Tennis: The Next Gen Finals in Milan & deconstructing Chung, Rublev, and Shapovalov

At the Next Gen Finals in Milan Hyeon Chung won the title on Saturday with a 3-4 (5), 4-3 (2), 4-2, 4-2 beat-down of Andrey Rublev.

 

Showcasing the champions of tomorrow and testing a few changes to the game.

The purpose of the Next Gen Finals event was to showcase the upcoming talent, and what the fans can expect after Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Wawrinka, and Murray are done and dusted. Changes such as the shortened sets, no let on serves, shot clocks, hawk-eye line calls, and no-Ad scoring was also tested at the event.

 

Will Hyeon Chung be the one to fill the void left by the departure of either Nadal or Murray?

Hyeon Chung’s game seems steady with a reasonably good serve and the ability to hit on both flanks. He doesn’t make too many unforced errors and is comfortable at the baseline with both defense and offense. He can volley but is not excited about approaching the net unless required. Hyeon Chung is a good baseline player with quick movement across the court like many others of his age and era defined by slow courts. He has a shot at reaching the top-ten sometime within the next three years. Chung’s notable scalps in 2017 have been Gael Monfils, David Goffin, and Alexander Zverev. We do not see the crazy talent in Hyeon Chung as yet, but players with much less have won slams and reigned in the top-ten for many years just by dint of their hard work and effort.

Can Andrey Rublev replace Djokovic?

Andrey Rublev is yet another creation of the slow courts, which make baseline play more comfortable than playing aggressive and moving in, to take time away from the opponent. And that is perhaps why he has won his first and only tour-level tournament on clay at the Umag Open 2017 where he qualified as the lucky-loser, and then went on to claim the title by beating the defending champion Fabio Fognini in the semis and Paolo Lorenzi in the finals. In 2017, Rublev also claimed his first win against a top ten player by beating Grigor Dimitrov and reached the quarterfinals by eliminating David Goffin in the fourth round of the US Open.

 

Is Denis Shapovalov the real hope of the Next Gen?

Denis Shapovalov, we believe has the electrifying game and the talent to be the next generation’s champion. Denis won his first tour-level match in 2016 by beating the then World number 19 Nick Kyrgios in three sets. In 2017 he has claimed the high profiled scalps of Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

 

Denis Shapovalov is a true shot-maker.

Denis Shapovalov is a true shot-maker and the fact that he could comfortably withstand Nadal’s high-rising balls to his backhand at the Canadian Masters only confirms his ground shots are technically sound. His game needs to mature a bit, and that takes time with the single-handed backhand. Denis will need to incorporate more aggression into his shot-making by learning to approach the net more often and playing closer to the baseline to take the ball early, like Roger Federer. Being more aggressive would help Denis to capitalize on his immense talent, keep points short, and leave the mindless rallying to the less talented retrievers and grinders. He should, therefore, focus more on shortening the points and taking the ball early.

 

Perhaps Denis Shapovalov can lighten the pain of losing Roger Federer to father time.

In the end, there will be many to fill the void left by retrievers and grinders such as Djokovic, and Nadal. It’ll, however, be near impossible to find a player with the aggression and flair of Roger Federer, and our hope now rests on Denis Shapovalov to continue entertaining us with an aggressive brand of tennis even after Roger Federer is gone. And it won’t hurt to be delighted by that lethal single-handed backhand of his.

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  • Gregor Bensa

    The only thing I don’t like is the no-ad scoring. It’s actually boring.

  • bettyscott

    Who will replace the Big 4 is a question yet unanswered. All of these ‘kids’ have potential, but it takes more than shotmaking to be a champion, win Majors and compete hard week after the week. This story is … To Be Continued.