Hamad Medjedovic capped his breakthrough season by lifting the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM trophy on Saturday in Jeddah, where he recovered from squandering two match points in the fourth set against Arthur Fils to win the first five-set final in tournament history.
The 20-year-old played aggressively in front of a packed crowd in King Abdullah Sports City, where he received loud support from energetic fans. The Serbian took large cuts at the ball, won 88 per cent (61/69) of points on his first delivery and converted his third match point to fire past the 19-year-old Frenchman 3-4(6), 4-1, 4-2, 3-4(9), 4-1 after two hours and 11 minutes.
It also capped a great end of the season for Serbia after Novak Djokovic clinched a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown in Turin earlier this month. The World No. 1 has been sending Medjedovic messages of support this week.
"Two of us from Serbia. He won the big Masters, the real one, and I won the Next Gen. Obviously it's a huge thing and I'm happy to follow in his footsteps in some way," Medjedovic said.
Medjedovic did not lose a match en route to becoming the first Serbian to triumph at the tournament, taking home a tournament-record $514,000 in prize money.
At No. 110 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 20-year-old is the lowest-ranked champion in tournament history, while he is the sixth Next Gen ATP Finals titlist, joining Top 10 stars Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
"I can’t believe I have won this title, but it's going to give me a lot of confidence for 2024,"Medjedovic said. "Arthur is an amazing player; he's Top 40 for a reason, so I'm really happy."
"It was tough after the first set. I changed my clothes and recovered and started to play good again. I didn't play good when I had match points in the fourth set. I wasn't relaxed, I was very stiff. Thank God I recovered and I was just trying to stay relaxed as much as I could and I managed to do it in the end.”
Fuel Gauge shows how much a player should have left in the tank based on historical benchmarks.
Both players come out firing on serve in their first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting. They dropped just one point each on their first deliveries, with Fils hitting six aces and Medjedovic seven. With little to separate them, the Frenchman came to life deep in the tie-break, saving two set points before he clinched the opener on his first set point.
After taking a toilet break, Medjedovic found his best level at the start of the second set. He flew through his service games, making use of the shortened shot-clock rule between aces to gain momentum and level. The Serbian then broke in the first game of the third set and continued his impressive level on serve in the third set, winning all 10 points behind his first delivery.
The fourth set then went to a tie-break and Medjedovic moved to match point at 6/4. Fils saved both on second serves, before clinching the set to force a deciding set. The Serbian, who struck 34 winners, including 19 aces, would not be denied though. He raced through the decider, collapsing to the floor after converting on his third match point.
Medjedovic, who is coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, won three ATP Challenger Tour trophies in 2023, while he reached tour-level semi-finals in Gstaad and Astana.
Fils, who won his maiden tour-level title in Lyon in May, started the season at No. 251 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings but arrived in Jeddah at a career-high No. 36. He is the first French teenager to finish the season inside the Top 50 since then-19-year-olds Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils in 2005.
Did You Know?
Medjedovic hit 69 aces during the event. No player in tournament history has hit more aces at the event than the Serbian.