Andrey Rublev and Hyeon Chung will battle for the first-ever title of the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan when they square off for the second time this week on Saturday night.
On the second day of round-robin action, Chung improved to 2-0 in Group A with a 4-0, 4-1, 4-3(1) victory over Rublev. They previously faced each other once on the main tour this season, with the South Korean also getting the job done 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on the hard courts of Winston-Salem.
Chung is undefeated so far at this inaugural end-of-year event. In addition to his defeat of Rublev, the world No. 54 opened by beating Denis Shapovalov 1-4, 4-3(5), 4-3(4), 4-1 and wrapped up round-robin competition with a 1-4, 4-1, 4-2, 3-4(6), 4-3(3) win over Gianluigi Quinzi. Chung went on to eliminate Daniil Medvedev 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(4), 1-4, 4-0 in Friday’s second semifinal. During the regular ATP campaign, Chung earned 24 of his 46 career match victories and he advanced at least one round at each of his last six tournaments.
Rublev soared to the cusp of Australian Open seeding at 37th in the rankings thanks primarily to his first career title in Umag and a quarterfinal performance at the U.S. Open. The 20-year-old Russian owns wins in Milan at the expense of Quinzi (five sets), Shapovalov (four sets), and Borna Coric (4-1, 4-3(6), 4-1 in the semis). Interestingly, Rublev could capture two titles this season–Milan included–while losing a match at each of those events. He won Umag as a lucky loser.
With Rublev having picked up the pace since his Wednesday loss to Chung, the second go-around should be more competitive. But Chung has been the most consistent of the youngsters all week and he will likely lift a well-deserved winner’s trophy.
Pick: Chung in 5