March 28, 2023

A quartet of first-time ATP Head2Head meetings kick off the 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals on Tuesday, when all eight competitors at the 21-and-under season finale will seek a fast start at the Allianz Cloud in Milan.

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[2] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) vs. [6] Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE)

The highest-ranked player in the event, World No. 23 Lorenzo Musetti will take to court for his Red Group battle against Chun-Hsin Tseng in confident mood following an impressive run of late-season form on European hard courts.

The 20-year-old won his second Tour title in Naples in October and took out Casper Ruud en route to the quarter-finals in Paris last week. He also has experience with the event’s innovative first-to-four-games, best-of-five-sets format, having gone 1-2 in the round-robin stage in 2021.

As Musetti was making his Milan debut last November, Chun-Hsin Tseng was well outside the Top 200 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The 21-year-old from Chinese Taipei has made great strides since, surging to a career-high No. 83 in August off the back of some strong performances on the ATP Challenger Tour. Can Tseng upset one of the pre-tournament favourites on opening day?

[3] Jack Draper (GBR) vs. [7] Dominic Stricker (SUI)

A hard-hitting lefty battle rounds out the Day 1 schedule in Milan as Briton Jack Draper tests himself against Dominic Stricker. The 20-year-old Draper has enjoyed a rapid rise this season, with winning four Challenger Tour titles and reaching a maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Montreal among the highlights.

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World No. 41 Draper sits 70 places higher than Stricker in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but he will be aware of his Red Group opponent’s history of going toe-to-toe with the best. The 20-year-old Swiss Stricker defeated former World No. 3 Marin Cilic on his ATP Tour debut in 2021 and has beaten four Top 40 opponents in 2022 alone.

[4] Brandon Nakashima (USA) vs. [9] Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)

Like Musetti, 2021 semi-finalist Brandon Nakashima is returning to play in Milan for the second time. Unlike Musetti, the American will not enjoy vociferous home support when he returns to compete at the Allianz Cloud, where local fans will be hoping Nakashima’s opening-match opponent Matteo Arnaldi can spring an early upset.

Fourth seed Nakashima knows all about the impact of a supportive crowd — he lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in his hometown of San Diego in September — and Arnaldi arrives for this Green Group clash with some promising recent Challenger Tour showings in the bank. They include a run to the final in San Tropez in mid-October, but can the Italian make his mark in this battle of 21-year-olds?

[5] Jiri Lehecka (CZE) vs. [8] Francesco Passaro (ITA)

Francesco Passaro began the 2022 season outside the Top 600 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but on Tuesday he will fly the flag for the home nation in the opening match at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. The 21-year-old has already shown he can handle the pressure of performing on home soil. He won his maiden Challenger Tour title in Trieste in July and registered his maiden tour-level win in Florence in October.

His first opponent in Green Group, Jiri Lehecka, knows a thing or two about meteoric rises himself. The fifth-seeded Czech reached the semi-finals as a qualifier in Rotterdam in February, having never previously won a tour-level match.

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