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#NextGenATP Qualifiers Use ATP Challenger Tour As Springboard | ATP Tour

All eight of the competitors at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM were champions on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2023, with Hamad Medjedovic’s trio of titles leading the 21-and-under players. reviews some of the key moments from each qualifier’s rise through the ATP Challenger Tour this year.

Arthur Fils

The Frenchman kicked off his season in the best way possible, winning nine of his first 10 matches, including an opening week title run at the Oeiras Challenger. Fils, 19, quickly ascended up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and is currently at a career-high World No. 36. The teenager, who won his maiden tour-level title in Lyon, collected an 11-4 Challenger-match record this year.

Fils joined an exclusive list of French Challenger champions aged 18 and under: Richard Gasquet, Sebastien Grosjean, Gael Monfils, Fabrice Santoro, Corentin Moutet, and Luca Van Assche.

Luca Van Assche
A memorable moment for Van Assche came at the Pau Challenger in March, when he saved two championship points against countryman Ugo Humbert to win the longest Challenger final in history (three hours, 56 minutes). In his next event just a few weeks later, Van Assche returned to the winners’ circle, claiming his third career ATP Challenger crown in Sanremo, where he secured his Top 100 breakthrough.

Dominic Stricker

The Swiss lefty won the Rovereto and Prague Challengers in the first half of the year and now enters the season finale in Jeddah with a 19-12 Challenger-match season record. In September, the 21-year-old made his Top 100 debut following a fourth-round appearance at the US Open, where he stunned seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a five-set, second-round thriller. Stricker is the only Swiss player to win five Challenger titles before his 21st birthday.

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Alex Michelsen

The 19-year-old American started the year at World No. 600 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but has since risen to become the youngest player in the Top 100. Michelsen earned his maiden ATP Challenger Tour triumph in Chicago in July, a week before he was a finalist at the ATP 250 event in Newport. Michelsen enters the Next Gen ATP Finals having won nine of his past 10 matches, including a title run in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Flavio Cobolli

The Italian is one of seven players to win at least 40 Challenger-level matches in 2023. Cobolli, who cracked the Top 100 in October, earned his second career ATP Challenger Tour title in Lisbon and reached the final in Olbia two weeks later. The 21-year-old is one of four #NextGenATP Italians to win a Challenger title this year, alongside Luca Nardi, Matteo Gigante and Luciano Darderi.

Hamad Medjedovic

The 20-year-old is the youngest player to win three ATP Challenger Tour titles this season, with triumphs in Szekesfehervar, Mauthausen and Mallorca. The Serbian, who advanced through qualifying at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, was a semi-finalist at the ATP 250 events in Gstaad and Astana. Coached by former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki, Medjedovic has tallied a 23-12 Challenger-match record this year.

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Luca Nardi

At a career-high World No. 115, Nardi has added two Challenger titles to his collection this season. The Italian won the Porto Challenger in August on the same day he was celebrating his 20th birthday. Nardi captured his fourth career Challenger title earlier this month, when he triumphed in Matsuyama, Japan.

Abdullah Shelbayh

The Jordanian made ATP Challenger Tour history in October when he triumphed in Charleston, South Carolina to become the youngest player from an Arab country to win a title at that level. The 20-year-old, who graduated from the Rafa Nadal Academy in 2021, also was a finalist at the Manama Challenger in February. Shelbayh enters the Next Gen ATP Finals at a career-high World No. 185.

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