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 Friday's semi-final matchups in Jeddah.
Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche will face off for the first time on the ATP Tour on Friday. Both players have advanced to the semi-finals of the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM, by using their physical make-up in two very contrasting ways. In the three matches of pool play, Van Assche has played the most physical brand of tennis, leading all competitors with the most distance covered, highest workload output, and largest total of explosive movements. He closed out the group stage by playing the second-longest match in Next Gen ATP Finals history, recording a Physicality Index rating of 10, the second-highest rating in tournament history, only behind his opponent in that match, Alex Michelson.
What we know from the data is that Van Asche has no problem responding to high volume and intensity matches, as earlier this year he defeated three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in a match that was comparable to the output of last nights match against Michelson. He came back the next day and pushed Novak Djokovic to three sets, again pushing his PI rating upward of 9.0.
Fills has spent 25 minutes less of active hitting time on court than Van Assche during the course of the first three matches. His first match against Luca Nardi was his most physical match of the Next Gen ATP Finals, recording a Physical Intensity rating of 7.6. Dominic Stricker was able to force Fils into executing his highest number of explosive movements per minute in their four-set match, forcing him to change direction more often in that match.
Keys to Match
Both of these players are physically prepared to compete in the semi-final match-up. They have both proven they can compete physically with the best players in the world, in consecutive matches back to back. The tactical game plan is going to dictate a lot of how the physicality of this match looks. In the one loss Van Assche experienced this week, he moved at a much slower rate than in his other two wins. The amount of high-speed distance he covered was way below his average for the season. That was largely due in part to Medjedovic dictating early in the rallies, keeping the rally count below his season average of 4.5 shots per rally. When Fils is playing his best tennis, he is dictating play with his forehand left of centre, and hitting his forehand over 60% of the time. Van Assche is going to need to get him changing direction more frequently. In the matches Fils has lost this year, he has been forced to change direction almost 25% more.
Hamad Medjedovic and Dominic Stricker are tactically looking to accomplish the same thing. Strike early and strike often. In their Next Gen ATP Finals matches, both players are averaging 5% more of their points in attack than their opponents. Both players have executed the least amount of high-speed distance and explosive movements in the tournament.
Medjedovic has shown that he is a competitor and he is not going to shy away from the physical pain that comes with going deep into the match. He overcame cramping in his first-round match against Michelson, and followed that up with another tough four-set match against Van Assche.
Keys to Match
Win or lose, we know one thing, both these players are going to try and keep the points short. They are both looking to serve big and take advantage of the balls in the mid-court. Look for Medjedovic to dictate with his forehand, forcing Stricker to have to defend his forehand on the run. Stricker will look to push Medjedovic off the baseline with good depth and then use his lefty forehand to make Medjedovic defend outside the singles sideline with his backyard. Both players have the ability to use their offense to move forward and finish the points off at the net. I would not expect very high PI metrics for this match, as the rallies will look to be short.