The second edition of the NextGen Masters in Milan is just around the corner and it promises to be a great event even without Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov who both decided to skip the event. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur, Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Andrey Rublev, Jaume Munar and Hubert Hurkacz are already in Italy to wait for the start of the tournament on Tuesday and the last player who has secured the Milan berth is the 20-year-old Italian Liam Caruana. The Rome native is currently ranked 622nd and he earned a chance to play at the NextGen Finals after winning the Italian wild card tournament, defeating the higher-ranked Raul Brancaccio 2-4 4-1 4-3 4-3 in the title match to punch the eighth and the last Milan ticket.
During his junior career, Liam almost reached the Top 20 and he had a chance to compete against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Alex de MInaur, his potential rivals this week as well. Caruana had a chance to make his pro debut in 2015, reaching back-to-back semi-finals at Futures events in Greece in 2017 before his first Challenger win at home in Mestre in May.
Marco Cecchinato defeated him in the semi-final of Todi Challenger in June and his first pro title came at the USA F26 Futures a few weeks later without losing a set. At the beginning of this season, Liam made his ATP debut in Auckland as a qualifier, losing to Steve Johnson in two tight sets but not being able to follow the same pace in the rest of the year, dropping out from the Top 600 and seeking a chance to show his quality against the best players on the Tour born in 1997 or later and to build the foundation for a more rapid move through the rankings in 2019. Complete 2018 NextGen Masters field: