Day 2 Preview: Korda, Alcaraz Chase Milan Semi-Final Berths
Musetti looks for first win before home crowd in Milan
The first winners of the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals for 2021 are set to square off on Day 2 as Sebastian Korda, Carlos Alcaraz, Brandon Nakashima and Sebastian Baez each have a shot at securing a semi-final berth in Milan with a win.
For the second day in a row, Korda will open the night session when he meets fellow Group B winner from Day 1, Baez. The pair has never met and at No. 39, Korda sits 72 places higher than his Argentine opponent in the in the FedEx ATP Rankings, following a season in which he won his maiden tour-level title in Parma and made the fourth round at Wimbledon.
The 21-year-old American surged back from two sets down and saved a match point against in-form fellow debutant Hugo Gaston on Day 1. Korda saw off the Frenchman 3-4(2), 3-4(6), 4-0, 4-3(3), 4-0 in two hours and three minutes.
“I just kept going to the same spot every single time and was taking advantage of the shorter balls and coming in,” Korda said. “On my serve I was serving in the same spot instead of opening up the court. The biggest thing was I started to use my forehand down the line more.”
The 20-year-old Baez – with five ATP Challenger Tour titles on clay in 2021 – sprung the upset against home favourite and World No. 58, Lorenzo Musetti, 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(5), 4-3(5) in 99 minutes. It was the World No. 111’s first tour-level match on hard court.
The two winners from Group A on Day 1, Alcaraz and Nakashima, will do battle in the second afternoon match. World No. 32 Alcaraz lived up to his billing as top seed with a convincing 4-3(6), 4-2, 4-0 victory over Denmark’s Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune to kickstart his Milan campaign.
The World No. 32 started the season at No. 141 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, but has soared after a year that included his first tour-level title in Umag and a win over World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open. The 18-year-old has never faced World No. 63 Nakashima.
“To do many different things on court is very important,” Alcaraz said after his win against Rune. “I am trying to go to the net and play aggressively in the important moments and stay calm. I am trying to do this every match.”
The 20-year-old Nakashima opened his account with a 4-1, 3-4(3), 4-1, 4-0 win against Argentine Juan Manuel Cerundolo for a 10th win from his past 11 matches at all levels. The American arrived in Milan in form, having landed his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the season in Brest in October.
In another first ATP Head2Head meeting, Cerundolo will meet Rune with both aiming for their first win of the group stage. The World No. 91 is only 18 places higher in the FedEx ATP Rankings than his opponent and arrives after a breakout season in which he captured his first tour-level title on home soil in Cordoba as a qualifier.
Rune qualified for his maiden Grand Slam singles main draw at the US Open, where he took a set off World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the opening round on Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the second night session match, Italian Musetti bids for his first win of the event before his home fans when he meets Gaston.
The World No. 58 reached tour-level semi-finals in Acapulco and Lyon, and the fourth round at Roland Garros earlier in the year, while the Frenchman jumped 36 places in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday, following his run to a maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Rolex Paris Masters.
Singles Group A qualification scenarios after the completion of the 1st round of the event's group stage:
Carlos Alcaraz qualifies on Wednesday if:
- Alcaraz defeats Nakashima in 3 sets.
- Alcaraz defeats Nakashima and Rune defeats Cerundolo.
- Alcaraz defeats Nakashima in 4 sets and Cerundolo defeats Rune in 5 sets.
Brandon Nakashima qualifies on Wednesday if:
- Nakashima defeats Alcaraz and Cerundolo defeats Rune.
- Nakashima defeats Alcaraz in 3 sets and Rune defeats Cerundolo in 5 sets.
Singles Group B qualification scenarios after the completion of the 1st round of the event's group stage:
Sebastian Korda qualifies on Wednesday if:
- Korda defeats Baez and Gaston defeats Musetti.
Sebastian Baez qualifies on Wednesday if:
- Baez defeats Korda in 3 sets.
- Baez defeats Korda and Musetti defeats Gaston.