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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for the 2021 NextGen ATP Finals in Milan

By Ricky Dimon

Following last year’s cancellation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NextGen ATP Finals are back for a fourth installment. Milan is once again hosting the festivities, which are headlined by an impressive quartet of top four seeds: Carlos Alcaraz, Sebastian Korda, Lorenzo Musetti, and Brandon Nakashima. Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Sebastian Baez, Holger Rune, and Hugo Gaston round out the field of eight.

Sunday’s draw ceremony produced the following:

Group A
Carlos Alcaraz
Brandon Nakashima
Juan Manuel Cerundolo
Holger Rune

Group B
Sebastian Korda
Lorenzo Musetti
Sebastian Baez
Hugo Gaston

Alcaraz is the biggest name in the competition and he is also in the best form of anyone, so the Spaniard is an obvious title favorite. His 2021 highlights include a maiden ATP title in Umag and a run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

“I am feeling comfortable and have a lot of confidence with myself,” Alcaraz assessed. “It has been a brilliant year and I hope to show a good level here at the NextGen. Playing against the young guys like me with the different conditions, best of five sets, four games [is nice]. I am excited to play.”

The world No. 32’s round-robin group is without question the more difficult of the two, as it also includes Nakashima and a red-hot Rune. A title this past weekend in Bergamo pushed Rune’s 2021 Challenger trophy count to four.

The most well-known competitors in the other foursome are Korda and Musetti. Both guys have cooled off a bit since being on fire at many points during the first half of the season. Korda advanced to the Delray Beach final, won the Parma title, and reached the second week at Wimbledon. Musetti advanced to the Acapulco semis and the French Open fourth round, even taking a two-set lead over Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros before failing to seal the deal.

The 19th-ranked Italian is looking to join Jannik Sinner (2019) as a NextGen champion.

“I saw the matches from Jannik when he won, so I hope to do the same and win the trophy,” Musetti reflected. “I think everyone is honored to be in this competition and playing the event this week.”

Musetti had been in a mighty slump the past couple of months but started to fare at least slightly better in Antwerp, Vienna, and Paris. Everyone in Group B other than Korda is most comfortable on clay, so this is a good chance for Musetti to capitalize on a favorable draw and punch his ticket to the last four in Milan.

Semifinals: Alcaraz over Musetti and Korda over Rune

Final: Alcaraz over Korda

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.