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#NextGenATP Fils Flies Into Round 2 In Shanghai

Atmane claims maiden Tour win, Watanuki denies home hope Shang
October 05, 2023
Arthur Fils claims victory against Pavel Kotov on his Rolex Shanghai Masters debut. By ATP Staff

How to make a splash in Shanghai.

Arthur Fils wasted little time showing Chinese fans why he is one of the ATP Tour’s most highly rated talents on Thursday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, where the 19-year-old breezed past Pavel Kotov 6-1, 6-4 in just 78 minutes on Stadium Court.

The Frenchman delivered a dazzling display of shotmaking to notch his second main-draw ATP Masters 1000 win. He outhit Kotov by 25 winners to nine in a confident performance which also showcased his expert all-court movement.

“[I’m delighted] because I played against a great opponent," said Fils. "I’ve known him a long time, he plays great. I was pretty happy with my first set, and my second set was good also. He played some great points and great games so he came back a little bit, but at the end I finished the match in a good position, so I’m really happy about it.”

Fils is now 15-13 for the season at tour-level, a tally which includes lifting his maiden ATP Tour title in May in Lyon and reaching an ATP 500 semi-final in July in Hamburg. He was No. 316 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings a year ago but is now up to No. 40 in the Live Rankings following his win against Kotov.

Another 19-year-old Frenchman, Luca Van Assche, was watching his good friend Fils from the stands on Stadium Court. Fils (in fifth place) and Van Assche (sixth) are well positioned in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah as they chase a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals. Later on Thursday, Van Assche missed the opportunity to further boost his own chances of reaching the season-ending 21-and-under event when he fell to Diego Schwartzman.

The former World No. 8 Schwartzman clinched just his 10th tour-level win of the year with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 triumph against Van Assche. The Argentine converted seven of 10 break points he earned for a two-hour, 49-minute win to advance to face 27th seed Jiri Lehecka.

A third #NextGenATP Frenchman, qualifier Terence Atmane, celebrated his Masters 1000 debut with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win against Jordan Thompson. The 21-year-old Atmane, who only made his tour-level debut at the ATP 250 event in Zhuhai two weeks ago, powered 30 winners past his Australian opponent to book a second-round clash with Nicolas Jarry.

With his win, Atmane jumped one spot to 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah. The Frenchman kick-started his late-season charge to reach the Next Gen ATP Finals in September, when he lifted his first two ATP Challenger Tour titles in Zhangjiagang and Guangzhou.

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One of the competitors at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals, Tseng Chun-Hsin, also tasted victory on Thursday in Shanghai. The 22-year-old qualifier from Chinese Taipei rallied to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph against Alexander Shevchenko. It was a first ATP Tour win for 12 months for Tseng, who will meet Astana champion Adrian Mannarino in the second round.

Lorenzo Sonego notched his first Shanghai win by downing Australian qualifier Philip Sekulic 6-3, 6-2. The World No. 59 Sonego, who made his debut in Shanghai at the previous edition of the tournament in 2019, will meet 10th seed Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

To close the day, Japan's Yosuke Watanuki survived a late-night thriller against home hope Shang Juncheng, defeating the #NextGenATP star 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-4 after two hours, 57 minutes. In the final set, Watanuki won 17 of 20 points behind his first serve to finish the heavy-hitting encounter just 10 minutes before 1 a.m. At a career-high No. 71 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Watanuki will next meet seventh seed Taylor Fritz.

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