Hamad Medjedovic: Winning Next Gen ATP Finals Title Is ‘An Unreal Feeling’

Hamad Medjecovic (photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour)

JEDDAH/WASHINGTON, December 3, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia capped a breakthrough 2023 season by winning the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM title Saturday evening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The 20-year-old did not lose a match in becoming the first Serbian to win the tournament showcasing the top eight 21-and-under players.

After the No. 6 seed Medjedovic squandered a pair of championship points in the fourth set, he went on to beat top seed Arthur Fils of France in the first five-set final in the six-year history of the tournament. The final score of the two-hour, 11-minute final won by Medjedovic, 3-4 (6), 4-1, 4-2, 3-4 (9), 4-1, brought him much joy and happiness. He shared those emotions afterward with his coach, Viktor Troicki, as well as with his parents, who were on hand all week to watch him play.

“I feel amazing,” Medjedovic said, quoted by the ATP Tour website, in his post-match press conference. “It was unreal and still is. It was tough to process everything. It was a really tough match. I was on the edge of going crazy after the first set as I had two set points but I managed to stay relaxed and focused and it is an unreal feeling.”

Upon winning the title, Medjedovic joined an elite group of past champions that includes a trio of current Top 10 stars: World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, World No. 4 Jannik Sinner and World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“It means a lot. To know that all the great champions [won here], it gives you a lot of confidence and a boost for next season,” said Medjedovic, whose 69 service aces were tops for the tournament. “I will be coming into next year with a lot of confidence.

“I have a big game and big shots but I still have a lot of things to work on with my coach. Physically I need to get much better and I will use preseason for this and I need to improve my focus on the court more.”

Medjedovic’s season-ending success wrapped up a couple of busy weeks for the 110th-ranked native of Novi Pazar, Serbia. Before arriving in Jeddah, Medjedovic was part of Serbia’s Davis Cup team that reached the semifinals in Málaga, Spain. He earned a career-high No. 102 in October, soon after reaching his second ATP Tour semifinal indoors in Astana. His first semifinal came in Gstaad, during the brief European summer clay swing. Medjedovic also won three ATP Challenger Tour events this season, Szekesfehervar, Mauthausen, and Mallorca. In all competitions, he compiled a win-loss record of 45-23, including 12-7 on the ATP Tour.

Medjedovic said that throughout this week, he received congratulatory support from fellow Serbian and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who took him under his wing a year and a half ago and has helped to defray the costs of his professional career.

“It is a great thing. He won the Finals and I won Next Gen,” Medjedovic said. “It is a great thing for our country. I am really proud to get this title for my country. I have not opened my phone yet, but I am sure he has sent a message to congratulate me.”

Fils has much to feel proud about

Meanwhile, despite finishing runner-up to Medjedovic, Fils has much to feel proud of. The 19-year-old from Bondoufle, France, finished the year ranked No. 36 after having not won a tour-level match before this year. His reward is a chance to stay in the Middle East to for a week and practice with Rafael Nadal at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Kuwait.

“I was very happy, very surprised when he asked me to practice with him,” Fils said, quoted by the ATP Tour website, in his post-match press conference. “It’s such a big thing for me to play with one of the greatest players of all time. I will try my best for him but I have a big season coming so I will also try my best for myself. I will try to enjoy it as well.”

Fils ended the season 23-18 in ATP Tour-level matches and won his first title in Lyon. He was also a finalist in Antwerp.

“It was a nice year for sure. I started at 250 but finished at 36, so that’s pretty good,” said Fils, who is the first French teenager to finish inside the Year-End Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings since 19-year-olds Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils in 2005. “It still could have been better. I lost some close matches, like I did today, but it’s just experience and I will try to do better next year.”

Saudi Arabia will be Next Gen ATP Finals home at least through 2027

This year’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah was the first year of a five-year deal that ensures the return of the ATP Tour’s 21-and-under year-end tournament to Saudi Arabia at least through 2027. Of the eight players who qualified for this year’s event, only Dominic Stricker of Switzerland, 21, will be too old to compete next year. So, there’s an excellent core group of players led by Medjedovic and Fils, who could be back next year.

Following Saturday evening’s final, played before an enthusiastic crowd that filled the arena at King Abdullah Sports City, Arij Mutagagni, President of the Saudi Tennis Federation, said:  “What an incredible week of tennis it’s been — many congratulations to Hamad, and all the eight players this week. The standard of tennis has been phenomenal and I’m sure we’ll see many of them go on to be top 10 players in the world.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in the inaugural year of the event and can’t express my thanks enough to everyone that has made it happen,” she added. “We’re still in the early chapters of Saudi Arabia’s tennis story but having the first official tournament played here in the Kingdom is our biggest step to date. I hope that many of the girls and boys who watched this week have been inspired to pick up a racquet and play the sport we all love.”

By the numbers

Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia is only the second Serbian to compete in the Next Gen ATP Finals, after Miomir Kecmanovic in 2019, and the first to win the title.

“Quotable …”

“I was really lucky to have them on my side since the first match. They were cheering for me and I was feeling the love. I am really happy and grateful I had them on my side.”

Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia on the impact of the Saudi fans at the Next Gen ATP Finals, the first ATP Tour-sanctioned event to be held in Saudi Arabia.