will not be any ad-scoring (players will play a decisive point if a game goes to deuce), and matches are best-of-five. There will also be a no-let rule on serves, a shot clock to enforce the allowed 25 seconds between serves, and players can now communicate with their coach at certain points in the match via headphones.
There are some changes to the way spectators can enjoy the matches live, as well. Unless directly seated behind the baselines, fans may now freely move around the stands during a match and are able to speak during points.
The Next Gen ATP Finals begin Tuesday November 7 on TSN. Click here for full broadcast information.
Feature image: ATP Media.