Saudia Arabia is hosting this year's Next Gen ATP Finals edition in Jeddah, gathering some of the world's finest U21 players. Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune, Ben Shelton and Lorenzo Musetti skipped the event, leading France's Arthur Fils as the top seed.
The 19-year-old faced Luca Nardi in the first round-robin match and scored a tight 2-4, 4-3, 4-2, 1-4, 4-2 triumph in two hours and two minutes. Fils served at 51% and still faced only two break points. Nardi seized them to stay in touch, only to experience a late break in the decider, missing a chance to force a deciding tie break.
Arthur hit seven double faults. However, he defended the second serve nicely and stayed competitive, outplaying Nardi by two points and emerging at the top. They hit almost 60 service winners combined, adding the same number of unforced errors on an indoor court.
Both players served well in the opening four games, and Fils experienced issues at 2-2. The Frenchman netted a routine forehand, losing serve at 15 and pushing the Italian in front.
Arthur Fils prevailed over Luca Nardi in Jeddah.
Nardi served for the set at 3-2 and fired a service winner, wrapping up the opener in 19 minutes. There were no chances for the returners in the second set, with six commanding holds ahead of the tie break. Luca fired an ace in the sixth point for 3-3 before experiencing a mini-break after a loose backhand.
The Italian pulled the mini-break back in the next one and forced the rival's mistake at 5-5 for a set point. Facing two sets to love deficit, Arthur denied it with a service winner and grabbed a mini-break at 7-6, wrapping up the set and leveling the overall score after 55 minutes.
With a boost on his side, the Frenchman outplayed the Italian in set number three. Fils grabbed a break at 15 in the first game after a lucky net cord winner and created another break chance at 2-0. Nardi won the decisive point with a forehand down the line winner, remaining within one break deficit.
Arthur served well and held at 30 in game six, moving two sets to one in front after an hour and 18 minutes. Facing the exit door, Luca played against two break points at the beginning of the fourth set. He denied them and brought the game home, keeping himself in contention.
Nardi grabbed the momentum and broke Fils in game five when the top seed sprayed a wild forehand. The Italian secured the set with a service winner in game six, forcing a decider after an hour and 38 minutes. They served well in the opening five games, with Arthur moving 3-2 in front.
The Italian squandered a game point, and the Frenchman claimed the decisive one with a return winner, delivering a break and emerging at the top.