Arthur Fils, Luca Van Assche start with wins at Next Gen Finals

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche both started their pushes for the Next Gen Finals title with wins in the round-robin stage as the tournament opened Tuesday at its new home in Saudi Arabia.

The top-seeded, 19-year-old French player Fils won 2-4, 4-3 (6), 4-2, 1-4, 4-2 over Luca Nardi. The Next Gen Finals are played using special rules, with a best-of-five-sets format in which each set goes to the player who is first to four games, with a tiebreak at 3-3.

Also in the round-robin green group, Flavio Cobolli won 4-2, 3-4 (7), 4-1, 4-2 against Dominic Stricker.

In the red group, 70th-ranked Van Assche beat wild-card entry Abdullah Shelbayh 4-3 (5), 3-4 (5), 4-1, 4-1. Hamad Medjedovic withstood a comeback from Alex Michelsen as he won 4-2, 4-3 (3), 3-4 (3), 3-4 (5), 4-3 (4).

It's the sixth edition of the tournament for the top eight ATP Tour players age 21 or younger. It's being held in Saudi Arabia for the first time after being staged in Milan since the inaugural edition in 2017. Other changes to the usual tennis rules include shorter changeovers and less time on the shot clock for some points.

Fils is the only one of the players in the draw ranked in the top 50. Of the players ranked above him who would be eligible by age, Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune are exempt because they qualified for the ATP Finals, while Ben Shelton is out for medical reasons and Lorenzo Musetti withdrew on personal grounds.