With the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan heating up, a number of #NextGenATP stars earned standout results in the third quarter of the season to boost their chances of qualifying for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.
Italian Lorenzo Musetti defeated Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz to lift his maiden tour-level title in Hamburg, while Jack Draper and Ben Shelton made their mark at ATP Masters 1000 events in North America. Brandon Nakashima, who is aiming to compete at the 21-and-under event in November for a second consecutive season, impressed on the Wimbledon lawns and Jiri Lehecka continued his strong season with title success on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Leaders Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner also broke new ground to move further clear in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan, with the 19-year-old Alcaraz capturing his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open.
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Alcaraz & Sinner Remain In Front
With the world watching, Alcaraz made history at the US Open, overcoming Casper Ruud in the final to clinch his first Grand Slam crown and secure the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.
The Spaniard now holds a standout 51-9 record on the season, having won ATP Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid earlier this year. The 19-year-old is the youngest player to rise to No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973) and the fourth Spaniard, joining his current coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal.
Jannik Sinner remains in second in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan after advancing to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. The Italian also captured his first tour-level title of the season in July when he downed Alcaraz in the Umag final.
No. 3 Lorenzo Musetti, 1266 points
After a steady rise over the past 18 months, Musetti enjoyed his best moment on the ATP Tour in July, when he soared to his maiden tour-level title on the clay in Hamburg.
The Italian saved two match points in the first round against Dusan Lajovic, before he produced lights-out tennis, defeating Emil Ruusuvuori, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Francisco Cerundolo to reach his maiden tour-level final. With the pressure on, the 20-year-old overcame Carlos Alcaraz in an all #NextGenATP blockbuster to capture the ATP 500 crown.
“For me it’s a dream,” Musetti said after winning the title in Germany. “Obviously I always dreamed about winning a title and I didn’t have any chances before. I think my best result was a semi-final, so I never had the opportunity to play a final. I’m really happy with this week. I think we did an amazing job and now we will celebrate and enjoy it for the next days.”
Musetti, who became the 10th first-time winner of the season, rose to a career-high No. 30 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings at the start of August. Having earned a seed at the US Open, the Italian played with renewed confidence in his second appearance in New York. He edged David Goffin and Gijs Brouwer on the hard courts to advance to the third round.
The 20-year-old is currently third in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan as he closes in on qualification for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals for the second consecutive year.
Read 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals Spotlight Features
No. 5 Jack Draper, 925 points
Great Britain’s Draper continued his standout season on the English lawns and the North American hard courts, boosting his Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals qualification hopes in the process.
The 20-year-old, who won four ATP Challenger Tour titles across the first four months of the season, enjoyed a run to his first tour-level semi-final on the grass in Eastbourne, toppling Top 20-star Diego Schwartzman en route. Draper then made his biggest wave yet in Montreal, where he turned heads by reaching the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
After coming through qualifying, the lefty earned his maiden Top 10 win in the second round at the hard-court tournament, stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets. He then moved past Gael Monfils, before he was stopped by eventual champion Pablo Carreno Busta.
“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said following his win against Tsitsipas.
“I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.”
Draper then rocked up at the US Open and put on a show, dispatching sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the third round on debut in New York.
No. 7 Brandon Nakashima, 592 points
Consistency was the name of the game for Nakashima in recent months on the ATP Tour. The American looked comfortable on the grass at Wimbledon, eliminating Top 20 Canadian Denis Shapovalov en route to his first fourth-round appearance at a Grand Slam.
The 21-year-old, who lost to eventual finalist Nick Kyrgios in five sets, was one of four Americans to reach the last 16, which was the most at SW19 since 1999.
“It felt amazing out there. To play against such a high-level player on one of the biggest stages, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Nakashima said following his maiden Top 20 win against Shapovalov. “The crowd was great out there today.”
Nakashima then made the journey across the North Atlantic Ocean, where he reached consecutive quarter-finals on hard in Atlanta and Los Cabos.
After disappointing first-round exits in Montreal and Cincinnati, the American looked back to his best at the US Open. Nakashima cruised past Pavel Kotov and former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets, before he ran out of steam during his third-round match against 11th seed Jannik Sinner.
No. 14 Ben Shelton, 280 points
Shelton has thrown himself into contention to qualify for the 21-and-under event in Milan in November after enjoying a red-hot summer in North America.
The American, who studied at the University of Florida, won the NCAA singles title as a sophomore earlier this year to earn a main draw wild card into the US Open. However, fans were not made to wait until the fourth major of the season to see the 19-year-old in action.
After advancing to his first ATP Challenger Tour final in July, Shelton made his tour-level debut in Atlanta. The lefty swept past Ramkumar Ramanathan to earn his maiden ATP Tour win, before he gave countryman John Isner a scare in a third-set tie-break defeat.
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
Shelton then made his ATP Masters 1000 debut in Cincinnati, where he made his biggest mark yet. The home favourite backed up his first-round victory against Lorenzo Sonego by shocking Norway’s Casper Ruud in straight sets.
“If he plays like he did today every match for the rest of his career, I think he will reach very far,” Ruud told ATPTour.com. “I think it surprised me a little bit how well he played. I knew he was a young, up and coming, great player. But today he was painting lines as we call it and hitting all the spots he needed to. It was really impressive to see.”
Following his third-round defeat against Cameron Norrie, Shelton made the decision to go pro, despite being eligible to study in Florida for another two years. The American is currently 14th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan and will need a strong finish to the season if he is going to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.
Others To Watch
Czech Lehecka is sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, while Chun-Hsin Tseng is eighth. Lehecka lifted his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy of the season in August, while Tseng of Chinese Taipei earned his maiden tour-level match win in Los Cabos.
The 21-year-old Italian Francesco Passaro soared to a Challenger Tour crown on clay in July and is currently ninth, with the 20-year-old Dominic Stricker 10th. The Swiss lefty came through qualifying to reach the second round in Stuttgart, before he clinched his second Challenger Tour title of the year on home soil.
Holger Rune remains fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan following a run to the third round at the US Open.