Flavio Cobolli made a winning start at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah, beating Dominic Stricker 4-2, 3-4, 4-1, 4-2 in an hour and 38 minutes. It was the first duel between two coevals born in 2002, and the Italian claimed the pivotal points, taking charge in sets one, three and four and emerging at the top.
Cobolli struggled on the second serve, facing 12 break points and denying 11! He got broken once and kept the pressure on the other side. Stricker could not follow that pace, dropping serve four times from five chances offered to his rival and kicking off the event with a loss.
Stricker won one point more than Cobolli, but it was not enough to keep him safe after losing ground in sets three and four. They had a similar number of service winners, winners from the field and unforced errors, and Flavio made the difference in those crucial moments.
Dominic made a better start, serving well and creating a break chance in games two and four. However, he failed to seize them and paid the price soon after.
Flavio Cobolli defeated Dominic Stricker in four sets in Jeddah.
The Italian claimed the decisive point in the second game with a forehand winner and repeated that at 1-2 after forcing the rival's mistake, staying on the positive side.
Cobolli extended the fifth game with a great return and passed a left-hander at the net in the decisive point for a break and a 3-2 advantage. Flavio served for the opener in game six and fired a service winner for 4-2 in 23 minutes.
The Swiss served well in the second set, keeping the pressure on the other side. Stricker extended the fourth game with a drop shot winner before Cobolli claimed the decisive point with a booming serve for 2-2. The set went into a tie break, and Dominic opened a 4-1 lead with an early mini-break.
The Swiss squandered set points at 6-5 and 7-6 before earning another in the 15th point. The Swiss converted the third set point with a service winner, leveling the overall score after 54 minutes. Cobolli had the upper hand in the third set despite playing against eight break points in three service games!
The Italian came from 40-0 down in the first game and broke at 15 in the next one after a deep forehand that forced the Swiss' mistake. Flavio won the decisive point on serve in the third game for 3-0 and served for the set at 3-1.
The Italian came from 40-15 down, clinching the decisive point with a booming serve and opening two sets to one advantage after an hour and 16 minutes. Dominic experienced another blow at the beginning of the fourth set, getting broken from 40-15 up.
The Swiss responded with a break at love in game two, painting a forehand down the line winner and returning to the positive side. However, Dominic squandered a game point at 1-1 and got broken after a wild forehand. Stricker saved a match point on serve in the fifth game before Cobolli sealed the deal after an extended rally at 3-2.