Arthur Fils maintained his perfect record at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM on Friday when he overcame his compatriot and friend Luca Van Assche to reach the final in Jeddah.
Top seed Fils, 19, defeated Van Assche, 2-4, 4-1, 4-3(1), and 4-3(6), after a battle of big punches and clean punches for an hour and 37 minutes. The World No. 36 hit several monster forehands and dominated serve as the match went on, winning 23 of his first 24 serve points in the third and fourth sets. Fils entered the final with their fourth match point.
“Today was a tough game against a good friend. We’ve known each other since we were nine years old, so it was a bit difficult, and I’m happy with the win,” said Fils in his on-track interview. “I came to the track with the mentality that I could win. The first set was difficult; he played very well and defended well, and the pace was very fast. “I stayed focused, and I am very happy with this victory.”
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A key moment came in the third set. In the tie-break, Fils took a 5-0 lead, which was a serious blow to Van Assche’s chances of defeating the top seed.
“I played every point, trying everything with my forehand and moving very well. I was very happy with that tie-break,” declared Fils.
In the reissue of the 2021 Roland Garros junior men’s singles final, which was won by Van Assche, Fils scored 24 winners to face Serbian Hamad Medjedovic or Swiss Dominic Stricker in the title match. In Group Green, Fils defeated semi-finalist Stricker in four sets, despite the southpaw defeating him in Gstaad earlier in the year.
In the six-year history of this under-21 event, Fils is the first Frenchman to reach the title match.