Five #NextGenATP stars have continued to impress on the ATP Tour this season, with the quintet all in strong contention to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in November.
Two Italians, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti, sit in first and fourth place respectively in the ATP Race To Milan, with both building on their early season success with successful results on clay at Roland Garros and ATP Tour events. The 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz broke into the Top 100 for the first time in May after claiming a fourth ATP Challenger Tour title in Portugal.
The talented teenager sits one spot behind Musetti as he bids to compete in Milan from 9-13 November. North American stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Sebastian Korda enjoyed strong grass-court swings and also remain in strong contention to qualify.
ATPTour.com takes a look at the five men who lead the Milan qualification race at the conclusion of the second quarter of the 2021 season:
No. 1 Jannik Sinner, 1520 points
Jannik Sinner’s season has gone from strength to strength after his strong start to the year when he became only the fourth teenager to reach the Miami Open presented by Itau final (l. to Hurkacz) in the tournament’s 36-year history.
The Italian experienced further success at the start of the clay swing as he reached his second tour-level semi-final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in April. The 19-year-old defeated Top 10 stars Roberto Bautista Agut and Andrey Rublev in straight sets before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Catalonia.
Fuelled with confidence after saving a match point against Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round at Roland Garros, Sinner marched past countryman Gianluca Mager and Mikael Ymer to reach the fourth round on the Parisian clay.
First-Time Winner Spotlight: Sebastian Korda
No. 2 Felix Auger-Aliassime, 1365 points
The Canadian built on his impressive start to the season by adding Toni Nadal to his coaching team before the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April. Auger-Aliassime was delighted to join forces with the Spaniard, who formerly coached nephew Rafael Nadal to 16 Grand Slam titles before stepping down in 2017.
“I feel super privileged and lucky to have Toni in my team,” Auger-Aliassime said in May. “He’s been around for a long time and has won everything the sport has to give as a coach so it’s extremely motivating to have him by my side.”
The impact has already shown, with the 20-year-old advancing to his eighth ATP Tour final, and second of the season (Murray River Open), at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart at the start of June. He did not drop a set en route to the final before falling to Croatia’s Marin Cilic.
Auger-Aliassime then backed this up as he recorded a fifth Top 10 victory of his career at the time against 10-time NOVENTI OPEN champion and long-time idol Roger Federer in the second round in Halle. The World No. 19 went on to reach the semi-finals (l. to Humbert) in Germany.
No. 3 Sebastian Korda, 1045 points
Sebastian Korda broke new ground in May as he capped off a great week at the Emilia-Romagna Open with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over home favourite Marco Cecchinato to win his first ATP Tour trophy. The 21-year-old did not drop a set en route to the title and became the first American since Sam Querrey in 2010 at the Serbia Open (d. Isner) to win a trophy on European Clay.
“This is something that I’ve dreamed of. I really thought I was going to get it done in Delray Beach [earlier this year], and I was a little heartbroken,” Korda said after the tournament.
“But I stayed positive. I took a couple of days off, recharged my batteries, and had a really good practice week in Prague with my dad and my coach. I came back hungrier, and I’m playing some really good tennis now.”
The American continued to flourish on grass at Wimbledon, advancing to the fourth round on his debut at The Championships. He impressively defeated seeded duo Alex de Minaur and Daniel Evans in London.
The 19-year-old reached a career-high No. 58 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in June after impressive results on clay. Musetti, now at No. 62, advanced to his second semi-final of the season at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (l. to Tsitsipas). The Italian defeated fellow #NextGenATP stars Auger-Aliassime and Korda in France.
He then had a dream run at Roland Garros on his Grand Slam debut, as he reached the fourth round in Paris. Musetti toppled 13th seed David Goffin in straight sets in the opening round and led by two-sets-to-love against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 before the Serbian Superstar fought back.
“For me [it] was a fantastic experience. I think I was playing my best tennis, for sure. I have never played like today,” Musetti reflected after his defeat to Djokovic. “Now I know how can I play, how far I am from the biggest [players on] the Tour, like Nole, so I know that if I play good I can stay at this level.”
No. 5 Carlos Alcaraz, 529 points
The youngest #NextGenATP star on the list is 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard reached his first-tour level semi-final at the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open trophy in Marbella (l. to Munar) in April, defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud en route to the last four.
Alcaraz then enjoyed a memorable May as he became the youngest match-winner in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open, breaking 18-year-old Rafael Nadal’s record from 2004 when he overcame Adrian Mannarino in the Masters 1000 event.
One month later, Alcaraz became one of just seven players to win four ATP Challenger Tour trophies at the age of 18 & under when he lifted the Oeiras Open 125 trophy in Portugal.