Djokovic protege Medjedovic tops Fils for Next Gen crown

December 04, 2023

JEDDAH: Hamad Medjedovic upset top-seeded Arthur Fils 3-4 (6/8), 4-1, 4-2, 3-4 (9/11), 4-1 to win the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah on Saturday.

At No.110 in the world, Medjedovic became the lowest-ranked champion in the six-year history of the 21-and-under tournament as well as the first Serbian to lift the Next Gen Finals trophy.

Having gone undefeated through the group stage before storming to the title, Medjedovic has received $514,000 for winning the event, which is nearly $100,000 higher than his entire career prize money earnings.

Serbia's Hamad Medjedovic reacts during a qualifier match against Belgium's Alexander Blockx at the European Open Tennis ATP tournament in Antwerp on October 15, 2023. — AFP

His triumph comes just two weeks after his mentor and compatriot Novak Djokovic lifted a record seventh ATP Finals trophy in Turin. “It´s a nice thing obviously. The two of us from Serbia, he´s winning the big Masters I would say, the real one, and I´m winning the Next Gen, obviously it´s a huge thing and I´m really happy to follow his footsteps in some way,” said Medjedovic, who threw himself to the ground in disbelief after converting his third championship point.

“It was a very special feeling. I couldn´t believe it, I still don´t believe it. It´s going to give me for sure a lot of confidence for 2024. Obviously Arthur is an amazing player. Rankings-wise he´s much better than me, he´s top-40 for a reason, he´s very good. I´m just really happy.”

Fils, a leading candidate for the ATP Newcomer of the Year award, has enjoyed a banner 2023, which saw the French teenager rise from 251 in the world at the start of the year to a current career-high of 36.

There was no Cristiano Ronaldo ´Siu´ celebration for the 19-year-old on Saturday - as he had done after every victory in Jeddah - but Fils has plenty to be excited about, especially as he heads to Kuwait next week for a training block with 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, who is plotting his return to the tour following a year-long injury hiatus.

“It´s amazing. I will practise during one week or two with Rafael Nadal so I´m very happy. I will enjoy every time on the court with him and I will try my best to play with him and to learn from him,” said Fils.

Medjedovic entered the final with a tournament-leading 50 aces struck through four matches and Fils knew he had to make an early statement on serve to send a strong message to his opponent.

Three aces from Fils in the opening game of the contest set the tone for what was to come as the duo combined for a total of 13 aces in the first frame, which the Frenchman took after saving two set points in the tiebreak.