Milan’s New Nickname: Tie-Break Town | ATP Tour

Milan is becoming a tie-break town thanks to the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

Through two days of action, the rate of tie-breaks played at the Allianz Cloud has been nearly triple the average rate for tour-level matches this season thanks to the first-to-four, best-of-five format. That is creating consistent intensity and high pressure, leading to even more entertainment for the fans, since every point is critical.

Of the 31 sets played this edition, 13 have gone to tie-breaks (41.9 per cent). Entering the week, 15.1 per cent of tour-level sets in 2021 had gone to a tie-break.

Frenchman Hugo Gaston, who lost a thrilling five-setter against Italian Lorenzo Musetti on Wednesday evening, has played six tie-breaks through two matches. The lefty had only competed in six tie-breaks all year prior to the event.

“I’ve played two matches, I played a lot, a lot of tie-breaks. That is the format of the game, but it’s nice, it’s different,” Gaston said. “Yesterday it was favourable for me, but today it wasn’t. But that’s life.

“It was a great battle against Lorenzo. I’m a little bit sad, but I’m fine, I’m good. And then tomorrow I have one more match, so we will see what I can do tomorrow.”

Unlike Gaston, Musetti had played plenty of tie-breaks this year, entering Milan with a 13-5 record in them. The home favourite has gone 3-2 in tie-breaks at the Allianz Cloud.

“I won two tie-breaks, [the] first two sets, really tough tie-breaks, really tough sets,” Musetti said of his victory against Gaston. “We didn’t break each other, we saved break points, and I think we played a really great battle until the end and it was really, really close.”

With the high tie-break rate in Milan, it makes those moments even more important. So how has Musetti thrived in them this year?

“I think [by] focusing on each point, because in tie-breaks each point you have to be patient and be focused… I think more than in a game or in a set,” Musetti said. “The key I think is to focus on playing each point like it’s the last one.”

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