09:25 PM GMT June 24, 2018
Tickets to see the future stars of men's professional tennis battle it out at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan, are now on sale.
The award-winning tournament returns for a second year in Italy and will again feature eight of the world's best 21-and-under players. The 2017 tournament was won in spectacular fashion by South Korea’s Hyeon Chung and, at the half-way mark of the 2018 season, the battle to qualify in this year’s tournament is firmly taking shape.
The top seven players in the ATP Race to Milan 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 Next Gen ATP Finals.
German Alexander Zverev, Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov of Canada are among the players leading this year's ATP Race to Milan.
Zverev, however, is also currently in third place in the ATP Race to London and, like last year, would be exempt from competing in Milan should he qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November at The O2.
Tsitsipas is only 19 years old but is already setting records for his home nation of Greece. The Athens native, No. 35 in the ATP Rankings, became the first Greek to crack the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings last year, and in April, Tsitsipas became only the second player from his country to make an ATP World Tour final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (l. to Rafael Nadal).
Canada's Shapovalov has picked up where he left off last year, when he was the youngest player to compete at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals. The 19-year-old reached his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final last month at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to eventual champion Alexander Zverev). Last August, Shapovalov, the 2017 Emirates ATP Star of Tomorrow, beat Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal en route to becoming the youngest ever Masters 1000 semi-finalist at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
American Frances Tiafoe, Sydney International finalist Alex de Minaur of Australia and Tiafoe's countryman Taylor Fritz round out the top potential qualifiers.
The tournament will continue to trial a best-of-five set format, shorter sets to 4 (tie-break at 3-All), No-Ad scoring, and No-Lets.
Other innovations such as Electronic Line Calling through Hawk-Eye Live, a 25-second Shot Clock, In-Match player coaching via head-sets will also be back for this year’s edition. The player warm-up will be reduced by a further minute (from 5 minutes to 4 minutes) from the second player walk-on, while players will be instructed to use a towel rack at the back of the court to remove the onus on ball kids to handle towels.
Free crowd movement in the stadium and a limit of 1 medical time out per match will also remain. The tournament’s leading role in innovation comes at a key time when innovation is being widely considered across the highest levels of the sport.
The technological advances used across the 2017 tournament were recently recognised at the Yahoo Sports Technology Awards in London, where ATP & ATP Media won the Most Innovative Governing Body or Rights Holder Award.