Francesco Passaro loses in three sets, Matteo Arnaldi comes close to achieving feat

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The 21-year-old from San Remo played an even match against the better-ranked Nakashima

One win – Lorenzo Musetti’s easy one – and two losses: this is the balance of the first day of the Italian tennis players at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Francesco Passaro, who opened the afternoon session in the Green Group, lost sharply 4-1 4-3 4-1 to Jiri Lehecka, world number 74. It was not an unforgettable test for the Perugia native, who had some chance to get back into the match only in the second set.

On the other hand, Matteo Arnaldi’s fall against Brandon Nakashima, world number 49 and big favorite in the same group, was of a different flavor. The Ligurian tennis player played a gangly match, winning the first set and coming back into the match earning the fifth set after winning the fourth on tie-break. Fatal, for the Azzurro, the break placed by the American in the third game of the decisive partial.

For Arnaldi remains the satisfaction of a match played fose beyond his own possibilities, with the Palalido audience that showed to appreciate the great strength of will put in the field by the Italian tennis player.

The award-winning Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, held for the first time in 2017, feature the best seven under-21 players of the season, plus a local wild card, staged in Milan. The event proposes a series of rule changes and innovations aimed at creating a faster, cutting-edge, TV-friendly game geared toward attracting new and younger fans, while maintaining the basic elements beloved by traditional fans of the discipline.

Played on a singles-only court (no aisles), matches are staged with a shorter format – match three sets out of five, four-game sets (Tie-Break on 3-all) and scoring in the ‘killer point’ game with no advantages – electronic “Hawk-Eye Live” refereeing, no-let rule, player coaching and ‘free movement’ rule to allow fans to move freely in and out of the stadium. The tournament takes place over five days, with two Italian rounds, followed by the semifinals and final.

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