Roger Federer’s protege believes he is close to level Alcaraz and Rune

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Dominic Stricker has set his sights on achieving the same success as Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune as he follows in their footsteps by making his Next Gen Finals debut. The 20-year-old has become something of Roger Federer’s protege as his former practise partner and the next emerging talent in Swiss tennis, and believes his breakthrough is coming.

Stricker is one of eight 21-and-under players battling it out for the Next Gen Finals title this week in Milan. The tournament is a hotbed of future talent with Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas among the former champions while the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Taylor Fritz have also competed at the tournament.

Last week’s Paris Masters champion Rune was set to headline the event but pulled out after his historic run to the title and will instead be the first alternate at next week’s ATP Finals, and Stricker is looking to emulate the 19-year-old’s achievements. “They are so young,” he said of former Next Gen champions Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.

“They are playing so good at the moment, it’s good to see that already guys my age, they can make the breakthrough. Holger [Rune] as well… It’s great to see, and then you know that you can maybe also get there in a few years or whenever.”

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The world No 111 has lifted two Challenger titles this year but is hoping to kick it up a notch and begin making an impact on the main ATP Tour after earning four top 40 victories this season. Looking to the likes of Alcaraz, Rune and Sinner he added: “These guys are doing a great job and I don’t see that there’s a big gap between us, but I just have to keep doing my thing and it will come, I hope.”

And the young Swiss star already has great experience against one of the sport’s best players as he was previously enlisted as a training partner for compatriot Federer. Sticker’s coach Sven Swinnen also grew up with the 20-time Major champion in the juniors, also practising with him daily at the Swiss national federation.

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“It is lucky,” Swinnen said. “Roger invited Dominic to Dubai twice already to do some practice, some pre-season stuff, so that was really helpful. Roger knows us now pretty well and we got some really good tips from him.”

And Stricker said that the 103-time title winner had naturally become his idol as a fellow Swiss player, saying: “Of course, if you live in Switzerland…My one big idol [had to be] Roger Federer. Roger is Swiss and has a pretty similar game to how I would like to play.” And if the 20-year-old can start playing like his role model he could become an unstoppable force on the tour, battling the likes of Alcaraz for the biggest title in the years to come.

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