Physicality Index

Let's Get Physical: Day 1 Insights In Jeddah

In-depth analysis of Tuesday's matches
November 28, 2023
Luca Van Assche faces Abdullah Shelbayh on Tuesday in Jeddah.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Luca Van Assche faces Abdullah Shelbayh on Tuesday in Jeddah. By Geoff Russell

The ATP and Tennis Data Innovations (TDI) will deliver unprecedented insights at the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. Using state-of-the-art tracking metrics, the insights will assess the physical capacity required to compete at the highest professional level of our sport.

Read more to learn about Tuesday's matchups in Jeddah.

Arthur Fills vs. Luca Nardi

The 2023 season was a breakout year for Arthur Fils, winning his first career ATP250 title in Lyon, helping springboard him to a career high ranking of No. 36 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Fils is an aggressive baseliner, looking to dictate play with his serve and forehand. He likes to keep the points short and on his terms.

Coming into the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, Fils played one of his most physical matches of the year against Tommy Paul in Shanghai. He showed in this match that he was able to handle the volume and intensity of the most physical matches played in the last two years at the Next Gen ATP Finals. In that match Tommy Paul forced Arthur Fils into performing 41 per cent more high speed distance (meters).

Luca Nardi is coming into the Next Gen ATP Finals with a career high ranking of No. 115 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He played the majority of his matches at the ATP Challenger level, winning two Challenger Tour events. Nardi is a solid baseliner, who also likes to dictate play with his forehand off the ground. He also has the ability to extend the rallies with his speed, forcing his opponents to hit one additional ball. One thing to watch over the course of this event are the number of explosive movements Nardi will have to perform, compared to his opponents.

Keys to the Match
High Speed Distance - Which player can force the other to cover more high speed distance? Both players like to play with their forehand from the ad court, making it harder for their opponents to find their backhand. Whoever can control the middle of the court with their forehand, and make the other have to defend the backhand will put themselves in the best position possible to win the match.

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Dominic Stricker vs. Flavio Cobolli

Stricker has one advantage that the other players will not have and that is competing in the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals. Last year, Stricker made it out of the group play, going 3-0. He also played one of the most electric matches in last years event, against current World No. 27, Lorenzo Musetti. This was the 2nd most physical match from the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals.

On average, Stricker runs less distance and has the lowest work load per minute in the Next Gen ATP Finals. His reliance on playing first strike tennis requires him to move at an all-around lower rate than the other NextGen players. The serve and forehand is what sets up the advantage, allowing him to attack his opponent from inside the baseline.

Flavio Cobolli is a solid baseliner, who is a strong mover from the baseline. He covers the most distance and high-speed distance per minute of all the Next Gen players at this tournament. He has the ability to turn his defense into offense, by using his speed to get behind more balls in a balanced position.

Keys to the Match
Stricker has been pushed to his limits and has shown he can handle the volume and intensity required to win a five-set Next Gen ATP Finals battle. So can Flavio Cobolli force Dominic Stricker to run more and work harder over the course of the match- forcing him to defend more with the backhand.

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Luca Van Assche vs. Abdullah Shelbayh

Luca Van Assche played the most physical ATP match this year of any player in the draw, when he fell to Diego Schwarzman in three sets. This best of three match is one of two that he has played in 2023 that was tougher than any match played in the 2021 and 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals. Van Assche also recorded a 10 on the Physicality Index scale when he outlasted three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka; he backed this up with a 9.5 PI in the next round, pushing Novak Djokovic to a deciding set. Recording a higher Physicality Index than his opponents in over 70 per cent of his matches on tour this season, Van Assche has proven that he is prepared for a physical battle every time he steps on court.

Van Assche’s gamestyle requires him to work for every point. His lack of a big weapon off the ground is made up by his ability to handle high volume and high intensity movements. His average physicality index rating is 12 per cent higher than his opponent Abdullah Shelbayh. The higher PI rating is coming from the total volume output (distance and work load). On average Van Assche is moving per cent more distance per match and has a 35 per cent higher work load than Shelbayh.

Facing one of the fitter players on Tour, Abdullah Shelbayh will look to be aggressive and avoid long sequences of extended points. While he has demonstrated an ability to perform at high levels of intensity, Shelbayh has advanced in eight different tournaments this year when keeping his PI under a 7.

Key to the Match
Even though on average Van Assche covers more distance, has a higher work load, and executes more explosive movements per match, Shelbayh has the capacity to match the volume and intensity of Van Assche. Who is going to be able to bring higher intensity and maintain it deeper into the later part of the match?

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Alex Michelson vs. Hamad Medjedovic

The 19-year-old American, Alex Michelson comes into the Next Gen ATP Finals winning nine of his past ten matches, pushing him into the Top 100 for the first time in his career. The 2023 season was a breakout year for Michelson, reaching his first career tour-level final in Newport and winning two ATP Challenger events. Michelson will take on the 20-year-old Serbian, Hamad Medjedovic, who has also had a breakout year. Medjedovic won three ATP Challenger events and qualified for the main draw of two of the Grand Slams, making it through the qualifying rounds.

Both of these players have proven that they are able to go deep into events, multiple weeks in a row, proving they have the physical capacity to compete at the highest levels of this sport week in and week out. Both players have similar gamestyles. They can play from the middle of the court with both their forehand and backhands. The biggest difference in their styles of play is that Medjedovic is going to look to play more from the offensive, with Michelson looking to counter-attack.

Keys to the Match
You should see a lot of the rallies finishing from the backcourt, with not a lot of play transitioning forward. This match is going to come down to who will be able to keep the better court position and make the other player move in and out of the corners of the court. The player who can make their opponent accumulate the higher number of explosive movements and run the most high speed distance should have the advantage in this match-up.

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