TennisSection previews the 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals as Sebastian Korda takes on Sebastian Baez in the Round Robin Stage on Wednesday, November 10th, 2021.
Will Sebastian Korda make it two wins in a row at the Next Gen ATP Finals? Or will Sebastian Baez prove he is not a one-trick pony? After both players won their opening group stage matches, something has to give here. We take a look at an intriguing matchup between these two.
Sebastian Korda has established himself as a regular on the ATP tour this season. Unlike his counterpart Sebastian Baez whose taste of tour-level tennis came this year and only in bits. Korda has managed to put together 27 wins from 44 matches – a respectable return for an introductory year on the senior grind. And to top it off, he memorably won his maiden ATP title on the clay courts of Parma without dropping a set. His achievements this season (which includes a Round of 16 finish at Wimbledon) have catapulted his rise towards a top-40 ranking. Only the precocious Carlos Alcaraz is ranked higher than Korda in the Next Gen ATP Finals draw. And the 20-year-old American got his campaign to a good start with a win on day one, which came under the unlikeliest of circumstances. He became just the second player since the tournament’s inception in 2017 to fight back from two-sets-to-love down and win. He trailed the flashy Frenchman Hugo Gaston 3-4, 3-4. He also needed to save a match point with an ace down the T in the fourth set, before he mounted his comeback to win in five.
Sebastian Baez is one of two South Americans in the Next Gen ATP Finals field this year. Baez didn’t make the initial eight-man player list, until Jenson Brooksby pulled out from the event due to an abdominal injury. And the 20-year-old Argentine made the most of that opportunity in his first outing. Baez had played a grand total of 73 matches before this week, and only four outside his beloved clay. But for a man who takes a closer look to countryman Diego Schwartzman, he has become somewhat of an all-court threat. Baez toppled the off-color Lorenzo Musetti 4-1 4-1 3-4 4-3, without facing a single breakpoint on his serve. The diminutive Argentine averaged at least 80% serve-points won behind both deliveries to progress.
Sebastian Korda and Sebastian Baez have not played each other at any level before this. Baez has excelled on the ATP Challenger Tour this season, winning five titles and peaking at a career-high World No. 111. In contrast Korda has had a seamless introduction to life on the ATP Tour, winning the aforementioned first title in Parma. The quality and depth of the return will be crucial in this match. While Korda can bludgeon his way out of trouble with his monstrous first serve, Baez is a solid a returner that may get to many of those balls. But there is a distinct lack of experience surrounding Baez, particularly on hard courts. Korda might have that tiny edge here.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Sebastian Korda in 4 Sets.
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