10:18 PM GMT November 04, 2017
For Filippo Baldi, it's the opportunity of his career, a chance he hasn't had since he played in junior Grand Slam tournaments years ago.
For Gianluigi Quinzi, winning the Italian 21-and-under qualifying tournament would mean a return to where he feels he belongs – among the better younger players on the ATP World Tour.
On Sunday, both players will have the opportunity that dozens of Italian players must have dreamed of months ago when the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals were announced. Baldi and Kuizi will play in the title match of the Italian 21-and-under qualifying tournament, scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday at the Sporting Milano 3. The winner will receive the eighth and final spot in the Next Gen ATP Finals, which starts Tuesday at the Fiera Milano (Rho).
“I think it's a good opportunity to play with the best players in the world of my age. I hope to win tomorrow. It will be a good experience to be there with them, and maybe to practise with them and everything,” said Baldi, who beat third-seeded countryman Andrea Pellegrino in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Baldi has been having the week of his life at the Sporting Milano 3, where the qualifying tournament is taking place and players are using the new rules and innovations, including shorter sets, that will be tested at the Next Gen ATP Finals. On Friday, Baldi, No. 459 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, upset top seed Matteo Berrettini, No. 122, in straight sets, 4-3(5), 4-1, 4-3(3).
Baldi, who lives in Palmero, has had plenty of support in Milan. More than 20 of his family members and friends attended his matches.
“Yesterday was magic. I think I played my best match of the year, and to have them out to see me, it was very good,” he said on Saturday. “I'm playing good. I like this surface. I'm serving very good, my return is good.”
Quinzi, who enjoyed skiing and professional carting before concentrating on tennis, is also looking forward to comparing his game against the best 21-and-under players on Tour. Quinzi, like Baldi, has only played against the top #NextGenATP players at junior tournaments. The 21-year-old Quinzi, for instance, beat South Korea's Hyeon Chung in the 2013 Wimbledon boys' singles final.
“I like, I like to go on the top level. I like to compete with the top-level guys. When I was 16, 17, I was playing with these guys. I have a chance tomorrow to compete with these guys and I'm looking forward to it,” Quinzi said.